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Mailing Address:

Caring for Denver Foundation
Kaleidoscope Collaborative Center
1035 Osage Street, 8th Floor
Denver, CO 80204


Caring for Denver Foundation #PowerTo E-newsletters

A Powerful Moment for Continued Collaboration - April 2021 #PowerTo

Mural of George Floyd on Denver’s Ready Temporary Services building by artists Detour and Hiero.

This trial with its guilty verdict is a powerful moment for the cause of justice in our society. But it is just the beginning. We have much work still to do and must change the circumstances that allowed it to ever happen.

The impact of living under social conditions that include racism or any other form of oppression has a direct effect on the mental health and wellbeing of our community. Whether these conditions be historic or present-day, we all have a part to play in dismantling the systems of inequity that are harmful to our larger society.

While we stand in solidarity with yesterday’s conviction, it is only one step of many more we must take. We recommit ourselves today, and every day, to collaborations essential to reaching those goals.

Justice is a practice, not an end. 

2020 Annual Report to the Community
2020 marked our first grantmaking year, and we approved $20 million in funding to better address Denver’s mental health and substance misuse needs. Read the report to learn what you made possible in 2020.

We feel immense gratitude for Denver residents for showing their care for each other by voting to create and fund Caring for Denver. We also want to send a big thank you to the over 1,600 community members who helped shape our work and to the many partners and residents who continue to guide us.

Grant Funding Updates
Our board has approved four additional grants for our Youth funding area, bringing our total investment to $11 million for 51 grants aimed at providing earlier and more resources to reduce crisis and increase resilience for Denver youth coping with life stressors.

We’re currently reviewing proposals for our Care Provision funding area. All applicants will be notified of their status in May/June 2021.

Our next call for proposals focused on the Alternatives to Jail funding area will be released the week of May 10.

Supporting Black Maternal Mental Health

In Colorado, 27% of mothers sometimes, always, or often felt depressed after their baby was born (2019 Colorado Kids Count). This week, we want to bridge Black Maternal Health Week (last week) and the upcoming Maternal Mental Health week (May 3-7), by highlighting the importance of maternal mental health supports specifically for women of color, who experience increased stress from racism and discrimination. We’re  committed to partnering with the community to address these needs, dismantle stigma, and make mental health supports more accessible and equitable for our community.


Check out these resources to support maternal mental health:



We’re honored to support Thriving Families in lifting up families during pregnancy and just after a baby is born – a critical period of development for children’s futures. Their workshops, one-on-one coaching, and other services offer families the #PowerTo have healthy beginnings.

Featured Resource


If you are using alcohol or other drugs to cope with stress, you are not alone. Support is available so you can be the strongest mom possible. Use Tough as a Mother’s online directory to learn about your options and to learn about your options and get help making an individualized and customized plan.

Caring for Denver Foundation was founded and funded with overwhelming voter support to address Denver’s mental health and substance misuse needs by growing community-informed solutions, dismantling stigma, and turning the community’s desire to help into action. Caring for Denver has granted $27 million in the areas of alternatives to jail, community-centered solutions, youth, and special initiatives. To learn more, visit caring4denver.org.


Female Leaders with Tremendous Impact - March 2021 #PowerTo

Our hearts go out to our neighbors in the Boulder community, and to the families of the victims. To everyone feeling increased anxiety or sadness, please be gentle with yourselves. Here are a couple of resources that can help:

Let’s continue to take care of each other in these difficult times.

$10 Million in Grants Awarded to Support Denver Youth
We are eager to begin our partnership with 47 organizations working to reduce crisis and increase resilience for Denver youth coping with life stressors, as a result of our Youth funding opportunity.

Thank you to the many youth partners who informed the call for proposals, emphasizing the importance of funding innovative approaches that are youth-informed or youth-led, focus on the strengths of youth, and value culture in healing and identity.

Women are leading change with bravery, compassion, and strength. In honor of Women’s History Month, we are lifting up the voices of some of the incredible women leaders we have the honor of partnering with. Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and check out our website for more inspiring stories.

“Women are essential in leadership. We tend to think about the collective well-being and work in collaboration. Women tend to lead with love, which has been too often dismissed in professional settings. But love for community, love for self, love for this planet, is exactly what we need more of right now,” JoAnna Cintrón, Executive Director, Re:Vision.

