In 2004, California voters passed Prop 63 in order to make mental health services available to all citizens who need them. Mental health treatment previously available in state hospitals had been greatly reduced, and there was simply not enough funding to continue treating those living with mental illness. The result, among others, was that many of these people became homeless. Voters took the responsibility into their own hands with the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA).
The MHSA, effective January 1, 2005, expanded services to children, adults, and families by portioning dollars to individual counties. One channel for county dollars is to award grants to mental health programs in the areas of innovation, housing, prevention and early intervention (PEI), community services and supports (CSS), workforce education and training, and capital facilities and technology. Hundreds of millions of dollars are infused into these services every year through a 1% tax on personal income over one million dollars.
Placer County contracted Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) in 2011 to facilitate a three-year MHSA Innovations Grant Cycle. Throughout that period, 28 awarded grants affected the lives of 10,496 county residents.
Thanks to the success of this partnership, Placer County contracted TTCF this year to facilitate a Prevention and Early Intervention Competitive Grant Cycle. After a rigorous application process, and a commitment to an intense ongoing evaluation plan, the following programs have been awarded 15-month grants with the potential of signing on for a second round of grants for successful programs:
- Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) – to facilitate peer mentor training, as well as to keep weekly office hours at high schools and the Community House of Kings Beach to reduce stigma and discrimination around mental health needs through one-on-one or small group meetings.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters- for their one-on-one youth mentorships that reduce risk behaviors and distress, and increase resilience, positive behaviors, and functioning.
- Boys and Girls Club- for universal prevention and wellness programs available after-school.
- Family Resource Center of Truckee- to expand the 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- to expand their one-on-one therapeutic youth mentoring program which provides 3-4 hour weekly sessions in the outdoors.
- Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition with TTUSD- to expand the “Know the Signs Campaign” in outreach events such as the arts program “Giving Voice”, community movie nights, and presentations and speakers.
The above article first appeared in the Sierra Sun Give Back Tahoe page facilitated by Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to channel large grants into an area of profound need through our local nonprofits. Not only do these grants represent dollars, but through an intense and ongoing evaluation plan with both TTCF staff and a county consultant, recipients will gather and apply impactful data in order to best plan for the future success of their organizations.