Caring for Denver Foundation awards $12.1 million to support alternative responses to criminal justice involvement

News Release

[July 28, 2022 – Denver, Colo.]: Caring for Denver Foundation announced more than $12.1 million in funding to community-based nonprofits and city departments that provide alternative responses to criminal justice, including those that focus on public and mental health, trauma, and substance misuse. The goal is to divert Denverites from the criminal justice system and provide the mental health and substance misuse supports they need to recover.

The grants include funding for the expansion of the Denver’s STAR and co-responder programs, which have garnered national attention for adding mental health professionals to emergency response teams. It also includes funding for several organizations that give Denverites access to trained peers—people who have overcome mental health and/or substance misuse themselves.

“We continue our work to strengthen Denver’s network of supports for people who need a mental health and substance misuse response when they are experiencing trauma,” said Lorez Meinhold, the foundation’s executive director.  “These funded programs focus on care rather than incarceration.”

“When we don’t adequately fund mental health and substance misuse, we pay for it in the criminal justice system,” Rep. Leslie Herod, Board Chair of Caring for Denver said.

Grantees include:

  • 5280 High School – Recovery High School Programming & Mental Health Supports
    To provide a strong pro-social peer community, specialized recovery supports, and an engaging educational environment to hundreds of Denver teens.
  • City and County of Denver – Denver Police Department – DPD Co-Responder Program
    To continue the co-responder program, providing 24/7 coverage to areas of highest need with clinicians, case managers, a clinical supervisor, a DPD case manager supervisor, and a part-time evaluator. This year, three additional clinicians will be placed with the Fire Department and Park Rangers.
  • City and County of Denver – Denver Sheriff – Case Management and MAT Coordination
    To provide additional incarcerated individuals with case management and reentry services and coordinate the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program to expand and improve access to jail-based MAT continuation and induction.
  • City and County of Denver – Department of Public Health & Environment – Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) Program Expansion
    For Year 2 of the STAR Expansion to increase the areas of coverage of the STAR Program by increasing the number of Paramedic/Behavioral Health Clinician Team, and increase the effectiveness of the engagements with people in need by providing linkages to short-term assistance and long-term care.
  • CrossPurpose – Increasing Access to Mental Health and Substance Misuse Resources for Justice-Involved Individuals
    To provide access to trauma-informed development, counseling and case management for Denver residents with a history of justice involvement and mental health and/or substance misuse challenges reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
  • The Delores Project – Community Transitions Program (CTP)
    To assist women and transgender individuals who have been justice involved and/or have a felony history. The Delores Project will hire two positions to help residents maintain mental health and recovery stability through their transition from re-entry into housing.
  • Denver County Court – Forensic Peer Navigator Program
    To ensure peers are available for direct connection in courtrooms, to meet with individuals outside of probation, court, upon release from jail, are a free call from the jail, support participants going to treatment and service providers, and are a bridge between the returning individual and the community.
  • GRASP-Gang Rescue and Support Project – Alternatives to Jail
    To provide trauma-based supports to youth, and young adults—mostly youth of color—who participate in this organization’s programs, which address cultural barriers, substance misuse, and intergenerational trauma.
  • Heavy Hands Heavy Hearts Foundation – Providing Intervention and Prevention: Glovez up, Gunz Down Program Support
    For the Glovez Up, Gunz Down Movement program to provide mental and behavioral health supports, and conduct peer-led support groups and counseling to instill resilience in Black and Latinx youth and adults to teach them healthier ways to avoid, reduce, or stop engagement in high-risk behaviors.
  • Life-Line Colorado – “A Life-Line” Alternatives to Jail
    To provide critical linkages to inclusive mental health and substance misuse programs to hundreds of at-risk youth by expanding its programmatic reach and capacity by expanding our current partnerships to more Denver area schools.
  • Mile High Behavioral Healthcare – Mile High Genesis
    For the launch of a new program, Mile High Genesis, to provide intensive mental health treatment to individuals with persistent and severe mental illness who are referred by the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health’s Outpatient Restoration Services Program.
  • ParadigmONE – Transitional Safety Zone Recovery Housing 2.0 and MAT Pilot
    For the Transitional Safety Zone Program, a recovery housing-peer support model that bridges people from detox to sober living environments with a focus on criminal justice diversion. Expansion of this harm reduction approach will increase reach and pilot a responsive fentanyl-specific medication-assisted treatment protocol.
  • The Reciprocity Collective – Dynamic Street and Shelter Connection
    To provide peer recovery services and system navigation to individuals in recovery at shelters or identified in its community outreach.
  • The Salvation Army Intermountain Division – Harbor Light Denver Program
    For Harbor Light, an addiction recovery facility whose goal is to help men secure an addiction-free and sustainable, self-sufficient living situation through the development of essential life skills. The program works with the Denver court system to provide a constructive and positive alternative to jail.
  • Sims-Fayola Foundation – Sims-Fayola Empowerment Zone
    For the Empowerment Zone program that engages young men of color between the ages of 11-25 in social-emotional, mental and behavioral health care who are referred by social services, the community, or the courts.
  • The Storytellers Project – Breaking Chains Building Bonds (BCBB)
    For the Breaking Chains Building Bonds Family Programs to support formerly incarcerated parents and their children or justice-involved youth by providing mental health and substance misuse supports needed to break generational cycles of family violence, trauma, substance misuse, and incarceration.
  • TOSA Denver – The Other Side Academy: Expanding capacity
    To add additional case managers with lived experience to provide consistent and quality on-site peer mental health and substance misuse support to residents in recovery.
  • Youth Advocate Programs Inc – Fostering Positive Youth Development in Denver
    To expand capacity to manage referrals from Denver Human Services and prevent congregate care placement by supporting child welfare and juvenile justice involved youth and families through mental health and substance misuse service navigation and peer support.

About Caring for Denver Foundation

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. Guided by community input, the organization has funded more than $82.2 million in the areas of alternatives to jail, care provision, community-centered solutions, youth, and special initiatives since it began. 

About Lorez Meinhold

Lorez Meinhold serves as the Executive Director of Caring for Denver Foundation. She brings over twenty years of implementation and policy experience as a director of multilateral initiatives involving the public, private, and civic sectors, working at the local, state, and national levels. Lorez has worked in many capacities integrating health programs addressing mental health and substance misuse needs, connecting early childhood and health communities, delivery and payment system reforms, and efforts that required statewide stakeholder engagement.

About Rep. Leslie Herod

Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver) was elected in 2016 as the first LGBTQ African American in the Colorado General Assembly. Since then, she has passed 52 bills, addressing criminal justice reform, mental health, addiction, youth homelessness, education, and civil rights protections. Herod championed the Caring for Denver Ballot measure and now serves as Chair of the Caring for Denver Foundation Board.