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$100k grant helps launch Robert Young Center's new youth suicide support program

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December 12, 2018

Quad-City youth and the families struggling with their mental-health issues soon will have a new youth suicide and self-harm support program to turn to for help.

Thanks to a $100,000 Transformation Grant from the Quad-Cities Community Foundation, UnityPoint Health-Robert Young Center will create a community-wide support program that helps youth in crisis with therapy services as well as provides support to their families and the other community partners trying to address the issue.

Christine Gradert, director of child and adolescent services, said the grant would add a clinician who would establish protocols for dedicated treatment and care for the youth, and lead the twice-weekly youth therapy groups and weekly support groups for caregivers. The program also will increase community education efforts to raise awareness of the sensitive issue of self-harm and youth suicide.

“The need just keeps growing, and it’s becoming more prevalent,” Gradert said, adding the center, area schools, nonprofit agencies and the medical community are trying to address the issue. “But no one entity has enough capacity to start a program, which is why ours will be community-wide.”

Gradert said one of the keys was the treatment component — using the peer therapy groups — that is more immediate.

“If children do self-harm and they are referred back to their community therapist and if they are not admitted to the hospital, there are few resources in between,” she said. “Especially if someone is not admitted to the hospital, parents are looking for ‘what am I supposed to do now? They’re looking for more resources."

The program will serve youth and families from both sides of the river. Referrals can be made by schools, agencies, doctors or by parents.

Sherry Ristau, Community Foundation president and CEO, said Robert Young Center’s critical work prompted the foundation’s board to award its second Transformation Grant for 2018. The first $100,000 grant was awarded in October to the Child Abuse Council to support a new Healthy Families Home Visitation and Doula Program.

“This mental-health program supports such a wide base of the community from the families to the educational systems, to the health and medical fields,” she added.

The grant also helped secure an additional $50,000 for the new program from the Telligen Community Initiative, a private, nonprofit foundation originated by Telligen, Inc. It was among 20 grants selected for TCI’s 2018 Iowa and Illinois funding. The initiative received more than 234 grant requests and awarded a total of $920,428 to support health-focused nonprofit organizations location in Illinois and Iowa.

Kelly Thompson, vice president of grant making for the Quad-Cities Community Foundation, said the Transformation Grant was the largest single grant awarded from the Community Impact Fund. She said the fund’s flexibility “allows us to seek out those places where there is potential, but without this grant it wouldn’t move forward at this rate or at all.”

“We have all these wonderful nonprofit organizations that have great visions for what we can do to be a better community. We are very fortunate to be able to step up with the resources,” she said.

Gradert said without the grant, the center would not be able to launch the much-needed service.

The Community Impact Fund, an endowed fund, is supported by more than 100 donors who over the past 50 years have made unrestricted gifts totaling nearly $13.5 million. The foundation first awarded the Transformation Grants in 2015.

“These grants bring people together to address critical needs in the community and those solutions have a ripple effect on the rest of the community indefinitely,” Ristau added.