Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield Receive Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds to Support LGTBQIA2S+ and Mental Health initiatives
Boys & Girls Clubs implementing LGTBQIA2S+ and mental health programs to advance health equity in its communities
Stoneham | Wakefield MA (February, 1, 2023): The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced the 2022 awards of the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds (the Funds). As part of these awards, DPH, the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) and the implementing partner Health Resources in Action, Inc., will join with the Boys & Girls Clubs and 23 other organizations across Massachusetts and more than 35 of their community partners, including non-profit community-based organizations, municipalities, and coalitions.
All of these organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs, have committed to leading efforts to address the root causes of health inequities by disrupting systemic barriers to health and tackling institutional and structural racism head-on. During the pandemic, the need to support such efforts is even more imperative.
In total ~$15.6M in grants will support 24 lead organizations and 35 of their partner organizations implementing strategies, ultimately impacting 183 cities and towns across the state.
The Boys & Girls Clubs plans to use the funds to support grant screening, brief intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) focused on local LGBTQIA2S+ youth. The Clubs will also be investing in LGBTQIA2S+ staff and trainings with invitations to community leaders to join in the trainings. There will also be a focus on the creation of safe spaces for LGBTQIA2S+ youth and the launch of mentoring programs that partner youth with adults who have similar lived experiences.[EB1]
“We are excited for the work ahead as we focus on these very important mental health programs in our communities. Very rarely do we find statistics that are as unsettling as the statistics around self-harm and suicidal ideation among young people in our communities. We had serious concerns and knew we had to do something. This overarching initiative directly confronts the root causes of inequitable health outcomes for LGBTQIA2S+ by expanding necessary support systems, pursuing change in communal attitudes, and directly working with those at risk.Having a partner like MA CHHA Funds to invest in this expansive mental health program targeting those most at-risk will confront and hopefully reverse these trends,” said Adam Rodgers, Chief Executive Officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs.
The goal of this investment is to work with community partners to disrupt barriers to health, increase awareness and address the impact of structural racism on population health, and to create long-term, meaningful changes in population health outcomes.
The Funds invests in initiatives in three core areas of focus including those:
· Working on long-lasting, community-driven policy, systems, and environmental changes that will make it easier to lead healthy lives and which will reduce health inequities such as racial patterns of segregation in communities and a lack of affordable housing production
· Organizing and coordinating Community Health Improvement Planning efforts which convene multi-sector partnerships to collectively set and address community health goals, and;
· Working to address policies and systems that increase opportunities for healthy aging.
Recognizing the complex ways in which systems impact health, the investments will support a wide range of activities across the Commonwealth. The Boys & Girls Clubs will be offering its above mentioned programs supporting LGBTQIA2S+ to the general public to further address health inequities in its communities.
“This is not just a donation or a grant, this is a partnership. This whole process has shown us that the Funds is committed to create a more equitable environment by helping those who are struggling in our service area. This funding will bring full-time licensed clinicians on-site to support the children in our community,” said Anthony Guardia, Chief Development Officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stoneham & Wakefield.
The Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds were created in January 2017 when DPH completed a landmark revision of its Determination of Need (DoN) regulation, which authorized the creation of these Funds. DPH provides overall guidance to the Funds and Health Resources in Action, Inc. acts as a fiduciary and implementing partner. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) partners with DPH to support the Healthy Aging Fund.
More information about the Funds can be found at https://mahealthfunds.org/