2019 Phase I Grant Recipients

On June 5, 2019, Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee awarded 23 area organizations more than $220,000 in grants for this year’s Trinity Health Foundation Phase I awards. These grants will be used to plan community health-related projects that will compete for Phase II implementation grants later this year. More than seventy-five proposals were received from regional nonprofits and were ranked on impact and merit by the Trinity board. Issues addressed include access to medical/dental care, healthy life choices, opioid addiction education and awareness, diminishing adverse childhood experiences and their effects, and neighborhood/community strengthening. These groups will use the Phase I funding to research and plan details for project operations and sustainability culminating in a proposal for consideration of Phase II implementation funds.

This year both large organization and small organization grants are being awarded. Eleven Phase I large grants and twelve small grants will go to nonprofits across the community. This year’s recipients and their projects include:


2019 Phase I Small Grant Awards (up to $5,000)

Align9 Access to Care

ARC-USAArab Refugee Christians USA

Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer – The Austin Hatcher Foundation Provides Neurocognitive Testing to Pediatric Cancer Population of East Tennessee

FOCUS Ministries FOCUS on Women’s Re-Entry Wellness

Hope Resource Center – Well-Woman Care

Knoxville Family Justice CenterReaching Underserved Projects

Metro Drug Coalition Strong Foundations: Mind, Body, Spirit

Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic – Improving Space and Technology for Access to Care

SparkMedical Equipment Loan Program

Tennessee Men’s Health Network 24/7 Dad: Involving Fathers

The Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County Healthy Live, Healthy Smiles

Thrive LonsdaleExcellence in Academic Support


2019 Phase I Large Grant Awards (up to $15,000)

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital – Early Intervention of Mental Illness in Pediatric Primary Care Offices 

Emory Valley Center – Treatment and Stabilization for Individuals Dual Diagnosed with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illness

Fort Sanders Foundation (Peninsula)Implementing Occupational Therapy at Peninsula Hospital 

InterFaith Health ClinicSaving Smiles

Knox Area Rescue MinistriesCommunit Healthcare for the Underserved

Legacy Parks FoundationSharp’s Ridge Playspace

Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee – East Tennessee Youth and Young Adult Suicide Prevention

The Great School Partnership Charitable TrustKnox County Recovery High School

The Restoration House A Collaborative Approach to Overcoming ACE’s through a Two-Generational Trauma Responsive Strategy for Youth Development

YMCA of East TennesseeTeen Trekkers

YWCA of Knoxville and the Tennessee ValleyFinding Freedom by Overcoming adverse Childhood Experiences

To read more about the 2019 Phase I SMALL Grant Recipients, click on Initiatives below:

  1. Access to Care

    Organization: Align9

    Project Title:  Access to Care

    The 9th Judicial District is comprised of 4 counties, Roane, Loudon, Morgan and Meigs. These counties experience lack of transportation services across the board. In this rural area our target audience will be uninsured and low income citizens in these counties who have great need for transportation to access indigent care programs related to necessary healthcare, recovery and treatment services. Align9 seeks to develop a transportation infrastructure that would allow access to qualified healthcare.

    Align9 has researched some innovative ideas from other regions related to preventive care and transportation services. We would use this planning grant as a means to design and implement an access to care pilot program modeled after the evidence-based programs for volunteer and voucher programs. The Rural Transportation Toolkit, published by USDA and found online at www.ruralhealthinfo.org/toolkits/transportation illustrates how these two programs work. Align9 would coordinate driver recruitment, perform background checks and training and coordinate scheduling. The program may reimburse drivers for mileage and gas or offer a voucher for transportation services. The voucher model will be explored and implemented along with the volunteer driver program. The proposed impact would be measured by collecting data on the number of individuals served.

    Our key potential partners would be healthcare and treatment providers, recovery support services, Align9 volunteers and individuals seeking access to care. This effort could be sustained through foundation grants, faith-based contributions and individual support as well as service recipient contributions.

    Charlene Hipsher, Jill Silvey and Phillip Martin, Align9


    Organization: Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic

    Project Title: Improving Space and Technology for Access to Care

    Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic needs building and space expansion to increase access to dental, primary care, and behavioral services for uninsured citizens and workers of Sevier County. Though we serve the equivalent of ¼ of the county’s population, 140 potential new patients are turned away monthly. Our uninsured patient population experiences numerous barriers to quality healthcare and look to our clinic for social services support in addition to medical and dental care. We hope to increase access, decreasing utilization of the Emergency Department for non-urgent needs.

