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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.

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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
Learning and Community Impact Consultant

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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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

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

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Joe Pyle, MA

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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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Holistic Health Initiative

African Cultural Alliance of North America, Inc. (ACANA)

Holistic Health Initiative Logo

Program Website
Winner Status:
Program Type:
Access to Care
Target Population:
Individuals who are Immigrants

Program Description

The African Diaspora Mental Health Initiative will provide behavioral health services using three approach: 1. Outreach and education 2. Mental health screening, assessment, and referral services. 3. Follow-up on services to ensure compliance and outcome measurement and impact Goal: To help African and Caribbean immigrant families obtain or access culturally sensitive behavioral and mental health services. The program objectives are: • Inform and educate at least 1000 members of the African and Caribbean immigrant community in the Philadelphia region on relevant mental health treatment options and provided monthly topical informational workshops. • Outreach to underserved African and Caribbean immigrants populations in the targeted areas by providing community awareness and access to mental health service resources. • Ensure that the target population understands the impact of mental health on the community and the utilizing available treatment options and resources, • Exposure to treatment to help alleviate associated stigma surrounding the condition in the target population. • Ensure a safe, friendly, confidential, culturally sensitive implementation of the project Method of outreach: worship centers, communities events and schools Treatment Method: • Culturally sensitive and confidential intake, screening, assessment and counseling • Referral and treatment • Culturally appropriate case management and follow-up services


Philadelphia is home to large African and Caribbean immigrants and refugees whose home countries have relatively recently undergone natural disasters, civil wars and other violent conflicts, including Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia and Sudan. In addition to focusing on common mental health disorders, the program concentrates on mental health disorders caused by living through conflict and crisis situations, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and trauma related to Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation. To remain culturally sensitive, the program utilizes numerous methods to engage with the community by creating a collective environment that is understanding of the diverse ethnic backgrounds of participants. These include employing peer educators to work with the community in their own respective environment utilizing their own languages; acknowledging the cultural practices of the group; creating a collective environment that is understanding of the diverse ethnic backgrounds of participants; and appealing to their core cultural values.


The program is staffed by; • One Program Manager • Two Outreach Workers • Two Case Managers • Peer Educators Program Manager; oversees the operations of the program including outreach, administration and implementation. The manager will coordinate with treatment team to ensure holistic and effective management, direct service to clients. He/she is responsible for informing and engaging community members on the program outcome and ensuring that outreach workers are trained to perform intakes, assessments and referral . Case Manager: serves as a liaison between the service seekers and treatment team and track measurable outcomes of the project. A unique attribute is that the program ensures continuous input from the beneficiaries by establishing a place for them at the governance table. Utilizing peers educators to engage the community in a culturally sensitive manner, and ongoing advisory committee made of members of the recipient community, which holds regular board-client feedback meetings.


This program is funded in part by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women Health and the First Hospital Foundation of Philadelphia. This ensure that that program is sustained. The is also partners with the Philadelphia Department of Health through the African Diaspora Health Initiatives. ( ADHI) ACANA is currently implementing Project Baobab, a community health outreach and education program concentrating on female genital cutting (FGC). Participants have access to health screenings by ACANA’s medical professionals, as well as referrals for further care. Through the program, women learn about the effects of female genital cutting (FGC) on their reproductive and sexual life, as well as focusing on the psychological trauma that individuals frequently experience during and after the event. The African Diaspora Mental Health Initiative seeks to compliment Project Baobab by further ministering to participants’ psychological distress engendered by FGC.


The program is unique, because its implementation method does not currently exist in any part of the United States. As such, it can be replicated in many parts of the United States, where the target community resides. We introduced and commenced this program in two phases over the course of twelve months. Phase one of the program focuses on outreach and education of the community, while simultaneously training staff. This initial phase lasted approximately three months. We are currently implementing the second phase of the project which primarily focuses on education, outreach, screening and evaluation. The third phase will involve treatment and referral. The fourth phase will involve sustenance.


The project has been well received by the target community. About 410 women over a period of 10 months have been surveyed with an average of 40 per month. The median age was 35 years. The participants represented about 15 different countries in Africa and the Caribbean. The predominant groups were Liberians, and Ivorian’s. 90% of women exhibited trauma associated with Female Genital Cutting. 80% of the women have undergone clinical evaluation with 50% of the women been referred for physical mental health care. Additionally ,35 men also attended informational sessions. More than 1000 flyers and other resources materials ranging from brochures to small informational cards have been distributed in the target community. More than 95% of the workshop participants gained added knowledge on mental health care. The evaluation of the program showed that 90% of the participants said they would recommend the program to others.