How the Weingart Foundation is helping Youth Overcome Mental Illness and Trauma

What does a pinwheel represent to you? A childhood memory? Nostalgic and carefree play? To child-focused nonprofit, Hillsides, the pinwheel logo symbolizes movement, energy, wish fulfillment, and an instrument to turn obstacles into opportunities.

It's incredibly challenging to bounce back from traumatic experiences, especially when you have a mental illness or if you're too young to fully comprehend the situation. One particular Los Angeles charity, Hillsides, has been around for 100 years, and one local foundation, Weingart, is making sure it keeps up with the needs of California's most challenged kids.

Thanks to a recent $100,000 grant from the Weingart Foundation, Hillsides will be able to focus more of its attention on the needs of traumatized and mentally ill youth in Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley, Pasadena, Glendale, and Burbank. “The Weingart Foundation’s support gives us the flexibility to direct financial resources where they are needed the most in order to strengthen and expand our current mental health and social services programs,” said Joseph M. Costa, Hillsides’ chief executive officer. “It will also allow us to build our capacity even further as an advocate on behalf of children and families in need.” (Read Weingart Foundation: Los Angeles Grants).

There are four core programs at Hillsides that help children and families heal, rebuild trust, and restore hope:

  • Family Resource Centers
  • Residential Treatment Services
  • Hillsides Education Center
  • Youth Moving On

This is exactly the type of program that the Weingart Foundation loves to fund. Hillsides is well-established in the community, it provides services to over 7,000 children and families, and it exclusively benefits the people of Los Angeles county. Hillsides was named as one of 37 agencies in the country to earn the distinction of the National Council for Behavioral Health, which serves and advocates for people who are mentally ill and suffering from addiction.

Weingart's grant comes at a crucial time, because like many nonprofits, Hillsides is facing state budget cuts while seeing an increased demand for service. A good portion of Weingart's money will be going toward a peer resource center aimed at the 16 to 24-year-old demographic. More than 20,000 young adults transfer out of foster care and probation each year, finding themselves lost without adequate housing, employment opportunities, or life skills to thrive in the real world. Youth in this demographic are often dismissed as “old enough to take care of themselves.” The Weingart Foundation sees them a bit differently, and time and time again, its staff is willing to back up this open-minded intuition with funding.