Jewish Family & Career Services Receives $500,000 Matching Grant from The Zalik Foundation to Address Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing

One of the most troubling side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a serious global mental health crisis. It is especially tragic to see that children and adolescents are the most vulnerable. Depression and self-harm are rising among teens and suicide has now become the second-leading cause of death among American adolescents ages 10 to 14 years old. We have seen alarming amounts of anxiety and depression among teens right here in Atlanta. 

Now, a generous $500,000 matching grant from The Zalik Foundation will help address this urgent problem in Atlanta. The $500,000 matching grant, created in collaboration with JFNA’s (Jewish Federations of North America) national BeWell initiative, offers a wide range of support services to Jewish teens in the community facing mental health and well-being challenges. 

The funds, secured through the Atlanta Jewish Foundation’s Funders Collaborative, will be used to increase services that support Jewish youth in the community facing mental health and well-being challenges and those that care for them. In addition, this funding will provide for the hiring of two professionals to build resiliency and support across community partnerships. This will help decrease barriers to mental health and provide a  better response to community needs.

The Zalik Foundation grant is rooted in work that the Atlanta Jewish Foundation conducted back in 2020. In partnership with Jewish Federations of North America, the Foundation helped convene a group of local funders who identified teen mental health as a community priority and then set about to address it.   

“JF&CS having recognized this crisis has launched the Horowitz-Zusman Child and Family Center providing therapeutic, preventative, and holistic support for the health and well-being of children, teens, and families. The BeWell community-wide effort is the perfect complement to this launch, making sure families have access to the critical support needed during this challenging time. We are grateful to Helen and David Zalik for this generous donation and the Atlanta Jewish Foundation for focusing on this critical need that will help to address this alarming wave of mental health challenges by young people and those that care for them in the Atlanta region,” said CEO Terri Bonoff of Jewish Family & Career Services. “Our teens are our future, and it is imperative that we do all we can to help those who are dealing with mental instability.” 

Atlanta Jewish Foundation and Jewish community partners are actively raising funds to match the Zalik Foundation’s $500,000 investment. “The BeWell initiative is a unique, donor-driven effort that is committed to improving teen and youth mental health and wellbeing. It couldn’t come at a more relevant moment,” said Jori Mendel, Chief Foundation Officer. “I encourage Atlanta philanthropists and all who are concerned about mental health to contact me and learn how you can amplify the impact of the Zalik Foundation’s grant.