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Supporting Youth Success in San Diego

A man holds a child in a gathering of men.
A circle gathering led by Izcalli

As part of our ongoing commitment to improving the well-being of young people in our community through our Youth Success grantmaking initiative, we are exploring ways to support organizations working towards promoting youth wellness in San Diego.

Our focus on youth wellness is centered around providing vital resources and support for young individuals to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. By nurturing their development, we aim to create a stronger and more resilient generation that will shape the future of our community.

To ensure that our grants are as effective as possible and aligned with the needs of the community, we have conducted extensive research and actively listened to the voices of individuals and organizations working tirelessly in this field. The grants we are highlighting today reflect the terrific input we received throughout the process. We expect to offer more grant opportunities this fall.


Here are a few areas that we are exploring:

Research We are looking into ways to assess available resources and develop a comprehensive roadmap for a continuum of care for San Diego and Imperial Counties children and youth. We are identifying research opportunities to examine issues pertaining to youth mental health, adding to a valuable body of knowledge about how to promote mental well-being for young people.

As part of this effort, we recently made a $150,000 grant over the course of two years to the American Academy of Pediatrics to support its Strategic Behavioral Health Initiative. This grant will enable them to assess the available resources and develop a comprehensive roadmap for a continuum of care for San Diego and Imperial Counties children and youth.

The needs of young people are extremely complex,” said Kristen Garrett Montgomery, Advocacy Manager of the Strategic Behavioral Health Initiative at the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3. “There's a continuum of care from prevention to crisis management to hospitalization. There are so many issues along the way that are different for different age groups and different kinds of young people. If we can identify the gaps and opportunities and attract funding in a collaborative way, we can leverage the system,” she said.

The Outdoors

We recognize the importance of being outdoors and its positive impact on mental health. Many young people have traditionally not been offered opportunities to succeed. Programs that promote the benefits of nature and focus on workforce development, leadership development, and creating youth advocates could make a huge difference. The foundation has just made a $50,000 grant to Outdoor Outreach, which works with young people who have traditionally not been offered opportunities to succeed and offers programs that promote the benefits of nature and focus on workforce development, leadership development, and creating youth advocates. “We work with youth who have been systematically excluded from the outdoors,” said Julia Woods, Outdoor Outreach’s Communications and Events Manager. “For many kids, our program is the first time they’ve even been to the beach. Now, they’re kayaking, standup paddleboarding, surfing, hiking, and rock climbing. The benefits are amazing – we’re seeing higher graduation rates, and more youth applying to and getting accepted to college.”

The Arts

We understand the extraordinary power of the arts to promote learning, self-expression, and healing among young people. The arts can be a powerful method for breaking down barriers and empowering youth, creating safe spaces for young people to explore their cultural heritage, cultivate their talents, and foster a sense of belonging. A great example of this is Izcalli, an organization that works to transform the lives of Chicano/a and Indigenous communities by promoting cultural consciousness through the arts, education, and community dialogue. The organization recently received a $15,000 grant from the Prebys Foundation to support their work with young people. For Macedonio Arteaga, who co-founded Izcalli, having a chance to express themselves through storytelling can be transformational for young people. “When you as a teaching artist can back off and let people tell their story as raw as they need to – giving them that voice and creating that sense of belonging - they feel that they’re finally being seen.”


At the Conrad Prebys Foundation, we are doing what we can to gain a better understanding of the challenges that youth face in our community. As we continue our strategic planning and grantmaking journey, the insights we gain from this work will shape our future grantmaking. Our goal is to achieve meaningful and lasting outcomes that improve the lives of young individuals throughout San Diego.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to these organizations for their tireless efforts and dedication to improving the well-being of young people. We are honored to partner with them in our collective mission to create a better future for San Diego's young generation.

Stay tuned for updates as we embark on this transformative journey together. We can build a healthier, happier, and more prosperous community for all.

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