Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation header image

Community Raises $365,064 in Give Back Tahoe Giving Season

For the fifth year, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) facilitated the Give Back Tahoe (GBT) Giving Season to elevate the missions of our local nonprofits and inspire collective giving. Thanks to the generosity of you and other donors in our community, we leveraged $365,064 for over 60 local nonprofits!


  • $365,064 infused into North Tahoe – Truckee. That number includes:
  • $27,563 leveraged in matching grants
  • $15,000 awarded in Challenge Grants raised by TTCF
  • 4 nonprofits raised more than $20,000 each

Through our grantmaking, capacity building, and technical assistance, TTCF has strengthened our local nonprofits for two decades. In the past five years, Give Back Tahoe has raised over $1.7 million for our region. More than raising funds, Give Back Tahoe strengthens nonprofits by exposing their missions to a broader audience and helping them develop their year-end fundraising techniques. This year, we introduced a new web platform that gave more autonomy to our nonprofits. In addition to more direct access to donors and volunteers, nonprofits were able to build out full online profiles, social media campaigns, email marketing campaigns, and could experiment with peer-to-peer fundraising techniques. Through online marketing strategies, nonprofits have created a long term engagement and conversion funnel that will build throughout the year.

TTCF also secured $15,000 in Challenge Grants from generous donors. Challenge Grants award nonprofits and their donors for exemplary fundraising efforts through specific challenges throughout the first two weeks of the Giving Season, November 27th – December 11th. See who won the Challenge Grants on the Leaderboard.

Give Back Tahoe is only possible thanks to the generosity of our Challenge Grant Donors and Business Sponsors. Thank you to our community members who drove the giving even further: Tahoe Donner Giving Fund, Auerbach Engineering Corp., The Bolam Gallery, Eagle Peak Management, Elder Group Tahoe Real Estate, Emerald Bay Wealth Management LLC, Sears Hometown Stores. Learn more about our sponsors here, and be sure to support them!


“We are so grateful for this program! It really rallies people to reach into their pocketbooks to give back to the nonprofits that are meaningful to them. What I really like about your challenge grants is how diverse they are. For people who have the money, $250 creates the opportunity to four-fold their donation. Other folks can make a BIG difference with just $25 – turning $25 into $25 + $1,250! This takes a lot of pressure off of our team financially. I was so impressed with the generosity of our families. TTCF was the catalyst to make that happen. We will now have the ability to offer financial aid scholarships to the community.” -Sandy Hynes, Truckee Tahoe Swim Team

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Give Back Tahoe Giving Season. We have been surprised by the number of kind donations we’ve received from the community and how excited donors got about trying to help us with the challenges! Participating in this event has allowed us to not only raise additional funding to support Achieve Tahoe programs that serve children and adults with disabilities, but to reach out to the local community, thanks to the Foundation’s efforts.” – Deidre Kennelly, Achieve Tahoe

| Tagged , ,

Women and Girls in Local Philanthropy

The Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund, a program of Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF),  just wrapped up another joyful season of generosity. At the start of the season, TTCF sat down with Queen of Hearts representatives to record a podcast about the power of Women in Philanthropy. In 41 minutes of inspiring conversation, four women speak to the way that females shape the world they live in through philanthropy. They explore how role models influence the charitable tendencies of women, how volunteering can plug a person into community, the power of giving collectively, and how programs benefiting young boys can change the world for women. Featuring: Stacy Caldwell, TTCF CEO; Martha Simon- who launched the Fund as a TTCF staff member; Nancy Gisko- a significant Queen of Hearts’ leader; and Lacey Norris- one of the original members of Girls Giving Back, TTCF’s youth philanthropy project.

The Queen of Hearts

Launched in February 2006, the Fund sought to inspire 1,000 women to donate $1,000 within a single year to raise $1 million for an endowment. That goal was surpassed, and the endowment now kicks off approximately $60,000 a year for grantmaking to local nonprofits! Since 2006, the Fund has channeled $691,518 into programs and projects benefiting North Tahoe-Truckee, and the initial $1 million+ still remains in an endowment that will serve this region into perpetuity.

