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

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

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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

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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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The Same Sky Project

A Place To Be

The Same Sky Project Logo

Program Website
Winner Status:
Program Type:
Target Population:
Children and Adolescents

Program Description

Piloted in 2012, The Same Sky Project® , is the umbrella title for an ensemble of teenagers with mental, physical, social and emotional challenges who perform original theater productions teaching empathy, resiliency, inclusion and hope. The productions tour to schools and community venues featuring post-show discussions about differences, acceptance and empathy. There are currently two shows running in the project. “Behind The Label” is performed for middle school audiences by youth living with an array of challenges including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, visual impairment, depression, cancer, anxiety, OCD, ADD, Traumatic Brain Injury, etc. The show inspires audiences to live beyond perceived limits and look for the possibilities in themselves and in others. “A Will To Survive” is performed for high school students to address suicide prevention, depression, anxiety and to offer hope. The show is a conversation starter to break the stigma and shame associated with mental illness and other differences that isolate teens. This powerful rock musical weaves pieces of Will Robinson’s life, a 17-year-old who committed suicide in January 2016, alongside topics affecting adolescents today. With a piercing and powerful score, the show inspires teens to reach out for support and know that they are truly not alone.


This program is innovative and creative beyond being an arts-based program. Using this performance method to deliver powerful mental and behavioral health messaging on a peer-to-peer basis allows student audiences to receive critical information and hear it in ways that actually sink in. As adults we need to reach our youth to offer them therapeutic ways to cope and find resilience for challenges however, research has shown that youth listen to youth far more than they listen to adults. The cast members are guided by a team of Expressive Arts Therapists who help them share their personal journeys providing cathartic and confidence building experiences for them while simultaneously delivering powerful shows that transform and inspire audiences. Music and theater reach the heart and are strong tools for relaying messages. The shows increase empathy by offering new perspectives, changing consciousness, raising awareness and addressing behavioral health topics in fresh ways.


Our non-profit organization created The Same Sky Project® as part of our aim to be a leading therapeutic arts center modeling authentic inclusion and pioneering the field of performance-based music therapy. This year The Same Sky Project® achieved a milestone by receiving a grant to bring the shows to every middle and high school in our county. By April 2017 over 45,000 youth will have seen the shows. “Behind The Label” was honored to be the keynote presentation at the National Institute of Health in 2016 for their National Conference on Rehab Medicine. To lead and implement this work with other organizations, our goal is to help them replicate the show using our resource packets and method book. We would like to help people create a connection between their schools, behavioral health practitioners, students, and families by producing their version of the shows and starting transformative conversations in their community.


The Same Sky Project® is a signature piece of our non-profit organization and our Directors are committed to using this platform to raise awareness for people with diagnosed and non-diagnosed challenges to change perceptions around disabilities and mental health. Capacity building will occur through scaling the shows by packaging them to be replicated, reaching thousands more students and communities in the future. Imagine all high school students in this country seeing the same show for suicide prevention and finding hope! Thus far we’ve received grants from various family and community foundations and from a local county school system. The diversity of opportunities we have had (NIH, schools, National Music Therapy Conference, Longwood University), speaks to the universal potential of the project. We believe its possible to reach hundreds of thousands youth in upcoming years through increased publicity, the continuation of current grants, and additional grants to help scale the project.


To spread these shows to youth and communities all over our nation, we will be licensing the rights to the scripts so others can purchase and produce the shows in their school or theater. This is a known model in the arts world and one that we can easily utilize to replicate our work. In addition, since these productions are based in clinical therapeutic work (each show stemmed from individual therapy sessions), we are working on The Same Sky Project® method book to serve as a resource guide and tool kit for other therapists, artists, or Expressive Arts Therapists to recreate the project. At each location we work with school counselors and community therapists to ensure that resources are available to audiences and this same model would be suggested at each performance venue going forward helping communities create a closer web of connected therapeutic services in their area.


The arts foster changes in perception. “Behind The Label” teaches empathy to middle school students as they learn about disabilities and gain valuable perspectives on the worth of all people. The message that we all have challenges and we all have gifts helps young people normalize their sense of self. During the Q&A period, many teens share that they have ADD or depression or struggle with anxiety and this show made them feel less ashamed. Additionally, the confidence levels and self-advocacy that cast members develop while being part of the ensemble increases significantly. “A Will To Survive” teaches empathy too while shining a spotlight on issues teenagers face today. The show’s goal is to help teens truly see that they are not alone and that there is always another option. The desired outcome is to start a conversation between students, parents, and schools on mental health, prevention, resources and hope.