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Local Organizations Will Be Awarded Over $3.7M to Improve Health Outcomes

Aug 8, 2023

Local Organizations Will Be Awarded Over $3.7M to Improve Health Outcomes

Cincinnati—Interact for Health today announced a first wave of community grants, totaling over $3.7 million, aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing gaps in the Greater Cincinnati region.

As part of the organization’s five-year strategic plan launched earlier this year, Interact for Health outlined several priority areas that will guide efforts to tackle urgent health needs and to reduce inequities in the region—which include a strong focus on mental health, building community power, and investments in policy and systems change.

“Our priorities reflect the community’s priorities. The growing mental health crisis—especially among youth—calls us to act with urgency, creativity and compassion. And at the same time, we are prioritizing efforts to tackle long-standing challenges in policies, systems and neighborhood conditions that lead to gaps in lifespan of up to 26 years between zip codes,” said Kate Schroder, Interact for Health President and CEO.

These community grants will help fund organizations and programs within three priority areas. Grant recipients were selected for their unique, powerful approaches in the following:

  • Mental Health Equity ($1.3M): Improving culturally competent care and access to mental health services and support among adults and youth within Interact for Health’s priority populations: Black and Hispanic, LGBTQ+, low-income families and rural communities.
  • Advancing Health Justice ($2M): Supporting community efforts to advance health justice through community power building, policy and systems change, and narrative change.   
  • Amplifying Youth Voice (over $500K): Supporting youth-serving organizations to increase youth voice in strengthening mental health services. 
    Integral to the selection process were the 43 community members Interact for Health engaged to review and recommend grant projects.

In explaining how grantees were selected—including many smaller, community-focused organizations—Schroder noted, “At Interact for Health, we believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solutions. By shifting the power dynamics and ensuring that those most impacted are helping to develop and lead solutions, our vision of a healthier, more equitable community can become a reality.”

The Center for Great Neighborhoods was one of the grantees announced in today’s first wave of new funding. Its Eastern Neighborhoods of Covington Youth Initiative program received a $115,000 Advancing Health Justice grant to create opportunities for youth to improve their physical, social, mental and economic health. According to Shannon Ratterman, Executive Director, the funding is crucial to creating a safe environment for youth in Covington’s most underserved neighborhoods.

“The Center for Great Neighborhoods enables residents to identify their skills and talents and use these to improve their community. This funding is especially important because it centers the residents as the planners and leaders of this project and allows us to truly engage the community to tackle the issues they face together,” she said.

Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC) was awarded funding from the Amplifying Youth Voice grant. The organization was awarded almost $86,000 to establish a High School Youth Board to strengthen youth mental health services. The new program unites several youth-focused partners—including Adventure Crew, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, Community Action Agency, Cradle to Career, YMCA and Youth at the Center—a game-changing first for ABC.

“Grants can limit organizations to quantifiable outcomes, which makes it hard to have community-informed, community-led programming. But Interact for Health took the blinders off; they gave us the ultimate gift, to be able to take our program to the community and let them use it to define success for themselves. Better yet, they've given us a platform to be wonderfully collaborative,” noted Carmen Lawrence-Billé, ABC’s Director of Advancement.

The Cincinnati region lags behind the rest of the nation in how long and how well its residents live—the average lifespan gap can be up to 26 years between neighborhoods located just a few miles apart. And while many assume that healthcare access, genetics or race cause the vast difference in lifespan, “The root cause is actually the policies and systems that have advantaged some communities over others,” said Ashlee Young, Vice President of Policy and Community Engagement at Interact for Health.

While local policies and systems impact the well-being of our community, the Cincinnati region is not the only one suffering. Across the country, a growing mental health crisis is affecting millions, with one in five people experiencing mental health illness and one in seven dealing with a substance abuse disorder. Mental health challenges are the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people—but the burden of mental distress is unequal, with marginalized communities facing greater hurdles in their search for mental healthcare.

According to Young, it is only by removing these barriers and repairing the systems that disadvantage certain populations that we can build a healthy, thriving community for all. Supporting community organizations that deeply understand these challenges is the first step of that journey.