In December, supporters also volunteer in the Annual Senior Gifts Program to fulfill the holiday wishlists of local seniors. By partnering with Sierra Senior Services, these women make the holidays brighter for our local elders who may not have loved ones nearby to celebrate with.

2018 December Highlights:

  • 65 local elders received gifts, personalized cards, and holiday spirit
  • 8 nonprofits received grants of $10,000 and $5,000
  • 75 women gathered at the annual GEMS Grants Showcase
  • A local girls science program received a $2500 Girls Giving Back grant which then inspired an additional $3500 from anonymous donors


Each year, TTCF hosts the Queen of Hearts’ Annual GEMS Grants Showcase for supporters to gather and connect in a cozy holiday setting before watching eight nonprofit finalists pitch their 3 minute grant proposals. The pitches are recorded and shared across the country so that the over 1300 supporters can cast their votes across four areas of funding. One of the greatest parts of this event is that everyone is a winner! In each category, one nonprofit wins $10,000 and second place wins $5,000. Learn about the recipients in the ballot language below.

On top of the GEMS grants, Girls Giving Back (GGB), a youth philanthropy project of the Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund, hosts an annual grant cycle. GGB began in 2014 when many young Queen of Hearts supporters demonstrated passionate community commitment. The GGB team hosts annual fundraisers, learns how to vet grant proposals, and then votes on which nonprofit will receive the funding. In four years, GGB original members have awarded a total of $10,000! This year, they chose to address the widening gap between boys and girls pursuing education and careers in STEM, learn more below.



Bringing STEM Education to Girls – $2,500

Headwaters Science Institute

Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are the fastest growing and best paying in the country. Unfortunately, there is a significant achievement gap between girls and boys in STEM education. Women make up only 15-25% of the STEM workforce, and data shows that the gap is actually widening. This means that we are under-preparing the next generation of women for success in these crucial fields. All-female science and math education can be effective in closing the STEM achievement gap because girls take fewer risks in mixed-gender settings, can be made to feel less capable than boys, and defer to them in math and science classes. Girls science camps help close the STEM gender achievement gap by giving girls an empowering single-gender learning opportunity.




Building an Interactive and Sensory Community Park for All Ages – $10,000

Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe Community Project (CATTCP)

We want to create an interactive and sensory community park that is usable and accessible for all ages where people can come together to play, eat, listen, and converse in historic downtown Truckee. The current outdoor space adjoining the Truckee Community Art Center is mostly asphalt, with some lawn and a small playground that is not to code. We’ve been asked to transform this bleak ¼ acre space into the New Downtown Park with an amphitheater, natural playgrounds for younger and older children, and a sensory garden with interpretive elements and interactive features. The landscape design includes murals, a meandering path, multiple play, interactive learning, and historical elements. Currently, there is no gathering space like this in downtown Truckee, and this is a prime location. We are requesting funds to support the Park Amenities portion of the budget which includes signs, historical mural, picnic tables, shade structures, amphitheater stage and seating, playground features, and more.  This “core” downtown restoration and neighborhood revitalization project will offer a community gathering place, enhance community pride, and support community economics. 


Shining a Brighter Light on a Cultural Gem – $5,000

Lake Tahoe Dance Collective

On our stage, we present some of today’s most prominent and fascinating performing artists in works that are distinct for both their creativity and rarity. Our promotion of exceptional classical, modern and contemporary dance in our region through performance, education and outreach, enriches the community as a whole and identifies the Lake Tahoe region as a cultural destination. Our annual world class dance festival deserves to be elevated to a higher standing with greater awareness beyond our loyal fans. The event is currently growing in numbers annually, and increasing awareness of it could serve more local and visiting artists, expose large audiences to thought-provoking works, and create more overall positive growth for the organization, as well as continuing to establish our region as a cultural center.  The festival takes place both at Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City and at West End Beach at Donner Lake. During the three weeks leading in to the festival, a Young Dancers Workshop engages students from local dance schools in a far more affordable summer program than other out of area offerings.  Our overall goals include presenting the finest level of dance, keeping ticket prices accessible, and raising awareness. We are mindful of not losing our “special sauce” while putting on a great performance, and sharing the powerful effect live performance has on a person’s soul. 



