Reliant Foundation Provides $705,000 in Community Grants to support Mental Wellness and Recovery Programs This Year


Thomas J. Sullivan, board chair, Reliant Foundation, an independent non-profit organization serving the Central and MetroWest regions of Massachusetts, announced that the Foundation has awarded $674,770 in grants to 50 health-focused entities in its most recent round of community grants.

These grants, combined with other community support initiatives, brings the Foundation’s 2019 total giving amount to $705,000 – a 41 percent increase over 2018. For the second year in a row, the Foundation has set organizational records for the largest dollar amount and number of community grants provided during its fiscal year.

“We’re thrilled to be in a financial position that affords us the opportunity to not only help more deserving organizations, but provide a more impactful grant level where warranted,” said Kelsa Zereski, president, Reliant Foundation. “Of the 50 grants awarded, 15 organizations received between $15,000 and $30,000 each, a first for the Foundation.” 

Zereski explained that the 2019 community grants are given to 501(c)(3) organizations whose programs align with the Foundation’s top two focus areas of addressing substance use (primarily the opioid epidemic) and mental and behavioral health services for children and youth. 

“The Board of Trustees remains committed to helping the charitable organizations tackling devastating public health issues in our community meet their escalating financial demands,” said Elizabeth L. B. Greene, Esq., grants committee chair, Reliant Foundation.”We have worked diligently to understand the needs of the organizations supporting those members of our community suffering from substance use disorders and our youth struggling with mental and behavioral health challenges. Though it is heartbreaking to see so many around us suffering, we take solace in knowing the organizations the Foundation supports are improving, and will continue to improve, the health and wellness of those in our community facing these significant challenges.”

The following organizations are receiving grants from the Foundation through its most recent 2019 grant cycle: 
Abby’s House – Advocacy and support services for women struggling with substance abuse coupled with mental health issues; creating dedicated program space to offer more effective advocacy, meeting and support services

Advocates – The creation of an after-care program to help graduates from its recovery homes stay involved with Advocates and avoid relapse 

Anna Maria College – The creation of a mental health first aid curriculum and recovery coach training, the continuation of a project funded by the Foundation last year with intentional steps toward workforce development

Bancroft School – Continued support for the Worcester Partnership Program, a summer enrichment program for low-income, at-risk youth, adding new components to address mental health issues and offer substance use prevention

Becker College – Funding of scholarships for students to pursue a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass and MetroWest – An expansion to the City of Framingham of the “Bigs in Blue Youth Mentorship Program,” started last year in Worcester, which aligns police officers who mentor at-risk youth

Boys & Girls Club of MetroWest – Youth Mental Health First Aid USA curriculum training for staff members at all three club houses in MetroWest

Boys & Girls Club of Webster-Dudley – Healthy Habits program, which provides children an array of programs and services that have been proven effective in preventing substance abuse as well as improving mental and behavioral health 

Boys & Girls Club of Worcester – Implementation of substance abuse prevention programs for children and building support systems for those who have addiction in their families 

CASA Project, Inc. – Expansion of the “Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Children” program, previously funded by the Foundation, to eliminate wait times for mental health services for the children served by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

Children’s Friend (an affiliate of Seven Hills Foundation) – Training for two Master’s-level clinicians to offer a new treatment modality entitled Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Children (DBT-C), at the Ellsworth Child and Family Counseling Center 

Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester (c/o YWCA Central Mass) – Continued funding to support the coordination and implementation of the new 2020 C.H.I.P. (Community Health Improvement Plan) for Greater Worcester

Community Harvest Project – One of the largest non-profit, fresh produce growers in the area, this grant supports produce distribution to three Worcester-based residential substance use recovery programs 

Dismas House – Residential recovery homes that provide stable, sober, transitional housing to support homeless former prisoners, recently released from jail

Doc Wayne Youth Services, Inc. – Launching Therapeutic Mentoring in MetroWest, which provides structured, one-on-one, strength-based support services to address the needs and building skills of young people facing social, emotional, and/or behavioral health challenges

Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center – Continuation of the planning grant awarded last year by the Foundation to plan for the implementation and integration of behavioral and psychosocial services within school-based health centers in Worcester and Framingham, this year’s grant will enable the behavioral health services to be implemented by the 2021 academic year

Family Health Center of Worcester – Continuation of the “Screen Our Students” program through the FHCW school-based health centers, which utilizes the SBIRT method to address opioid and substance use among middle/high school students in the Worcester Public 

GAAMHA, Inc. – One of the leading agencies in North Central, MA, providing substance use treatment and support to individuals and their families, this grant supports Family Addiction Support Training for five staff members as Family Recovery Coaches

Genesis Club, Inc. – Young Adult Initiative connecting people ages 18-25 who are newly diagnosed with mental illnesses with clubhouse support services

Girls, Inc. – Regular mental, social, emotional, physical and behavioral wellbeing workshops, activities and resources for school-age girls in grades K through 12

Growing Places – “Gardner GROWS” initiative, which is a collaboration among Growing Places, LUK and Gardner Public Schools to reach at-risk teens through a mental/behavioral health and substance use reduction program

Guild of St. Agnes – Provide embedded clinicians from YOU, Inc., who specialize in early childhood in two child-care programs in North Worcester County, where more than half of the children are considered at-risk and/or have suffered trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences that require intervention

Home2Homes – Funds to purchase duffle bags full of daily necessities (e.g., towel, washcloth, new socks and underwear, hygiene products, and women’s sanitary needs) for 100 adults in recovery homes; additional funds will be used for shelving and racks to help organize donations

