The Women’s Housing Coalition was one of four organizations chosen this year to receive a $10,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente’s Youth in Action program. While it is important to celebrate this funding and the programs it will support, what is even more important is how it demonstrates that when we invest in the children in our community, we are supporting our city and our future.

What is Youth in Action? This is a program where Kaiser supports (by funding the grants, the teaching staff and with scholarship money for the students) an after-school program in a high school where students research issues in their community by using photography. They then select an issue they want to invest in and do all the steps necessary to award a grant to a non-profit organization. This means that these students look at issues in their community, research the issue, write a request for proposal (RFP) and then get to make a $10,000 grant award.

The RFP we were invited to apply for centered on Mental Health for African American Women. Their photos highlighted female heroes who overcame addiction, survived domestic violence, work multiple jobs, etc. The photos also highlighted how amazing these teens are by helping raise younger siblings and dodging street violence and drug dealers while going to school and writing college applications.

The grant will be a large part of the support for our mental health support workshops and group sessions led by a dynamic therapist. Our residents now have access to weekly group support sessions, several monthly workshops and group acupuncture – all focused on managing anxiety and trauma and encouraging mindfulness.

The program that distributes these grants is just as important as the work they are funding in the community. Through Youth in Action, these high school students put together a rigorous RFP that looked at our diversity of staff, board, and clients served. It asked about the issues of our residents and how the program would support them. They looked at budget and effectiveness. They riddled us with tough questions during their site visit as well.

To say we were impressed by the ten young women who participated from Green Street Academy is an understatement. As juniors, our ten students plan on participating in Youth in Action again next year, and their partnership with us didn’t end with awarding the grant. They are planning a pasta night for some WHC residents this summer and hope to do something for our residents quarterly.

When we are so quick to jump loudly on the negativity around our youth, it is important to celebrate an unnoticed, beautiful quiet moment. Please remember this when people are ready to give up on the youth in our city. They are often juggling more than you know and are diamonds in the rough.

Learn more about the Kaiser Permanente Thrive’s Youth in Action program