PGM program awards $238k in grants

Group of youth and facilitators pose

The Natrona Collective Health Trust announced today that six area nonprofits have been selected as recipients of Participatory Grantmaking (PGM) funds totaling $238,000.

The Trust’s PGM program, launched last fall in collaboration with the Natrona County Youth Empowerment Council, aims to empower those closest to the issues by giving them decision-making authority. In this instance, members of the YEC (who are ages 13-18) identified nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the mental and behavioral health of Natrona County youth.

“It’s a revolutionary decision to give power to people to allocate money to organizations in the community,” said Elora Nation, PGM participant, “and because we’re youth, it’s a much more powerful thing.”

The focus of the group was to address the challenges of mental health and substance abuse disorders among young people. Their objective was to support organizations that assist youth in overcoming addiction, homelessness, preventing suicide, combating domestic violence, and meeting mental health needs.

The six nonprofits selected for one-time grant awards include:

  • Youth Crisis Center – $30,000. With the grant dollars, YCC will conduct 100 Addiction Severity Index Assessments (ASIs) and 100 youth mental health evaluations, illuminating the intricate relationship between substance abuse and mental health in young individuals. These assessments will help them gain insight that will pave the way for targeted interventions.
  • Self Help Center – $15,000. The Self-Help Center will invest its grant dollars into two youth programs: CORE (Conservation Outdoor Recreation and Education) and PAVE (People Against Violence Everywhere). These programs empower youth to become responsible leaders who champion environmental stewardship and harmonious relationships.
  • Unaccompanied Students Initiative – $23,000. Through PGM funding, the USI will provide training opportunities for Natrona County staff covering topics such as trauma-informed care, cultural competence, crisis intervention, and effective communication strategies.
  • Jean’s Angel Fund – $10,000. With this grant, Jean’s Angel Fund will provide confidential financial assistance to ensure that students at NCHS can fully participate in social and academic opportunities. By removing financial barriers, a sense of inclusion, belonging, and accomplishment is nurtured among students.
  • Homeless Student Support – $20,000. This program plans to use the PGM grant dollars to enhance the well-being and academic success of homeless youth by providing comprehensive mental health services including therapeutic counseling and group therapy, as well as innovative health dating classes to promote healthy relationships. These programs are facilitated by Mercer Family Resource Center.
  • Central Wyoming Counseling Center – $140,000. CWCC hopes to empower parents, teachers, and caregivers with knowledge and tools to address mental health challenges with support starting in infancy to the age of 18.

While the nonprofit recipients benefit from the funding support, participants in the PGM program emphasized the personal growth they experienced through the process.

“PGM has provided me with a platform to connect with friends and make a positive impact in the community,” said Hailey Hixson “I learned that just because I’m young doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice.”

The partnership with the YEC marked NCHT’s inaugural engagement with the PGM process. The Trust will evaluate the program and hopes to pursue further PGM initiatives in the future.