BCF strives to keep donors informed of the greatest needs in our community and put our relationships and expertise to use identifying impactful nonprofits working to meet those needs. Among the greatest we are currently seeing is mental healthcare. The pandemic has been exceedingly stressful for many. Children have struggled with remote learning in a city where 40% of households do not have reliable, wired internet access. Families have experienced unemployment, unpredictable school and daycare closures, social isolation and the psychological weight of needing to constantly guard their physical health. All of this comes atop the ongoing stresses for low-to-moderate income families in Baltimore who are regularly affected by structural inequities.
Fortunately, there are many hardworking nonprofits that are deeply entrenched in the communities they serve and offering mental health support in a variety of ways. Here, we profile just a few of the outstanding organizations providing resources like clinical counseling, peer support groups and mentorship to sustain individuals during this trying time. All were recipients of grants from BCF’s COVID-19 Evolving Community Needs Fund and they continue to provide vital support to families every day.
was founded in 2015 by West Baltimore native Joni Holifield to provide exceptional enrichment and leadership development opportunities to youth in Baltimore’s most underserved communities. In early 2020, became a key partner in the Healing Youth Alliance (HYA) alongside University of Maryland School of Social Work, the Baltimore City Health Department, and the Black Mental Health Alliance. recruits young people ages 16 – 21 to serve as Healing Youth Ambassadors, who receive 24 weeks of training to discuss mental health issues and coping strategies with their peers – all through an Afro-centric framework and materials provided by the Black Mental Health Alliance. This framework is key to the program because culture is a cornerstone in the healing process. Youth learn about heroes in African and culture, as well as history, struggles and triumphs, which can inform healing in their community. With this training, young people are prepared to positively address mental health issues in their community caused by violence, trauma, systemic racism and structural inequalities.
I Am Mentality provides comprehensive mentorship, experiential learning opportunities and leadership development programs for young boys and men ages 7 – 18. I Am Mentality’s Leadership Academy teaches a wealth of skills in anger management, conflict resolution, financial literacy, professionalism, etiquette, resiliency and more, which are reinforced through mentor-mentee relationships, peer mentoring and support groups. I Am Mentality also partners with licensed therapists to support young people who have social-emotional, behavioral challenges, trauma experiences and adjustment disorders, and who need additional support to learn independent living and social skills.
Pro Bono Counseling Project (PBCP) connects uninsured and under-insured Marylanders with compassionate and qualified mental health professionals who provide care on a volunteer basis at no cost. Since its founding 1992, PBCP has helped more than 30,000 individuals and families find mental healthcare that they would not otherwise have been able to afford. In 2020, as families struggled with isolation and other effects of the pandemic, PBCP established the , which is staffed every day by compassionate, licensed mental health professionals who can listen to concerns and provide referrals for additional support.
Project Pneuma was founded by Damion Cooper in 2014 after the near-death experience of being shot an inch above his heart at point-blank range. He began a healing journey to teach lessons of forgiveness, self-control, discipline and redemption to other young men via mentorship. While mentoring a young man in prison, he discovered that his mentee was the assailant who shot him years earlier. Today, Project Pneuma works in 23 schools across Baltimore City to engage boys in social-emotional learning; academic enrichment and interventions; physical fitness; public speaking; the arts and experiential learning programs that expose young people to the world beyond their immediate community.
Project Restore Foundation (PRF) provides strength-based care, behavioral health services and referrals for additional services to restore, uplift and empower young people, families and communities. PRF’s programs address a wide range of issues in underserved communities, including literacy, family engagement, mental health, grief, abuse and neglect, substance abuse and life skills. With a staff that promotes social change and social cohesion, PRF help people develop the skills to use their resources and those of the community around them to resolve problems and alleviate challenges that prevent them from becoming successful.
Roberta’s House helps children and families struggling with grief from the natural or traumatic death of a loved one. With a core value of hope and the goal of honoring lost loved ones through positive and empowering grief experiences, Roberta’s House offers a wide range of peer support groups and programs to help clients express their grief safely and develop healthy coping skills. Roberta’s House also conducts community outreach programs and trainings for community groups, faith-based organizations and healthcare providers to implement grief intervention programs.
As always, BCF staff are available to answer questions and to help you develop a plan for meaningful giving in the community you love. Contact our Donor Services Team at email@example.com to get started today!