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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”


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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.

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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).

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Building Nonprofit Capacity and Uplifting Our Sector

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) knows that the more powerful our local nonprofit missions are and the people who serve them, the stronger our community is. For this reason, we are committed to increasing the effectiveness, resilience, and expertise of our local nonprofit sector. Beyond traditional grantmaking, TTCF works closely with our nonprofits, staff members, and their boards of directors, through capacity building, leadership development, technical assistance, and resource connections. This month, we’re celebrating:

  • The completion of the fourth Nonprofit Board Training Series with over 25 board members attending at least one of four workshops
  • 31 staff and board members attending our Fundraising workshop by Network for Good
  • 14 nonprofit professionals finishing up their final projects for the year-long On the Verge Leadership and Personal Development Training

Building Better Boards

In 2015, TTCF developed the four-part Nonprofit Board Training Series in response to a need expressed by our nonprofits for better board governance. Blending the best in board governance resources and interweaving the most valuable pieces, the four workshops prepare individuals with the tools and knowledge necessary to affect real change through board service. So far, we have trained over 120 board members to serve our community better. If you’re interested in attending the 2019 series, please email Ashley Cooper, Communications Manager at ashley@ttcf.net.

More Effective Fundraising

As part of increasing capacity, TTCF was grateful to offer a two-hour workshop through Network for Good for nonprofit staff. The Fundraising workshop spoke to strategies and tools to reach more donors and retain those who are committed to your mission. Specifically, it addressed how nonprofit staff can inspire board members to actively fundraise. Methods discussed included:

  • Creating a board engagement plan by assessing their personal connection and evaluating their ties to the organization
  • Strenghthening relationships with radical, candid understanding that each member joined for differing reasons and you must speak to each person’s experience and goals
  • Building sustainable programs through board education
  • Framing the need in ways that touch personal motivation and commitment to do something

TTCF partnered with Network for Good as part as an overall strategy for nonprofits who have demonstrated a readiness to take their organization to the next level. So far, the program has been extremely successful for nonprofits who are prepared for the added capacity.

“Knowing that I have a coach helps me stay on track. As a person with a ton of varying responsibilities, the support and help I’m getting from TTCF and Network for Good is just so needed.” – Amy Kelley, Outgoing Executive Director of North Tahoe Family Resource Center.

Professional Development

In August, the second year’s cohort of On the Verge will present their final project:  [dis] connect, a gallery and storytelling exhibit. Over the past year, fourteen leaders from community-based organizations have participated in On the Verge (OTV) as part of their commitment to personal and professional development.

“The On the Verge Leadership model emphasizes the personal, interpersonal and professional development of the participants. We know that working in family strengthening can be stressful and the pay is modest. This model acknowledges that in order to retain talent in this work, we must help emerging leaders develop essential hard skills, fortify their networks of trusted colleagues, and help them grow personally.” – Alison Schwedner, Director of the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee (CCTT), a program of TTCF.

TTCF is proud to fund OTV and support the incredible people who are participating in this program.  Learn more about On the Verge.

We are endlessly inspired by the dedication of our nonprofits to their missions and to our region. It is an honor to help them become stronger, more resilient, and more effective organizations.

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TTCF Sponsors Conversation on Climate Change and Forest Health

On Monday June 25th, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) sponsored a convening held by The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The topic of the invitation-only convening was climate adaptation financing and titled: Funding Climate Adaptation Implementation – Challenges and Opportunities in the Sierra and Cascade Regions.

A changing climate is impacting our world. California’s rural communities are at the frontline of these impacts and their more immediate dependency on natural resources for agriculture and/or recreational tourism put them at greater risk. Local governments are prioritizing research, data, and collaboration in order to implement adaptation and resiliency measures for their forests, watersheds, and communities. What is missing is financing and funding options to implement these measures to protect our communities from wildfire and declining forest health.