“We empower socially and economically disadvantaged women and transwomen of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to obtain safety, restoration, leadership, courage, tenacity, and health. We consider all physical, emotional, social and mental health conditions to effectively break the cycle of addictive patterns and unethical thinking to initiate change while developing life skills for restoration in all aspects of a woman’s life,” Corinthiah Brown, Executive Director, The Don’t Look Back Center

“I want my communities to heal, to feel worthy of healing, and to welcome it. To be able to support in that process is the greatest gift. It took me a long time and witnessing a lot of my community on their journeys to realize that healing does not equal sobriety, and sobriety does not equal abstinence. All of this is the reason La Conextion exists — to center qtibipoc, their dreams, joy, and healing,” Gabrielle (gabe) Rodriguez (she/her), Founder + Co-creator of La Conextion

Featured Resource: Colorado Crisis Services

Get support or counseling for yourself or a loved one. Colorado Crisis Services (CCS) offers mental health, substance use or emotional crisis help, information, and referrals. CCS’ mission is to provide Coloradans with greater access to crisis services at all hours, regardless of ability to pay. Whether you are dealing with COVID-related stress, trauma, isolation, loneliness, substance use, concern for family or friends, financial pressures, stress, or more, CCS can help. There is no wrong reason to call.



Care Provision Funding Opportunity - February 2021 #PowerTo
Artwork of essential worker (nurse) with mask that says Stay Home / Stay Safe

This week we launched our Care Provision funding opportunity so that more people in Denver have access to mental health and substance misuse care at the right time, with the supports to that navigate care.

Dates to Remember
March 15: Register in system
March 18: Proposals due
May 2021: Award Notification

Thank you to those who joined our Facebook Live Forum on the Care Provision Funding Opportunity! Find the recording on our Facebook page and our website. Visit our grants page to learn more about applying and to view the Call for Proposals.

STAR Pilot Project Adds Mental Health Professionals to a Mobile Crisis Unit, Preventing Arrests

Police are often left responding to mental health crises, even though they don’t have the time, the training, or the resources to do so. In this inspiring TEDx MileHigh talk, our Board Chair Rep. Leslie Herod explains the impetus behind Denver’s Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) pilot, which connects nonviolent 9-1-1 calls with a mobile unit that includes a mental health professional. She describes her “ride-along” in a similar program in Oregon, and the importance of using the right tools at the right time to optimize resources and change lives.

In the first six months of the STAR program, health professionals responded to 748 calls. None of those cases required help from Denver police and no individuals were arrested. According to a Denver Police Department report, expanding the program could reduce police calls by nearly 3%. Read more about the pilot in these news headlines:

Health care workers replaced Denver cops in handling hundreds of mental health and substance abuse cases — and officials say it saved lives (CBS News)

Denver successfully sent mental health professionals, not police, to hundreds of calls (USA Today)

In the first six months of health care professionals replacing police officers, no one they encountered was arrested (Denverite)

“You have a safer community and you have
better outcomes for people in crisis.”
– Denver police chief Paul Pazen

Featured Resource: United Way

Looking for community resources? United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center is available for calls, live chats, texts, or database searches. Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211. Live chat or database search is available at http://211.org.



Recovering Out Loud - January 2021 #PowerTo

Dear partner, 

During this especially trying time, we’re grateful for Denver’s nonprofits, schools, and agencies whose staff pour their hearts into making our community stronger and healthier. 

We are awed by your continued efforts to address mental health and substance misuse needs – despite the challenges you face. You are an indispensable partner in our community and in the Foundation’s work.

As we look to the new year ahead, our greatest wish is that you are able make space to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing. We can’t do this without you.

With deep gratitude and respect,

Executive Director Lorez Meinhold and the Caring for Denver Foundation team

Recovering Out Loud

Thomas and Melanie share their stories on the importance
of community, connection, and perseverance

Black and White image of man and woman facing the camera, smiling

The anxiety and isolation caused by COVID-19 intensifies Caring for Denver’s challenge of addressing Denver’s substance use and mental health needs. We rely on people with lived experience to inform our funding priorities and help us understand the challenges our community is facing. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Melanie Stritch and Thomas Hernandez for sharing their stories, and for advocating to change how we think about and address these needs in our community. Listen to their very different journeys to well-being and insights on how they’re maintaining sobriety during the challenges of COVID-19. 

“We live in a disease that corners us, in minds, spirit, in our hearts,
and in our families. It’s about creating true environment,
true community, equality,”
– Thomas Hernandez

Close up of two sisters smiling

Youth Funding Opportunity Update
Thank you to the organizations and agencies who applied to our Youth funding opportunity! Our team is diligently reviewing 113 applications (requesting a total of $32 million) to make decisions on how to disburse the $10 million alloted for this funding area. We are eager to work with you to increase Denver youth’s resilience to life stresses and pressures, address mental health and substance misuse early, and provide supports for families and allies of youth to better support youth in their healing. Learn more on our website.