    Phase I funds will be used to assess our current Information Technology system in consultation with a team of IT professionals. Our Clinic does not have IT staff and our growing programming lacks an updated network system to support growth and services expansion. We anticipate planning and consultation with the local Department of Education and former executive director for space expansion design. Initial grant funds will be used for IT consultation to ensure a secure network for expanded space and services, and consultation with experts concerning building expansion and other community organizations to assess peripheral needs of patients.

    Measurable outcomes will include completion of building expansion plans and planning for a secure network to support electronic medical records and operational functions of the clinic. Phase II funds will be used for capital expansion and purchase of IT equipment needed for additional patient load. The expansion should enable us to decrease uninsured patients’ utilization of the emergency room for non-urgent medical and dental needs.

    Ashley Burnette and Deborah Murph, Mountain Hope Good Shepherd Clinic


    Organization: Spark

    Project Title: Medical Equipment Loan Program

    Access to medical equipment by people with disabilities and their caregivers is limited by financial resources, lack of healthcare coverage and amenities, and geographic location. With funding from the Trinity Foundation and other sources, Spark will create a region-wide network for durable medical equipment loan and reuse. Through the use of an online, searchable database and the establishment of satellite storage and pickup facilities, clients will have access to donated equipment through a number of partner agencies across Knox and surrounding counties.

    With a  Phase I grant, Spark will identify and establish partnerships with agencies and medical equipment loan closets; study options for equipment transport; establish a referral network with medical providers, social workers, and other nonprofit organizations; and examine our current infrastructure and determine any necessary updates to software, systems, or physical locations. This program will have an enormous impact on the lives of people with disabilities and their families and caregivers by providing low or no-cost medical equipment that can improve mobility, independence, and dignity and ease some of the burden of family care-giving. We will maintain communication with clients to receive feedback on program services and meet any additional technology needs. This program will be sustained through an extensive network of partnerships including local governments, medical providers, United Way, and other nonprofits and service providers.

    Stanley Taylor and Mary Thom Adams, Spark


    Organization: The Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County

    Project Title: Healthy Lives, Healthy Smiles

    Nationally and locally, access to dental care is a major challenge for low-income adults. The importance of dental care is seen in the link between poor oral health and significant chronic illnesses, leading to economic loss for everyone. Through donations and grants, Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County (GSC) currently provides some funding for emergency extractions. However, resources are inadequate to meet demand, and no other dental option exists for these adults. Unlike surrounding counties, there is no free clinic. Our clients with severe dental pain go to the emergency room, but the cause remains unresolved. Clients report that lack of money and transportation are main reasons regular dental visits are unrealistic. Additional barriers are limited awareness, knowledge, and habits related to good oral health.

    Grant funds will allow GSC to address barriers and bring together key stakeholders, seek and evaluate existing models, recruit more dental professionals, and gather information necessary to develop a viable, sustainable solution. We have agreements from GSC Dental Advisory Group (including three dentists, our county’s Health Council, and other stakeholders) and commitments from our partners (Hiwassee College Dental Hygiene Program, Premier Dental Group, and local dentists) to enact a trial of our new, more comprehensive model–going beyond only emergency to preventive and restorative services. Funds will support Hiwassee and Premier services, gas vouchers, supplies. All other activities are non-cost. Ongoing data collection will guide adjustments. GSC has an excellent record of community service, with dedicated volunteers and staff to manage this program.

    Mary Ann Blank and Cindy Black, The Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County

  2. Healthy Life Choices

    Organization:  FOCUS Ministries

    Project Title:  Women’s Re-Entry Wellness

    Women returning to Knoxville from incarceration need a supportive, safe-space, therapeutic residence program facilitating long-term re-entry success.  FOCUS Ministries seeks to launch Phase 2* a holistic, healthy choices program for women re-entering society from East Tennessee jails and prisons designed to address ACES and resiliency, opioid addiction prevention, and overall mental health thereby reducing recidivism and breaking cycles of incarceration. This initiative will be accomplished by implementing the evidence-based practices gathered from these successful models: 1) Amity Foundation’s Therapeutic Communities, 2) Huikahi’s Restorative Circles, and 3) The Lovelady Center’s residential rehabilitation program.
    * Phase 1 involved securing a location and rights to open an approved home for women.