“Closing gaps and achieving equity is an important part of the cure for what ails our community,” said Young. “But achieving equity is not enough. Ultimately, we must focus our efforts on advancing health justice—on removing the systemic barriers that create these inequities. Our grant recipients are uniquely positioned to do that hard work and address the critical problems afflicting our community. We are grateful and honored to have them with us on the front lines.”

Lawrence-Billé echoed Young’s sentiments. “This grant is making equity and inclusivity achievable. Interact for Health isn't defining success for an entire community, and neither are we: the communities themselves are empowered to do that. That is inclusivity. That is justice. I wish more funders would follow Interact for Health’s lead.”

Our Mental Health Equity Grantee Partners are: 

  • Beech Acres Parenting Center ($100K)
    Continuum of Care – From Treatment to Prevention: This program will provide operating support to increase access to and improve culturally competent care for youth and family mental health services.
  • Bracken County Health Department ($53K)
    A Comprehensive Tiered Approach: This program from the Bracken County Health Department will implement a comprehensive tiered approach to supporting student mental health.
  • Center for Healing the Hurt ($100K)
    Helping to Heal Teens Holistically: This trauma counseling program for teenagers aims to reduce the effects of trauma by providing individual counseling and trauma-informed care for teens, their families and surrounding communities.
  • Central Clinic Behavioral Health ($50K)
    Un Puente Necesario (A Needed Bridge): This program aims to provide school-based, bilingual behavioral health and prevention-based wrap-around services that result in lasting recovery and resiliency for children, families and adults.
  • Cradle Cincinnati and Queens Village ($100K)
    Neighborhood Wellness Journey for Black Women: This program will provide Black women of childbearing age in Cradle Cincinnati-prioritized neighborhoods with wellness tools and healthy coping strategies to manage and reduce their stress.
  • Covington Partners ($115K)
    Mentoring for Mental Health: This grant will increase the number of Black mentors in the Mentoring for Mental Health program, to ensure Black mentees can be placed with mentors who have a better understanding of their life journey.
  • Forever Kings Inc. ($100K)
    Kings Made Whole: The goal of this program is to empower healing and wholeness—which doesn't happen without the support of culturally competent clinical professionals. Clinicians will provide mental check-ins and wellness checks, facilitate social-emotional learning opportunities and guide staff on being trauma-informed caregivers.
  • From Fatherless to Fearless ($80K)
    B.R.I.D.G.E.™: From Fatherless to Fearless is expanding the B.R.I.D.G.E. program to three more schools. The program expands wrap-around services to ensure fatherless girls have direct access to counseling when there is a waitlist or lack of options.
  • GLAD House, Inc. ($50K)
    GLAD House Champs Program: GLAD House, Inc. improves the lives of children and their families by breaking the cycle of addiction. This program will expand community training focused on trauma-informed care following SAMHSA's model of trauma-informed approaches.
  • Lighthouse Youth Services, Inc. ($75K)
    School-Based Mental Health Services: Grant funding will provide general operating support for this program, which empowers young people and families to succeed through a continuum of care that promotes healing and growth.
  • Love N Action CDC ($75K)
    Black Healthy Minds Mt. Healthy: This new program aims to increase access to treatment that supports the social-emotional development of youth in Black communities.
  • Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio ($58K)
    Increasing Accessible and Competent Healthcare for LGBTQ+ Greater Cincinnatians: This program from Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky and Southwest Ohio aims to increase accessible and culturally competent mental healthcare for LGBTQ+ Greater Cincinnatians.
  • Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission ($58K)
    Improving the Mental Health and Well-Being for Rural Populations: This program from Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission aims to normalize and encourage accessing mental health services within rural populations.
  • Our Tribe ($121K)
    Out of the Shadows: Addressing Mental Health in the Black Autism Community: This program from Our Tribe will provide support and resources for members of the Black Autism Community in Cincinnati and create a space for them to share and commune with other folks who understand their challenges.
  • Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses ($125K)
    The Trauma Recovery Center of Cincinnati: The goal of the TRCC is to remove barriers for trauma victims going through the three stages of recovery: stabilization and safety; counseling and support; and creation and restoration of survivor connections with their communities.

