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December 26, 2019

Reliant Foundation awards a record amount of grants to Central and MetroWest nonprofits

Reliant Foundation President Kelsa Zereski

Reliant Foundation, a Worcester charity, has awarded $674,770 in grants to 50 health organizations in its most recent round of community grants.

These grants, combined with other support initiatives, brings the nonprofit’s 2019 total giving amount to $705,000, a 41%  percent increase over last year, the nonprofit announced Monday.

For the second consecutive year, the foundation said it has set organizational records for the largest dollar amount and number of community grants provided during its fiscal year. The foundation is a separate entity from the Reliant Medical Group in Worcester, which spun off the foundation after the medical group was acquired by Minnesota health conglomerate UnitedHealthcare in 2017.

Of the 50 grants awarded, 15 organizations received between $15,000 and $30,000 each, a first for the foundation, said Kelsa Zereski, the foundation's president.

The community grants are given to nonprofits whose programs focus on the opioid epidemic, and mental and behavioral health services for youth.

 The following organizations are receiving grants from the foundation through its 2019 grant cycle:

  • Abby's House – Advocacy and support services for women struggling with substance abuse coupled with mental health issues; creating dedicated program space to offer more effective advocacy, meeting and support services
  • Advocates, Inc. – The creation of an after-care program to help graduates from its recovery homes stay involved with Advocates and avoid relapse
  • Anna Maria College - The creation of a mental health first aid curriculum and recovery coach training, the continuation of a project funded by the Foundation last year with intentional steps toward workforce development  
  • Bancroft School – Continued support for the Worcester Partnership Program, a summer enrichment program for low-income, at-risk youth, adding new components to address mental health issues and offer substance use prevention
  • Becker College – Funding of scholarships for students to pursue a master's degree in mental health counseling
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass and MetroWest – An expansion to Framingham of the Bigs in Blue Youth Mentorship Program, started last year in Worcester, which aligns police officers who mentor at-risk youth
  • Boys & Girls Club of MetroWest – Youth Mental Health First Aid USA curriculum training for staff members at all three club houses in MetroWest
  • Boys & Girls Club of Webster-Dudley – Healthy Habits program, which provides children an array of programs and services that have been proven effective in preventing substance abuse as well as improving mental and behavioral health  
  • Boys & Girls Club of Worcester – Implementation of substance abuse prevention programs for children and building support systems for those who have addiction in their families
  • CASA Project Inc. – Expansion of the Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Children program, previously funded by the Foundation, to eliminate wait times for mental health services for the children served by Court Appointed Special Advocates
  • Children’s Friend, an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation – Training for two master’s-level clinicians to offer a new treatment modality entitled Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children at the Ellsworth Child and Family Counseling Center  
  • Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester – Continued funding to support the coordination and implementation of the new 2020 Community Health Improvement Plan for Greater Worcester
  • Community Harvest Project – One of the largest nonprofit, fresh produce growers in the area, this grant supports produce distribution to three Worcester residential substance use recovery programs
  • Dismas House – Residential recovery homes that provide stable, sober, transitional housing to support homeless former prisoners, recently released from jail
  • Doc Wayne Youth Services, Inc. – Launching Therapeutic Mentoring in MetroWest, which provides structured, one-on-one, strength-based support services to address the needs and building skills of young people facing social, emotional, or behavioral health challenges
  • Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center – Continuation of the planning grant awarded last year by the foundation to plan for the implementation and integration of behavioral and psychosocial services within school-based health centers in Worcester and Framingham, this year’s grant will enable the behavioral health services to be implemented by the 2021 academic year
  • Family Health Center of Worcester – Continuation of the Screen Our Students program through school-based health centers, which address opioid and substance use among middle/high school students in the Worcester Public Schools
  • GAAMHA Inc. – One of the leading agencies in North Central Massachusetts, providing substance use treatment and support to individuals and their families, this grant supports Family Addiction Support Training for five staff members as Family Recovery Coaches
  • Genesis Club, Inc. – Young Adult Initiative connecting people ages 18-25 who are newly diagnosed with mental illnesses with clubhouse support services
  • Girls Inc. – Regular mental, social, emotional, physical and behavioral wellbeing workshops, activities and resources for school-age girls in grades K through 12
  • Growing Places – Gardner Grows initiative, which is a collaboration among Growing Places and Gardner Public Schools to reach at-risk teens through a mental/behavioral health and substance use reduction program
  • Guild of St. Agnes – Provide embedded clinicians from You Inc., who specialize in early childhood in two child-care programs in North Worcester County, where more than half of the children are considered at-risk and/or have suffered trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences that require intervention
  • Home2Homes - Funds to purchase duffle bags full of daily necessities for 100 adults in recovery homes; additional funds will be used for shelving and racks to help organize donations
