Community Impact

Investing in youth: BCF grants $15,000 to Corvallis schools for suicide prevention program

In a ceremony on Wednesday, May 23rd, the Benton Community Foundation presented $15,000 to Corvallis Public Schools for the purpose of starting a new youth wellness initiative. The “Sources of Strength” program will focus on preventing teen suicide by building positive support networks between teachers and students, and students and their peers. The gift was accompanied by an additional $10,000 from Larry and Barbara Mullins’ Mullins Charitable Fund.

“Often when our community is facing a problem, one of the first things we talk about is mental health. What could we be doing better to support our neighbors’ mental health?” asked Chris Quaka, President/CEO of the Benton Community Foundation. “This is one thing we could be doing, but it takes financial resources to get it off the ground. Fortunately some generous individuals in our community decided to make it happen.”

Sources of Strength establishes in each school a network of adult advisors and peer leaders who work to change social norms around seeking help, creating a culture of empowerment, hope, and gratitude. The program has been recognized as a best practice by national health care agencies and was implemented at South Albany High School in 2016, the first Oregon school to do so.

“This grant is about making sure no one is left out,” stated Quaka. “Teachers are connecting with kids, but the kids are also taking care of each other. That’s the kind of community we want, where everyone is part of the solution and everyone is involved.”