Thriving Together Newsletter

May 2024

As we celebrate Mental Health Month this May, we are proud to highlight a few of our mental health grantees who are profoundly impacting their communities.


From supporting young Americans struggling with mental health challenges to empowering teachers in Montana, these organizations are at the forefront of driving positive change in mental health and well-being.


#MentalHealthMonth is a powerful reminder about the importance of prioritizing mental health not just now but every day.

Stories From Our Communities

Extending Support to Young Americans Struggling with Mental Health

Five million young adults ages 16-24 in the United States are neither working nor studying, and many feel lost, without purpose and needing direction. The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions created the Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) in 2012 to help these young people access educational and employment opportunities that can improve their lives and their well-being.


With support from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation through a $2 million Mental Health & Well-Being grant, OYF empowers more than 40 local collaboratives in urban, rural and tribal communities nationwide. These groups partner with local businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to offer various programs and resources to young people, helping them overcome the barriers they face in finding success in school or the workforce. These include career counseling, skills development, scholarships and training programs.


“Our vision is that in 10 years, our society will fully embrace and value youth and young adults in every respect, including supporting all youth, particularly those most excluded from opportunities, to have equitable access to education and employment,” said Geneva Wiki, director of belonging, meaning, well-being and purpose, OYF.

Learn how OYF empowers youth

Mindful Philanthropy Assists Funders in Making the Most of their Mental Health Investments

Mindful Philanthropy, the recipient of a $275,000 grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, was founded in 2020 to help funders build strategies and make smart investments to achieve their goals in mental health, addiction and well-being. Mindful Philanthropy brings funders together to hear from experts, practitioners and researchers, sparking new ideas about innovative models and practices.

 

“Mindful Philanthropy approaches issues that arise with curiosity,” said Alyson Niemann, executive director of Mindful Philanthropy. “We invite the connections in our network to contribute their expertise and experience to the conversation, and we maintain a willingness to learn more, evolve and create a better environment for these discussions.”

Explore Mindful Philanthropy's impact on mental health

Improving the Educational Landscape in Montana by Addressing the Well-Being of Teachers

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to the University of Montana Foundation’s Montana Happiness Project (MHP) for its Happy Schools initiative. MHP, in collaboration with the University of Montana Safe Schools Center and the Blank Foundation, is subsidizing a graduate-level course entitled “Evidence-Based Happiness for Teachers,” which offers techniques, resources and interventions that teachers can use to deal with stress, increase positivity and provide a sense of meaning.

 

They include gratitude practice, acts of kindness, forgiveness and mindfulness meditation. “When we started this project with the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, we believed that Montana educators were in distress and underappreciated, and our data has proven this to be correct,” said Dr. John Sommers-Flanagan, University of Montana. “Our goal is to support teachers, and we believe that teacher well-being can positively affect student well-being, morale, attendance and academic performance.”

 

In its efforts to transform education in Montana, MHP will continue offering low-cost happiness classes and workshops to educators and training more teachers, psychologists, counselors and educational leaders to reach more schools, teachers and students across the state.

See how MHP is Transforming Teachers' Lives

Women From Atlanta's Westside to Receive Lifechanging Funds with No Strings Attached

The Georgia Resilience & Opportunity Fund’s In Her Hands program takes a transformative, innovative approach to addressing persistent income inequality among women. Through funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, In Her Hands is now expanding to Vine City & English Avenue neighborhoods. Participants from Atlanta’s Westside neighborhoods will receive $36,000 in guaranteed income over three years and can use it as they wish.

 

This no-strings-attached methodology trusts these women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Cepia Harper described how the program allowed her to move her family into a new apartment, secure a teaching job at a school in her neighborhood, and begin saving and investing for the future. “I wasn't like, ‘Oh, let me hurry up and buy the latest gym shoes,” explained Harper. “I was just like, ‘What can I do with this so I'm not in this situation again? If people have funds like this or it expands, it'll make them want to do better. Like, how can I give back to my community—my community?”

Watch Cepia's inspiring story here

AMBFF In The News


- Opponents as Allies: The Thorny Proposition of a First-of-Its-Kind Foundation Gathering, The Chronicle of Philanthropy


- In Her Hands guaranteed-income initiative will enroll 270 additional Atlanta women, Atlanta Civic Circle


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