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$250,000 Grant From the Staunton Farm Foundation Will Support the Democratization of Mental Health

Steel Smiling, an Organization-In-Residence of Neighborhood Allies, is the recipient of a 2-year, $250,000 grant from the Staunton Farm Foundation. These resources will position Steel Smiling to execute upon a critical evolution of their community-based Peer Support model within the local mental health ecosystem. These service efforts seek to ensure that Black community members have meaningful opportunities to access these supports.

With this grant award, Steel Smiling will expand the activation of their peer support services for their organization via a developing pilot program that will officially launch this fall. Two past program participants will be hired in full-time fellowship roles, that will provide them with the credentials required to become Certified Peer Specialists. This workforce development opportunity will make culturally-relevant, Black-centered peer support services available at select community-based nonprofit partner sites.

In addition to the advocacy for mental health equity, this program will equip Steel Smiling with the ability to help sustain more Black mental health supports in the community. In the process, it will add value and expertise, serve as a bridge/interim service, and enhance alternative healing pathways for Black residents who are waiting to be matched with a mental health professional.

For more information on Steel Smiling and their role in the local Black Mental Health Ecosystem, please contact: Founder and Managing Director, Julius Boatwright (

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