TTCF is acutely aware of our region’s vulnerability to our changing climate, and the increased threat of tree mortality, bark beetle, and wildfire that threatens forest health and, ultimately, our community. Through a strategic grantmaking partnership with the Martis Fund*, we recently funded Conservation Science Partner’s development of a tool that provides visualization data on forest health and biomass. We also launched our Forest Futures Fund, and recently held the first of a series of salons about our Forest Futures to engage community members, scientists, and funders who are ready to blend philanthropic, public, and private resources into viable investments and solutions now.

Stacy Caldwell, TTCF CEO, was invited to present on Rural Capital Deserts. She spoke to how rural regions can prepare themselves to attract and absorb more significant investments from the public, private, and philanthropic sectors in order to increase our capital absorption capacity and channel funding in ways that have significant impact. Stacy also shared how TTCF and other regional thought leaders are looking to solving our forests’ challenges as a way to create new economic opportunities for our region.

TTCF was grateful to meet and learn from a room full of knowledgeable scientists and community leaders. Speakers included: Steve Ostoja, Director – USDA; Jonathon Kusel, Founder and Executive Director – Sierra Institute; John Wenworth, Mayor of Mammoth Lakes; Zach Knight, Co-Founder and Managing Partner – Blue Forest Conservation; Paul Mason, Vice President – Pacific Forest Trust; and Juliana Lucchesi, City Planner – City of Mount Shasta.

If you’re interested in learning more about TTCF’s vision for Forest Futures, please email Stacy Caldwell, CEO, at Stacy@ttcf.net or call (530)587-1776.

* The Martis Fund is a collaborative project of the developers of the Martis Camp community and its members, Mountain Area Preservation (MAP), and Sierra Watch.


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$566,510 Awarded to 109 Local High School Graduates!

TTCF is happy to celebrate with our donors and friends our most generous scholarship season to date!  Many of the scholarship recipients are the first students we have seen go through programs like Adventure Risk Challenge, Aim High, La Fuerza Latina, and similar youth development programs. It’s remarkable to watch children become successful young adults through our community’s commitment to providing a broad spectrum of programming getting them ready for college and for life. This is a scholarship season of which our community should be proud.

We began the scholarship process with more funders at the table initially, and through a call to donors – you helped us raise an additional $28,500 in just three days! We are blown away at your generosity and grateful to be a part of this community.




2018 Scholarship Highlights:

  • Total awarded so far*: $566,510
  • Total funds awarded through TTCF: $263,500 (over twice as much as last year!)
  • Scholarships range from $1,000 to $60,000
  • 109 Recipients
  • 48 First-generation college Students

In some cases, these scholarships are the boost that makes it possible for students to afford their dream universities; in others, the community support has bolstered students’ confidence to fully step into their potential. With ever-increasing tuition costs, and less financial aid available than previous years, scholarships are more important than ever for the future of our young people.  Scholarships facilitated by TTCF’s volunteer grants committee range from $1,000 to $30,000 per student.

“A visiting principal from a much larger district shared that, in comparison, their scholarships  total $25,000 in community scholarships, typically with $150-250 awards, sat in stunned amazement when I informed him of the immense support our TTCF community provides local kids.   I feel very, very grateful to our community philanthropists who prioritize the future of our scholars!”

Craig Rowe, PhD
Instructor, Truckee High School
Director, La Fuerza Latina



*As of publication of this article, there are four remaining committees to meet and award their scholarships.

In 2017, the generosity and collaboration of TTCF’s Board of Directors, aligned donors, and collaborative partners secured a three-year subscription to AwardSpring software. This streamlined the scholarship process for students, review committees, and administrators so that more young people were able to successfully apply for more scholarships. In 2018, we have seen even greater awareness of our student’s needs which correlates to more available funding. Thank you! If you are interested in supporting our young neighbors please consider Donating Now and indicating the TTCF Community Scholarship Grant Fund. You may also donate an existing scholarship on the TTCF Scholarships page.  Call or email Phyllis McConn, Community Impact Officer at phyllis@ttcf.net, to discuss it more in depth. TTCF (530) 587-1776

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Community Changemaker: Scott Ryan

For decades, Scott Ryan has shaped his community through philanthropy. From building a house worth a thousand bake sales to putting a few dollars in a foundation’s basement, he believes in doing something when the opportunity comes up. Scott shared his story with TTCF in an interview about his approach to community changemaking.

