New Summer Fellowship For Montclair High School Students To Promote Better Understanding of Mental Illness

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Gabe Zimmerman, joined by Jackie Baillargeon and Ken Zimmerman, addresses students at Montclair High School to announce a new summer fellowship in memory of his brother Jared Zimmerman.

Some 250 Montclair High School students listened to members of the Zimmerman-Baillargeon family at an assembly Monday announce the creation of a new summer fellowship for recent and current Montclair High students and the opening of the application process.

Established as part of a fund created in memory of Jared Zimmerman who died three years ago on April 15, 2016 as a direct result of mental illness, the Jared Fund Youth Fellowship (JFYF) will provide four summer fellowships to individuals or teams of young people for projects that challenge the stigma that can sometimes be associated with mental illness.

The Zimmerman-Baillargeon family worked in conjunction with Montclair High School (MHS) and the Community Foundation of New Jersey to create the summer fellowship.

Jared Zimmerman (on motorcycle in Senagal) graduated Montclair High School in 2013.

Jackie Baillargeon and Ken Zimmerman, Jared’s parents, said at the assembly, “Mental illness affects so many in our community but because of stigma those who suffer are isolated and progress toward challenging this illness is far slower than it should be. We are moved to establish this fellowship out of the belief that from tragedy can come progress, and to do our part in conjunction with so many others to move the needle.”

Gabe Zimmerman, Jared’s brother, took a lead role in establishing the JFYF, and Brianna Zimmerman, Jared’s sister, contributed significantly. They both will serve on the 10-member advisory board that includes friends of Jared, as well as leading medical professionals and educators.

MHS Principal Grasso stated, “On behalf of the MHS community, I am pleased to support the JFYF and believe its mission is critical to advancing the health, specifically the mental health, of all of our students. Our teachers and administrators know well the leadership and creativity young people can bring, and the need and interest to have this directed at the challenges posed by mental illness.”

Highlights of the fellowship include:

* JFYF will fund four projects from current or recent graduates of Montclair High School, with preference given to current juniors and seniors and those who attended MHS within the last four years. Applicants can apply as individuals or as part of small (max 4 person) team. The application process closes on May 12.

* The JFYF will provide $2,500 for each selected project, with stipends of up to $3,000 available for projects that require additional hours to complete.

* JFYF’s core premise is that young people have immense insight and talents that are pivotal to challenging the stigma that can be associated with mental illness. As a result, it encourages projects that speak to a passion that a young person has, and welcomes projects from individuals with relevant lived experience.

* Within the broad parameters that projects must deal with mental illness, projects might range from scientific research to film-making, from working with local non-profits to support for advocacy (within legal limits). JFYF encourages non-conventional approaches.

* In addition to providing financial support, JFYF will bring those selected together with local and national experts in relevant areas and support their leadership development.

For more information about JFYF including project guidelines, the program application itself, and more about Jared Zimmerman, please visit jaredsfund.com.

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