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  • Beth Wilensky

Jared's Fund Youth Fellowship Announces the Second Annual Cohort


The Baillargeon-Zimmerman family and the Jared’s Fund Advisory Board proudly announce the nine recipients of the second annual Jared’s Fund Youth Fellowship (JFYF). With over 50 applications that proposed 33 projects, Jared’s Fund was deeply encouraged by the response of young people in the greater Montclair community and is thrilled to support another group of young leaders who are spearheading efforts to combat the stigma around mental illness and advance mental health in the greater Montclair community.

Jackie Baillargeon, and Ken Zimmerman, co-chairs of the Jared’s Fund board and the parents of 2013 MHS graduate Jared Zimmerman for whom the fellowship is named, stated, “Especially in this challenging time for young people, it is inspiring to see the leadership, passion, and commitment these young people bring to advancing mental health and addressing the stigma around mental illness in our community. We are honored to help support them.” Jared Zimmerman died as a direct result of his mental illness in 2016.

The five projects, which are detailed below, include:

· Zachary Lepak:, a 2020 graduate of MHS who will be attending Skidmore College in the fall, will be creating a social media platform designed to reduce the stigma around mental illness and mental health issues.

· Maggie Arian, a 2020 graduate of MHS who will be attending Rutgers New Brunswick in the fall, is working with local professional therapists to start a support group in Montclair for people who have experienced the loss of a loved one due to suicide.

· Ysewrantz (“Izzy”) Lubin, a 2020 graduate of Orange High School who will be attending Howard University in the Fall, is partnering with Dr. Denise Rodgers, the Vice-Chancellor at Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, to research the stigma of mental health in communities of color with the intent to identify potential services that might be made at Orange High School and other urban high schools.

· Khari Jenkins, a 2020 graduate of MHS who will be attending USC in the fall, Hannah Roche, a rising senior at MHS, and Niamh Cahill, also a rising senior at MHS, are identifying a series of recommendation with the help of national and local experts to improve the provision of mental health services and supports at MHS.

· Genesis Whitlock, Elias Benchekroun, and Jack Rodriquez-Vars, who will be rising seniors and a rising junior at MHS, seek to shine light on how to help people of color, especially young people, to speak openly about mental health and illness, including through a weekly podcast that will bring community leaders and experts to discuss the issue.

The JFYF provides paid support over a six week period during the summer to current or recent Montclair High School students for projects they propose. This year, JFYF has expanded for the first time and included a recent graduate from Orange High School. This year’s program began July 6 and continues through mid-August. In addition to support to the fellows, it also includes a speaker series with local and national experts and training for the fellows.

The JFYF was created in close coordination with Montclair High School (MHS) and the Community Foundation of New Jersey and supported its first set of fellows in the summer of 2019.

For more information about JFYF including project guidelines, the fellows’ projects and more about Jared Zimmerman, please visit jaredsfund.com. Please also feel free to contact Beth Wilensky at beth@jaredsfund.com or the Baillargeon- Zimmerman family.

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