Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children's Mental Health Announces Five Winners of the Inaugural Innovation Awards

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children's Mental Health Announces Five Winners of the Inaugural Innovation Awards

  • Selected from more than 850 applicants, the first-ever Alliance for Children’s Mental Health Innovation Awards grantees are Black Girls Smile, citiesRISE, The Rural Behavioral Health Institute, Smart from the Start, and Teen Line.
  • The five winners offer a diverse set of inventive solutions, aiming to address vital mental health issues facing young people, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York - 

Morgan Stanley today announced the five winners of the inaugural Alliance for Children’s Mental Health Innovation Awards, its nationwide call to support transformative solutions that address adverse mental health outcomes for children and young people across the U.S. The program will award the finalists a total of $500,000 in grants to help scale their solutions, and provide consultation and a showcase opportunity on November 11.

The five finalists were selected after a robust review of over 850 applications by mental health and grant-making experts from the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health – a collaboration between Morgan Stanley, its Foundation and leading nonprofit organizations in this space.

The finalists chosen are addressing a diverse set of communities, geographies, and needs through their transformative and culturally responsive models:

  • Black Girls Smile provides virtual and in-person mental health literacy programming, education, therapy scholarships and resources to help Black girls and women lead mentally healthy lives.
    • Suicide Prevention Program: Building on its proven mental health literacy programming, this culturally and gender-responsive curriculum focuses on suicide prevention among Black girls and youth, with a new digital platform for enhancing virtual and on-demand programming across the country.
  • citiesRISE is committed to transforming mental health through local innovation, coalition building, and youth-led action globally.
    • Mental Health Gathering Spaces: The Gathering Space model meets youth, particularly those who are marginalized, where they are by integrating mental health enhancing interventions into existing community spaces, with potential for adaptation into a range of settings and scaling for nationwide impact.
  • The Rural Behavioral Health Institute is focused on improving the mental health of those living in rural communities by disseminating clinically proven digital mental health care.
    • Digital Screening Linked to Same Day Mental Health Care: This piloted project will identify and connect youth with an elevated risk of suicide to same-day mental health care and includes a universal digital suicide-risk screening of youth, linkage to same-day follow-up telehealth or in-person care, and an implementation template for replicating to other schools.
  • Smart from the Start is a trauma-informed, multi-generational family support and community engagement organization with a mission to promote the healthy development of young children and families living in the most underserved communities of Boston and Washington, DC.
    • Address the Stress Program: This program is embedded in the community, engaging both parents and their kids in talk therapy and behavioral health counseling by developing fun and interesting group activities that promote mental, emotional, and physical health while reducing stigma and barriers to care.
  • Teen Line is dedicated to peer-to-peer support by providing teenagers across the country with an anonymous, non-judgmental space to talk about their problems with highly trained teens who are supervised by adult mental health professionals.
    • Latinx Youth Career Development Program: This pilot program will train Latinx youth to answer texts on the peer-to-peer hotline, aiming to encourage Latinx teens to pursue careers in mental health, increase the diversity of hotline volunteers, expand the hotline’s service hours, and build more Latinx mental health ambassadors.

“This inaugural class of finalists is a wonderful example of the collective impact diverse organizations can have when working to better the mental well-being of children and young people across the country,” said Ted Pick, Co-President at Morgan Stanley and Chair of the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health Advisory Board. “From rural towns to big cities, we look forward to helping scale our finalists’ programs to reach those communities who can benefit from these innovative and culturally responsive approaches.”

According to research from the Alliance, 43% of U.S. teens are concerned about mental health challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the continued toll the pandemic has had on youth, innovative mental health services are critical to scale now more than ever. One in five children suffer from mental illness, but this space remains highly underfunded with less than two percent of philanthropic funding going toward mental health in the U.S. – and even less for funding targeted to kids and teens.

To address that gap in funding, Morgan Stanley has organized this Innovation Awards program and is now inviting these five winners to showcase their innovative solutions to a broader audience, including other funders, during the Innovation Awards Showcase on November 11.

“We want to thank all the applicants for submitting their proposals and our Alliance nonprofit organization partners for their work during the process of selecting this year’s recipients,” said Joan Steinberg, President of the Morgan Stanley Foundation, and CEO of the Alliance for Children’s Mental Health’s Advisory Board. “This overwhelming response has reaffirmed the fact that there is a substantial funding gap in this space and a plethora of encouraging innovation in need of support. We urge other funders to join forces and make children’s mental health philanthropy a priority.”

For those interested in attending the Innovation Awards Showcase on November 11 from 12-1 PM ET, please sign up here.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management, and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit

About Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children's Mental Health

The Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children's Mental Health brings together key leaders in the children's mental health space and combines the resources and reach of Morgan Stanley and its Foundation with the knowledge and experience of its distinguished nonprofit partner organizations. The Alliance helps strategically address children's mental health concerns and the far-reaching challenges of stress, anxiety and depression. For more information about the Alliance, visit

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