From the Field

Local youth leaders receive grants to drive mental health and well-being innovation and transformation in King County

The first annual citiesRISE Seattle Youth Challenge Award recipients were announced at the Washington State Mental Health Summit. citiesRISE is a global platform for local collective action committed to transforming the state of mental health policy and practice for young people nationally and globally.

Seattle, WA, Oct. 30, 2019 –
 citiesRISE was proud to announce the winners of the Seattle Youth Challenge Award (YCA) at the Washington State Mental Health Summit yesterday. The presentation of the awardees made to a crowd of mental health leaders from across the state by Jim Vollendroff, founding director of the Harborview|University of Washington Behavioral Health Institute and Senior Technical Lead for citiesRISE Seattle/King County.

“I am inspired by the number and quality of applications in our first annual Youth Challenge Award. Youth and young adults from throughout King County enthusiastically responded with transformative and innovative youth-led approaches that will make our community a more mental health friendly environment where young people can thrive and reach their full potential while reducing the stigma associated with mental health,” Jim Vollendroff shared.

citiesRISE is generously supported by a group of progressive funders who are collectively committed to building out the platform including Pivotal Ventures, Co-Impact, the Hans Foundation and Sutter Health.

In recognition of the incredible work already occurring in King County, citiesRISE is pleased to partner with King County’s Children, Youth and Young Adults Division to collectively help young people in our community reach their full potential.

Division Director Sheila Capestany remarked, “We are pleased to partner with citiesRISE and bring a global perspective to our local initiatives. Given the rich diversity of our community, this partnership will only enhance our ability to develop local youth leadership.”

Five Seattle / King County youth-led initiatives were identified to receive grant and organizational development support:

AGE UP invests in the transformative capacity of youth living in South Seattle, especially among young women of color. AGE UP will be working on integrating mental health promotion practices across all high school ultimate frisbee teams and provide mental health education to their coaches. 

YOMHE tackles youth suicide and negative mental health through the use of peer education and mentorship, with the goal of connecting youth to accessible services like those provided through school-based health centers. YOMHE will be working to expand their reach and network to deliver their workshop to more schools and work with more organizations.

ARCHNOVA is a youth advocacy group with a focus on school mental health resources. The initiative focuses on mental health policy and advocacy by conducting field studies and interviewing students, teachers and admin on their mental health and outlook as a way to inform policy.

RED EAGLE SOARING delivers a two-week theater group training that produces Seattle Indian Youth Arts & Performance. The focus is on performance that shapes youth vision of an urban Native community intersecting with mental health.

POWERFUL VOICES will create staff training and education that includes trauma informed care that will increase self-care, support, resources and opportunities.

Launched in 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya, the YCA is a citiesRISE initiative that provides funding, skills training and leadership capacity building to young people driving change in the mental health landscape where they live. Each YCA begins with a call for project submissions that are designed and implemented by youth (age 15-35). The YCA provides an opportunity to accelerate and amplify the impact of youth leaders by giving them the tools and skills to drive change in their communities. Core to the initiative is empowering youth with the resources and support to make their ideas a reality. In practice, this means seed-funding ideas, providing technical support to formalize and operationalize initiatives, and connecting their efforts to other initiatives for scale and sustainability. It also means sustaining a connected network of young people passionate about transforming mental health in their community and globally.

Every applicant to the YCA becomes part of a global network of youth leaders to enable cross pollination of ideas and best practices, and encourage young people around the world to offer collaborative support to change the narrative in mental health – with concepts driven by them. To date, the YCA is operating in Nairobi, Kenya, Bogota, Colombia, Sacramento, California and Chennai, India.

citiesRISE CEO and Founder, Moitreyee Sinha said, “The YCA is a unique way to meaningfully identify and develop the leadership of young people to enable them to become change agents for mental health in their communities. By supporting young leaders with technical training and financial resources, and connecting them to like-minded youth around the world, we can help inspire a movement. The creativity and imagination shown in the Seattle applications is a testament to the untapped potential of young people and their innovative ideas.”

About citiesRISE

citiesRISE is a global platform for local collective action committed to transforming the state of mental health policy and practice for young people nationally and globally. citiesRISE envisions a world in which communities support young people to develop resilience, make healthy choices, and lead productive lives by mainstreaming mental health across sectors. Our goal is to reach 1 billion young people with services and information by 2030 to turn the tide on depression, addiction and suicide through evidence-based interventions and community experience. Learn more at

Christina Myers
+1 312 459 9791