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Congratulations to the 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellowship!

With over 50 applications, Jared's Fund was deeply encouraged by the response of young people in the greater Montclair community and is proud to support another group of young leaders who are spearheading efforts to combat the stigma around mental health and illness. 

Zach Lepak photo.jpeg


Maggie Arian Photo.jpeg

Maggie Arian

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Izzy Lubin

Niamh Cahill photo.jpg

Niamh Cahill

Khari Jenkins photo.jpg

Khari Jenkins

Hannah Roche photo.jpg

Hannah Roche

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Genesis Whitlock

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Elias Benchekroun


Jack Rodriquez-Vars

 "The piece I am actually most proud of is the work I did with the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris. Thanks to the resources and hard work provided by Al Shurdom and Tracy Klingener, we were able to create four brief videos regarding suicide prevention, depression and anxiety, psychosis, and substance use disorder. These connections were made possible because of my mentor Bob Davison who is the Executive Director of MHA. These videos are now tangible resources that can be shared in the high school for years to come. For that I am very proud."

Zach Lepak – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"I think that the most eye-opening thing that I learned about mental health was truly how many people have been affected by suicide or attempted themselves. Although it is very difficult for me to truly grasp, it does make me feel less alone in my journey. I learned over and over that things do get better which I have heard hundreds of times but it is so different hearing it from people who have truly been through what I am going through which is why I feel my support group idea is so necessary. It is difficult to do but is so important to hear that you are not alone and that there will be people that are hurting and understand the pain you are going through. Whether or not I wanted to hear it, I did, and it stuck in my brain."

Maggie Arian – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

 "I learned so much about the legal aspect. When it comes to stigma, we know how cruel people can be, but learning that there are laws that can keep you out of a job, and even simpler things like a driver's license because of an illness you didn’t ask for – it's infuriating. Also, I learned how Black men are misdiagnosed with schizophrenia because of racial biases, and just so much more. I feel like as a person that intersects with so many identities, a lot of these facts I’ve known for a while, but seeing it on paper, putting a statistic to it, it’s such a cementing, yet disheartening experience. Knowing that we can use this information to spread awareness though, is going to make an impact." 

Izzy Lubin – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"I always wanted to change the conversation around mental health directly at Montclair High School, and find a way to incorporate student and administration conversation and change. When I joined the project with Hannah and Khari, I found that our goals all led down the same path: to directly change MHS culture and future experiences for students with mental illness. This fellowship taught me so much about the mental health system in America. Through reading Elyn Sak’s book, watching the movie “Bedlam” and listening to all of the speakers, I became enlightened on how messed up the system is."

Niamh Cahill – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"After conversations with Mr.
Bayer and Ms. Testa, 'MHS 101' came into play and Mr. Bayer let us know that guidance was already in the process of creating a space for mental health resources within the school. We thought of the idea for the MHS Ambassadors. I created graphics to promote the Senior Ambassador program and Niamh created the application. We sent the graphics to a few people to post. Yay!"

Khari Jenkins – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"I came into the fellowship looking to improve the way mental health was treated at Montclair High School, specifically for freshmen. In working to improve and revamp MHS 101, I think we did just that. I learned so much about mental health throughout JFYF. Listening to stories is one of my favorite things, and with the Speaker Series, I was able to hear some amazing stories and learn from the speaker's personal experiences and growth. The techniques and ways of approaching mental health situations are definitely something I will always keep with me."

Hannah Roche – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"The accessibility of the application process was one of the main reasons I wanted to apply. I knew about the application for weeks
but I didn’t think I would be qualified but when I saw how simple the questions were to understand, I felt that I could fully express
myself and my project idea. I absolutely loved the Speaker Series! I learned from most of
them. I think Jared’s Fund did a
great job at POC representation during the Speaker Series."

Gen Whitlock – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"At the beginning of the fellowship my group and I had a plan for our podcast, and the end result was even better than expected. Our discussions with the directors, speakers, and
other fellows inspired us to produce an even better podcast than we expected. Although I care about mental health and de-stigmatizing it, I often neglected my own, and at Jared’s Fund, everyone
always asked how we were doing and made sure we took care of ourselves, which I found incredibly helpful in managing the work throughout the fellowship."

Elias Benchekroun – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

"I am eternally thankful for the experiences Jared’s Fund gave me to create the “Rehumanize” podcast. We had the intent from the beginning to create space for BIPOC voices who struggle with mental illness, and I feel as though we followed through with that. I am very proud of what we put out and have actually received messages from listeners who have told me how helpful it is to have a resource that is BIPOC focused. .I learned so much about different cultures and how they treat mental health, but the most important thing I learned was the science behind intergenerational trauma and how it affects me as a person of color to this day, even though I am far removed from lots of the adversity my mother, grandmother, etc faced."

Jack Rodriquez-Vars – 2020 Jared's Fund Youth Fellow

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