In spring of 2020, Rose Youth Foundation (RYF), will make grants totaling $60,000 to support teen mental health services in the Greater Denver community. Grants will fund organizations and programs that work to increase access to and affordability of mental health services for teens, ages 13 to 18, and reduce stigma associated with getting help.
Over the past decade, teen mental illness has increased at alarming rates. Colorado teenagers are no exception to this trend. In 2017, an astonishing 7 percent of Colorado adolescents attempted suicide. A 2015 report found that nearly 30 percent of Colorado high school students report feeling so sad or hopeless for two weeks in a row that they stop doing their usual activities.
Numerous obstacles prevent these teens from receiving the professional care they need. The cost of mental health care is a major barrier to access; studies indicate that the use of services goes down as costs go up. The stigma around seeking treatment for mental illness further exacerbates the problem. In fact, adolescents are one of the groups most likely to be deterred from soliciting help because of the attached stigma.
The 19th Rose Youth Foundation cohort hopes to leverage its grantmaking dollars to tackle these barriers to mental health care. The topic of teen mental health resonated particularly strongly with RYF members, many of whom have experienced, or know peers who have experienced, challenges with mental health. “We are confronted with the reality of mental illness every day,” says Shevi Parkoff, a Denver Academy of Torah student in her second year in the RYF program. “We felt a collective responsibility to use our platform to take on an issue that impacts so many of our peers.”
Rose Youth Foundation is an initiative of Rose Community Foundation that engages Jewish high school students in collaborative grantmaking. The program is youth-led, empowering teens to use the tools of strategic philanthropy to make a substantial difference. Over eight months, the 26 members of Rose Youth Foundation work together to discuss what it means to give in a Jewish way, explore community issues, determine a funding priority, meet with nonprofit leaders and ultimately determine how to grant $60,000 to improve our community.
This year’s cohort was guided by two overarching Jewish values: v’hechezekta bo, you shall strengthen, and pikuach nefesh, save life. These principles inspired RYF members’ funding priority, explains Elaiah Volin, a student at Girls Athletic Leadership School. “This is an important way to show that I care about my peers,” says Volin. “By choosing this grant priority, I am saying that I am here to support my friends who are struggling.”
Rose Youth Foundation is currently seeking proposals from eligible nonprofit organizations. All applications must be submitted via Rose Community Foundation’s online grants portal by Wednesday, December 4 at 5 p.m. Learn more about Rose Youth Foundation and view the full Request for Proposals.
For questions about Rose Youth Foundation, contact Emily Kornhauser, Initiatives Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about the online grants portal, contact Kelli Rojas, Grants Manager, at email@example.com.