The son of an oil and gas geologist, Scott grew up in four different states in the Midwest. He had a simple upbringing that he still treasures, remembering days in the back of a four-door Dodge Polaris.

Scott attended Antioch, a small, private liberal arts college in the cornfields of Yellow Springs, Ohio. He studied architecture and spent his free time with friends canoeing, camping, and day-tripping. After completing his undergraduate degree, he stayed nearby for several years working in architecture before feeling pulled to the West Coast. Scott’s mother was raised in San Francisco, and he still had family there. He completed his graduate studies at Berkeley in 1986 determined to “fix our housing problem” inspired by his thesis Transitional Housing for the Homeless. After college, Scott was ready to connect with nature beyond what city parks could satisfy.

“I loved living across the water from one of the world’s most captivating cities, but I wanted something else. I needed an environment that was closer to dirt, rocks, and tall trees,” Scott said.

When Scott moved to North Tahoe-Truckee, he became involved in philanthropy and volunteered his architecture skills to help Excellence in Education Foundation (EEF) and local schools. One of his projects, that he muses may never had happened if he knew what he was getting into, was building the EEF’s “Endowment House.” It involved a lot of time, volunteers, materials, and money, and took a few years to complete- a task that “equated to several hundred bake sales – every day for a couple of years.”

Just over twenty years ago, Scott attended a community presentation that shared a vision for what would eventually become Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF). William Hewlett offered the region a gift of one million dollars, along with a challenge to match another million dollars with gifts from the community. Hewlett saw the possibilities that a community foundation could bring to North Tahoe-Truckee, and the promise of a philanthropic steward embedded into the future of the region.

“It was at the ground floor, or was it the basement? It was imperative that those in the community that could give a few dollars would do so. I still recall that once I got home the first thing I did was sit at my dining room table and write a check. It was an immeasurably small gift compared to Hewlett’s challenge, but even small acts can have an impact.”

That was the first community donation that would eventually become one million dollars to match Hewlett’s challenge. Eventually thousands of community members would join Scott Ryan in his financial support of Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation which now holds assets at nearly $27 million and has channeled over $25 million in grants and scholarships into North Tahoe-Truckee.

Scott eventually served as a TTCF Board Member and then Board Chair, opportunities for which he is still extremely grateful. He regularly attends Past Board Chair meetings to help inform TTCF’s work and has helped guide the vision of a more caring, creative, and effective community for two decades.

As he says, a lot can come from a little.

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Queen of Hearts grants the gift of music to local students

In December, supporters of the Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund awarded $60,000 in their annual grant cycle across four areas of impact. Arts for the Schools received a grant in the area of Arts & Culture to fund the first ever music classes for Tahoe Truckee Community School during the Spring and Fall of 2018. The $10,000 grant covers both the salary of the music teacher and new instruments so that fifteen students can receive the benefits of music education.

Arts for the Schools (AFTS) is a nonprofit that fundamentally believes that access and exposure to the arts is essential for all and bring arts education to children, and performing arts to the community. In 1987, legislation in California passed which resulted in funding being cut for arts education in public schools. Since then, AFTS has filled the gaps in visual and performing arts education for children at K-12 schools while also providing access to artistic excellence for the public. For 33 years, AFTS has encouraged children and adults to create, perform, learn, lead, understand, and discover. It tracks its impact on its website (artsfortheschools.org), and, in 2017, they served 21 schools and 8585 students, 1739 of whom were low-income.

Community school students are part of the juvenile justice system or are on probation. These students and their education providers often encounter barriers to ensuring that students have the same access to all disciplines and opportunities as every other student in a school district. Tahoe Truckee Community School does not have a PTO or teacher funds to help support arts education offerings.

