Fred L. Emerson Foundation offers $250,000 grant to Upstate Foundation's Child and Adolescent Mental Health campaign

Mental health is an essential component of health and wellbeing for people of all ages. Unfortunately, the availability of mental health services, especially for children and adolescents, has never equaled the demand.

In the years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce shortages, particularly in areas where services were most needed, left many with few options for mental health care. Stigma reduced accessibility further and limited insurance coverages contributed to a declining capacity to deliver services to those in need, leaving children in jeopardy and families in states of desperation.

The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the situation, highlighting the glaring limitations of the current system while simultaneously increasing the mental health needs of an already underserved population. Recently, child and adolescent mental health reached such a crisis point that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) declared it a national emergency

The Upstate Foundation’s Campaign for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMH) seeks to address the problem in CNY by improving access to services for a wide range of mental health needs from crisis intervention, suicide prevention, medication management, the treatment of eating disorders, and ongoing therapy for mild to moderate psycho-social conditions.

With great compassion for the urgency that exists in the community, the Fred L. Emerson Foundation has stepped forward to offer its support of the campaign with a $250,000 grant.

“We are so very thankful for the Fred L. Emerson Foundation’s generous support of this campaign,” said Eileen Pezzi, the Upstate Foundation’s Executive Director. “As we work to improve the availability of services for kids and teens in this community, the Fred L. Emerson Foundation’s grant is a true leadership gift, one that will immediately be put to good use, and one that will no doubt, inspire a call to action for others to follow.”

For the Fred L. Emerson Foundation, based in Auburn, NY, generosity is a family legacy, one that has been passed down for nearly a century. Born in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1876, Fred L. (Light) Emerson moved to Auburn in the early 20th century, taking a position at a women’s shoe company. Hard work and perseverance led to leadership positions at the company, which grew tremendously under his stewardship. Throughout his life, Mr. Emerson was known as a generosity and dedication to improving the community and inspiring others to follow in his footsteps. Since its founding in 1932, the Fred L. Emerson Foundation has provided over $125 million to hundreds of community organizations and educational institutions, supporting a diverse range of educational, human service, and community development needs.

“Central New York is a stronger and a better place to live because of The Fred L. Emerson Foundation,” Pezzi continued. “Their philanthropic legacy to commitment to community giving is truly inspirational and we are so grateful to partner with them in this important initiative.”

CAMH campaign highlights

The Upstate Foundation, in conjunction with Upstate Medical University, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Upstate Department of Psychiatry and Elmcrest Children’s Center, has embarked on a collaborative response to this emergency to increase clinical capacity and improve access to critical services through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Campaign.

To accomplish this the CAMH campaign will address critical shortages, aiming to:

  • Increase the availability of clinical services, improving diagnosis and treatment capabilities for a spectrum of conditions from mild to severe cases of psychological distress and impairment
  • Expand the workforce by establishing a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Fellowship
  • Recruit additional practitioners and reduce waiting lists for the treatment of eating disorders
  • Partner with Elmcrest Children’s Center to open a 28-bed Mental Health Crisis Respite Center serving children and teens who need short term, out-of-home clinical crisis care
  • Establish a dedicated 12-bed, 6-week dual diagnosis inpatient program to stabilize children who have a mental illness and a developmental disability
  • Strengthen referral systems and community partnerships that ease transition from clinical care to home settings across our region