Provide a Seamless Transition and Year-Round Support to Students through Middle School, High School, and College – $10,000

Aim High for High School

Over the last eight years, we have provided transformative academic classes and enrichment opportunities to keep high potential Tahoe-Truckee students safe, stimulated, and engaged throughout the summer. Our goal is to provide a seamless transition and offer students year-round support as they navigate the path through middle school, high school, and college. We respectfully request funding to help us prepare, nurture and inspire 140 high-potential, under-resourced middle school students at Alder Creek Middle School during Summer 2019. Our program meets the needs of low-income youth by intervening in the summer and during these pivotal middle school years. Our innovative and engaging learning model is uniquely designed to mitigate the summer slide and also help students gain academic ground. In rigorous classes, youth begin to see their potential, work to prepare for the year ahead, look beyond to high school, and learn about the path to college. Students attending our Tahoe-Truckee campus in 2019 will experience a summer that blends challenging academics––including 25 days of math and science (STEM) coursework––with enrichment opportunities, leadership development, and environmental education. All classes and activities are team-taught, with a teacher-student ratio of 1:8, by diverse educators (more than 70% are people of color and 54% are multilingual). 

Helping Adolescent Boys Find their Voices, Express Themselves, and Build Resiliency – $5,000

Positively Rolling

Our enrichment program for middle school boys promotes positive character development and fosters meaningful connections. The program takes a non-traditional approach combining mentorship and skateboard art to help adolescent boys find their voices, express themselves, and learn new skills to deal with life’s challenges. Over the last 5 years, 600 participants have completed the program with an overwhelming positive response. These boys have connected with positive male role models, shared with peers, expressed themselves via artwork, and learned new skills to build resiliency. Boys are 30% more likely to drop-out of school, with girls receiving higher grades than boys at all levels of education. Boys constitute 65% of special-education students, are five times more likely to be labeled as hyperactive, and four times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are also at increased risk for self-destructive behaviors such as poor decision making, truancy, flunking classes, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, violence, bullying, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. This program was born out a creative response from concerned educators and community members to reach out to middle school boys and offer support. The program strives to make authentic connections with middle school boys by creating a fun, open space to articulate their feelings and express themselves in healthy ways.



Creating Indoor Recreation Spaces for Children in North Lake Tahoe – $10,000

Tahoe City Public Utility District

While other parts of Tahoe-Truckee are served by year-round indoor recreation centers, there are none between Crystal Bay and Emerald Bay on North Lake.  The only children’s indoor play structure in the region is at the Kid Zone Museum in Truckee, and the only indoor rock climbing structures or skate parks are in Truckee and Incline. We know that our region struggles with viable public transportation options which means that many children and young families have to travel long distances to access indoor recreation and educational opportunities, things that are vital in healthy development of young children. We are requesting funding to build a play structure for kids ages 2-6 as part of the Rideout Community Project. Our young families are often asking community leaders to offer a consistent play space for toddlers and young children to play, especially during the winter months where families are challenged with finding easy access to snow-less recreation. Much like a park setting, the indoor playground will offer visitors and residents to the Rideout Community Center a place to let their children play safely while also offering a place around the play structure for parents and caregivers to socialize.  Through the Project, our community can finally offer a unique indoor space for our children to move, explore, and play, especially during Tahoe’s winter months. 

Creating Visionary Spaces Honoring the Legacy of the Pioneer Spirit – $5,000

Sierra State Parks Foundation

The Donner Project will restore Pioneer Monument, create a surrounding reflective seating and landscaping area, and install an outdoor, 100-seat amphitheater to host public educational and arts events adjacent to the new Visitor Center at Donner Memorial State Park. The 100 year-old Pioneer Monument stands at the Gateway to California in Donner Memorial State Park and honors the pioneer families who made the difficult journey across the continent to reach California in the 1840s. Their strength and resilience continue to inspire us today. The Pioneer Monument, the focal point of Truckee’s fascinating emigrant story and a significant highlight of California history, is now approaching a critical tipping point of irreversible deterioration. The Project will also create a space for education and interpretative programs that will enhance visitor understanding and appreciation of our history and natural resources. The unique outdoor education pavilion design reflects the Washoe contribution to our shared heritage and will be a significant attraction and source of civic pride for our town. It will also be a venue for local organization events. To date, the Donner Project’s progress is a result of strong public-private partnerships, these collaborative partners will provide the power needed to guide the Donner Project to completion. 



