Grant to Provide Expanded Mental Health Support and Substance Misuse Prevention for Morgan County Youth

The Kendrick Foundation continues to invest in the health and well-being of Morgan County youth and families. A grant award of $100,000 was recently presented to Youth First, Inc. to provide mental health support and substance misuse prevention.  

The Kendrick Foundation invests in conditions that support the physical and mental health of all Morgan County residents and is leading health initiatives to address mental health, substance misuse, physical activity and nutrition.

Keylee Wright, Executive Director of the Kendrick Foundation, states, “We are more committed than ever to providing additional mental health services, resources and supports to our communities, schools, families, and youth during this unprecedented time of need. Since 2018, the Kendrick Foundation has invested in Youth First programs, and we continue to see results. We are truly grateful for the work of Youth First and the support of our Morgan County schools to make these vital programs and services more accessible for our youth and families.”

The grant to Youth First will allow for continued mental health support for students in selected Martinsville and Mooresville schools. Youth First partners with 125 schools across 14 Indiana counties to embed prevention programs and over 90 skilled mental health professionals (primarily master’s level social workers) in school buildings, where they provide extra mental health support for students and prevention coaching for parents and teachers. Youth First Mental Health Professionals build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to effective prevention of negative outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive work and strategies are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing need for mental health supports for students.

The Vanderburgh County Commission and County Council are investing in the mental health and well-being of Vanderburgh County youth. Elected officials voted to allocate $300,000 in American Rescue Plan federal funds to support Youth First’s social work services in 48 Vanderburgh County schools, where they are accessible to 23,000 students, their families, and educators.

This prevention partnership will help reduce stress, boost resiliency skills, strengthen our future workforce, and ultimately, lead to a stronger, safer, and healthier community.

Youth First partners with 117 schools across 13 Indiana counties to embed prevention programs and 83 skilled mental health professionals in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to effective prevention of negative outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive work and strategies are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing need for mental health supports for students.

The 9th Annual Warrick County Cares (WCC) I CARE Awards Breakfast will be held to honor organizations, youth and individuals that go above and beyond to serve the Warrick County community and contribute to the well-being of its citizens.

Nominees were collected from around Warrick County in three different categories: Organization, Individual, and Youth, along with a Coalition Member of the Year. WCC coalition members chose the awardees. 

Nominees

Individual:

  • Kristin Riddle, Teacher, Tecumseh Middle School
  • Julie Kemp, Principal, Boonville Middle School
  • Jennifer Pepper, Andrew Pepper Foundation

Organization:

  • Boonville High School Band
  • Mrs. C’s Closet
  • Littlestar ABA

High School Teen:

  • Sophia Chavez, Boonville High School
  • Anna Kranning, Boonville High School
  • Alexa Cecil, Castle High School

Drew Gerth, Warrick Education Center Principal, will be the guest speaker. The media is invited to attend the breakfast and awards ceremony.

The Kendrick Foundation continues to invest in the well-being of Morgan County youth. A grant award of $75,000 will be presented to Youth First, Inc. on Wednesday, March 1, at 10:00 am ET. The check presentation will be held at Mooresville High School, 550 N Indiana St, Mooresville, IN. The media is invited to attend.

The Kendrick Foundation’s vision of serving as the premier catalyst for identifying and promoting the healthcare needs of Morgan County is leading health initiatives to address three focus areas: mental health, substance use, and physical activity and nutrition. 

The grant to Youth First will allow for continued mental health support for students in selected Martinsville and Mooresville schools. Youth First partners with 117 schools across 13 Indiana counties to embed prevention programs and 83 skilled mental health professionals in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to effective prevention of negative outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive work and strategies are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the growing need for mental health supports for students.

The Kendrick Foundation has supported Youth First in Morgan County since 2018.

February 1, 2023

The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) is investing in mental health support for K-12 youth. A $10,000 grant award was presented to Youth First, Inc., by CFMC on Thursday, January 19. The check presentation was held at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville, with CFMC, Metropolitan School District of Martinsville, Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation, and Youth First staff represented. 

