Promoting Mental Wellness

We have been on a journey to understand what is needed to improve mental wellness in the metro Denver area. We’ve learned that investing early to support the mental health of infants and young children will produce benefits later. We’ve learned that social connections help people overcome barriers, such as stigma, to improving health. Most of all we’ve learned that it takes collective action from the community to transform the systems supporting mental health.

By partnering with advocacy groups, service providers and others, we’ve identified three areas where we could make the most impact in improving mental wellness. Why mental wellness >

Focus Areas

Supporting the social and emotional development of infants and young children.

Facilitating coordinated, systematic efforts to improve community mental wellness.

Investing in promising approaches to reduce mental health stigma.


Grant Highlights

LAUNCH Together:
Local Funders Team Up to Support Mental Health of Young Coloradans

View Larger Launch Together ImageOur community understands more than ever before that the social and emotional health of infants and young children is vital to proper development. To ensure behavioral health becomes part of the early care of children, several Colorado communities partnered with Community First Foundation and other funders to implement a program called LAUNCH Together.

Based on a successful national framework, LAUNCH Together is helping local communities incorporate behavioral health into services that already support young children. For example, pediatricians, childcare providers, school administrators, educators and others will be tasked with coordinating their services to ensure the needs of vulnerable young children don’t fall through the cracks. Community First Foundation is supporting this work in Jefferson County with an investment of $2.7 million in grants over five years.

$1.47 Million to Support Workforce Development for Home Visitation Programs

Grantmaking Highlights - Mental WellnessHome visitation programs give struggling parents the tools and support they need to raise emotionally healthy children. Yet the professionals who provide these services are often at risk for burnout and second-hand trauma. To strengthen their resilience and provide quality in-home services for families, Community First Foundation is granting $1.47 million for the workforce development of several nonprofits providing home visitation services. The grants, delivered over the past three years, pair workers with mental health consultants and ensure families receive the best in evidence-based care. In 2018, eight organizations received nearly $400,000 for year-two grants to support this work: Arapahoe County Early Childhood Council, FamilyStar, Jeffco Public Schools, Jeffco Schools Foundation, MSU Denver Foundation, Mountain Resource Center, Parent Possible, and Roots Family Center.

Happy City Denver: Art with a Message

Participant in a pink shirt at a Hug Huddle Event in Denver, ColoradoAfter attending The Inaugural Innovators Society event, internationally acclaimed British artist Stuart Semple and the Denver Theater District contacted the Foundation to collaborate on an expansive city-wide event called Happy City Denver: Art for the People.This six-week art experience was designed to spark happiness in urban areas by connecting strangers in creative ways.

Stuart Semple, known for his major public art projects, believes art has a unique ability to break down personal, emotional and social barriers. “I’m hoping that by exploring art and human connections together we find it’s easier to experience the world as a happier place,” he said. The event’s art installations included reimagined alleyways, drifting happy cloud bubbles, and an immersive dance party. A series of mental health discussion panels added an in-depth educational component to the experience.

Podcasting to Reduce Mental Health Stigma

One in five adults live with mental illness in the U.S. and 70 percent of them don’t seek mental health treatment at all. Stigma is the main reason they don’t get the help they need. Community First Foundation provided funding to The National Mental Health Innovation Center to develop Crazed, a podcast series that shines a light on innovations in mental health and the people behind those ideas. Each month the podcast features promising new approaches and inspiring success stories, including guest appearances with our very own Innovators.

Improving Early Childhood Development by Addressing Pregnancy-Related Depression

Pregnancy-related depression is the most common complication of pregnancy. Surprisingly, it is also one of the most underdiagnosed.

This illness can have a dramatic effect on a child’s emotional development, impairing mother-infant bonding and a child’s ability to learn. More than one in ten women in Colorado suffers from symptoms, yet fewer than half receive treatment according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Community First Foundation is funding Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) Colorado, a Denver-based nonprofit addressing development delays in early childhood, to help health care providers support new moms. ABCD Colorado is working to identify gaps in the screening and referral process. The aim is to increase identification of women with pregnancy-related depression and help them connect to appropriate resources in their communities.

The Foundation’s focus on pregnancy-related depression is a true two-generation approach. Helping moms access help will have a lasting effect on their life and the life of their developing child. If you or someone you know is suffering from pregnancy-related depression or anxiety, you can find available resources online at