Better Access to Behavioral Health Resources in Palm Beach County Thanks to Quantum Foundation Grants

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The board of trustees of Quantum Foundation, under the chairmanship of Ethel Isaacs Williams, recently approved six new grants totaling more than $424,000 to Palm Beach County-based nonprofits.

Quantum Foundation’s mission is to fund initiatives that improve the health of Palm Beach County residents. In 1998, Quantum Foundation marked its rookie year as one of Palm Beach County’s newest and largest philanthropic organizations with an impressive $7.6 million granted to more than 40 Palm Beach County projects. Just over 20 years later, with assets of approximately $150 million, the organization’s focus remains on keeping Palm Beach County healthy. Their awards to date total more than $140 million and have impacted hundreds of local nonprofit organizations. Every dollar the foundation grants continues to stay in the county to benefit local communities.

“This grant cycle focuses on greater access to health resources and stronger connections to result in an overall healthier community,” said Eric Kelly, president of Quantum Foundation. “Quantum focuses on whole-health initiatives, including mental health. We fund organizations that take an upstream approach to making Palm Beach County a healthy place to live, work, and play.”

Of the six grants allocated for the third quarter of 2019, $75,000 was distributed to Palm Health Foundation’s BeWellPBC initiative. This initiative targets the needs of youth and families by addressing behavioral health challenges and transforming the landscape of Palm Beach County by connecting community and systems to maximize behavioral health access for all.

“Mental health touches everyone; the reality is that one in four adults and youth are affected with a mental health diagnosis and the other three are caregivers and friends,” said Lauren Zuchman, LCSW, the executive director for BeWellPBC. “BeWellPBC works with local partners to bridge relationships and current gaps in care coordination throughout the county, especially to the underserved communities. We are grateful to Quantum Foundation, not only for providing funding, but for being a true partner in this initiative,” Zuchman said.

One of the ways BeWellPBC identifies needs is to listen to residents and community activists like Katrina Blackmon, a liaison who has helped structure the objectives of BeWellPBC. “The goal is to make sure every person in Palm Beach County feels hopeful, connected, supported, and empowered when it comes to mental health,” Blackmon said. “I know firsthand what it’s like to need services, and there are a lot of people who go without. I want to be a culturally-representative voice for people who are falling through the cracks, who may not know where to go or who to contact, especially in a crisis. I want to help get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health.”

BeWellPBC will engage residents, systems, and sectors together in meaningful ways; create space for shared community leadership; build on community-based innovative solutions; work closely with local partners to bridge relationships and current gaps in care coordination; and develop a workforce pipeline that begins early in the educational system and extends to include peer networks.

“Everyone who lives in Palm Beach County is invited to be a part of this program, and we are only as good as the community coming together to make this work,” Zuchman said. “Everyone has a voice and we encourage them to use it around what they need for their own behavioral health and wellness, so get involved through social media @BeWellPBC and go to our website, www.bewellpbc.org, to stay in touch as feedback is always welcome.”

Other grants in this cycle include:
• The Arc of Palm Beach County (serving all of Palm Beach County) – $64,745 for the Holistic Health Program
o The Arc provides services, continuing education, rights advocacy, care, and family support to individuals and families impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Individuals with IDD have a high prevalence of phobias, anxiety, and psychiatric disorders while stress experienced by their caregivers is pervasive and linked to lower quality of life, unhealthy family functioning, and negative psychological consequences. The Arc’s approach to address this incorporates mindfulness-based interventions to increase support for individuals with IDD.

With Quantum funding, The Arc will offer five sessions of eight-week mindfulness training serving a total of 100 direct support professionals, five sessions of eight-week mindfulness training serving a total of 100 individuals with IDD, and two sessions of eight-week mindfulness training serving a total of 20 family caregivers.
• American Association of Caregiving Youth (serving West Palm Beach, Belle Glade, and Pahokee) – $90,000 for the Caregiving Youth Project
o Founded in 1998, American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a national resource for the support of children who sacrifice their education, health, well-being, and childhood to care for family members who are chronically ill, injured, elderly, and/or disabled. One significant barrier to academic success for students is the health of their family members, especially when those family members are unable to be independent and often must rely on assistance from children in the home. With the grant funding provided, AACY will expand their programming into three Title I middle schools; one in West Palm Beach (Roosevelt Middle), one in Belle Glade (Lake Shore Middle), and one in Pahokee (Pahokee Middle).

The Caregiving Youth Project identifies youth caregivers in 6th grade through an eligibility process. If selected, that student receives a high level of support from AACY from 6th grade through high school graduation.
• El Sol Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center (serving Jupiter) – $100,000 for the Health Program
o Founded in 2006, El Sol Neighborhood Resource Center (El Sol) was formed as a result of a community effort to transform the problem of an unsafe and contentious open-air, day-labor market into a safe and productive resource center where all people can achieve their highest potential. Their mission is to improve the quality of life for the residents of Jupiter and surrounding communities by providing services primarily to day laborers, their children, and families.

El Sol’s Health Program addresses the significant health barriers that the low-income day laborer and immigrant population faces. El Sol will provide health referrals and information in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner to 600 residents over a two-year period to expand their clients’ capacity to be healthy and have active voices in their own lives and community.
• Connections Education Center (serving all of Palm Beach County) – $70,000 for the Connections School Nurse program
o Connections Education Center (CED) was established in 2015 by a group of teachers, administrators, and parents who saw the need for a centrally-located, family-focused school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). CED is a Title I charter school with 80% of students meeting the criteria for Free and Reduced Lunch. CED incorporates high-quality education and therapeutic services, as well as evidence-based best practices for students in a unique learning environment.

With the grant funding provided, the Connections School Nurse (CSN) will care for illnesses and injuries, provide long-term health management, oversee students who need daily/weekly/monthly health monitoring, dispense medications, and provide ongoing training and support to staff and families through a series of educational workshops, literature, consultations and classroom activities. The CSN will increase the direct health services provided, conduct an array of health screenings, and make referrals as needed, as well as educate the staff and parents on specific health issues and how to respond.
• Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired (serving all of Palm Beach County) – $25,000 for the Florida Heiken Children’s Vision Program
o During the 2019-2020 school year, Heiken’s four mobile eye-care units, and one portable setup, will travel to school sites throughout Palm Beach County. They will provide, at no cost to the child’s family, access to a comprehensive eye examination with dilation and glasses (when prescribed) for 250 schoolchildren in Palm Beach County who will not otherwise receive an eye exam or glasses.
Groups funded by Quantum Foundation must meet strict grant criteria and must be classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All grants must benefit the people of Palm Beach County. For information about Quantum Foundation, or to learn about applying for grants, please visit http://www.quantumfnd.org/ or call 561-832-7497.