03.27.24

2024 15 Forever Cohort Zeros in on Youth Mental Health

Youth-led committee to focus grantmaking on youth mental health by mitigating the impact of social media, combating substance abuse, and amplifying efforts towards suicide prevention.

 

15 Forever was established at Community Foundation Boulder County in 2006 to promote civic engagement and leadership among Boulder County youth. Each year a new group of high school students from across the county convenes to identify the most pressing needs of Boulder County’s youth, raise funds to support those needs, and make grants to youth-focused organizations. Since the program’s inception, 15 Forever has granted over $225,000.
 
“I was drawn in by the promise of actual local impact,” said Mila Korah on what inspired her to participate in 15 Forever. “I had not come across any programs like it that allowed youth boards to actually run a program together where we can decide what we want to change — and it's entirely up to us to make that happen.” Mila’s fellow 15 Forever participant, Miralisa Trivedi, agreed, saying 15 Forever was different than other opportunities to engage in the community. “15 Forever being philanthropy-based was what sparked most of my interest,” Miralisa said, “as money has the power to change volumes in our community and is where a lot of decision-making power comes from... not a lot of experiences allow youth to have that kind of power.”  
 
After conducting a Community Needs Assessment, the 15 Forever cohort decided to focus their efforts on youth mental health. Through fundraising, reviewing grant proposals, and ultimately distributing grants, the cohort aims to mitigate the impact of social media, combat substance abuse, and amplify efforts towards suicide prevention in Boulder, Colorado.  
 
“I have really enjoyed getting to build a project from the ground up.” Said Mila. “Being able to research and figure out how to best address community need opened my eyes to a totally new world.” Mila’s hope is that 15 Forever can make an impact on the community and the individual lives of those who have been struggling. “I want to be able to finish the program knowing that people are now able to get help and benefit from our work that wouldn't have been able to do so previously.” 
 
Miralisa’s biggest takeaways have been the connections, relationships, and the opportunity to get an inside look at the world of philanthropy. “Above all else,” Miralisa said, “I hope that the work my board is doing brings awareness to the often silenced and secret pandemic of teen mental health issues, and brings attention to how passionate youth in Boulder County are about being active in our community.” Miralisa hopes the 15 Forever cohort can show others their age that the actions of youth can make a difference, and show adults and leaders in our community the value in collaboration with youth.