Transportation Improvement Project to Better Serve our Seniors – $10,000

Sierra Senior Services

We are the local Meals on Wheels provider for Truckee and North Lake Tahoe.  Our service area covers 862 square miles serving over 37,500 meals per year.  We provide hot meals and a friendly face to home bound seniors in our community.  As we deliver seniors their meals, we are looking at their living arrangements to ensure basic needs are met.  If our drivers have concerns, we refer that senior to networked partners to ensure his or her wellbeing.  Usually, we are the last lifeline to seniors who want nothing more than to stay in their homes and maintain their independence for as long as they can safely do so. This fiscal year, we hope to be able to replace two of our oldest vehicles with more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly models that will be in our fleet for at least a decade.  This will improve our delivery capabilities and ensure the safety of our volunteer drivers. Along with the purchase of vehicles we would like to develop a funding source for the ongoing costs of fuels, maintenance, and tires for all our vehicles so we can keep our “meals on wheels”.


Strengthening Support for our Most Vulnerable Neighbors this Winter – $5,000

Emergency Warming Center

We provide our community’s homeless neighbors a safe, warm place to sleep on severe weather nights as well as connect with long term solutions. To do so effectively and to provide the safest, consistent experience for guests and volunteers, we found it’s imperative to maintain consistent positions in key staff roles. This builds mutual respect and trust that makes volunteers feel grounded, and guests confident they can turn to someone for help. Last winter, 335 volunteers dedicated over 1,325 hours for the center.  Open 40 nights, we sheltered 50 guests and 5 dogs; with repeat guests, we provided 238 total nights of shelter.  We also served 39 warm meals to ‘neighbors’ before they slept elsewhere. 45 additional individuals received basic necessities throughout the year, and 42% of our guests were connected with long-term support.  We’re grateful to provide 40 nights of shelter, but the burden is heavy for two staff people with other full-time responsibilities.  Weather triggers often occur at the last minute making scheduling difficult. An additional trained shift supervisor would lessen the burden. We also would like to provide consistency for our overnight shifts. It’s difficult to secure volunteer coverage for these physically and energetically demanding shifts (10pm – 6am) when we’re open many nights in a row. Last year in the midst of a 16 night stretch, we hired a security company to provide one licensed security officer – giving shelter to our guests when we would otherwise have had to close. The program coordinator, shift supervisors, and overnight security will work together to create a consistent experience to ensure we can provide long-term help to our vulnerable neighbors in addition to a night’s shelter. 

| Tagged , ,

2018 Give Back Tahoe Giving Season

Donate now! 

November 27th-December 31st, give back to the place you love! The Give Back Tahoe Giving Season is the perfect opportunity to learn about causes and nonprofits that help make North Tahoe-Truckee an extraordinary place to play, live, and visit. We know that you love to recreate, ski, snowboard, bike, eat, drink, bike, dance, and shop in this beautiful region, and we know it holds a special place in your heart. Through Give Back Tahoe, you have an opportunity to include North Tahoe-Truckee nonprofits in your charitable giving.

At www.givebacktahoe.org, read about nonprofits serving this region and donate to the causes that align with your values. When we all give back as a community, we can measure our collective giving and help our local nonprofits accomplish their end-of-year fundraising goals.

Maybe you know all about our local nonprofits, maybe you want to know more! Whichever is the case, the new www.givebacktahoe.org shares photos, stories, and goals of organizations that are at the heart beat of our region.

Challenge Grants

Friendly competitions make the giving season even more exciting! If you plan to give any of the amounts below, do it on the right dates and you could help your favorite nonprofits win a thousand dollars or more! Check in with the Leaderboards to see how your nonprofit is doing!

