Grant to aid mental health: Initiative aimed at wellness of local students

A grant from Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County will help Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. with an initiative to ensure students are emotionally and mentally healthy.

The $100,000 grant is for the Counseling Counts Community Initiative, which is designing a community systems approach to improve the mental health of students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 12.

The grant, to be spread over a four-year period, is being used to hire a systems coordinator to work on the initiative, said Bill Jensen, BCSC director of secondary education.

The coordinator’s role will be to work full time on developing the program, which involves identifying students who might have needs, addressing gaps and removing barriers to mental health services, monitoring follow-through in services that are provided and empowering students to seek help for mental health issues, Jensen said.

The new initiative will dovetail with the district’s efforts regarding suicide awareness and student addiction issues, Jensen said.

BCSC received a $50,000 implementation grant from the Lilly Foundation in late 2016 to put together a plan for Counseling Counts, designed to help overwhelmed school counselors deal with the demands of counseling students through a myriad of challenges. BCSC has applied for a full funding grant through Lilly that is pending, with the school corporation hoping to hear by the end of September whether that grant money will come through.

But regardless of what happens with that grant, Jensen said school officials wanted to immediately start working on how to develop a holistic system approach to mental health needs of BCSC students. The effort includes the Community Education Coalition in Columbus, Columbus Regional Health, Family Services and United Way of Bartholomew County.

In addition to the BCSC Counseling Counts grant, the Heritage Fund also awarded CSA-Lincoln Elementary School with $50,000 to upgrade its school playground to create an outdoor learning space for students and also a safe, accessible play space for the downtown community.

Other grants went to Just Friends, Inc. for a new care model, Landmark Columbus for support of Exhibit Columbus and Thrive Alliance, to support constructing three single-family homes in downtown Columbus.

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Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County awarded more than $260,000 to several community organizations through its Community Fund.

Each year, through the support of the Columbus community, the Heritage Fund’s Community Fund distributes about $500,000 to nonprofits through a competitive grant-application process.

The latest grant recipients are:

  • Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.: $100,000 divided over four years to support the Counseling Counts community initiative. The initiative will implement best practices in counseling efforts to ensure students are emotionally healthy in order to achieve academic success.
  • CSA-Lincoln Elementary School: $50,000 to upgrade a school playground and create an outdoor learning space and a safe, accessible play space for the downtown community.
  • Just Friends Inc.: $8,305 to engage consultants in the transition from a current care model to Person-Centered Care, focusing on the individual needs and interests of each client.
  • Landmark Columbus (a program of the Heritage Fund): $100,000 to support Exhibit Columbus, an annual exploration of architecture, art, design and community. On Aug. 26, 18 site-responsive installations will open in and around downtown Columbus.
  • Thrive Alliance: $27,400 in matching dollars for a state housing grant to support construction of three single family homes in downtown Columbus.