This past May, the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), announced the launch of a $1 million Children & Youth Resilience Challenge as part of the President’s Unity Agenda and Mental Health Strategy. This first-time ever challenge is funding innovative community-led solutions that:
- Promote resilience and advance mental health and well-being among children and youth
- Reduce the risk for negative mental health outcomes among children and youth
- Promote positive strategies and solutions that help children and youth thrive
- Identify and elevate promising practices that promote culturally and linguistically responsive protective factors
HHS received more than 500 submissions outlining diverse, culturally relevant, and community-grounded ideas for how to promote resilience among children and youth. We are pleased to share that Project Venture was selected as one of the 14 Phase 1 Finalists with the proposal, Project Radical Hope: Mental/Behavioral Health Supports for Indigenous Youth, a community-led effort initiated by Project Venture to address mental and behavioral health disparities that affect Indigenous youth. These disparities have an adverse effect on Indigenous youth that place them at much greater risk for negative health and safety outcomes. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities has further exacerbated already existing challenges.
Informed by both systemic barriers and Indigenous protective factors to achieve the highest possible outcomes for Indigenous youth, Project Radical Hope aims to address mental and behavioral health disparities that affect Indigenous youth (grades 6-12 in New Mexico) using a two-prong approach:
- Engage Indigenous youth with a non-stigmatizing, culturally responsive youth development program that strengthens protective factors, reduces risk factors, and builds strong cultural connections
- Convene a community collaborative effort to address systemic barriers and increase access to mental/behavioral health supports for Indigenous youth/families
Project Venture is collaborating with the Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute (RGMI), along with an Indigenous Elder Advisory Committee to co-create culturally responsive mindfulness practices to integrate into Project Venture’s curriculum.
The Community Collaborative Committee includes schools, community-based organizations, parents/extended family members, mental/behavioral health providers/professionals, wisdom elders, and other community members. The committee will conduct an assessment to increase understanding of gaps and opportunities, and then develop strategies and processes that bridge identified gaps and create pathways to care.