November 27th:#GivingTuesday Challenge – Donate $50 or more, your nonprofit could win $1000!

December 4th: Raise-the-Bar – Donate $250 or more, your donation could be randomly selected to have $1000 added to it!

December 11th: Grand Challenges – The nonprofits to receive the most unique donations of $25 or more from November 27-December 11th could win $1250 or $1750! Tell all your friends!

Gifts for Good: Can’t choose which nonprofit you want to give to? Gifts for Good is your chance to donate to Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s grantmaking cycle. When you choose Gifts for Good, you can indicate an area of impact to donate to and it will be leveraged with other donor dollars to go to the areas of greatest need during our annual grant cycle.

Animal Welfare, Arts for Culture, Community Improvement, Education, Environment, Health and Human Services, Youth Development

| Tagged , , , , ,

Vail Resorts Makes Strides in Climate Action

TTCF is happy to share the letter below from Rob Katz, Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts. As communities in the western United States face the profound and frightening impacts of climate change, we are grateful to Vail Resorts who has made their Commitment to Zero (emissions) a top priority.

Vail Resorts serves the communities of their many mountain resorts by through collaborative efforts with local leaders and making annual grants to local nonprofits. In 2018 alone, Vail awarded $11.4 million in grants (they awarded their grants in Tahoe Truckee the same day as they made the announcement below). TTCF is grateful for the visionary leadership of Vail Resorts and Northstar California.


A letter from Rob Katz, Vail Resorts CEO

It’s been just over a year since we announced our Commitment to Zero: our ambitious set of goals to protect and preserve the majestic natural landscapes and passionate communities where we live, work and play. Today, I’m thrilled to share with you some significant steps we’ve taken in our journey to Zero, including a major wind energy agreement and a plan to eliminate conventional single-use dining plastics, as a part of our first annual EpicPromise Progress Report.

For starters, to help us achieve our zero net emissions by 2030 goal, I’m excited to announce a multimillion-dollar wind energy contract to purchase the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 100 percent of our estimated FY 2019 North American operations.

What does that mean, exactly? Vail Resorts is enabling the development of a new wind farm, the Plum Creek Wind Project, which is expected to be completed in 2020. Our purchase of 310,000 megawatt hours (MWh) annually is enough wind energy to reduce the emissions associated with the Company’s estimated North American electricity use by 100 percent, which includes the recent acquisitions of Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Stevens Pass Resort, Okemo Mountain Resort, and Mount Sunapee Resort. For context, that is also the equivalent amount of electricity needed to power 30,000 average U.S. homes each year.

While we continue to find ways to source renewable energy where we operate, and continue to invest millions in energy-efficiency projects across our resorts, this first-of-its-kind agreement allows Vail Resorts to make a measurable impact on climate change – and its effect on the planet – within just a few years.

Meanwhile, we’re also making progress on our zero waste to landfill goal. I’m excited to share that we’ve named Eco-Products our “Official Zero Waste Partner” to help us eliminate single-use, guest-facing conventional plastic products, such as cups, straws, beverage lids, plates, bowls and cutlery, from our North American restaurants, and replace them with compostable or recycled-content products. This process will begin this year and is expected to divert nearly 300 tons of waste from landfills over the next two winter seasons. We’re also expanding the “Smart Straw” initiative started by our F&B teams last year, where only compostable straws will be available, and only by request.

While these announcements are major steps in our journey to Zero, it’s the local and grassroots efforts that are really inspiring. From Whistler Blackcomb, which paved the way for “Commitment to Zero” with its innovative approach to sustainability, to new waste diversion and composting programs at Park City and Keystone – you all play a role in creating a brighter future for generations to come.

Thank you to everyone who has worked, and continues working tirelessly, on these efforts. I encourage you to read about the fantastic work happening across our Company in our inaugural 2018 EpicPromise Progress Report that was published today. Our goal is to transparently report on our progress in protecting and preserving the environment, as well as our commitment to our communities and employees – I hope it inspires you to get involved where you can.

| Tagged , ,

How to Help Victims of the Camp Fire

The Camp Fire has devastated the communities of Paradise and Butte County. People have lost everything, including the lives of loved ones, friends, and neighbors. Of course, you want to help – here are Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s recommendations.