    FOCUS Ministries requests $5,000 Phase I funding for further onsite and video conference research of evidence-based programs in hopes of localizing similar success in Knoxville.  The key audience is the incarcerated woman re-entering society. The secondary audience is generational in scope; both family of origin and potential spouse and/or children.
    Initiative success will be measured directly and indirectly. Direct impact will be demonstrated by the number of program graduates and their confidence to live sober, successful lives. The indirect impact will be measured in family reunifications, accumulated clean time, and no future incarceration.  Partnerships will include: Tennessee Department of Corrections, Peninsula Behavioral Health, Faith Promise Celebrate Recovery, Metro Drug Coalition resources, and contracted group therapist.
    The long-term sustainability is a priority. FOCUS Ministries works diligently to develop staff and board fundraising via foundations, corporations, donors, events, and earned-income streams.

    Shawn Stutz and Heather Allred, FOCUS Ministries








    Organization:  Hope Resource Center

    Project Title:   Well-Woman Care

    Hope Resource Center (HOPE) is requesting funding from the Trinity Health Foundation, which would provide approximately one quarter of free well-woman exams for women in our community.
    Because of increased requests from their patients, HOPE began implementing well-woman exams in September 2017. This service is provided at no cost for women 21 and above who have either requested this service or who our nurse practitioners have recommended receive this service following an STD screening at our clinic.

    Since implementing this service, we have seen a monthly increase in women needing and receiving this service. From September-December 2017, we provided 4, well-woman exams/month. On average in 2018, we provided 6, well-woman exams/month. Appointments are tracked within our electronic medical records system where we are able to gather quantitative numbers and qualitative analysis of the impact this service has on women in our community.
    Our nurse practitioners have established a partnership with collaborating physicians on our Medical Executive Committee, one of whom sees patients, insured or uninsured, with abnormal well-woman screenings at his office within UT Medical Center. We also have established relationships with community OB/GYNS and the Knox County Health Department who refer women needing this service to our clinic.

    HOPE would use funds from the Trinity Health Foundation to provide medical supplies for well-woman exams for one quarter of the year as well as increased marketing efforts highlighting this service. This effort is sustained in our annual budget through gifts received from individuals, churches, and businesses in our community.

    Andrew Wood and Emily Ratliff, Hope Resource Center

  3. Opioid Addiction Education and Awareness

    Organization:  Metro Drug Coalition

    Project Title:  Strong Foundations: Mind, Body, Spirit

    Every day in our community children are being exposed to alcohol and drugs. Whether it is through their parent’s abuse of a prescription drug, their friend’s vaping or advertisements on television of alcohol, children of all ages are becoming desensitized to the dangers of substance misuse. Young adults may have a feeling of being invincible when it comes to first time drug use only to overdose and die. Youth and young adults ages 15-24 years old showed nearly two and half times increase from 2016 to 2017 increase in drug related overdose death cases from 12 to 28 deaths per the Knox County Regional Forensic Center. Metro Drug Coalition (MDC) is taking a stance in our community to change the statistics and provide the next generation with a firm foundation of healthy bodies, minds and spirits.

    MDC is requesting funding to pilot a research based program from National Institute of Health to two summer camps at YMCA of East Tennessee and Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley in Knox County. Brain Power! is an alcohol and drug prevention awareness module program working with elementary age children. Verified volunteers from our community will provide the programming to the children based on the Brain Power! We will supplement with puppets in the modules as a way to further interact with the children. Puppets have been shown to encourage children to be more open in talking about their feelings. MDC is confident we will secure future funding for this program.

    Karen Pershing and Courtney Neimann, Metro Drug Coalition

  4. Neighborhood/Community Strengthening

    Organization:  ARC-USA

    Project Title:  Arab Refugee Christians USA

    ARC-USA has spent the past two years providing materials to refugee families to create products to sell to the local community at fairs and online. We have also worked alongside local universities and businesses to promote these products that have been created by refugee families. ARC-USA’s goal, if this grant opportunity is realized, is to create healthy and productive families through entry level employment opportunities, designed to utilize their creative skills and their initiative. By establishing an e-commerce alternative to the current “brick and mortar” option, ARC-USA seeks to provide these families an additional avenue to sell their products. In doing this, ARC-USA hopes to provide a “hand up” versus a “hand out”.  We are requesting funding to conduct a study to determine the cost and feasibility of website creation and marketing for these refugee families.