Cover page of Caring for Denver's Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Plan

We believe in careful stewardship of our resources, and transparency of our work and funding initiatives. Download our strategic plan to learn about our organizational goals and objectives, our funding priorities, how the community shapes our work, and our approach to learning and adaptation for impact.

Featured Resource: MyStrength

Need personalized wellness tips and activities to reduce stress? 
MyStrength is a wellness app to support individuals with self-care efforts during this time. Thanks to a FEMA grant to Lutheran Family Services Colorado Spirit Wellness Program services, this resource is currently available for free with this link. You can explore personalized modules specific to coping during COVID-19 and other mental health topics, create and set goals, and track health.



$5.6 Million in Grants Awarded to Support Community-Centered Solutions - December 2020 #PowerTo

$5.6 Million in Grants Awarded to Support Community-Centered Solutions
We’re honored to partner with 26 community organizations as a result of our recent Community-Centered Solutions funding opportunity. One hundred percent of the funded organizations are led either by persons with lived experience related to mental health and substance misuse or by members of the community the organization serves. Learn more on our website.

The Power of Community:
Montbello in Action

Story by Carly Daehnick


The availability of mental health care services is limited in Montbello, one of Denver’s most diverse areas in the city. Despite its vibrant and strong community fabric, Montbello faces many economic challenges and years of underinvestment in infrastructure and community resources.

For people in the neighborhood seeking care from people who look like them, resources are almost non-existent. The Montbello Mental Health Circle is stepping into this void to provide culturally responsive, community-based mental health services.

“We thought, no more waiting for help, we have to help ourselves,” said Donna Garnett, Executive Director of the Montbello Organizing Committee (MOC), whose organization led the formation of the Mental Health Circle.

“It’s one thing to get opinions, perspectives from leaders… it’s another to get the opinions of people who live with those decisions,” Donna said. Staff and volunteers for MOC reached out to residents using surveys and focus groups and striking up conversations with neighbors in various settings. They heard that a lack of trust in institutions and stigma was preventing people from accessing services. Peer counselors and community mentors said they were suffering intense stress and burnout from being “boots on the ground” providing support for youth and adults in trauma due to the pandemic, violence, and substance misuse.

“It’s one thing to get opinions, perspectives from leaders… it’s another to get the opinions of people who live with those decisions,”
– Donna Garnett, Executive Director of the Montbello Organizing Committee

“We lead where people tell us to lead,” Donna said. Community voice helped MOC and its Montbello Mental Health Circle partners to create pathways to care that meets people where they are. “Therapy doesn’t need to be in an office. It can happen anywhere,” Donna notes. The “front yard therapy” pilot they created is a prime example. Counselors visit residents where they are most comfortable – in their homes, gardens, front yards, and backyards.

Working together with the Mental Health Center of Denver, MOC builds on this popular approach to give the community trusted, comfortable mental health supports. A kiosk to access psychological services virtually using Zoom and other telehealth options is being constructed inside Academy 360, a K-5 school in the neighborhood. Families or individuals can visit the kiosk at any time, and services provided regardless of the ability to pay, with a Caring for Denver grant covering part of the costs and matching funds covering other expenses.

“I’m just hoping that we have a really wide variety of modalities that are funded and available for people at all levels of economic status,” Donna said, noting that she also hopes stigma will no longer be a hindrance to people getting the help they need. “Mental health issues impact us all.”

The Montbello Organizing Committee focuses on outreach, strengthening community leadership skills, and providing Montbello residents with resources and tools for their well-being. It is part of the Montbello Mental Health Circle, together with Struggle of Love Foundation, Families Against Violent Acts, Therapists of Color Coalition, Academy 360, Mental Health Center of Denver, and Steps To Success Montbello. Learn more at www.montbelloorganizing.org.

About the Author: Carly Daehnick is a soon-to-be graduate of George Mason University with a degree in Criminology, Law & Society. She has been volunteering with Caring for Denver and assisting with youth outreach and community engagement efforts.


With the launch of our Youth call for proposals last month, Caring for Denver Foundation hopes to provide funding for programs that will support communities and empower youth to be a part of efforts to address mental health and substance misuse issues early, and improve youth resilience and coping mechanisms with life’s stresses and pressures. Thank you to those who’ve already submitted a proposal. Visit our grants page to learn more about applying and to view the Call for Proposals.