Donate now to North Valley Community Foundation – Camp Fire Evacuation Relief Fund.

North Valley Community Foundation, located in Chico, CA, and serving the communities effected by the fire, has opened a Camp Fire Evacuation Relief Fund. From their website:

Contact: Logan Todd

530-366-0397Fund Purpose

Our fund is going to support the needs of the evacuation centers who opened their doors to support the people who lost their homes and are fleeing the fire. These centers are very often not prepared to handle the massive influx of people but do it anyway. Our immediate funding priorities are to make sure they have whatever they need to continue providing these vital services. These needs include portable toilets, portable showers, blankets, energy and water costs, and countless other needs.
Once the immediate needs begin to get met and as we move out of a crisis situation, the fund will transition to supporting long-term recovery efforts. Since we are not yet out of the crisis we do not know exactly what these needs will be, but the money will ultimately go to supporting victims of the Camp Fire

Donors with non-US credit cards, please click here.

Open Homes/Offering Shelter

Register now.

If you have a a bedroom, second unit, or whole home that could be made available, please consider opening it to evacuees. Airbnb has created an easy way for hosts and non-hosts to register their homes for evacuees. Consider sharing it with your networks as well.



At this time TTCF is not accepting donations to a fund, and strongly encourages you to donate to North Valley Community Foundation or to open your home via airbnb open homes. We also recommend donating gift cards to evacuation centers instead of goods, unless they are expressly requested.

The Potential of Biomass to Diversify Local Economies

At the most recent Forest Futures Salon, attendees heard from Steve Mueller, President of American Renewable Power, on the Loyalton Biomass Facility. The facility opened in December 2017 and began delivering power in April 2018. Bringing the facility back online  has been instrumental in the efforts to rebuild the economy in Loyalton and the Sierra Valley. The facility currently provides full-time employment to 22 people and part-time to 50.

Steve and his team are working hard to transform the facility in to a 212-acre campus that provides infrastructure and materials to a broad range of advanced wood product development and manufacturing business. The site features a 20MW renewable energy power plant which cogenerates both renewable electricity and thermal energy in the form of process steam or hot water. This renewable power produced in Loyalton is referred to as a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) facility which is carbon-neutral and is a highly efficient means by which to extract energy from forest based residuals.

This model speaks to a lot of the concerns that are at the forefront of  local, state-wide, and national conversations right now, specifically: eliminating dependency on fossil fuels by optimizing a sustainable source of green energy, reducing greenhouse emissions (by up to 80%!), responsibly thinning and managing our forests (which are in a current state of emergency), and diversifying rural economies so that more residents are gainfully employed.

Steven’s team envisions developing their work into a business model that can be replicated in other communities. They believe blending economic, social, and environmental opportunities will lead to community success. Perfect, because so does TTCF!



| Tagged , ,

On the Verge Leadership Training Completes with Final Project: [dis]connect

Over the past year, fourteen leaders from community-based organizations have participated in the On the Verge Leadership Program (OTV) as part of their commitment to personal and professional development. OTV is a year-long program designed to develop and retain emerging leaders in the family-strengthening field, a field that typically has a very high turnover rate. OTV was piloted last year (learn more about it here); the program was so effective and successful in serving our region’s nonprofits and their constituents that Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) and the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee (CCTT) were grateful for the opportunity to facilitate another year’s cohort.

For the final project, they collected more than 50 stories about people’s experiences living in the Tahoe-Truckee Region, stories of both belonging and not belonging. Using photographs, quotes, and monologues, [dis] connect told stories of significant connection and disconnection, and how that shapes the people of our community. Nearly 50 people attended the event at Sierra College, and the exhibit is still on display and will be moved to a space in Truckee eventually.