    Our target audience would be current and potential buyers of handmade crafts. Our user group would be the artisans within the refugee community. There are over 70 refugee families in the greater Knoxville area.
    We will be working with BRIDGE and KIN to contact and engage with these local artisans. The gauge of success would be the number of families that would begin to rely on income from these sales vs. government assistance as well as the sales revenue itself.
    This effort will be sustained by local donations initially and, ultimately, increasing sales revenues from the site.

    Erik Olafson, Susan Dakak and Michael Simpson, ARC-USA


    Organization:  Tennessee Men’s Health Network

    Project Title:  24/7 Dad: Involving Fathers

    Funding from Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee is requested to underwrite 24/7 Dads, a collaboration spearheaded by Tennessee Men’s Health Network (TMHN), Tennessee Fathering Initiative (TFI) and program partner Knox County Sheriff’s Department. This present-day collaboration proposes to combine the respective program elements of the 24/7 Dad workshop, an evidence based and certified best practices fatherhood involvement training program that has been put into practice by over one thousand organizations nationwide and TMHN’s signature health education curriculum that has been facilitated by several corporate, faith and other community-based organizations. The prospective participants will come from the male population of the Knox County Detention Center.

    The partnership’s goal will be to increase father involvement starting with men housed within the Knox County Detention Center through experiential learning.
    The partnership will use specific evaluation tools supplied by the National Fatherhood Initiative to submit for a variety of grants including, but not limited to, Trinity Health Foundation Phase II. The partnership will also have financial support from Men’s Health Network, the national affiliate of Tennessee Men’s Health Network and in-kind contributions from the National Fatherhood Initiative. Upon the success of the program, this collaborative effort between TMHN and TFI will expand to other law enforcement agencies and will offer fatherhood programs on a sliding scale. Moreover, the TMHN/TFI partnership will explore working with regional behavioral health centers on combining 24/7 Dad with chemical dependency programming.

    Sam Ford, Tennessee Men’s Health Network

  5. Open Topic

    Organization: Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer

    Project Title:  The Austin Hatcher Foundation Provides Neurocognitive Testing to Pediatric Cancer Population of East Tennessee

    The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has provided free psycho-oncology services and programs for pediatric cancer patients and their families in East Tennessee for over eleven years. Partnering with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, we identified the need for neurological assessments for pediatric cancer patients and their siblings. As The Austin Hatcher Foundation has fostered its relationship with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, we continue to provide neurocognitive testing for their pediatric cancer patients and their siblings by a qualified pediatric psychologist. Our goal is to help optimize recovery through academic planning, advocacy and follow-up counseling in order to lessen the negative effects of chemotherapy and other life-saving treatments. It is through our partnerships with benefactors, donors, fundraising efforts and grants that make what we do possible.

    Trent Whicker and April Nesin, Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer


    Organization: Knoxville Family Justice Center

    Project Title: Reaching Underserved Project

    The Knoxville Family Justice Center (KFJC), one of our nations and Tennessee’s first centralized domestic violence providers, invites investment in Reaching the Underserved. Our pilot targets individuals experiencing abuse, but marginalized and disempowered, often leaving them silently in danger and reluctant to seek help. Providers traditionally underserve these groups that include racial/ethnic minorities, non-English speakers, LGBTQ, and persons with disabilities, among others. Our pilot (June–August 2019) will result in developing an Implementation Plan for improving our services for them. Activities will include researching national resources, holding focus groups, and interviewing stakeholders – creating objectives for translating materials and needed changes. We will also audit existing KFJC partners, identifying underserved collaborating gaps. Once defined, we will initiate outreach–arranging events/meetings within those communities and recruiting champions and volunteers reflecting the underserved.

    Stakeholders will guide prioritizing translating, revising, and changing KFJC practices for engaging challenged Knox County groups. A grant award will support developing the Implementation Plan including personnel and administrative costs, focus group travel and supplies, and outreach supplies. Measures will include a finalized Implementation Plan; increased engagement of under-served into services; and improving victim safety, health, and resources. KFJC has formal partners, and we will identify and engage new collaborators during the pilot. Ultimately, KFJC will better identify underserved experiencing abuse. We will link them into services using outreach (presentations, displays, relationship-building), connecting to organizations with established relationships, and culturally-responsive materials. Stakeholder insights combined with newly revised materials help sustainability, as will our positive outcomes and experience in sustaining projects.