Our Advancing Health Justice Grantee Partners are: 

  • A Picture's Worth, Inc. ($170K)
    A Picture’s Worth Community Collaborations: Creating powerful, community-centric counter-narratives offers new ways of thinking about neighbors’ expertise and abilities to address systemic issues as they increase hope and understanding across the community, leading to increased engagement and leadership development.
  • Brighton Properties ($100K)
    Building Community Support for Housing: Brighton Properties aims to build community will for necessary housing and create strategies for improving policies, with the long-term goal of improving health equity through housing and its impact on the social determinants of health.
  • Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati ($115K)
    Dr. Jenny Laster Community Engagement Academy: This program teaches the fundamentals of community engagement and advocacy that lay the foundation for future change-makers.
  • Cradle Cincinnati and Queens Village ($105K)
    Powering Queens Village Advisory Boards: Providing Cradle Cincinnati and other stakeholders with direct feedback from the community will improve healthcare systems. Board members are Black women across generations, classes, experiences and education who answer the call to leadership to serve and represent their community.
  • City of Forest Park ($200K)
    Project R.E.A.C.H: (Resiliency.Engagement/Education.Advocacy.Community/Communication.Health): "Intergenerational interventions" within families and residents will help the development and sharing of culturally and linguistically appropriate health information and create trusted communication sources and centralized locations to improve the quality of life for the community.
  • Communities United for Action ($100K) 
    Environmental Justice and Affordable Sewers for All: This program will directly assist homeowners impacted by overland flooding and create a comprehensive plan to manage increased stormwater to protect vulnerable homes from suffering further damage. 
  • Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless ($100K)
    Affordable Housing Now!: This initiative is working toward the eradication of homelessness with respect for the dignity and diversity of its membership, people experiencing homelessness and the community.
  • Green Umbrella ($100K)
    Climate Justice Is Health Justice: Strengthening Environmental Impact Across Greater Cincinnati: The goal of this program is to help more communities kickstart and accelerate climate planning and food system resilience, by engaging community partners and residents, elevating their voices, and co-designing solutions and implementation strategies to combat climate change on a regional scale.
  • Groundwork Ohio River Valley ($64K)
    Micro Projects for Macro Change in Air Quality: Fueling resident power by showcasing projects wherein air quality is monitored after installation, and creating an air quality monitoring network will better inform residents and equip them with an advocacy tool for policy changes.
  • One Community One Family ($128K)
    This grant will support a staff member dedicated to reducing stigma around seeking help for mental health in rural communities. They will work alongside community partners to ensure a supportive, coordinated and visible community presence.
  • Price Hill Will ($35K)
    Price Hill Wellness Community Action Team: This grant will support the expansion and sustainability of the Price Hill Wellness Community Action Team, which provides yoga classes that are free, accessible, and walkable for members of the Price Hill Community.   
  • Safety Council of Southwestern Ohio ($115K)
    OHIZ Expansion Project - Middletown Connect: Expanding two contiguous census tracts labeled as vulnerable will build community power, change the narrative to facilitate policy and system change, and amplify residents’ voices.  
  • School Board School ($69K)
    Healthy Schools + Healthy Neighborhood: Building a Coalition for Change: Investing in the development of future education advocates who reflect the diversity of our community’s children will build a truly representative, informed and sustainable coalition working together to ensure every child can succeed in school and in life through intentional programming and opportunities to impact policy.
  • Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses ($75K)
    West End MOVES (Motivated Organized Vocalized and Empowered for Success): Endeavoring to identify, engage, empower and mobilize vulnerable residents who desire change in the West End, with a focus on residents at risk of displacement, legacy residents, those under-represented in decision-making, disengaged/traumatized residents and residents living in public housing will lead to increased housing stability.
  • The Center for Great Neighborhoods ($115K)
    Eastern Neighborhoods of Covington Youth Initiative: This program will create opportunities for youth to improve their physical, social, mental and economic health.
  • The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation ($88K)
    Prioritizing Reproductive Healthcare Access to Improve Economic Self-Sufficiency: This program will collaborate with trusted research partners to analyze the economic impact of barriers to reproductive healthcare access and contribute novel, essential information to understanding the unintended effects of restricting healthcare access.
  • Working In Neighborhoods ($115K)
    Beekman Corridor Farmers’ Market Incubator for Future Food Access: Working in neighborhoods will help residents develop the knowledge, skills, partnerships, resources and processes the community needs to establish the Beekman Corridor Farmer’s Market.
  • YWCA of Greater Cincinnati Inc. ($192K)
    YWCA Cincinnati Racial Justice Strategic Development and Resource Plan: Developing a community-driven, sustainable and actionable plan advances the mission of eliminating racism in Adams, Brown, Clermont and Hamilton counties.

