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Born This Way Foundation Reveals the Kindness in Community Fund Winners

Born This Way Foundation, a foundational partner for The Anthem Awards, recently launched the Kindness in Community Fund to help grassroots organizations continue supporting the mental health of young people. Today, they announced the winners — 22 community organizations that make up the fund’s first cohort, and will receive $1,000,000 to support their efforts!  

For the 2nd Annual Anthem Awards, we caught up with Mitu Yilma, Digital Director of Born This Way Foundation to talk about why the Kindness in Community Fund was launched, how this is a continuation of Born This Way Foundation’s mission to destigmatize mental health for young people, and the organization’s ten-year anniversary.

Born This Way Foundation recently launched its new fund, the Kindness in Community Fund. Can you give us a window into what inspired your team to create this new initiative, and what you all hope to achieve with it?

In 2017, Team Born This Way Foundation was in Las Vegas for a stop on the Joanne World Tour. In each city we visited, our team volunteered with local nonprofit organizations and on this one stop, we asked, as we always do, what the greatest need was for the nonprofit we were visiting. A young woman pointed to the mountain of school supplies in one corner, the nutritious snacks in the other corner, and the clothing room behind her. She told us, “people give us what they think an organization like ours needs or often, they give what they have and don’t think to ask if we need it.” Though the intent of both is admirable, she said she hadn’t been asked that direct question in her time with this organization. The answer was menstrual products. The greatest need for young people visiting this reception area was menstrual products, and she wasn’t sure how to talk to donors about that and therefore, the need continued to be unmet. So we left the meeting and bought every menstrual product available. On that day, the Kindness in Community Fund was born.

Born This Way Foundation is proud to collaborate with and fund, through the Kindness in Community Fund, grassroots organizations that work for and with young people in support of their wellness. 

 

The goal is to commit $1 million to community organizations across about ten US cities, with a focus on creating free mental health support for young people. How is this fund a continuation of the work Born This Way Foundation has already been doing?

Within this list of 22 organizations making up the first cohort of the Kindness in Community Fund recipients, you’ll find a wide array of organizations offering a diversity of accessible services. A core value of Born This Way Foundation’s work is the understanding that we cannot achieve the important and huge goal of supporting youth mental health through our work alone. We have to do it in partnership with cross-sectoral organizations and we must support and follow the lead of community-level organizations working tirelessly with and for young people. 

 

Born This Way Foundation has existing programs and resources to give young people the tools they need to support their mental health, and support peers. Why was it important to help community organizations with the funding to do this work themselves?  

One of the requirements to qualify to receive a grant through the Kindness in Community Fund is to show that your work is led and/or informed by young people. These organizations understand the contextual needs of young people in their communities and also offer a diversity of resources and services representing a needed, intersectional approach to youth mental wellness. 

 

You just announced the inaugural winners of the Kindness in Community Fund! How many organizations have been named winners, and what can you tell us about them/their work? 

There are 22 incredible community organizations that make up the first cohort of the 1,000,000 Kindness in Community Fund investment in youth mental health! Click here to learn more about them

 

The fund will support community organizations in coordination with Lady Gaga’s The Chromatica Ball Summer Stadium Tour U.S. dates. Can you tell us more about what the execution of this will look like?

Stay tuned if you’re in the metro areas of the U.S. tour dates for a potential activation with the Kindness in Community Fund cohort near you. We also invite you to learn more these organizations, here:

Atlanta: Hopebound and Hope Givers

Boston: The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth (BAGLY) and Breaktime

Chicago: Erika’s Lighthouse and Midwest Asian Health Association (MAHA)

Dallas: Café Momentum and Girls Embracing Mothers

Hershey: Mighty Writers and VOiCEup (Berks Fund of Berks County Community Foundation)

Houston: The Montrose Center and Young Audiences of Houston, Inc.

Los Angeles: Miry’s List and Project Q

Miami: Alliance for LGBTQ Youth and Guitars Over Guns Organization, Inc.

New York City: Right To Be and Sam & Devorah Foundation for Transgender Youth

San Francisco: Adolescent Counseling Services and LYRIC

Washington, DC: Civic Suds and Our Minds Matter

 

This year marks Born This Way Foundation’s tenth anniversary – congratulations! What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout ten years of supporting and advocating for the mental health of young people? 

One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned about supporting youth mental health through countless conversations with young people, dozens of research reports, and building programs for and with them is that it is always in your best interest to trust young people. Young people want to care for their mental health and the mental health of their peers. They want to show up for each other and they’re eager to build a kinder and braver world; it’s on us to meet them where they are with resources to help them do that.

Patagonia – Don’t Buy This Jacket

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