The Behavioral Health Collaborative for Young Black Men & Boys, 2023 Impact Award winner

Collaborative members
Coalition members (back row) Jackson Greenstone, Deshawn Leeth,
Justin Harper, Kiyoshi Shelton, Derrick Jackson, and Corey Telin;
(front row) Jamall Bufford, Lori Bennett, Cherisa Allen, Pamela Tooson,
and Jamie Abelson meet at Ozone House.
Photo courtesy of Concentrate.

In December, the Washtenaw community voted to award the 2023 Collaborative Health Impact Award to the Behavioral Health Collaborative for Young Black Men & Boys.

Funded by the Michigan Health Endowment, the project is a collaboration between Packard Health and the University of Michigan School of Social Work Curtis Center for Health Equity’s Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen) Project. Those two organizations worked together to plan, identify, and develop a coalition of community organizations committed to services that address the behavioral health needs of young Black men and boys in Washtenaw County.

The coalition has already achieved impressive results. 

  • Coalition organizations supported nearly 400 young Black men and boys in 2023.
  • They created an ecosystem of over 100 families, adult mentors, local artists, and community members, with more expected over the course of this next year. 
  • They supported the development of practical solutions and action plans through nine separate Catalyst Initiatives, which were $3,000 seed grants meant to fund existing or develop new programming within coalition member organizations specifically dedicated to supporting the behavioral health needs of Black men and boys. 
  • One of these Catalyst Initiatives, Fathers for Families, created by Corner Health Center, a coalition organization, was able to receive a $200,000 grant to expand its services for young fathers, proving the power of these mini grants to spur innovative ideas that are already being recognized for their impact and funded to expand further. 
  • They developed a “Black Therapists in Washtenaw County” list that was disseminated to the community, which plays an integral role in supporting and removing barriers of access to Black therapists for families of young Black men and boys.

Community coalition participants have given feedback like “Every meeting I think was really well worth it, just to feel everyone’s positive energy and to work together as a community” and “For me the biggest part was it exceeded my expectations. I thought it was just gonna be another meeting you’re coming to, but it actually produced results.” 

Keith Miller, Managing Director of the YBMen Project and lead for the collaborative, adds, “One final thing we’re proud of, which may seem small but means the world to us, are the powerful connections that were reinforced and fostered as a result of this collaborative, which continues to reimagine how we can support Black men and boys–and the communities that serve them–in new and exciting ways that view the communities through a lens of hope and strength instead of deficits.” 

Miller says, “We believe deeply that our ability to make an incredible impact is directly correlated with our guarding, reinforcing, and expanding that hope so that it multiplies–and as it does so, it can spur even more innovation that will support the healing, growth, and thriving through trauma of us all.”

The collaborative includes:

  • Packard Health
  • Huron High School
  • Ypsilanti Community Schools
  • Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper
  • Ozone House
  • Black Men Wellness and Resources Center
  • Brotherhood, Inc.
  • Corner Health Center
  • Washtenaw Sheriff’s Department
  • Underdawg Nation