Our Amplifying Youth Voices Grantee Partners are: 

  • Activities Beyond Classroom (ABC)($86K) 
    A partnership between ABC, Youth at the Center, YMCA, Adventure Crew, Community Action Agency and Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, the development of The High School Youth Board will strengthen mental health support services by supporting youth with opportunities for social connectedness and allowing them to influence programming to improve the lives of their peers.  
  • American Youth Foundation ($50K) 
    The American Youth Foundation aims to develop a Finneytown Youth Advisory Council and offer restorative practices training for the community to help children and youth develop the social-emotional competencies needed to successfully meet the complex challenges of young adulthood. 
  • Center for Healing the Hurt ($25K) 
    Through its Peer to Peer: Trauma-Informed Care program, the Center for Healing the Hurt will inform, train, support and prepare teens ages 17-19 (11th and 12th grade) to become peer-to-peer youth advocates, who will be the first line of intervention for younger teens with the goal of transforming trauma into healing and hope. 
  • Cincinnati Black Theatre Company ($58K)  
    The Art of Youth Advocacy: Shoot with a Camera is a youth gun violence prevention and reduction program that teaches young people how to be creative with their storytelling while also learning how to positively manage their feelings. 
  • Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services (NKCES)($56K) 
    NKCES aims to develop a youth advisory board with the hope of amplifying youth voices to advocate for their own mental health through youth-specific programming. The Impacting Youth through Mental Health Resiliency Building program will allow NKY youth to connect with peers across the region and provide a safe space for NKY youth to have their voices heard by statewide stakeholders and policymakers. 
  • Northern Kentucky University Research Foundation ($58K)  
    NKU’s Amplifying Diverse College Student Voices prioritizes Black, Hispanic and students who identify as LGBTQ+ by specifically addressing their unique mental health challenges, providing targeted support and empowering students to take a leadership role in addressing mental health challenges within their communities. 
  • Talawanda School District ($28K) 
    Amplifying Brave Student Voices is a program that aims to hear from rural youth about their distinct feelings and needs and provide space for youth to collaborate and own transformative solutions to create change. By training youth as researchers, allowing them to conduct research with their peers, analyze data, and create a product to share with the community, youth will drive this project from beginning to end. 
  • The DAD Initiative ($57K)  
    Through the Youth Voices Unleashed project, The DAD Initiative aims to foster a sense of agency, resiliency and empowerment among Black youth, especially those exposed to violence and poverty. 
  • WordPlay ($40K) 
    VOICES is WordPlay’s teen poetry and performance programming, which provides opportunities for youth to connect to their communities through publications, performances and community events. Grant funding will deepen programmatic capacity with self-discovery, arts-in-healing and community building at their core. 
  • Youth at the Center ($50K) 
    Young, Not Silent: Improving Mental Health through Connection is a program from Youth at the Center that will create affinity groups that provide opportunities for young people to be seen, heard and valued by making space for the conversations that matter. Youth participants will be grounded in the healing circle model, so that they are equipped to facilitate the groups.


About Interact for Health: Interact for Health partners to ensure that people in our region have a just opportunity to live their healthiest lives, regardless of who they are or where they live. We advance health justice through grantmaking, collaboration, learning, convening and engagement. Interact for Health is an independent foundation that works in 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. More information is available at

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