When our nonprofit professionals are able to feel supported and connected to one another, it strengthens our entire community and provides a level of stability across the sector’s services. This is accomplished through the following outcomes:

  • Provide Leadership Development for New and Emerging Leaders
  • Improve Retention of Brightest Leaders: On The Verge offers leaders the opportunity to renew their passion and develop coping skills, to sustain their leadership over time and prevent burn-out.
  • Build the Family Resource Center (FRC) leadership pipeline by creating more opportunities for professional advancement: On The Verge will support leaders to step into new organizational roles and professional growth.
  • Cultivate interdependent teams across intervening systems: On The Verge is the only leadership development program building interdependent, interdisciplinary teams to transform communities.


| Tagged , , , , ,

A Creative, Collaborative Vision for Delivering Mental Health Services

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, where love of nature and quality of life rank high in the priorities of our residents and visitors. Nestled between snow peaks and swimming in lupines, we feel pride and gratitude for our secluded heaven.

Still, like anywhere, North Tahoe-Truckee faces challenges that lower the quality of life for some residents. One thing we are confronted with is a consequence of our seclusion: a lack of accessible mental health care services. This is common in rural communities, in fact a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that 65% of non-metropolitan counties do not have a psychiatrist, and 47% don’t have a psychologist. This is because funding is difficult to secure when most grants and government dollars seem to be more strategically spent where there is the greatest need, aka more densely populate areas.

Nearly all of us (as in 43.4 million adults in a single year) will face a mental health challenge over the course of our lives whether it’s situational depression, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts. Lack of support is a serious problem. Unfortunately, when accessing services means traversing arctic rivers or 6 hours of traffic, people put off seeking care until they’re in crisis. So how do we prioritize making prevention and early intervention available to those we sit next to on the gondola and the children we see playing at the Lake?

In 2005, California’s Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) began disbursing hundreds of millions of dollars annually to expand services to children, adults, and families by portioning dollars to counties through several areas of impact. Placer County has contracted Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) since 2011 to facilitate grants in our region. Jennifer Cook, Placer County’s MHSA Coordinator, collaborates with Phyllis McConn, TTCF Community Impact Officer, to think creatively about how the funding can be used most effectively in a region where mental health services are lacking.

The current multi-year grant cycle is focused on prevention and early intervention services to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and provide preventative services to avert mental health crises. The grantees, listed below, have been longtime collaborators through the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee (CCTT), a TTCF program, and work together to respond to the evolving needs of the adults and families they serve.

This August, CA State Department of Health and Placer County representatives came to North Tahoe-Truckee to interview the grantees and receive clarification on the efficacy of how these non-traditional grants fit into a very rigid government funding standard. The group met representatives from each of the grantee agencies for a roundtable discussion at Community House in Kings Beach, a fitting location since Placer County also donated $500,000 to ensure that critical needs services could be headquartered at this centrally-located shared office space.

The atmosphere was familial as grantees are intimately familiar with how one another work and were happy to partake in shared conversation. They described collaborative tactics to cultivate resiliency, develop deep personal and social connections, promote positive behaviors, and reduce stigma so people feel comfortable seeking help. Most community members who are at risk are identified through joint effort and communication. For kids, this is through the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD) and partnering agencies including the counties, nonprofits, and law enforcement. The diverse mentoring programs serve youth who are at risk or suffering from symptoms to supplement additional mental health strategies and work with students’ schools, guardians, and other health care providers. Programs lower stigma and discrimination through increased education approaches that are sensitive to the culture that groups belongs to, whether that is ethnic, socio-economic, or age-based. Programs work from one-on-one counseling or mentorship to small groups to far-reaching community events that include a well-attended student-directed arts performance.

The State and County representatives were impressed with the on-the-ground approach that takes advantage of a region’s worth of knowledge and resources. Furthermore, our region represents one of the only examples of two counties working together to fund services with MHSA dollars because, in many cases, Nevada County has also contributed grant dollars to these same programs. As our visitors left, one State representative said,

“I get it now. It’s about the collective improvement, not every outcome is a number. It’s not just how many people you helped, it’s about what structures you put into place to protect everyone in a community.”

