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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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Frontier Health


Program Website
Winner Status:
Program Type:
Training and Skill Building
Target Population:
Providers and Caregivers

Program Description

Project HEROES (Helping Everyone Reach Optimum Excellence and Success) is a school based initiative that works with the Johnson City Tennessee School system to provide behavioral health professionals to work with school counselors in every school in this school system. The Johnson City Schools have an average enrollment of nearly 8,000 students with 8 elementary schools, 1 intermediate school, 1 middle school, and 1 high school. The HEROES program has been called a “Mental Health Center without walls”. This innovate concept of putting mental health professionals onsite within the school environment to become part of the school’s resources has made behavioral health services readily available to students and families . Students can see a behavioral health specialist without referral or by being referred from any member of the school facility. Students can receive on-site counseling, assessments, and crisis evaluations when needed. Referrals for other services such as psychotropic medication evaluations or more intensive services are made with services secured. This program began in 2008 from a Federal Safe Schools/Healthy Students Grant. This grant funding ended in 2013, and Johnson City Schools and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services have assisted with funding to sustain this program.


HEROES tackled the problem of childhood mental illness in three ways simultaneously thus creating “a new and higher level of performance” than was previously seen in this area. First, by taking mental health assessment, and treatment from a clinic setting to a neutral location that was less intimidating for a child by offering these services in the school setting. Having on site services for the full school day allowed the school administration to schedule time for children that did not interrupt the child’s academic day. Secondly HEROES addressed the problem of children’s mental health through early intervention. The earlier that emotional problems can be identified, the more successful that child will be in over-coming those problems. Thirdly, HEROES attacks mental health problems at the core of the child’s life, their home environment. HEROES is also using advanced technology to have instant access to electronic medical records of children in treatment.


The HEROES program brought together the school system, behavioral health care providers, juvenile court, and the city police department with families needing behavioral health care services. Leadership commitment in each agency was key to the success of this project. Information about this program was disseminated through school news letters, parent meetings, news media coverage, social media, and word of month. It is a community effort including the investment from Frontier Health as the behavioral health care provider that made it possible for this project to reach city, state, and even national attention. Twice this program has been presented at the National School Mental Health Conference, and has won the Tennessee Mental Health Organizations Program of Excellence award which was the first school based program to win this award in the state. Also the school administrator for the HEROES project and this program won the SAMHSA Voices of Prevention National award.


The HEROES SS/HS grant full funding ended in 2013 but the advocacy of the school leaders and community partners like the city juvenile court , the Johnson City School system and the Johnson City Police Department were able to sustain some levels of funding . The school system was able to continue using local dollars to help fund the early intervention and prevention services from HEROES. The Johnson City Juvenile Court was able to maintain ½ of a position for screening for behavioral health care needs of students referred to the court. Blended funding and assistance from funds with the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services also has helped to sustain some of the behavioral health services started with HEROES in the school system. It is a community partnership investment that has made it possible to continue some of the services from the original grant until now.


The HEROES program was born with two primary goals: 1- to reduce stigma of mental health services that was a barrier to families seeking those service needs, and 2- to make behavioral health services more easily and readily available. All those involved in the students’ lives were united as a team to provide the families with the behavioral health resources they desired and needed. The HEROES program brought together education, behavioral health, and community services in one location for these families. In a sense, a virtual community behavioral health center. Therefore, the replication of this program is very possible based on the commitment of the school system leadership, the available resources of behavioral health providers, and the investment of the community. Seeing youth and families in a neutral and natural environment such as a school seems logical and possible to duplicate with creative and innovated thinking.


In 2008, the HEROES staff saw 765 students. By year 4, 1565 different students were seen by a behavioral health care staff. The behavioral health specialists still see over 1000 students annually. Since the beginning of HEROES, the Johnson City School system has improved in academic achievement of students so that in 2015 they had an AP exam pass rate of nearly 75%. Milligan College published data comparing the Johnson City school system with another demographically matched school system that did not have integrated behavioral health services and found significant academic gains in Johnson City. A four year study of illegal substance abuse rates for students in Johnson City following the beginning of HEROES showed a decrease in use of all illegal substances. Other anecdotal benefits of HEROES is increased parent involvement with the schools, access to behavioral health services for the family, and decrease in school violence and suicide.