Special Projects Fund

Grantee Name

Fund for the City of New York

Funding Area

Special Projects Fund

Publication Date

January 2019

Grant Amount


Grant Date:

October 2016-December 2017

At least one in five New Yorkers will experience a mental health disorder in any given year. Frontline staff at community-based organizations (CBOs) report that many clients often appear depressed or anxious, which they suspect may interfere with clients’ ability to succeed in programs.

However, with limited mental health training, staff members at these organizations are unprepared to deal with clients’ emotional and/or behavioral problems. In response to this issue, New York City released a plan to guide an overhaul of the City’s mental health services. A key component of the initiative is Connections To Care (C2C), a public-private partnership that aims to build mental illness prevention and treatment capacity of CBOs that work in the areas of workforce development, education, and early childhood services. In 2016, NYSHealth awarded Fund for the City of New York a grant, in partnership with the Altman Foundation, to support CBOs in building their capacity to help low-income New Yorkers receive mental health care.

Outcomes and Lessons Learned

  • Successfully trained more than 1,000 staff in at least one of the four C2C evidenced-based mental health skills.
  • Provided services to more than 9,000 individuals through C2C mental health skills or referrals.
  • Referred 85% of patients who screened positive for a mental health condition for treatment by the end of the first year.
  • Found that 62% of individuals who received a mental health referral completed it within the first 6 months of program services.
  • Worked with the RAND Corporation and New York University’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research to evaluate job placement and retention, educational attainment, and housing stability in C2C participants identified with a mental health condition.
  • Collaborated with the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity to collect impact and cost evaluation data and identify similar sites for impact evaluation comparison.

Under this grant, C2C paired mental health providers with CBOs to screen clients for mental health conditions. Clients who screened positive for a mental health condition were then referred for treatment or clinical care. C2C instructed CBO staff members on four core evidence-based mental health skills: mental health first aid, motivational interviewing, screening, and psychoeducation. The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and technical assistance partners ensured that trainings delivered to the CBOs met industry quality standards. C2C worked with the CBOs to ensure practices and techniques are integrated into existing services and the organizational culture at these agencies.

Building on the success of this project, NYSHealth awarded the Fund for the City of New York a second grant in 2017 to continue this initiative.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: The Altman Foundation provided $200,000 in co-funding for this project. NYSHealth’s support also provided the matching funds needed for participating CBOs to meet grant requirements from the federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF), which provides funding to grow promising community-based solutions that have evidence-based results. SIF awarded C2C a $6 million grant in 2015, helping CBOs—many of which are current and former NYSHealth grantees—to continue serving low-income New Yorkers.