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Prebys Foundation Invests $6 Million for Youth Mental and Emotional Well-Being Programs in San Diego County

San Diego, CA – In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, the Prebys Foundation is pleased to announce a significant investment of $6 million in grants to 23 local organizations that support the mental and emotional well-being of youth and young adults within the communities of San Diego County.


This commitment focuses on preventive care strategies such as garden therapy, summer camp, open mic nights, clinical therapy, and more to build a stronger foundation for the future. The funded organizations address the needs of diverse groups, including youth caregivers, Native communities, rural students, children of active-duty military families, refugees, first-generation college students, and unhoused individuals.


Grant Oliphant, CEO of the Prebys Foundation, highlighted the importance of these initiatives. "San Diego can become a national model by consistently supporting youth well-being. The health and vitality of our youth are crucial for a vibrant future. Our investment aims to ensure that San Diego’s young individuals are thriving and empowered to explore who they are and build meaningful community ties," said Oliphant.


These efforts come at a critical time as mental health challenges remain the leading cause of disability and adverse life outcomes among young people in the U.S., a situation further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the increased need for upstream interventions, the Prebys Foundation is committed to providing essential support.


"The work of these organizations strengthens the community fabric," Oliphant continued. "Their commitment to delivering innovative and relevant solutions allows young individuals to nurture and protect their emotional and mental health, significantly enhancing the well-being of San Diego County."


The Prebys Foundation celebrates the dedication of these 23 organizations, which are at the forefront of addressing the unique challenges youth and their families face. Their tailored and responsive approaches ensure that the provided services have a meaningful and lasting impact.


Introducing Prebys Youth Emotional and Mental Well-being Grant Recipients

Today, the foundation is announcing the names of the 23 grant recipients. These leaders are changing the landscape of youth emotional and mental well-being:


‘ataaxum Pomkwaan Inc. (Pronounced: "Ah-tAH-hoom pome-qwan")

North Inland and Countywide/Native Communities 

 

The name means “For the People” and the organization’s mission is to honor their Native grandparents and serve their generations of children. It does this by providing communities resources centered around healing and improving mental health for the continued survival of Native and Indigenous peoples, their languages, customs, and histories. This project will provide cultural education through various means, including internships, Rez Beats Open Mic Nights, a community garden, events for Indigenous youth, and beading. Programming will occur at all 18 reservations in San Diego County. It will promote healthy development, life skills, and resilience and reduce self-harm, substance use, etc. This is a unique and culturally relevant way to address youth mental/behavioral health for Native communities.

 

Bayside Community Services

Central-Linda Vista specific


Bayside is a private, independent, nonprofit organization that serves the whole person and the entire community, focusing on resident-identified needs. Their delivery of services is complex, with multiple services offered to multiple generations, ethnicities, and languages. The Garden Therapy program is a unique opportunity for youth to experience the therapeutic benefits of gardening. This program, led by two instructors holding Certificates in Horticultural Therapy, will increase students’ connection with the natural world, improve their self-efficacy, improve problem-solving and teamwork skills, and reduce stress and anxiety through hands-on educational gardening activities. Bayside will begin to offer garden therapy at a new school.


Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos

North Inland-San Marcos


Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos provides more than 2,500 children and teens access to academic enrichment, mentoring, and opportunities to develop and explore new interests through its afterschool programs and school break camps. With the Prebys Foundation's support, the organization will expand its reach through its integrated Wellness Program, providing wraparound behavioral health services to more youth by expanding its social work internship program, increasing access to prevention activities and social emotional learning (SEL) groups, and strengthening its partnership with San Marcos Unified School District to further mental health awareness initiatives for a citywide integration of intervention services.

 

Boys & Girls Clubs of East County

East County and rural area/unhoused youth


Boys & Girls Clubs of East County (BGCEC) offers affordable and high-quality after-school and school break camps to nearly 2,000 children in East County. 85% of members have low-to-moderate income, putting them at elevated risk for adverse health outcomes. BGCEC seeks to expand its impact by underwriting annual membership fees, transportation, and summer camp costs for up to 50 children living without shelter in partnership with the East County Transitional Living Center, and with the support of the Prebys Foundation, mitigate the negative impacts of external stressors and empower our youth to thrive academically, personally, and socially. The BGCEC is committed to provide Trauma-Informed Training for Clubhouse staff, Scholarships to remove any barriers to entry for children and families seeking the safety and support of the Club, and Quarterly Mental Health Workshops at each of our Clubhouses in partnership with Charlie Health.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego

Central and South San Diego County


Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego (BGCGSD) offers after-school and school break programs for over 10,000 youth ages 5-18 throughout San Diego County. Participants engage in age-appropriate activities supporting academic excellence, character development, and healthy lifestyle choices. The organization is launching a pilot program created to combat anxiety, depression, and overall worsening mental health staff identify in the youth they serve. The initiative will include BGCGSD hiring a Director of Wellness and piloting specific mental/behavioral health programming at specific clubs (ex. Encanto), with a longer-term goal of becoming a trauma-informed agency.


