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In October 2018, Chancelor Bennett — also known as recording artist Chance the Rapper —announced that his next philanthropic endeavor would tackle the stigma of seeking mental health services. His foundation, SocialWorks, put the word out that six agencies providing mental health services in Chicago would be awarded $100,000 each through the My State of Mind (MSOM) initiative.
Justin Cunningham, SocialWorks’ founding Executive Director, says that three years ago, MSOM arose out of Chance’s engagement with the community—West and South Side neighborhoods battling the “Chiraq” stigma. “We love Chicago and Chicagoans and we saw what we’ve seen growing up in Chicago, people with a lot of promise being overlooked, and we took action. Many of us have been touched by a friend or loved one suffering from mental illness, and many of us have experienced our own mental health concerns. We believe it’s time to rethink access for consumers and support for our practitioners and make honesty admirable.”
In December 2019 at their celebrated fundraiser, A Night at the Museum, Chance revealed the six lucky MSOM grant winners, including Sinai Health System’s Under the Rainbow (UTR) program—an outpatient therapy program for youth, adolescents and their families. The agency has invested in Sinai’s children and teens for the next three years. Their unrestricted dollars will ensure that services for youth, like therapeutic and safe summer camps, will remain available. Nearly 85% of youth in the Under the Rainbow program suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, while 100% have experienced community violence.
Nick Heineman, MSOM Project Manager, explains how Sinai was chosen, “When selecting our grant winners, it was important to seek out behavioral health organizations that had connected with diverse communities and offered meaningful care that was both clinically and non-clinically motivated. Selecting those who offered a broad range of access points into their programming—for both consumers and practitioners—was something we strongly considered. Our intent was to provide grants to organizations that unify the broader mental health community. The final grant winners were then personally selected by SocialWorks’ Founder Chance the Rapper. We can’t wait to see the immense impact Sinai’s behavioral health programs will continue to make in Chicago.”
Dr. Greg Staszko, manager of Under the Rainbow outpatient behavioral health programs, says that the admiration is mutual, “We are very excited about this partnership with SocialWorks. They’re creative and innovative about addressing the mental health needs of youth in Chicago. This funding will allow us to continue to provide experiences for our community “outside of the box” of traditional therapy, like creating safe spaces for families to connect and heal together, free from the stigmas that are often attached to traditional mental health services.”