San Francisco Advantage

USF Wins $200K Super Bowl Grant to Improve Mental Health Care


USF’s Engage San Francisco program will focus on delivering more coordinated care to kids and teenagers in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood who suffer from conditions such as depression and PTSD, thanks to a $200,000 grant from the 50 Fund organization, the Super Bowl’s philanthropic arm.

USF is one of nine local nonprofits chosen by the 50 Fund to receive Game Changer grants, aimed at closing the opportunity gap for low-income youth.

The USF Leo T. McCarthy Center’s Engage San Francisco program will use the award to start the Youth Healing Alliance, a collaboration with area nonprofits and governmental agencies that will address mental health in the Western Addition. The neighborhood is home to several low-income housing developments and to one of San Francisco’s largest African American populations — one in five residents is black and about 75 percent of neighborhood households earn $25,000 or less.

Care that moves the needle

“The issues around race and poverty is the context we’re working in,” says Karin Cotterman, director of Engage San Francisco.

The Youth Healing Alliance will educate Western Addition residents about mental health; treat youth who have experienced trauma that’s a result of street violence, something that can trigger PTSD; and seek additional funding for mental health professionals in the neighborhood.

“African American children in the Western Addition who ​live in poverty may not access mental health services due to the stigma surrounding treatment,” Cotterman says. “Depending on their life circumstances, they may have experienced childhood adversity and stress, which may make them more susceptible to physical and mental health issues.”

While there are a number of organizations tackling mental health issues in the Western Addition, there is a lack of coordination and planning to link all the work together, Cotterman says. “The Youth Healing Alliance will help facilitate teamwork that we think will move the needle in supporting young people in the Western Addition.”

USF’s Engage San Francisco program works with service providers and residents to address poverty and inequality in the Western Addition.

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This gift was made in support of Changing the World from Here: Campaign for the University of San Francisco.