Welcome Ayudando Latinos A Soñar and Friends for Youth! SV2’s New Grantee Partners

Our Fall 2023 Mental Health & Wellbeing Grant Round was grounding and inspiring. We held space for ‘real talk’ about struggles, individual and community trauma, systemic barriers, hope and healing.  We learned about impactful mental illness prevention, intervention, and treatment, as well as successful wellbeing initiatives. After a holistic community nomination, learning, and selection process, we selected Ayudando Latinos A Soñar and Friends for Youth as our newest Grantee Partners. Each nonprofit is receiving $75,000 of unrestricted funding over three years, and SV2’s beyond-the-dollars support. We are deeply honored to be in partnership with both of these outstanding organizations! 

Ayudando Latinos A Soñar (ALAS) was founded in 2011, and  is a Latino centered nonprofit. ALAS is committed to working with and for children, youth, families, farmworkers, asylum seekers, seniors, and our general Coastside community. ALAS was born from the desire to help children and their families to feel proud of their identity and culture and amplify their voices.  ALAS’s programs have grown to include culturally-centered mental health services, wrap-around case management, immigration, and education, as well as social justice advocacy initiatives. ALAS’s Mental Health and Wellbeing programs include resources for emotional wellbeing and alcohol & drug abuse help in San Mateo County, individual counseling, couples counseling, family counseling, group counseling, and community wellness. ALAS aims for “collective healing”. In 2023, ALAS was commemorated by the State of CA as a California Nonprofit of the Year. 

Friends for Youth was founded in 1979, and is a nonprofit that supports children who would otherwise go unserved. Friends for Youth advances positive youth development, social-emotional health and wellness, prevention services, and critical skills for future self-sufficiency. Friends for Youth offers 1:1 Mentoring, Group Mentoring, and a Whole Health for Youth Collaborative. Youth in the programs improve their motivation and school performance, demonstrate increased self-esteem and resiliency, avoid negative behaviors, and rarely have future involvement with the Juvenile Justice System.  In addition to organizational techniques and staff training, Friends for Youth develops educational products to help youth-serving professionals including SAFE mentor screening that protects youth mentoring programs from child predators. Friends for Youth represents the gold standard in the mentoring field. Mentoring programs throughout the country have requested assistance from Friends for Youth in setting up and enhancing their own mentoring programs. 

The leadership and teams of both of these organizations are highly impressive changemakers with lived experiences related to the mission and work. 

ALAS’s Executive Director is Dr. Belinda Hernandez-Arriaga. Belinda has a doctorate in Education, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with eighteen years experience working in community mental health, with a specialization in child trauma and Latino Mental Health. Belinda has extensive experience in county mental health where she worked in Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall mental health and San Mateo County Pre to Three High Risk Infant Mental health team. 

Friends for Youth’s Executive Director is Cecilia Chu. Cecilia has a B.S. in Environmental Sciences, a B.A. in Art Practice from UC Berkeley, and most recently, an MSW from Columbia University. She has been in social services since 2013, starting off as an assistant teacher in Marin County, moving to Japan to teach English for a year and back to the Bay Area to begin her journey at Friends for Youth, running the 1-to-1 Mentoring Program for two years before her Masters.

43 SV2 Partners participated in our Grant Round. Our Grant Round Community Engagement and Research Team comprised 16 people, a great mix of a Grantee Partner, Donor Partners (adults and teen), and staff. Throughout our learning and decision making, we were guided by One Life Counseling, an outstanding mental health and wellbeing leader and expert as well as SV2 Grantee Partner. We are very grateful for this partnership with One Life Counseling. This Grant Round was co-led by Tanja Powers and Tara Maddala, SV2 Partners, and Amy Badiani, SV2 staff. Tanja and Tara took on this role as new SV2 Partners. They applied their depth of healthcare experience and brought so much passion, thoughtfulness, and helpful structure to our grantmaking process.