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The Carson J Spencer Foundation envisions a world where leaders and communities are committed to sustaining a passion for life. We sustain a passion for life through: Delivering innovative and effective suicide prevention programs for working-aged people Coaching young leaders to develop social enterprises for mental health promotion and suicide prevention Supporting people bereaved by suicide Research shows that the majority of people who die by suicide are working age adults. The foundation thus originally established Working Minds, a program that assists workplaces in developing a comprehensive suicide prevention program. The program is the only one in the nation dedicated to this issue. As the program developed, it became clear that, although many suicide prevention programs for youth existed, there were not many that provided them the skills that both benefited the participant and reached out to the community. Such outreach strengthens social bonds while at the same time promoting awareness about mental health. CJSF has recently expanded to offer a youth program targeted towards business acumen and social awareness entitled “The FIRE Within: Saving Lives through Business.” This program combines the positive reinforcement of the creative process with the development of entrepreneurial skills that embrace community investment and involvement.
Impact Summary from the Nonprofit We believe in the creative power of FIRE: Future Innovative Resilient Entrepreneurs. Through innovation and entrepreneurialism, we inspire young people to find market-based solutions to mental health issues. The Fire Within: Saving Lives through Business takes students through a year-long course in social entrepreneurship, mental health advocacy, and leadership training which results in youth-run social enterprises that raise revenue and awareness for suicide prevention. After conducting a school-wide needs assessment, students at Rangeview High School determined that bullying was the root cause to suicidal ideation at their school. In response to this, they developed a social enterprise selling stylish wristbands that say "I Choose to Live, I Choose to Love." Hidden on the inside of the wristband is the suicide hotline number. In the first two days, they sold out of their first order of 300 wristbands. At their administration's request, they also developed an anti-bullying and suicide prevention curriculum that they deliver to underclassmen. Results from their social enterprise include: Sold 1,000 wristbands in 2 months. Net profit $1,519 Put on benefit concert to breakdown social barriers to receiving mental health. Plan to expand product line next year. Follow-up survey conducted with school revealed that 91% of students were aware of the campaign; 74% felt confident standing up to a bully; and 88% believe the campaign was successful. Overall Results Include: 94% of youth successfully completed the program, with an understanding of how to create a business model impacting a social cause.100% of youth felt they increased their self-confidence levels. An additional spike of 30% occurred after the youth implemented their business plan.83% of youth felt high to complete confidence in talking with someone about their hopelessness or depression.86% of youth increased their knowledge of community mental health resources.
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