HOPE Coalition, Mental Health Model – The HOPE (Healthy Options for Prevention and Education) Coalition integrates mental health counselors into community-based youth organizations; this grant would help to expand the organizations reach 

Legendary Legacies – funding to send a staff member to the 2019 National Gang Crime Research Center’s 22nd International Gang Specialist and Mental Health Training Conference

LIFT – Living in Freedom Together (LIFT) is a survivor-led, Worcester-based institution comprised of those who have overcome commercial sexual exploitation and professionals sensitive to the needs of this vulnerable and marginalized population; this grant is to increase hours at the Drop-In Center to offer more services to women suffering from drug addiction, trauma, mental health disorders and poverty

Montachusett Opportunity Council – Funds for MOC to integrate behavioral health satellite offices in each of its Head Start facilities to increase access to quality mental health services to low-income, at-risk youth in North Central MA

Net of Compassion – NOC reaches homeless and low income people struggling with addiction and mental illness where they are physically…on the street…through such programs as the outreach/breakfast program in Main South and the emergency cold weather shelter, Hotel Grace

Open Sky (The Career Pipeline Project) – Initiation of the effort, entitled “Encouraging Youth and Young Adults to enter the health-related direct care worker field” 

Perkins Behavioral Health (Doctor Franklin Perkins School) – Support technology used to deliver behavioral health programs in area schools including Clinton, Leominster, and Nashoba Regional 

Pernet Family Health Services – Maintain and expand the mental health components of this organization’s Youth Program, serving the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Kelley Square and Green Island in Worcester

Rainbow Child Development Center – “Resiliency Through Rhythm” program will offer preventative care and counseling to 50 highly at-risk children over a four-month period

Regional Environmental Council – The “YouthGROW” program is a development and employment program for 40 low-income youth ages 14-18 on two urban farm sites in Worcester’s Main South and Bell Hill neighborhoods, providing at-risk teens with summer jobs and year-round mentoring programs

Restoration Recovery Center, Inc. – New walk-in recovery center in Fitchburg designed to help individuals with substance use disorder stay in recovery, build job skills, and provide recovery coach training

Rise Above – Provide activities and experiences such as the support of pro-social opportunities that improve mental and physical health, build resiliency and enrich the lives of children in foster care

Riverside Community Care – Capital renovation funds to help co-locate the organization’s 24-hour emergency mental health and substance use services with their outpatient behavioral health services at a new site in Milford

SHINE Initiative – Support implementation of youth mental health awareness programs in additional schools in the Worcester Public School District as well as in Quabbin Regional High School and Milford High School

Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services, Inc. – Establishment of the first “Teen Mental Health First Aid USA Program” in addition to the “Youth Mental Health First Aid USA Program” trainings being provided in the Central and MetroWest regions supported by the Foundation

Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services, Inc. (Vape Cessation Program) – Six-week vaping cessation program offered to at least 60 students across five high schools in eleven towns within Worcester County

South Middlesex Opportunity Council – Support of the SMOC Peer Recovery Coaches Program, which focuses on reducing the alarming number of opioid-related overdoses and fatalities in the MetroWest area

Spectrum Health Systems – Continued funding for the “Short-Term Transitional Housing Support for Individuals in Recovery from Opiate Use Disorder” initiative to help recovering individuals secure affordable sober housing options 

UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center – Support for the “FaCES” (Foster Children Evaluation Services) Clinic, which provides medical evaluations for foster children with behavioral health needs, funding an Education Navigator to coordinate services and mental health resources for foster children

United Way of Central Massachusetts – Continued funding of the “YouthConnect Program,” a collaboration of eight non-profit agencies in Worcester, which offer free or low cost neighborhood-based recreational, educational, and cultural programs for low-income youth; mental health is a priority of YouthConnect, utilizing embedded MH counselors at the sites

Visitation House – Expansion of the drug awareness classes funded by the Foundation last year, offered through assistance from AdCare, to help women in recovery stay clean and sober, and to help prevent additional women from becoming addicted, especially while pregnant or parenting 

Worcester Program for Addiction Recovery (WPAR) – In partnership with the Worcester Police Department, this program offers preventative and reactive outreach in the community relative to the opioid crisis 

Worcester State University – Funding a pilot program providing support for the New Addictions Counseling Interdisciplinary Minor and Certificate Programs; and one-time, capacity-building support for the acquisition of new clinical journals and academic resources, marketing and outreach

Worcester Youth Center – Continued funding for the Opioid/Narcan training program to educate at-risk Worcester youth about opioid overdoses and interventions

YMCA of Central Massachusetts – Childcare capacity building support through which YMCA early childhood staff will deliver trauma-informed care to children in YMCA branches through trainings and supervision provided by the Child Trauma Training Center of UMass Medical School

YOU, Inc. – Initiative to eliminate gaps in mental health and other health-related services in Worcester County, increasing the organization’s ability to provide exceptional and greatly-expanded mental health care to vulnerable children and families

YWCA Central Massachusetts – funding the creation of space to accommodate mental and behavioral health counseling services for children in the YWCA’s early education and care program

About Reliant Foundation

Established in 1988 as a public charity, the Reliant Foundation (formerly operated as the Reliant Medical Group Foundation) is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of individuals of all ages in the Central and MetroWest regions of Massachusetts. As a 501(c)3 charity, the Foundation offers grants to non-profit organizations within its service area for the purpose of supporting programs that battle critical public health issues like the substance abuse crisis, including the opioid epidemic, and children’s and youth mental health issues.. For more information, please visit