Montclair, NJ – The Baillargeon-Zimmerman family is proud to announce the second annual Jared’s Fund Youth Fellowship (JFYF). In light of the global pandemic and its economic consequences, the importance of young people leading conversations on mental health is more important than ever. Applicants may apply through May 21, 2020. More information and the application itself are available at www.jaredsfund.com
These paid fellowships provide four individuals or groups of Montclair High students or recent alumni the opportunity to work with a mental health-related non-profit or undertake a project of their own choosing during the summer of 2020. Created in close coordination with Montclair High School (MHS) and the Community Foundation of New Jersey, JFYF supported the inaugural set of fellows in the summer of 2019 and was deeply inspired by their work to challenge misconceptions around mental illness in the community.
Established in memory of MHS graduate Jared Zimmerman — who died in April 2016 as a direct result of mental illness — JFYF will provide each selected recipient or group a $2500 stipend for the six-week summer program. The program also supports a summer speaker series and training for the participants. In 2020, JFYF recognizes there will be special needs to address the mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jackie Baillargeon, Jared’s mother, notes “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 were 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.”
Ken Zimmerman, Jared’s father, adds “young people have immense insight and talents that are pivotal to ending the stigma associated with mental illness, and through this fellowship we hope to empower them and expedite the change that is needed.”
The 2019 JFYF program featured the creation of AskMontclair, an Instagram-based platform that allows young people to speak candidly about their mental health experience; plans for a memorial garden at MHS which has received preliminary approval from the school board; the creation of Jared’s Club at MHS devoted to mental health awareness; and multiple other programs and research that will be available to future fellows and the community.
Gabe and Brianna Zimmerman, Jared’s brother and sister, helped established the JFYF, and serve on the 10-member advisory board that includes the family, medical professionals and educators, and friends of Jared.
MHS Principal Grosso states, “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.”
For the 2020 fellowship, Beth Wilensky, who was recently announced as the inaugural JFYF Managing Director, will play a lead role. Beth has many years of volunteer experience in the Montclair Public School, as a Trustee for the Montclair Film Festival and as a committee member for the Bounce festival. Beth and her husband, Craig, raised 2 daughters who attended Montclair Public Schools. She has lived in Montclair for 26 years, and has personal experience dealing with mental health issues.
”We at MFEE are thrilled to have Beth Wilensky join the Jared’s Fund team as Managing Director and add to the critical capacity needed to reduce the stigma around mental illness,” says Masiel Rodriquez-Vars, Executive Director for the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE). “Nurturing the mental health of Montclair teens is a priority for MFEE, and our past collaboration with Beth and Jared’s Fund with the Life After High School Conference in January 2020 gives us great hope that we can together provide much need resources to help young people and the Montclair school community expand the much-needed efforts. We look forward to working with Beth and the JFYF Fellows and Board to support our teens.”
Highlights of the fellowship include:
Those eligible to receive JFYF fellowships are recent alumni and current students at Montclair High School: specifically, those who have graduated within the past four years or who are rising juniors and seniors at MHS. Applicants can apply as individuals or as part of a team of up to four persons. The application process closes on May 21, 2020. The JFYF will provide $2500 for individuals and for a group (to be equally shared by team members). The summer program will commence on July 6, 2020 and run through August 14, 2020.
JFYF provides funding for two types of activities: (1) work with local non-profits who are involved with mental health issues, or (2) youth-created or identified projects that deal with mental illness. JFYF is identifying non-profits in the area who are interested in having young people serve as interns, so can provide potential placements. Young people can also arrange positions with desired organizations. With regard to projects, they can range from scientific research to filmmaking, 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 and support their leadership development through a speaker series.
For more information about JFYF including project guidelines, the program application itself, and more about Jared Zimmerman, please visit jaredsfund.com. Please also feel free to contact Beth Wilensky at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Baillargeon- Zimmerman family.