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Need help building capacity within your organization to drive transformational change in behavioral health? Contact us to learn more about our services available on a sliding fee scale.

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We fund organizations and projects which disrupt our current behavioral health space and create impact at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.

Participatory Funds

Our participatory funds alter traditional grantmaking by shifting power
to impacted communities to direct resources and make funding decisions.

Special Grant Programs

We build public and private partnerships to administer grant dollars toward targeted programs.

Program Related Investments

We provide funds at below-market interest rates that can be particularly useful to start, grow, or sustain a program, or when results cannot be achieved with grant dollars alone.

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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

Contact Alyson about grantmaking, program related investments, and the paper series.

Vivian Figueredo, MPA
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

Derrick M. Gordon, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Georgia Kioukis, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Samantha Matlin, PhD
Senior Learning & Community Impact Consultant

Contact Samantha about program planning and evaluation consulting services.

Caitlin O'Brien, MPH
Director of Learning & Community Impact

Contact Caitlin about the Community Fund for Immigrant Wellness, the Annual Innovation Award, and trauma-informed programming.

Joe Pyle, MA

Contact Joe about partnership opportunities, thought leadership, and the Foundation’s property.

Nadia Ward, MEd, PhD
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Bridget Talone, MFA
Grants Manager for Learning and Community Impact

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Hitomi Yoshida, MSEd
Graduate Fellow

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Ashley Feuer-Edwards, MPA
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Behavioral Health Promotion Artists

Poetry for Personal Power

Behavioral Health Promotion Artists Logo

Program Website
Winner Status:
Honorable Mention
Program Type:
Target Population:

Program Description

Poetry for Personal Power teaches young adults to become behavioral health promoters. Our messaging is highly effective – with 20% increases in social inclusion, resilience, and help-seeking/ trauma knowledge subdomains. Most importantly, our audiences are 40% young adults aged 18-25, when many behavioral health issues first become overwhelming. We use peer to peer behavioral health promotion because young adults need cultural relevance and authenticity. We have youth speaking to youth, Africans Americans working in their own community, and LGBTQ advocates talking in their peer groups about behavioral health. Our model is simple and easy to expand, so already have 6 teams working. We are an Uber-style business model. We cover legalities and infrastructure so many new advocates can share needed information about mental health and substance use recovery. In 2016 -2017 our teams have hosted over 80 Resilience Poetry slams in the KC Metro Area, 40 Social Inclusion Events in St. Louis, 50 Substance Use Prevention Events in Kansas, and 30 Health Insurance Literacy Events in Colorado. Audiences said our most important concepts were overcoming adversity, recovery, mental health resources, trauma information, and resilience information. We are ready to bring behavioral health promotion to young adults across the country.


Poetry for Personal Power’s main innovation is an UBER style training system or co-op that pools artists’ ability to promote behavioral healthcare to young adults. 1. We teach artists how to use outcome reporting systems. 2. We teach documentation patterns to connect with the healthcare funders. 3. We use text, email, Facebook groups, and other skill development techniques. These are all two-way communications so we listen to what young adults need or want to support recovery. Poetry for Personal Power’s business model represents 74 sponsored advocates from many diverse communities: 74% people with a disability or mental health label 61% African-American 39% young adults under age 25 35% LGBT / Queer / Non-binary gender 19% whose parents have a high school education or less. All of the Poetry for Personal Power’s communities need more representation in the recovery movement. Our business system works!


How do we create sustainable business models to support behavioral health promotion? Our answer is self-paced skills development. We work one on one with communities we represent: African-Americans, young adults, and LGBTQ people. We support our teams with software, documentation reminders, peer support program coaching, and constant links to funding and entrepreneurial opportunities. Many other businesses or coalitions could follow this model, but few do. In 2016, we had 88 artists active in our program, and 48 earned event funding. Our 20 most active artists averaged over $2,000 each. Our peer supporters build other peer support programs in a way that is simple, repeatable, and spreadable. This is a human to human spread of skills. This is “Health care promotion as a revenue stream.” We are an Uber-style grant spreading and entrepreneurial co-op for people in the community learning how to promote Behavioral Health.


Poetry for Personal Power is sustainable with entrepreneurial capacity-building from the beginning. We have multiple novel revenue streams to provide economic support for behavioral health promotion: We are building capacity to bill Medicaid and insurance companies for peer support. We will value based funding peer support from the Excellence in Mental Health Care Act. We are working with on disproportionate minority contact and alternatives to detention in juvenile justice reform. We are working with the State Targeted Response grants for the opioid epidemic. We are harnessing a powerful community demand for recovery supports. Poetry for Personal Power is a business solution to behavioral health care shortages. Our partners include community mental health centers, managed care organizations, advocacy groups, artists, and lots of independently working certified peer specialists. We have been supported by multiple health foundations in our work to rewrite the economics of behavioral health promotion.


Can Poetry for Personal become a big thing? Of course, because it already IS a big thing. We are already active in 4 states with teams ramping up in 3 more. It only takes a few people in each region to nucleate our process. Our online framework supports help build local artist and advocate businesses, who already in place and are eager for the work. We are like Uber for behavioral health promotion. The demand for our structure is huge – and implementation is simple. There are poets, recovery movement advocates, and value-based healthcare funders in every small town and city. We are the first organization to ever receive two SAMHSA grants in the same year for Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale. We’ve already succeeded over and over in new locations. Our system doesn’t just create one business, we have already created 65 mental health peer support businesses.


Behavioral Health Promotion Outcomes: In 2016-2017 Poetry for Personal Power completed 263 events. We had 2,355 artists sharing stories about overcoming adversity, with 10,130 audience members. Of these events, 195 were Resilience messaging events which showed an aggregate 20% increase in resilience on pre-post tests according to a modified Connor Resilience Scale. On Resilience subdomains, we measured a 17% improvement in help-seeking, help-provision, or trauma knowledge, a 20% increase in resilience, and a 22% increase in social inclusion/community integration. Health Promoter Entrepreneurship outcomes: Behavioral health promoters increased their median income from $250 per year to $2500 per year. Artist/advocates showed 10-15% increase in marketing tools, and 10-20% increase in business-related financial management tools. Our sponsored behavioral health promoters showed 58% increase event documentation, and 37% had written or received new grants. Most importantly, 67% of sponsored artists had further developed their OWN business idea.