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  • Beth Wilensky

Third Annual Jared's Fund Youth Fellowship

Now, and especially during the difficult time we are living through, the Zimmerman-Baillargeon family is proud to announce the launching of the third year of the Jared’s Fund Youth Fellowship (JFYF). The application period opens on March 29 and extends through April 23, 2021. Please see www.jaredsfund.com for more information and the application itself.


These paid fellowships fund four mental health projects or internships for recent or current Montclair High students. Individuals or small groups (up to three people) can either develop a project of their own challenging mental health stigma or work with a mental health-related non-profit during the summer of 2021. 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 has been deeply rewarded by their work and those of the 2020 fellows to advance mental health awareness and change in our community. The Jared’s Fund website provides details of the individuals and projects from these years.


Established in memory of Jared Zimmerman who died on April 15, 2016 as a direct result of mental illness, JFYF will provide each selected recipient or group (no more than 3 members) a $2500 stipend for the six-week summer program. The program also supports a summer speaker series and training for the participants. In 2021, JFYF recognizes there continues to be special needs to address the mental health consequences that will flow from 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.” And Ken Zimmerman, Jared’s father, observes, “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 all the change that is needed.”


The 2020 JFYF program featured the creation of @end.the.stigma2020, an Instagram-based platform to reduce the stigma around mental health, projects involving discussions with administrators and guidance at MHS to discuss mental health awareness at MHS and how to better support the students, a research based project on the stigma of mental health in BIPOC communities, and a podcast called “Rehumanize” that allowed the BIPOC community to speak openly mental illness.


Gabe and Brianna Zimmerman, Jared’s brother and sister, have taken significant roles in establishing the JFYF, and serve on the ten-member advisory board that includes the family, medical professionals and educators, and friends of Jared.


As described on the web site, the application process is straightforward but best done in advance of the deadline. It includes an outline of the project, the identification of a potential mentor to support the applicant(s) and project and selected other information. Because of the timeframe for the selection process, all information must be submitted on or before the application deadline of April 23, 2021. There will be an interview with finalists and notification of those selected will occur during the week of May 24, 2021.


Those eligible to receive JFYF fellowships are those who have graduated from Montclair High School within the past four years and current students at Montclair High School who are sophomores, juniors, or seniors. Applicants can apply as individuals or as part of a team of up to 3 persons. The application process opens on March 29th and closes on April 23, 2021. JFYF will provide $2500 for selected individuals and if you choose to work in a group the $2500 will be equally shared by team members. The summer program will commence on July 5, 2021 and run through August 13, 2021. If you are working as an individual, you must make a full-time commitment to the fellowship and be available during these 6 weeks of the Fellowship.


JFYF provides funding for two types of activities: (1) work with 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 we can possibly provide potential placements. However, due to restrictions with COVID-19, these internships may be difficult to find. 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 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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