“The AFTS board and I are tremendously thankful to the Queen of Hearts for supporting and recognizing the need for this new music program at the Community School. I wish each and every one of you could have been there a few weeks ago when they opened their new instruments for the first time. These students have a deep need to learn music and it will forever impact them,” Eve McEneaney, Executive Director for Arts for the Schools.

Arts programs for at-risk youth can be transforming and empowering. It has been shown that they build hands-on skills and knowledge for students, increase desire to stay in school, and increase emotional intelligence. Just like reading, all students should have equal access to an arts education.

The Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund and Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation are proud to supports Arts for the Schools in their mission to support access and exposure to the arts in North Tahoe-Truckee.

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New Podcast: The story of Kings Beach and its Community Changemakers

Celebrating our 20th Anniversary, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation is looking back at all of the milestones and people who have made North Tahoe – Truckee what it is today. One of the most incredible stories is the revitalization of one of our smallest communities: Kings Beach. This lakeside community has had superheros on its side who are dedicated to cultivating a deep sense of community, providing positive youth opportunities, and developing intentional infrastructure and growth.

Three of these community changemakers are Theresa May Duggan, Dave Ferrari, and Ken Yagura; after being on the battlefields of permitting and policy, as well as running the gamut of fundraising techniques side-by-side, they have formed quite a dynamic. Stacy Caldwell, TTCF’s CEO, asked them to sit down for an interview to tell the story of Kings Beach in February. Whether you were through it all or just want to know more about our unique region, we’re sure you’ll learn some new things about this dynamic and diverse community. The interview is slightly over an hour, and we recommend you sit down ready to laugh.

Link to SoundCloud: http://bit.ly/KBCommunityChangemakers


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Celebrating 20 Years Serving North Tahoe – Truckee

It all started with a phone call. Just over twenty years ago, an attorney for William Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard, reached out to local attorney, Jim Porter, with a visionary idea. William was fond of the Sierra. He met his wife Flora as a child here, and they and their five children and grandchildren made happy summer memories here. He wanted to help protect and preserve the place they loved in perpetuity. 

So, William Hewlett offered the North Tahoe – Truckee community a gift of one million dollars, along with a challenge to match another million dollar gift to establish a community foundation. Igniting a dream and a passion to take care of the place we love as well, our community matched that gift and then some. With that, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) was born.

Since then, TTCF has assisted over 185 donors and organizations to establish family and Field of Interest Funds, and now has nearly $27 million in assets. TTCF has also granted over $25 million in local grants and scholarships. That’s more than $50 million benefiting our community!

Over the decades, the community foundation has evolved from the traditional role of grantmaker to also become a community leader and convener. Some of TTCF’s accomplishments include: Call to Action which raised critical support for basic needs providers during the economic downturn; promoting the Speak Your Peace Campaign for peaceful civil discourse; spearheading the establishment of Community House in Kings Beach; instituting the Give Back Tahoe Giving Season, a year-end collective giving campaign; launching the Mountain Housing Council of Tahoe Truckee; training over 100 local board members in its Board Governance Series; and bringing the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, a collaborative of forty-five health and human services agencies, under its umbrella. 

This year, TTCF celebrates our 20th year. At 20 years strong, we celebrate the stability and sustainability of our mission. In the coming year, we will reflect and explore the many aspects of who TTCF is through the stories of the individuals and milestones that helped build our organization and the programs we manage. We will also continue to examine our own value in an ever-changing community that is never stagnant and always evolving – like the Sierra itself. As the year unfolds, we look forward to sharing with you the stories and the impact that we’ve already accomplished and that we continue to pursue.

We look forward to celebrating with you, and we invite you to get to know us better. 

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation connects people and opportunities, generating resources to build a more caring, creative, and effective community. Armed with this mission, TTCF is poised to lead the community fearlessly into the future of the North Tahoe – Truckee region.

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