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.

Foundation Recognized for Investment in Morgan County Youth

Youth First, Inc., presented the “Heart of Youth First” plaque to the Kendrick Foundation on Thursday, May 19, at The Brickhouse on Main in Martinsville.

The “Heart of Youth First” is awarded to organizations who have demonstrated a significant commitment to youth mental health, strong families, and community well-being through their support of Youth First’s model of service.

The Kendrick Foundation has played a primary role in bringing Youth First’s award-winning programs to Morgan County youth and families. Since 2018, with financial support totaling over $200,000, the Kendrick Foundation has galvanized partnerships between Youth First, the MSD of Martinsville, and Mooresville Consolidated School Corporation. More than 1,300 students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville have access to a full-time Youth First Social Worker in their school building, along with a toolkit of programs to boost resiliency and other valuable life skills.

Keeley Wright, Executive Director of the Kendrick Foundation, remarked, “Supporting the mental health of children and youth will require a whole of society effort to address longstanding challenges, strengthen the resilience of young people, and support their families and communities. We are profoundly grateful for the work of Youth First to make vital mental health services, resources, and supports more accessible for our youth and families and for their efforts to move upstream and prevent substance misuse, promote healthy behaviors, and maximize student success.”

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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 107 schools across 13 Indiana counties to provide 78 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.

About Kendrick Foundation:  Formed from the proceeds of the sale of the Kendrick Memorial Hospital in 2001, the mission of the Kendrick Foundation is to financially support education and initiatives that improve the physical and mental health of Morgan County residents. To learn more about how the Kendrick Foundation is leading health initiatives for Morgan County, please visit kendrickfoundation.org.

Valero Corporation has awarded $20,000 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of students in Posey County.

The grant will allow continued support for students at West Elementary School, St. Matthew Catholic School, and St. Philip Catholic School in Mt. Vernon; South Terrace Elementary School in Blairsville; and North Elementary School, North Posey Jr. High School, and North Posey High School in Poseyville.

Youth First partners with 107 schools across 13 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers 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.

“We’re driven to make a difference for our community,” said Chris Rhea, Plant Manager of the Valero Mt. Vernon Ethanol Plant. “We’re proud to continue supporting Youth First and all they do to improve children’s lives in Posey County.”

Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black stated, “Our children are growing up in a complex and challenging world that puts them at greater risk for substance use, suicide, violence and harmful behaviors, and the stress of the pandemic will affect the mental health of our youth for years to come. The continued investment of Valero Corporation is critical to achieving Youth First’s mission of cared-for kids. Working together, we can provide Posey County youth with the support and coping tools needed to become thriving adults.”

Kendrick Foundation has awarded $61,476 to Youth First, Inc. to strengthen the mental health and well-being of students in Morgan County.

The grant will allow continued support for students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville. Youth First partners with 107 schools across 13 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers 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.

“Since 2018, the Kendrick Foundation has invested in Youth First programs,” stated Keylee Wright, Kendrick Foundation Executive Director, “and we are seeing results. Last year, Youth First Social Workers managing caseloads in two Morgan County middle schools achieved 100% follow through on student referrals for outside mental health support, and the spring Strengthening Families program facilitated by Youth First saw seven families (26 participants) achieve 100% completion of the 10-week program.”

Youth First President & CEO Parri O. Black stated, “Our children are growing up in a complex and challenging world that puts them at greater risk for substance use, suicide, violence and harmful behaviors, and the stress of the pandemic will affect the mental health of our youth for years to come. The continued investment of the Kendrick Foundation is critical to achieving Youth First’s mission of cared-for kids. Working together, we can provide Morgan County youth with the support and coping tools needed to become thriving adults.”

Car dealership’s on-going “$10 per Test Drive” television advertising campaign continues to support local charities and causes 

D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln presented a check for $2,500 to Youth First, Inc. on Wednesday, February 2nd 10:00 am.  The presentation occured at the D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln dealership, located at 1100 Walnut Street, which is just south of the Highway 41/Lloyd Expressway Interchange. Each month, D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln selects a local charity to support. It then awards $10 per test drive (up to $2,500) to the charitable organization. Representatives from D-Patrick Ford/Lincoln will be presented the check to representatives from Youth First, Inc to support Youth First’s mission of strengthening Indiana youth and families.

Drive a brand new Ford and give back to Youth First! During the month of January, D-Patrick’s Evansville Ford Dealership will donate $10 to Youth First for every test drive. Visit their Evansville Ford Dealership online! Please set a date this month and invite the family to test drive for Youth First!

A $10,000 grant award was presented to Youth First, Inc. by The Community Foundation of Morgan County on Tuesday, December 7. The grant will allow continued support for students at Bell Intermediate Academy in Martinsville and Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville. Youth First partners with 105 schools across 12 Indiana counties to embed skilled social workers 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 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.

Ryan Setterlof, Principal of Bell Intermediate Academy says, “Our Youth First Social Worker has really made connections with our students and their families to meet their needs. It’s a huge support system, for not only our students, but for the families and our staff as well. We’re very thankful to have Youth First in our building.” 


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