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Grantee Spotlight: Amplifying Youth Voice

Aug 29, 2023

As part of our new strategic plan launched this year, Interact for Health recently announced over $3.7M in grant funding to address these priority areas:  

  • 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 ($500K): Supporting youth-serving organizations to increase youth voice in strengthening mental health services

When it comes to protecting and empowering our youth, we are committed to the long game and the unprecedented collaboration it will take to make lasting, positive change in youth mental health outcomes. That means putting systems and programs in place that support their unique needs, giving them space to explore their autonomy and allowing them to authentically engage with one another.  
That’s why Interact for Health is so thrilled to highlight the grassroots community organizations that will receive over $500K in grant funding to support, protect and empower our youth. These grants are part of a total $3.7 million investment aimed at improving health outcomes and reducing gaps in the Greater Cincinnati region. 
These 10 Amplifying Youth Voice grant recipients were selected not just for their plans to strengthen systems and supports for young people in schools and communities, but for centering youth in their projects by seeking their input, acting on their feedback and elevating their leadership. 
“A lot of adults are having conversation about youth, not with youth. Youth know what they need, that’s why we choose these partners who are centering youth in their work,” said Deanna Hillard, Program Manager for Youth Mental Health at Interact for Health.  
Carmen Lawrence-Billé, Director of Advancement at Activities Beyond the Classroom, shared how critical this grant will be in making wellness equity and inclusivity achievable for our youth.  
“They’ve given us a platform to be collaborative. There is a lot of fear and anxiety in our communities, especially in high schools right now, so this opportunity gives us a chance to stop the fear, slow everyone down, create space for us to talk about the problems and let youth drive the solutions.” 
Please join us in congratulating the following grant recipients, who will be leading the fight to protect our youth’s mental health and well-being: 

  • 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.

Our youth are our most precious resource; protecting, supporting and empowering them must remain a top priority for our region moving forward. We hope you’ll join us in cheering on these grantees as they work to embed youth voices and engagement throughout their work.  

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