Cultivating Support for Mental Health Services

Every fall, the emerging philanthropists of Fourth Generation vote to choose a community issue that they spend the year researching together.

Last year, they picked a topic that touches many in our community: Mental health. “The need for mental health services is overwhelming, it’s underfunded, and there’s a lot of great work being done to address these issues by organizations in Minnesota,” said Julia Quanrud, who served as Fourth Generation’s chair last year.

“Fourth Generation gives me the opportunity to learn about community issues that I’m less familiar with,”

– Rebecca Stibbe

Members of Fourth Generation, a program of The Minneapolis Foundation, work together to learn the skills of strategic giving. They make site visits to nonprofits, organize a fundraiser, pool their own donations with contributions from other community members for greater leverage, and ultimately make grants to local nonprofits.

Over the years, the group has tackled issues such as youth homelessness, small business development, and services for aging Minnesotans. “Fourth Generation gives me the opportunity to learn about community issues that I’m less familiar with,” said member Rebecca Stibbe.

The stigma attached to mental illnesses is one reason that services addressing them are underfunded, said Wendy Wells, who became passionate about the issue after a mental illness struck one of her own family members. “My hope is that, someday, mental illness will be considered like any other disease.” With that goal in mind, Wells jumped at the chance to support Fourth Generation’s interest in the issue by recommending a grant to the group from her fund at The Minneapolis Foundation.

When the group chose mental health, “I think we initially thought that we’d fund direct services,” Stibbe said, “but what we learned is that many direct services are funded by the government or health insurance.” Instead, the group identified other important activities that they could support, including mental health advocacy and services for people with a mental illness who don’t qualify for government assistance.

The nonprofits that Fourth Generation ultimately supported range from the Walk-In Counseling Center to the Washburn Center for Children to the Ars Bellum Foundation, which provides clinical art therapy to veterans. All told, the group granted $50,000 to seven organizations. As Stibbe pointed out, that’s far more than she could give on her own. With Fourth Generation, “I can pool my resources with other people and make a bigger difference than I could alone.”

Are you ready to make a real difference? Fourth Generation offers its members a variety of educational opportunities to develop their leadership skills, learn about effective giving, and meet local leaders. Learn more about Fourth Generation or contact Alyssa Hawkins, Director of Giving Programs at 612.672.3865.