The Importance of Youth Voice - November 2020 #PowerTo

The Importance of Youth Voice

Story and artwork by Carly Daehnick

With the launch of our Youth call for proposals, Caring for Denver Foundation hopes to provide funding for programs that will support communities and empower youth to be a part of efforts to address mental health and substance misuse issues early, and improve youth resilience and coping mechanisms with life’s stresses and pressures.

More than 50 young people across the City of Denver contributed to the development of the Youth call for proposals by sharing their suggestions and experiences surrounding these issues. We have heard a great deal from youth and adults about the importance of youth leadership. Following are some of their thoughts and hopes.

Dec. 7: Register in system
Dec. 17: Proposals due

Thank you to those who joined our Facebook Live Forum today! Find the recording on our Facebook page and our website. Visit our grants page to learn more about applying and to view the Call for Proposals.

Why is youth voice important in shaping solutions
in addressing mental health and substance misuse?

“Experience of others who are in recovery is valuable – sharing those struggles and how they got through it…walking in the same shoes, that is what makes all of this work. Can’t relate or trust someone who hasn’t walked in my shoes.”

“Youth voice is important because without our voice how can adults create a change for something related to what we are going through.”

“The topics of substance misuse and mental health has been taboo to every generation before our generation, so we are building this framework from the ground up to support people with mental health/substance misuse issues. Youth are essentially advocating for themselves.”

Among the young people interviewed, all of them either knew someone with mental health or substance misuse issues or had experienced these challenges themselves – because of this, they emphasized the importance of being advocates for themselves and each other.

What are some better ways to address these issues? In what ways might youth involvement make a difference?

“Kids aren’t feeling connected to counselors, in schools and other places, because the counselor doesn’t relate and doesn’t have the same lived experience.”

“Youth leadership can make a difference in addressing mental health and substance use through elevating each other’s voices to be heard while understanding action-oriented options to make a change for my peers.”

“Youth need to see mental health and substance misuse issues being talked about honestly and supportively in public spaces. Those who suffer from these problems have a constant feeling of needing to hide their struggle from others, and this isolation only makes the problem worse.”

What do you hope would be different in 2-3 years
because of youth-focused work in mental health
and substance misuse areas?

“Lots of awareness about it. What it can do to your life, health, how to help yourself get better. Supportive community where things like this are normalized.”

“Outreach should be done before the crisis point in a person’s life, not after.”

“I hope in the next two to three years we are definitely able to reduce or eliminate youth violence while seeing more youth-focused groups that address those who feel helpless or uncomfortable speaking with others to find encouragement in those spaces.”

“To hear, see, and share in the involved youth-focused work being made to address both mental health/substance misuse while learning new ways to increase more engagement for us all.”

“If every person in Denver knew of at least one resource that they trusted well enough to reach out to, I think that would be a success.”

Trust is a huge issue for youth facing these problems; with the risk of negative consequences such as loss of freedom, many young people don’t want to reach out to anyone. As one student put it, “Youth want schools to be a better support but worry about being penalized. If the immediate response by programs/systems is mandatory reporting, then they aren’t going to be trusted.”

The challenge is to find a balance between safety (which is the goal of mandatory reporting) and trusted, compassionate support for young people. Additionally, young people reported that they would like to see increased access to mental health resources and workshops, greater networks for peer support, and decreased stigma around mental illness and substance misuse.

Thank you to all of the Denver youth who shared your voices and perspectives!

About the Author and Artist: Carly Daehnick is an undergraduate student who will be graduating in December with a degree in Criminology, Law and Society. She has been working with Caring for Denver Foundation on youth outreach and promoting the voices of Denver young people.



Investing in Community-Centered Solutions: listen first, act second - Aug 2020 Newsletter




Community-Centered Solutions Call-for-Proposals

We recently hosted a Facebook Live Forum to provide an overview of our newest $5M funding opportunity. Thank you for all who were able to attend and for the very thoughtful questions. In case you missed it, you can find it on our Facebook page and our website

Important Deadlines 

  • Register your organization in our Grants Portal by Thurs. Aug. 27th by 7PM (MT)
  • Submit your proposal by Fri. Sept. 4th by 7PM (MT)

View Recording


Tony Tapia — Promoting The Power of Community 

We recently connected with Tony Tapia, Principal of Bridging Worlds Philanthropic Advisors, for a brief Q&A on the importance of lifting up local solutions to local issues in our newest Community-Centered Solutions funding area. Tony is a longtime nonprofit foundation leader in the areas of global philanthropy, performing arts, immigration, Latino, and aging issues. 