As a community foundation serving a rural region, we recognize the importance of viewing the whole ecosystem and leveraging our community’s strengths with the resources available. The work pf the organizations below is made possible through the collective vision and blended funding of county agencies, foundations like ours and SH Cowell, and private philanthropists like Rob Katz and Elana Amsterdam who prioritize mental health.

We’re grateful to our grantees who see their partnering agencies as allies and not competitors, and who tirelessly work to support our community members. This regional model, facilitated by CCTT, has been interweaving health and human services for over 30 years, and the longstanding partnerships have helped to tighten the net so fewer people and children fall through the cracks.

Prevention and Early Intervention Grantees

  • Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC): building relationships through outdoor programming and social relationships in one-on-one or small group meetings
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters: one-on-one youth mentorships
  • Boys and Girls Club: universal prevention and wellness afterschool programs
  • Family Resource Center of Truckee: North Tahoe Promotora Program (cooperatively managed with the North Tahoe Family Resource Center) which provides screening and referrals to the Spanish speaking communities
  • Gateway Mountain Center: one-on-one therapeutic youth mentoring program which provides 3-4 hour weekly sessions in the outdoors
  • Project MANA: homeless outreach coordination
  • Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition with TTUSD: “Know the Signs Campaign” to increase awareness and reduce stigma through events such as movie nights, presentations, speakers, and the arts performance “Giving Voice”


| Tagged , , , , ,

Forest Futures Salon Tells a Vivid Story of Forest Management History and Future

We live in an awesome place. If there is something creative and bold that can be done to solve California’s forest health crisis, it’s going to be done in Tahoe-Truckee. We’re progressive and our forest managers are progressive. To the north and to the south of us, the forest is dry and dying. Our forest is green. We have an opportunity here, and we have to act now. This is what Jeff Brown told a captivated audience at Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s Forest Futures Salon.

Jeff Brown has been at the forefront of forest health management since taking the position as Station Manager of the Sagehen Creek Field Station in 2001. In July of 2005, he was promoted to the Director of the University of California-Berkeley’s Central Sierra Field Research Stations.

An incredible storyteller, Jeff spoke to how California arrived at the dire circumstances we now find ourselves in, with California’s largest fire ever growing in Mendocino thanks to a forest floor of fuel and the driest and hottest conditions on record. He spoke to the history of forest growth from the ice ages and the management practices that began with man’s arrival to these mountains.

At Sagehen, collaborators have been incredibly successful in developing scientific methodologies for better forest management by clearing the dead and dying brush and small trees and then prescribing low-intensity fires. Now, these groups want to scale their efforts up to include 500,000 acres of North Tahoe-Truckee forests. Jeff proposes that if they were able to start tomorrow, our forests, wildlife, and community would be safe from the threat of one of these massive fires within five years. Of course, what they need most is what any wide-scale solution to an urgent issue needs: funding and a shift in community perspective around fires.

And this is exactly what the Forest Futures Salon Series is meant to do. Forest health is the most urgent issue threatening our region. Not only is it not being addressed quickly enough, but those developing innovative solutions are having an extremely difficult time accessing the capital necessary to implement these changes. Furthermore, raising community awareness and cooperation is of the utmost importance.

While the investors, scientists, and nonprofit professionals in the room did not have all the answers last night, TTCF believes that we are getting closer to connecting the right people and right resources to develop wide-scale solutions to tree mortality and wildfire threats.

| Tagged , , , , ,

New Podcast: 20 Years Looking Back

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) is looking back at all of the milestones and people who have made North Tahoe – Truckee what it is today. One of our personal favorites is how TTCF came to be! Little did we know that when we sat down with three of the people who were there at the very beginning (before anyone even knew what a community foundation was) that they would reveal stories in that interview that had never been told! We weren’t the only ones who learned new things that day as memories popped up that had never been shared even between Linda Brown, Roger Kahn, and Jim Porter.

Linda, Roger, and Jim are three of TTCF’s Founding Board Members. Over twenty years later, they’re still committed to our mission and always deeply involved in our region. Sit down as Stacy Caldwell, TTCF CEO, asks all the right questions to find out what it really took to get our feet under us. You’ll laugh, you may cry (we did both).

| Tagged , , , ,