  • HOPE Coalition, Mental Health Model – The Healthy Options for Prevention and Education Coalition integrates mental health counselors into community-based youth organizations; this grant would help to expand the organizations reach
  • Legendary Legacies – funding to send a staff member to the 2019 National Gang Crime Research Center's 22nd International Gang Specialist and Mental Health Training Conference
  • LIFT – Living in Freedom Together is a survivor-led, Worcester-based institution comprised of those who have overcome commercial sexual exploitation and professionals sensitive to the needs of this vulnerable and marginalized population; this grant is to increase hours at the drop-in center to offer more services to women suffering from drug addiction, trauma, mental health disorders and poverty
  • Montachusett Opportunity Council – Funds for MOC to integrate behavioral health satellite offices in each of its Head Start facilities to increase access to quality mental health services to low-income, at-risk youth in North Central Massachusetts
  • Net of Compassion – Reaches homeless and low income people struggling with addiction and mental illness where they are physically on the street through such programs as the outreach/breakfast program in the Main South neighborhood and the emergency cold weather shelter, Hotel Grace
  • Open Sky's Career Pipeline Project – Initiation of the effort, Encouraging Youth and Young Adults to enter the health-related direct care worker field”
  • Perkins Behavioral Health – Support technology used to deliver behavioral health programs in area schools including Clinton, Leominster, and Nashoba Regional
  • Pernet Family Health Services – Maintain and expand the mental health components of this organization’s Youth Program, serving the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Kelley Square and Green Island in Worcester
  • Rainbow Child Development Center – Resiliency Through Rhythm program will offer preventative care and counseling to 50 highly at-risk children over a four-month period
  • Regional Environmental Council – The YouthGROW program is a development and employment program for 40 low-income youth ages 14-18 on two urban farm sites in Worcester’s Main South and Bell Hill neighborhoods, providing at-risk teens with summer jobs and year-round mentoring programs
  • Restoration Recovery Center, Inc. – New walk-in recovery center in Fitchburg designed to help individuals with substance use disorder stay in recovery, build job skills, and provide recovery coach training
  • Rise Above – Provide activities and experiences such as the support of pro-social opportunities that improve mental and physical health, build resiliency and enrich the lives of children in foster care
  • Riverside Community Care – Capital renovation funds to help co-locate the organization’s 24-hour emergency mental health and substance use services with their outpatient behavioral health services at a new site in Milford
  • Shine Initiative – Support implementation of youth mental health awareness programs in additional schools in the Worcester Public Schools as well as in Quabbin Regional High School and Milford High School
  • Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services, Inc. – Establishment of the first Teen Mental Health First Aid USA program in addition to the Youth Mental Health First Aid USA Program trainings being provided in the Central and MetroWest regions supported by the Foundation
  • Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services Inc. –  Six-week vaping cessation program offered to at least 60 students across five high schools in eleven towns within Worcester County
  • South Middlesex Opportunity Council – Support of the SMOC Peer Recovery Coaches Program, which focuses on reducing the alarming number of opioid-related overdoses and fatalities in the MetroWest area
  • Spectrum Health Systems – Continued funding for the Short-Term Transitional Housing Support for Individuals in Recovery from Opiate Use Disorder initiative to help recovering individuals secure affordable sober housing options
  • UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center - Support for the Foster Children Evaluation Services Clinic, which provides medical evaluations for foster children with behavioral health needs, funding an Education Navigator to coordinate services and mental health resources for foster children
  • United Way of Central Massachusetts – Continued funding of the YouthConnect Program, a collaboration of eight non-profit agencies in Worcester, which offer free or low cost neighborhood-based recreational, educational, and cultural programs for low-income youth; mental health is a priority of YouthConnect, utilizing embedded MH counselors at the sites
  • Visitation House – Expansion of the drug awareness classes funded by the Foundation last year, offered through assistance from AdCare, to help women in recovery stay clean and sober, and to help prevent additional women from becoming addicted, especially while pregnant or parenting
  • Worcester Program for Addiction Recovery – In partnership with the Worcester Police Department, this program offers preventative and reactive outreach in the community relative to the opioid crisis
  • Worcester State University – Funding a pilot program providing support for the New Addictions Counseling Interdisciplinary Minor and Certificate Programs; and one-time, capacity-building support for the acquisition of new clinical journals and academic resources, marketing and outreach
  • Worcester Youth Center – Continued funding for the Opioid/Narcan training program to educate at-risk Worcester youth about opioid overdoses and interventions
  • YMCA of Central Massachusetts – Childcare capacity building support through which YMCA early childhood staff will deliver trauma-informed care to children in YMCA branches through trainings and supervision provided by the Child Trauma Training Center of UMass Medical School
  • YOU, Inc. – Initiative to eliminate gaps in mental health and other health-related services in Worcester County, increasing the organization’s ability to provide exceptional and greatly-expanded mental health care to vulnerable children and families
  • YWCA Central Massachusetts – funding the creation of space to accommodate mental and behavioral health counseling services for children in the Y’s early education and care program

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