Boys to Men Mentoring Network

Central/male youth


Boys to Men’s in-school Group Mentoring Program works to equip boys with healthy decision-making and social-emotional skills, build resilience and coping skills, learn empathy, and compassion towards others, and improve their self-esteem through strong community relationships with mentors and peers. Funding will empower Boys to Men to expand their reach by establishing additional mentorship groups within schools across San Diego County. These groups aim to support male teens by providing positive role models and tools for personal growth. Through weekly mentoring sessions, youth build their self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and social management skills. It also seeks to grow the number of Spanish-speaking mentors and Spanish-language groups.


California State San Marcos University Foundation

North County/college students


Established in 1989, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) is a forward-focused public institution dedicated to preparing future leaders, building great communities, and solving critical issues. Funding will expand collaboration among mental health staff from three key “units” within the university’s Community of Care: Cougar Care Network, Crisis Response Team and Student Health and Counseling Services. Many CSUSM students, particularly those from underrepresented and first-generation communities, encounter challenges accessing mental and behavioral health services due to systemic barriers and cultural stigma. Expanding CSUSM’s Culture of Care network will offer comprehensive support for early intervention, crisis management and financial assistance, serving as a model for other universities to emulate. This initiative aims to strengthen connections within the university and throughout our region.


Center for Community Solutions

Central/youth who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing sexual assault/partner violence


Center for Community Solutions (CCS), founded in 1969 as the Center on Women’s Studies and Services, has become a regional leader for the creation and implementation of innovative, trauma-informed services that help individuals heal after experiencing intimate partner/domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Funds will establish youth-focused group and individual therapy services for those who have experienced sexual assault and/or intimate partner violence and those at risk. CCS will also incorporate an art therapy component and will partner with A Window Between Worlds for curriculum, training, and technical support. 


Champions for Health

North Inland/youth caregivers


In 2016, San Diego County Medical Society Foundation was rebranded to Champions for Health (CFH), with the vision of physicians improving health, changing lives. Funds will be used to expand and provide new services through CFH’s Project Access San Diego program. This program provides in-home support for patients needing specialty care. This pilot expansion adds a new dimension to home visits by providing occupational therapy (OT) sessions specifically for youth caregivers in patient households.


Father Joe’s Villages

Central/unhoused youth


The mission of Father Joe’s Villages is to prevent and end homelessness, one life at a time. This project focuses on hiring a Licensed Adolescent Therapist who will serve the Therapeutic Childcare Center by providing intakes, assessments, individual and group services to pre-teens and adolescents (an identified age gap in the Center’s services), while also supervising university interns working at the Center. The therapist will also support parents with skills and strategies to understand and manage their children’s concerns.


Girl Scouts San Diego

Girls in K-12 from San Diego and Imperial counties

 

The mission of Girl Scouts San Diego (GSSD) is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. As part of its new strategic vision, the organization will continue offering relevant programs and experiences that foster a sense of well-being in girls so they are poised for success in all aspects of life. Funding will support Years two and three of GSSD’s efforts to establish a network of certified Youth Mental Health First Aid trainers by training adult volunteers and selecting partner organizations. Through this program, GSSD will help its volunteers identify children and teens experiencing mental/behavioral health challenges early and connect them with healthcare providers. The initiative aims to increase early intervention, grow knowledge of key warning signs, destigmatize direct conversations, and provide tools to support mental health, thereby growing the ecosystem of support for the well-being of girls in the San Diego region.

 

Institute for Public Strategies

South/Latine youth


For 30 years, Institute for Public Strategies (IPS) has been protecting community health and well-being as the lead agency for dozens of upstream prevention programs throughout San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. In partnership with Welfie, a San Diego-based wellness online platform, IPS will launch (en)Visionary Minds. This project aims to enhance behavioral health literacy, reduce stigma, and promote help-seeking behavior in the Latine community of San Diego County's Border Region. Rooted in Social Justice Youth Development and Youth Participatory Action Research, this project centers on the co-creation of a digital mental health platform and a #SanDiegoVibes campaign for youth by youth. 

 

Julian Pathways, Inc

North Inland (Julian/surrounding areas) and South County/rural students


Over the years, the vision of a healthy and happy child has expanded to include a whole-child model for youth in rural neighborhoods across the backcountry of San Diego County. Funding will expand online and in-class SEL programming aimed at supporting youth and educators. This is a high-touch and high-impact program with enthusiastic, passionate staff. Hispanic and Tribal Community Liaisons support outreach/communication efforts. Pathways seeks to introduce programming at two new schools, one of which is an online charter school with administration out of the office space next to Pathways in Julian but mainly serving students in Chula Vista.


Kupanda

Central/refugee


Kupanda is passionate about providing support, mentorship, and trusting relationships to African youth. These funds will add additional programing through an 8-week summer camp, and with some activities continuing through the school year. Activities include exposure to visual arts, yoga, dance, music, and nature. These activities will be provided to students involved with Kupanda (applicant/lead agent) and USD’s Black InGenious Initiative (collaborating organization).