    Amy Dilworth and Jennifer Moralejo, Knoxville Family Justice Center


    Organization: Thrive Lonsdale

    Project Title: Excellence in Academic Support

    Many of the at-risk children in our schools lag behind others in literacy, partly because their families are unable to provide vital support. The Imagination Library is an amazing resource, but it does not help a parent who cannot read.
    We will increase the size, frequency and scope of our testing in order to focus on program wide literacy gains through the over 700 hours a year of programming we provide. We will also add adjunct literacy interventions with incentives we think will dramatically increase the participation on the part of the students.

    We are requesting funding to investigate what tests and programs will be most effective, to recruit an employee who is focused on this type of intervention and to purchase test material.
    The audience will be 4 years-old in Sam E. Hill starting in August, and 5-18 years-old at our program sites in Lonsdale and East Knoxville. An added benefit with our testing and learning software could be assisting adult literacy and ongoing work we are doing with parents, but that will not be the primary goal.

    Through testing we will measure the reading level and comprehension level of our program students before and after our summer literacy program and during the school year.
    We will seek to create and expand partnerships with UT, Knox County Schools, and Emerald Youth Foundation.
    We will maintain the new position and the testing by fundraising using the results of the initiative.

    Clayton Wood, Thrive Lonsdale


To read more about the 2019 Phase I LARGE Grant Recipients, click on Initiatives below:

  1. Access to Care

    Organization:  Emory Valley Center

    Project Title: Treatment and Stabilization for Individuals Dual Diagnosed with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illness

    Emory Valley Center (EVC) is one of the few Tennessee agencies selected for participation in a project to develop and implement a treatment program specifically for people who are dual diagnosed with an intellectual or developmental disability and a psychiatric disorder. The project, initiated by TennCare and Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), will address the issue of misdiagnosis and general failure in providing appropriate treatment for this special population. The initiative provides Personal Supports Service Agencies an opportunity to become licensed in behavioral health so they can effectively treat people with co-occurring I/DD and mental illness. A total of 100 people in Tennessee will be served during this phase. EVC will serve Anderson, Roane, Morgan, Knox, Loudon and Blount counties. With dual licenses in Outpatient Mental Health and Personal Supports Service, EVC will provide treatment for a population that is falling through the cracks of the current system and resulting in unstable homes, incarceration and homelessness. Outpatient services will reduce and prevent these outcomes through behavioral health treatment and wrap around services.   Measurable goals focus on; decreased number of crisis events; reduced emergency room visits; reduced use of medications, diversion of incarceration; and increased participation in employment and community integration.

    Partnerships will be developed with behavioral health agencies, hospitals, physicians, law enforcement and homeless services. While agencies will be reimbursed by MCOs for direct services, the cost of program development and obtaining licensure is the financial responsibility of each agency. EVC will incur expenses for hiring expert consultants, developing policies/guidelines, recruiting/training staff and exploring successful models.

    Jennifer Enderson and Crystal Hicks, Emory Valley Center


    Organization:  InterFaith Health Clinic

    Project Title:  Saving Smiles

    “Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond.” (Miguel de Cervantes) This adage rings true with more than 44% of Knox County adults who have had one or more teeth extracted due to infection. Oral health problems and lack of access to affordable dental care are pressing issues in our community, particularly for the low-income uninsured and other under-served individuals. According to the Knox County Health Department, “poor dental health impacts the quality of life for those affected. Pain, diet, social interaction, speech, physical appearance and self-esteem are issues that many face.” To help reverse this trend, InterFaith Health Clinic proposes Saving Smiles, an oral health care initiative aimed at expanding access to dental care for the under-served. It should be noted that, while we proposed a slightly similar program under the same name during Phase I last year, after a year of thought and research, we are now proposing a very different initiative that we believe will have a far greater long-term impact. Through Saving Smiles, InterFaith would bring together a consortium of oral health care partners to best identify and implement a dental expansion effort in our area that is efficient, effective, and sustainable. Local oral health care leaders would be called upon during Phase 1 to brainstorm the best approach to responding to the oral health crisis in our community, with the expected measurable impact being a dramatic reduction in the percentage of East Tennesseans suffering from dental disease or chronic decay and a marked improvement in the oral health of the under-served in our region. Although outside funding would be necessary to fully implement this initiative, InterFaith recently launched an endowment campaign aimed specifically at this and has obtained a sizable initial gift to improve access to dental care in our community.

