09.26.23

Community Foundation Boulder County’s 15 Forever Program Selects Two Grantees

 

Community Foundation Boulder County’s 15 Forever Program Selects Two Grantees  

I Have a Dream Foundation and Natural Highs Receive Grants to Support Substance Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Initiatives for Boulder County Youth 

 
The 15 Forever grant program was established to give Boulder County youth a voice in grant making, empowering young people to engage in local affairs, philanthropy, and leadership. Each year, a group of local teens work together to raise funds and award grants to local non-profits who work on youth-related issues. Community Foundation Boulder County is proud to announce that this year’s 15 Forever grant recipients are I Have Dream Foundation Boulder County and Natural Highs
 
I Have a Dream Foundation Boulder County is an organization that provides wraparound support for underserved young people in the County. Not only do they provide educational and school-focused help, but also socio-emotional support and direct tuition assistance. They serve an impressively vast array of students, ranging from first grade through college. I Have a Dream Foundation believes that through the core pillars of academic success, financial literacy/resources, career readiness, civic engagement, and health/wellness all young people can reach their full potential in the areas of tangible accomplishments and general well-being.  
 
Natural Highs encourages and supports teens in finding healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol. They empower youth to become leaders in making wise choices regarding substances and mental health through workshops, drop-in classes, groups, presentations, sober events, and entrepreneurial opportunities. The program is based on a positive peer leadership model, giving teens agency to be a source of strength to each other in their own communities.  
This year, the 15 Forever program prioritized funding projects and initiatives aimed at addressing substance use, abuse, and their associated mental health challenges. According to Boulder County Community Health’s most recent Community Needs Assessment Survey, mental health and substance abuse were second on the organization’s list of top three priorities for the community. To tackle this important matter, 15 Forever prioritized programs that were community focused, empowering youth to take agency over their substance use through a strengths-based model. Not only did they consider direct substance use treatment programs, but also prevention programs that address underlying sources that might lead youths to partake in substance abuse. This holistic approach to helping youth is effective because it confronts both the root causes and current acute challenges necessary to overcome substance abuse.  
 
I Have a Dream Foundation Boulder County received a grant of $2000 to give students the opportunity to create a mural painting at Angevine Middle School. The goal of the mural is to give students a healthy outlet to express their feelings. Art therapy is shown to be an effective tool for treating childhood trauma, depression, grief, or other difficult situations that could lead to substance abuse. Perla Delgado, Executive Director of I Have a Dream Boulder County, explained that "as a youth serving organization, we feel very honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the 15 Forever program. It means a lot to us to have young leaders believe in our mission and invest in our work.”  
 
Natural Highs received a grant of $8100 to design a vaping prevention/intervention approach that would engage teens in positive ways. A group of teens decided to create a “Quit Kit” made to help each other quit vaping, smoking, and the use of THC/marijuana in general. The Quit Kits are free and meant for teens to share and promote amongst themselves. The idea is to provide a “cool and fun” option that doesn’t feel imposed upon teens by adults like school officials or parents, but rather shared by word of mouth by teens peer-to-peer. “We have learned that teen-created prevention programs are so much more successful in engaging and inspiring teens than adult-created prevention programs,” says Natural Highs Director Avani Dilger. “We are so grateful that the Forever 15 Grant supports teens to be leaders in the areas of substance abuse prevention and mental health.”  
 
Community Foundation Boulder County is dedicated to supporting youth in the process of substance abuse prevention in their own communities. Kavi Laya Gokula Giridaran, a 15 Forever grantmaking member, says of the program “I got involved because it would help me become a better leader and identify what I could do to help my community... [community involvement] became my everything when I was a part of 15 Forever.” The community foundation is looking forward to seeing the amazing work Natural Highs and I Have a Dream Boulder County will do with their 15 Forever grants and beyond to empower Boulder County youth to experience opportunity and fulfillment in their lives.