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Illinois Children's Health Care Foundation Awards Grant to Gateway Family Services

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Here is the press release from the Illinois Children's Health Care Foundation

Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation Invests $8.3 Million In Children’s Mental Health
ILCHF’s COVID School Wellness Initiative Funds 29 Grants Statewide 

(Oak Brook, IL) – December 9, 2021 – The Covid-19 pandemic has fully exposed and exacerbated the children’s mental health crisis in Illinois and nationally.  The Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) has responded with the COVID-19 School Wellness Initiative (CSWI) – a statewide effort to address the mental health needs of children, their caregivers and teachers in communities hardest hit by COVID-19. As part of this school wellness initiative, ILCHF recently awarded 29 two-year grants of up to $300,000 each, representing a total investment of more than $8 million. 

“ILCHF has long focused on the mental health needs of children in Illinois through funding various collaborative partnerships, including Systems of Care, bringing critical child serving agencies together to respond to children’s socioemotional needs. The CSWI focuses specifically on partnerships between schools and mental health providers,” says Heather Higgins Alderman, President of ILCHF. Amy Starin, ILCHF’s Senior Program Officer for Mental Health, notes, “much of mental health care focuses on the child. What we wanted to do through the CSWI is to offer communities the opportunity to address the distress parents and school staff are experiencing as well. If the parents and other caregivers are not ok and the teachers are not ok, the children will not be ok.” The funded projects will provide an array of interventions customized by each school community to respond to their unique needs and may include preventative universal supports for the entire school, small group or targeted early interventions and intensive one-on-one services for more severe problems.  

Through the CSWI project, ILCHF invited applications from mental health providers working in partnership with schools serving 14 zip codes in Chicago and 14 counties outside of Cook across the State. The focus on Chicago arose out of ILCHF’s 2020 commitment to invest at least $2 million of its COVID response funding in communities most impacted by the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and structural racism. With the CSWI – Chicago initiative, ILCHF increased that commitment to just over $4.1 million. At the time the CSWI RFP was issued, COVID statistics consistently showed that in Illinois majority Black communities suffered a disproportionate number of COVID deaths and majority Latinx communities suffered a disproportionate number of COVID cases. The 14 zip codes were selected based upon the impact of COVID as well as mapping data indicating the multiple environmental risk factors, including air pollution and asthma, historic redlining policies, poverty and economic insecurity which put the Black and Latinx communities on Chicago’s South and West Sides at greater risk for negative outcomes related to COVID-19. “We selected these communities through a comprehensive review of data that focused on the areas hardest hit by Covid, structural racism and most at risk for poor outcomes for children,” says Alderman. Grants have been awarded to serve schools in a number of Chicago communities, including Austin, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, Pullman and Roseland.  CSWI – Illinois focused on needs outside of Chicago. A similar detailed data review regarding the impact of COVID and children at risk resulted in funded projects in the following counties across the state: Fayette; Jackson; LaSalle; Macon; Marion; Montgomery; Peoria; Rock Island; St. Clair; Stephenson; Vermillion; and Williamson.

“We asked the applicant communities to propose emotional support projects that made the most sense to them, taking into account their particular needs and resources,” says Starin. As a result, each of the 29 projects is unique and specifically responsive to community needs. For example, in Chicago, GRO Community focuses on supporting the development of African American boys/young men on the Southside through an intergenerational model that will also provide training and support to school staff. ILCHF is also supporting Gateway Family Services. Gateway is a growing agency that is addressing trauma signs in youth, parents and school staff through its ‘Sur+Thrive’ project in rural Vermillion County. The 29 projects will be evaluated for community impact and outcomes by Planning, Implementation & Evaluation, Org. (PIE). PIE is a non-profit evaluation organization that specializes in working with other non-profit organizations.

Alderman concludes, “we are excited to play a small role  supporting partners in these communities to meet the social emotional needs that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

CSWI – Chicago grantees and the zip codes of the communities to be served are:

  • Alivio Medical Center – 60623 

  • Association House of Chicago – 60641 and 60651

  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago – 60609

  • Children’s Home & Aid Society of Illinois – 60639 

  • Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) – 60644 

  • Friend Family Health Center Inc – 60609 

  • GRO Community – 60628 and 60643

  • Juvenile Protective Association – 60628, 60639 and 60649

  • Lutheran Social Services of Illinois – 60641 

  • University of Illinois: OCEAN – 60621 and 60632


CSWI – Illinois grantees and the counties of the community to be served are: 

  • Centerstone, Inc. – Jackson and Williamson Counties

  • Chestnut Health Systems Inc. – St. Clair County

  • Community Health Care, Inc. – Rock Island County

  • Community Resource Center – Fayette and Marion Counties

  • Gateway Family Services of Illinois – Vermilion County

  • Heritage Behavioral Health Center, Inc. – Macon County

  • Hillsboro Area Hospital Inc – Montgomery County

  • Hoyleton Ministries – St. Clair County

  • FHN Jane Addams Family Counseling Center – Stephenson County

  • Methodist Medical Center of Illinois – Peoria County

  • North Central Behavioral Health Systems Inc – LaSalle County

  • Vermilion Association for Special Education (VASE) – Vermilion County


About Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation

The Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) has a single vision: Every child in Illinois grows up healthy. Working through grantee partners across the state, the Foundation focuses its grant making on identifying and funding solutions to the barriers that prevent children from accessing the ongoing health care they need. For more information, go to

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