    Dr. Don Henson and Melissa Knight, InterFaith Health Clinic


    Organization: Knox Area Rescue Ministries

    Project Title: Community Healthcare for the Underserved 

    The serious consequences associated with limitations in healthcare access are becoming commonplace and will only increase with the closure of Tennova’s Physician’s Regional Medical Center. The specific issue of overcrowding in emergency rooms (ER) throughout the Knoxville area is now critical. Recently, Fort Sanders was forced to treat patients in hallways due to the sharp increase in ER patient traffic. UT Medical Center leaders are in the process of making major shifts in staff levels as they anticipate an estimated increase of 10,000 ER patients this year. But all of this is a symptom of the larger, on-going problems of insufficient primary and chronic care access for the underserved populations in our community. In collaboration with health care providers, Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) would like to lead in the development of a program to provide onsite medical services at our facility, which in turn would become a model for similar programs. Further, related services would establish onsite follow-up visits for patients with chronic problems instead of relying on repetitive admissions to the ER. KARM can design and develop a Community Paramedicine Program (CPP) operating from our facility to improve homeless patient access to healthcare; improve patient outcomes; and reduce costs. The proposed CPP would immediately result in a measurable decrease in the number of ER visits and reduce the entire spectrum of associated costs.

    Danita McCartney and Burt Rosen, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries

  2. Healthy Life Choices

    Organization:  Legacy Parks Foundation

    Project Title:  Sharp’s Ridge Playspace

    The recent Tennessee State Health Plan reports Tennessee obesity rates exceed the national average and are among the highest in the nation. Obesity is a major health threat in East Tennessee and significantly contributes to additional problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and more. However, research shows that keeping active can help people stay at a healthy weight or even lose weight. And, additional research reveals evidence of positive correlations between park access, park use, and increased physical activity levels.

    “Access to safe parks, greenways, and sidewalks,” is a health priority identified by the 2015 Together Healthy Knox initiative. To that end, Legacy Parks Foundation plans to build Sharp’s Ridge Playspace in north Knoxville for an underserved population presenting inactivity and obesity rates higher than the community average. Similar to the successful Baker Creek Play Forest, the Playspace will offer access to fun and challenging amenities to increase physical activity for citizens of the neighborhood and the entire community. The Playspace, located in the woods near Christenberry Heights housing development, will introduce a new audience to nature while encouraging physical activity to develop healthy habits.

    Collaborating with the Knox County Health Department, Great Schools Partnership, City of Knoxville Parks, and other outdoor activity organizations, Legacy Parks will demonstrate the proven correlation between accessible recreation amenities and improved health by increased activity levels.The Playspace will be built on Legacy Parks land, and once completed, will be conveyed to the City of Knoxville Parks Department for continued management and maintenance.

    Carol Evans and Cameron Broome, Legacy Parks Foundation


    Organization:  Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee

    Project Title:  East Tennessee Youth and Young Adult Suicide Prevention

    Mental Health America of the MidSouth (MHA), which provides administrative oversight for Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN), seeks a  planning grant to support efforts to prevent youth suicide in East Tennessee. TSPN is charged by the governor to teach communities effective suicide prevention/intervention techniques that can be used by parents, peers, educators, and non-mental health professionals alike, with the intention of reducing suicide rates statewide. In addition to its administrative oversight from MHA, TSPN also reports to a gubernatorial-appointed Advisory Council. Youth suicide is an issue in Tennessee. As of 2017, suicide is the leading cause of death for young people ages 10-17 in Tennessee, with one person in this age group lost to suicide each week. In the past three years, the area around Knox County has averaged more than five youth/young adult suicides per year. We believe with proper prevention efforts, these deaths can be prevented. The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network’s plan to reduce East Tennessee youth suicides includes: • Communicating with public and private K-12 schools, technical schools, colleges, and universities in Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Sevier and Union Counties to lend expertise on how best to prevent youth suicide • Working with regional TSPN Advisory Council members to create outreach plans for each county • Scheduling QPR (Question, Persuade, Prefer) workshops for teachers, school employees, and parents throughout the eligible nine-county region • Training 15 new QPR trainers in the nine counties • Providing prevention resources to schools, afterschool programs, and other entities that serve young people.