License to Freedom

East County/refugee


License to Freedom is an ethnic based community-based organization with 23 years' experience providing direct services to the Middle Eastern and Afghanistan refugee populations. License to Freedom is the lead organization/applicant for the San Diego Refugee Community Coalition Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, East County.  In this program, services delivered o East County refugee youth will include : (1) early intervention services such as peer support groups to provide knowledge and skills aligned with good mental health and positive youth development; (2) nonclinical peer-based individual or family counseling and resource navigation to promote wellness and reduce risk; and (3) cross-sector collaboration to co-design and deliver innovative strategies that promote increased behavioral health literacy and reduced stigma among youth from refugee communities.


MANA de San Diego

South/Latina youth


MANA de San Diego inspires Latinas of all ages to reach their full potential through education, leadership development, community building, and advocacy by leveraging engaged members and community partners. MANA will add a Social Emotional Learning component to its Hermanitas and College Success programs. It will also include mental/behavioral health training and awareness for mentors and utilize current members’ expertise to support platicas (conversations/workshops) around mental/behavioral health topics.


NAMI San Diego

Central


NAMI San Diego was founded in 1978 by family members of people living with mental health conditions. NAMI San Diego will provide 8-10 monthly accessible and comprehensive support groups to youths aged 14-26. Groups will take place outside of school learning time and beyond the traditional 8am-5pm weekday schedule previously offered. This will expand a pilot (funded through a one-year state grant, which ended) into NAMI’s operations for larger testing. It will also add a clinical element. The program will reach youths through partnerships and potentially at their Logan Heights Clubhouse (currently unused on weekends).


North County Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning Resource Center

North County/LGBTQ youth


The Center is committed to the physical and mental health of all LGBTQ+ constituents and believes that the actions driving this commitment improve the health of the entire community. Funds will expand availability of successful, trauma-informed, culturally expert mental/behavioral health services as well as psychoeducational services to LGBTQ+ youth and their families. Services are free. Therapists are LGBTQ+ themselves, which is unique and adds a level of understanding and trust. 


Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego

Central


“Ranked as one of the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation, Rady Children’s serves as the largest provider of comprehensive medical services for infants, children and adolescents in San Diego, southern Riverside and Imperial counties. Funding will allow Rady Children’s to expand programming to improve access to mental healthcare for youth by providing telehealth therapy for a minimum of two additional primary care locations in underserved regions of San Diego. Funding will focus on its Alvarado and/or Euclid clinics.


Social Advocates for Youth San Diego Inc

Central/military youth


SAY San Diego creates positive change in the lives of youth, adults, and families by engaging the community and partnering with schools, law enforcement, local government, community leaders, the military, businesses, and individuals. This program will bring new mental/behavioral health programming on-site at Miller Elementary, which is in Murphy Canyon and near SAY’s Military Family Resource Center. Murphy Canyon is the largest off-base military housing community in the world.


Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego

Central/refugee


Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego is the lead organization/applicant for the San Diego Refugee Community Coalition Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, Central County. This project is a coalition-based approach to services. Services will include: (1) early intervention services such as peer support groups to provide knowledge and skills aligned with good mental health and positive youth development; (2) nonclinical peer-based individual or family counseling and resource navigation to promote wellness and reduce risk; and (3) cross-sector collaboration to co-design and deliver innovative strategies that promote increased behavioral health literacy and reduced stigma among youth from refugee communities.


The San Diego LGBT Community Center (The Center)

Central and South/LGBTQ+ youth, Latinx youth


The Center provides targeted programs and services to the full diversity of the San Diego LGBTQ+ community, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, nonbinary, immigrant, and HIV communities to the betterment of our entire San Diego region. Funds will add staff and services to the Hillcrest Youth Center (HYC) and South Bay Youth Center (SBYC). These locations serve LGBTQ+ and nonbinary youth, as well as youth living with HIV, and their families and allies.  HYC and SBYC primarily serve youth ages 10-24 who are diverse, overburdened, and at-risk.


transcenDANCE youth arts project

Central


transcenDANCE youth arts project was created in 2005 out of youth-identified needs including access to creative spaces, mentoring, and leadership development. Funds will expand mental/behavioral health services offered on-site to youth and their caregivers to meet the increased need for clinical and expressive arts therapy and family support.

 

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About Prebys Foundation

Prebys Foundation is the largest independent private foundation in San Diego County, a unique tri-national area encompassing communities from San Diego, Tijuana, and the Kumeyaay Nation. The foundation works to create an inclusive, equitable, and dynamic future for all San Diegans. Prebys advances excellence and shared opportunity through investments in groundbreaking institutions, ideas, and people to ensure more people in the region are financially secure, healthy, empowered, and connected. For more information about the Prebys Foundation and the Prebys Research Heroes Program, visit prebysfdn.org.

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