The grant will allow for mental health support through school social work services in selected Martinsville and Mooresville schools. Youth First partners with 110 schools across 12 Indiana counties to embed 83 skilled social workers in school buildings, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. They also coordinate with community partners such as the Boys and Girls Club of Morgan County and the Morgan County Substance Abuse Council, among others, to connect students and families to resources and services. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Research shows these protective factors are the keys to preventing addiction, suicide, violence, and similar outcomes for young people. The organization’s positive outcomes are driving growth, with more schools seeking Youth First’s help to address the mental health needs of students and best equip them for success.

Brittani Bentley, President of the Community Foundation of Morgan County, says: “Youth First is the ideal grantee. They are continuously improving their programming based on the need of our Morgan County students. In a 2019 youth survey, students from four Morgan County school systems reported they need access to mental health professionals to develop the skills they need to cope with the real world. While the 2019 data is pre-pandemic, educators tell us that the need for this service has only increased. Youth First Social Workers are the heroes providing the services our youth tell us they desperately need.”

###

About Youth First, Inc.:

Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 110 schools across 12 Indiana counties to provide 83 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to vital resources. Youth First also offers community programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit youthfirstinc.org.

January 16th, 2023

Youth First will host a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, January 17 at 9:00 am to mark its 25th anniversary and kick off a year of celebrations. The media is invited to attend. The ribbon cutting will take place at Youth First’s office located at 111 SE Third Street, Suite 405, in downtown Evansville.

Founded in 1998, Youth First celebrates 25 years of strengthening the mental health and well-being of young people. Today, over 50,000 students in 117 partner schools across 13 Indiana counties have access to 83 Youth First Social Workers and hundreds of prevention programs. These specialized mentors and evidence-based programs strengthen thousands of youth and families every year.

The milestone year ahead will include a celebratory gala and anniversary edition of the organization’s signature auction and an awards reception honoring youth and educators. These events will also honor the donors and community partners who have supported Youth First over the years.

Featured speakers at the ribbon cutting include Leah Wentzel Barger, a young adult whose life was transformed by Youth First’s support; Dr. William Wooten, Youth First Founder; Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke; Jon Scheer, Edward Jones Financial Advisor; Cheryl Wathen, Deaconess Health System Chief Financial Officer and Youth First Board Chair; and Parri Black, Youth First President & CEO. Youth First Board Members, staff, and Evansville Regional Economic Partnership (E-REP) ambassadors will be in attendance, and light refreshments will be served.

The ribbon cutting will formally announce the upcoming Silver Lining Gala Celebrating Youth First’s 25th Anniversary presented by Edward Jones, to be held on Saturday, April 22, at USI’s Carter Hall. The gala will feature an anniversary edition of Youth First’s Passport to Adventure auction as well as a formal dinner, program, dancing, and other entertainment. The event commemorates Youth First’s 25th anniversary by honoring the supporters who have enabled Youth First to be the silver lining for vulnerable young people burdened by clouds of sadness, adversity, and uncertainty. Tickets and event sponsorships are available.

###

About Youth First, Inc.:
Youth First’s mission is to strengthen youth and families through evidence-based programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success. Youth First partners with 117 schools across 13 Indiana counties to provide hundreds of prevention programs and 83 Master’s level social workers who assess needs, develop and implement prevention plans, and connect students and their families to vital resources. Youth First also offers community programs involving parents and caregivers to strengthen families. For more information about Youth First, please visit youthfirstinc.org.                                                                                                                

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is investing in mental health support for Indiana youth. The organization has awarded a gift of $100,000 per year for three years to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of Indiana students.

The award was celebrated with a check presentation on Monday, October 24, during the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation’s School Board meeting. Representatives from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and Youth First were in attendance, as well as EVSC Superintendent Dr. David Smith and the EVSC School Board.

This significant gift from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, along with funding from other sources, will enable Youth First to provide school-based social work services and prevention programs in their 12-county footprint, which includes Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Lawrence, Martin, Morgan, Orange, Perry, Pike, Posey, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties.

“The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation strives to improve the health of humanity by addressing health inequalities and strengthening communities across Indiana. We continue to work with our local community partners across Indiana, including Youth First, to provide meaningful solutions to achieve better health and to advance health equity,” said Ginny France, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Community Relations Representative. “We are grateful to have worked with Youth First for many years supporting local youth through a variety of programs, and once again we are honored to come together to expand resources to support the mental health and well-being of Indiana students.”