    Jackie Cavnar, Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee


    Organization: The Great School Partnership Charitable Trust

    Project Title: Knox County Recovery High School

    In response to substance misuse amongst Knox County adolescents, Great Schools Partnership (GSP) and Knox County Schools (KCS) began and continue to lead the preparation for the potential August 2020 opening of a Knox County Recovery High School (RHS). Support from numerous community organizations including representatives from local government, juvenile justice, and social services has been convened to create the Recovery High Task Force (RHTF). With the support of Trinity Health Foundation funding RHTF will work towards identifying curriculum, location, and necessary services to open and sustain RHS for high school students impacted by drug misuse. RHS will provide a safe place for 9th through 12th grade students in recovery to land, maintain their sobriety, and continue their high school education as they prepare to re-enter their base school or move towards graduation and post-secondary opportunities.

    Outside funding will be sought in addition to in-kind and billable services; leveraging funds and services will lead to sustainability. Many youth in recovery have needs far beyond what can be provided within a typical high school. In response to these needs and the Trinity Health Foundation Healthy Life Choices Initiative, and through the provision of the aforementioned services, Recovery High School will encourage positive youth choices related to avoiding drug misuse and abuse.

    Jonathan Scoonover and Melissa Drinnon, The Great School Partnership Charitable Trust

  3. Diminishing Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Effects

    Organization:  The Restoration House

    Project Title:  A Collaborative Approach to Overcoming ACE’s through a Two-Generational Trauma Responsive Strategy for Youth Development

    The Village, providing afterschool tutoring/homework help, health and fitness activities, faith development, and enrichment activities for elementary, middle, and high school students. The Village provides The Restoration House (TRH) and Emerald Youth Foundation (EYF) the opportunity to partner together to leverage their 41 years of combined experience utilizing best practices in supportive transitional housing, team mentoring, family advocacy, life skills training, and robust youth development to holistically empower low income single mothers and their children to break the cycle of poverty. Together, The Restoration House and EYF provide a strong sense of community in the lives of children and their families that is focused on supportive relationships. This is a rich environment for developing an intentional two-generational trauma-RESPONSIVE approach. This approach moves beyond simply being trauma-INFORMED by responding to trauma in ways that maximize the community support children and their families suffering the effects of multiple ACEs have in reaching their highest potential.

    To accelerate the goal of strategically supporting at-risk children and families in overcoming toxic stress and trauma to achieve longer-lasting outcomes, TRH and EYF have engaged Harmony Family Center, a local organization with over 20 years of experience in helping youth live their best lives through innovative programs and evidence-based solutions for children and families experiencing the challenges, stressors, and trauma of modern life. This collaborative partnership will modify the current JustLead faith-based afterschool ministry with a Two-Generational Trauma Responsive strategy for youth development that engages the family system and community supports and will serve as a model for TRH, other EYF sites, and other local youth development organizations. This project will be sustained through the collective resources secured through each established partner and controlled by covenant agreements. Over the next 10 years, The Restoration House’s JustLead site will have a restorative impact on 150 families, including 280 to 320 at-risk children; while EYF’s other JustLead sites will impact another 2,500 families including 5,000 young people.

    Lori Haskell and Chrystal Brown, The Restoration House


    Organization:  YMCA of East Tennessee

    Project Title:  Teen Trekkers

    The youth of Union County suffer from a myriad of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as a result of poverty, parent incarceration, and substance abuse. The Union County Juvenile Judge approximates that 10% of all middle and high school students are in the juvenile court system. The YMCA of East Tennessee began the Teen Trekkers program in 2017, to work within the Union County High School and Union County Alternative Center to reach at-risk high school students. Our program uses incentive-based outdoor experiences as a conduit for relationship building and development of socio-emotional skills, and as a way to help teens develop resilience to ACEs. Our Teen Trekkers program is currently very small with a single staff person serving approximately 55 students annually. Initial results of our efforts have been encouragingly effective. The program has demonstrated lower recidivism and higher graduation rates for those we serve, but with over 800 high school students in Union County, however, the need is enormous. If awarded grant funding, we will be able to hire additional staff, beginning with a mentor for the young women in our program. We will reach out to build partnerships within the University of Tennessee, Tennessee’s Work Based Learning Center, Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling, and others. Phase II funding will ensure program growth and community outreach, help us leverage future support from state and local resources, and launch our sustainable model.