Caring for Denver: Why are community solutions important in addressing mental health and substance misuse needs?
Tony: A basic belief among persons working with communities is that people who are the closest to the issues probably have the best solutions to solving their community’s challenges. Solutions which come from community often work well. It is important for foundations to trust that community members understand local issues and potential solutions.

Caring for Denver: What are some of your insights and experiences that speak to the value of community input in addressing these needs?
Tony: Often foundations become a catalyst in uncovering and accelerating solutions.  Sometimes community members may not recognize their assets or how to effectively utilize the assets they have. I worked with a local Denver community where members were not connecting on a social basis. Social isolation is often an unrecognized challenge. In working with this community we became a catalyst to bring people together and connect in ways they hadn’t in the past. In this community where social isolation was an issue members decided to support regular gatherings of women over coffee which was something that could be sustained and community-owned.

Caring for Denver: How do communities identify/recognize their assets?
Tony: This is one of the many reasons for partnerships. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside a community to start the conversation about their assets. People are often busy and don’t have time to recognize local assets and gaps. Someone from outside can help in discovering those assets.

Caring for Denver: What do you hope would be different in 2-3 years because of this work in mental health and substance
Tony: A better understanding of issues from community perspectives – understand where the foundation can be a catalyst in working with communities toward solutions. Important to have sustainability in addressing problems with identified solutions. Solutions need to be sustainable over time.

Overall, regarding community mental health, the COVID-19 crisis has brought mental health and substance misuse issues in communities to the forefront even if they weren’t experiencing or recognizing them before.  When solutions work at the community and family level, the impact will reverberate from these individuals and families into the larger community. Through those successful efforts, the overall community health is improved.

Thank you, Tony, for your thoughtful responses and all that you do for our community!


Turning Desire into Action & Supports for 13,000 Residents

On July 28, 2020, Caring for Denver approved $6.7M in grants to community-based non-profit organizations and departments within the City and County of Denver offices.

Grants will support programs that help appropriately move Denver from a criminal justice response to a public health, trauma, mental health and substance misuse crisis response.

More than 13,000 Denver residents will receive services and other support to break cycles of addiction, decompensation, and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Over 70 percent of the funded organizations utilize peers and mentors with real-life experience as part of their intervention – a key component to successful recovery.

Learn More

If you or someone you know are in crisis, please reach out for free, confidential, professional, 24/7 support via the Crisis Line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or by texting TALK to 38255. If you are looking for community resources, United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center is available for calls, live chats, texts, or database search. Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211. Live chat or database search is available at http://211.org/.


Listen First. Act Second - June 2020 Newsletter



Theo E.J. Wilson

Local Denver poet and activist Theo E.J. Wilson found solace from mental health struggles in his youth though writing that became spoken word, and eventually, a speaking career. Today, his activism focuses on black lives and healing the community through dialogue in barber shops, called “barbershop talks,” now in its eighth year. He shared his gifts with us through his poem about childhood friend, Alonzo Ashley.







Activating our charge 

Mental Health Awareness Month may be over, but our need to be bold in our response to community needs must continue – especially during the current pandemic. “COVID-19 has highlighted why such an organization, like Caring for Denver, is important,” said Executive Director, Lorez Meinhold, to Smart Cities Dive. “We have the resources to make sure our communities are equipped to meet the needs, not just during this crisis, but going forward,” said Meinhold. The virus brought with it new realities – job losses, business and school closures, isolation, and feelings of anxiety as people fear for themselves or loved ones falling ill. Each comes with layers of stress, fear, grief and exhaustion, and the emotional toll has real implications for youth, families, providers of care and communities. The crisis spotlights both existing and new barriers and disparities to accessing mental health and substance misuse services. It’s going to take all of us to listen to and meet communities where they are. 

Learn about our COVID efforts, including a new virtual counseling program spearheaded by Envision:You for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are experiencing greater behavioral health needs as a result of the current public health emergency.



Read More


Alternatives to Jail

46 – that’s how many proposals we received directed at programs, projects, and/or activities that will provide greater supports and treatment to residents in a mental health and/or substance misuse crisis before, during and after criminal justice involvement. Get to know our first funding area and why we’ve dedicated $7M to support it. We anticipate being able to notify potential grantees of their grant application status in August.

Learn More


If you or someone you know are in crisis, please reach out for free, confidential, professional, 24/7 support via the Crisis Line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or by texting TALK to 38255. If you are looking for community resources, United Way’s 2-1-1 Help Center is available for calls, live chats, texts, or database search. Dial 2-1-1, or text your zip code to 898-211. Live chat or database search is available at http://211.org/.






Our Care Provision funding opportunity is now closed. Sign up for our mailing list for updates.