Youth First President & CEO Parri Black stated, “Our kids and families are dealing with greater stress and more challenges than ever. That’s why it’s so important to have easily accessed, skilled mental health support in school buildings, where students, parents and teachers can take full advantage of it. We are grateful for the multi-year partnership with Anthem to prevent addiction and strengthen lives.”

Youth First partners with 110 schools across 12 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, promote healthy choices, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills. There are 32 Youth First Social Workers serving 32 schools in the EVSC.

CenterPoint Energy Foundation is investing in Indiana youth. The organization has awarded $100,000 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of students at Delaware Elementary School and Glenwood Leadership Academy in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC).

This significant gift from CenterPoint Energy Foundation, along with funding from other sources, will enable Youth First to provide school-based social work services and prevention programs at Delaware and Glenwood.

Speaking at a check presentation at Glenwood on October 6, Amanda Schmitt, CenterPoint Foundation President, stated: “This gift is part of our commitment to seeing communities thrive and seeing students reach their potential. As you all know, the last two years have been really difficult and I am so honored to partner with organizations like Youth First to ensure the last two years don’t define the next ten years. We want to make sure our students at Delaware and Glenwood continue to succeed and learn.”

Dr. David Smith, Superintendent of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, remarked, “CenterPoint is investing in the communities they serve so we can write our own future, rather than being defined by the past. There’s nothing more noble or worthy than investing in our youth to help them have a better life.”

Glenwood Principal Angela Oliver said, “Here at Glenwood, we believe in growing the whole child. We’re very committed to making sure our students are socially, emotionally and mentally healthy. We know our students can’t learn on the academic front until all of those other needs are met, so it’s a high priority for us. Youth First Social Worker Tiffany Austin has been here for 10 years and has created relationships and trust with our families. When they need something, they know our school is the hub of the community and they can call the office and ask to speak to Mrs. Austin to help meet some of those extra needs beyond academics. She is the face of GLA (Glenwood Leadership Academy).”

Youth First is addressing the growing need for mental health support in school buildings, partnering with 110 schools across 12 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers, where they become specialized mentors for students and prevention coaches for parents and teachers. Youth First Social Workers build caring relationships, promote healthy choices, foster readiness for positive change, and boost resiliency along with other valuable life skills.

Support Youth First by purchasing half pot raffle tickets now! The winner will be drawn on September 5, 2021. Raffle tickets can be purchased from Youth First staff and board members, at the Youth First office Monday through Friday 8am to 12pm, or by filling out the contact form here.

Evansville, IN – United Way of Southwestern Indiana (UWSWI) is thrilled to announce an investment of $400,000 into improving local mental health care access for low-income residents. The Mental Health Pathway Grant is the first funding opportunity for mental health services since UWSWI shifted its focus to address root causes of poverty and help families overcome barriers to economic sufficiency. Research shows a link between poverty and mental health challenges. Likewise, there is evidence that mental health struggles prevent individuals from escaping poverty, creating a vicious cycle. A significant increase in demand for mental health care services is creating a strain on local providers, which is further limiting access.

Funding will be invested into the following local nonprofit applicants: Catholic Charities will receive $177,840 to increase the hours and capacity of a part-time counselor. In addition, grant funds will help underwrite the financial loss of providing a sliding scale fee model to low-income clients who otherwise cannot afford mental health care. Youth First is awarded $222,160 to help underwrite the cost of hiring additional social work staff. The funds will enable Youth First to hire a social worker fluent in Spanish, a Substitute School Support Specialist who will fill the gap when school social workers are absent, and a Clinical Supervisor to support the increase in capacity. Youth First identified a gap in service for students whose primary language is Spanish.

This grant will help extend service to students who were previously underserved. UWSWI is striving to develop a best-in-class grant evaluation process, which includes a thorough evaluation by local experts in the respective Pathway, as well as in financial operations. Scott Branam, CAO of Deaconess Cross Pointe commented, “With the overwhelming demand we are currently seeing in our nation and community for behavioral health, we are very excited United Way is dedicating funds for this critical service. As a member of the review taskforce, it was impressive to see the time and energy put into the process, as well as the rigor that went into the proposal review and selection of grantees. It’s a shame there is not enough money to fund every application.”

For more information on United Way’s Pathways to Potential, visit unitedwayswi.org/pathwaygrants.