    Creech Hardee and Jim Dickson, YMCA of East Tennessee


    Organization:  YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley

    Project Title:    Finding Freedom by Overcoming Adverse Childhood Experiences

    The YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley requests funding to develop ACEs-focused recidivism reduction programming for incarcerated women in Anderson and Loudon counties with focus on the roots of criminal behavior caused by high Adverse Childhood Experiences exposure and childhood trauma. After the success of Freedom Inside, a program in Knox County created for incarcerated women with a history of violence exposure, and Supporting Youth Experiencing Trauma (SYET), a program for young people with high ACEs exposure, the YWCA aims to create a similar program targeting women with high ACE scores in rural areas who are incarcerated. Finding Freedom by Overcoming Adverse Childhood Experiences will provide intervention, education, assistance transitioning to the community, and ongoing support which will reduce recidivism, improve the community, and reduce ACEs for subsequent generations. Phase I will involve a needs assessment to determine strategies for implementation and select the evidence-supported model that best fits the need.

    Intended collaborators include the District Attorney for the 7th Judicial District (General Dave Clark), the District Attorney for the 9th Judicial District (General Russell Johnson), local jails, local law enforcement agencies, mental health and housing providers in the areas to be served, and employers. Freedom Inside, specific to victims of violence, is funded at the state level, and Commissioners have indicated that additional funding is available for other hard-hit populations through sources such as the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and Department of Corrections. Additionally, the YWCA has a lengthy history of launching and sustaining innovative programs using federal, local, and private sources.

    Maggie McNallly and Ally Diaz, YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley


  4. Open Topic

    Organization:  East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

    Project Title:  Early Intervention of Mental Illness in Pediatric Primary Care Offices

    There has been a rapid rise in the number of children brought to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s (ETCH) Emergency Department (ED) for suicidal ideation.  In addition, there has been a nationwide decline in pediatric psychiatrists resulting in significant delays in treatment of these children.  Consequently, there is a critical need to increase pediatric primary care management of children with less severe mental health disorders.

    ETCH submits an open topic proposal to the Trinity Foundation to research and design a process to educate Primary Care Providers (PCPs) about mental health detection and medication management.  PCPs will be trained to use care paths for patients with mental health needs before they escalate. Through this program, ETCH can ensure that children get the help they need, at an earlier phase in their illness, by providing additional education and telehealth support to PCPs.

    ETCH requests funding to develop plans for a formal mental health and medication management protocol for specific psychiatric disorders in PCPs’ offices.  Funds will be used for data collection, physician surveys and travel to established centers to determine best practices.  The expected results are a decrease in the need for assessment and boarding of suicidal patients in the ED.  ETCH considers it our mission to create a structure to support providers and their patients who are showing early signs of mental health disorders. Our collaborative partners will be pediatric psychiatrists, pediatricians and insurance providers. ETCH will work to seek funding streams to sustain programming.

    Kathy Fowler and Hella Ewing, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital


    Organization: Fort Sanders Foundation (Peninsula Hospital)

    Project Title: Implementing Occupational Therapy at Peninsula Hospital

    One in four East Tennesseans suffers from a mental illness or addiction. Peninsula Hospital treats more than 5,000 of these individuals each year, and almost 500 of them return to the hospital within a month. Recovery is possible, but increasingly shortened inpatient stays require that we use the very best tools to prepare patients for a successful return to independent, productive lives in our communities. As a result of their illness these patients often have deficits in self-esteem, coping, self-care, and simple life skills. We believe inpatient occupational therapy (OT) is a tool with the potential to reduce re-admissions and improve patient outcomes. OT teaches patients concrete ways to manage daily tasks, resulting in more confidence, coping skills, and self-empowerment. The continuation of OT-developed interventions from the hospital to outpatient is key to helping each patient find and maintain a healthy life balance.

    Peninsula will partner with regional outpatient mental health providers to develop a process to consistently communicate OT plans from inpatient to outpatient care providers, thereby building on the work that starts in the hospital with the goal of preventing inpatient readmission. Patient progress will be tracked from inpatient admission through outpatient treatment. If OT proves a successful tactic in reducing re-admissions, the project will be sustained primarily through shifting of staffing plans to replace traditional therapists with occupational therapists, as well as modification of payor contracts and community fundraising efforts.

    Liz Clary and Patrick Birmingham, Fort Sanders Foundation (Peninsula Hospital)