Media Release: San Diego Youth Services Receives $50,000 Grant from UnitedHealthcare

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For immediate release: March 23, 2022
Contact: Sandra Wellhausen
(619) 507-2077

San Diego Youth Services Receives $50,000 Grant from UnitedHealthcare to Reduce Disparities and Stigma, and Increase Access to Mental Health Services among Youth

Grant supports new mental health program, Sunny Days, and the hiring of two youth with lived experience to create a stigma-reducing outreach campaign

San Diego, Calif (March 23, 2022)- San Diego Youth Services (SDYS) recently received $50,000 in support from UnitedHealthcare to increase access to mental health services for youth who have experienced homelessness and other forms of trauma, and to create an outreach campaign that builds awareness about the intersection of mental health and social justice.

The support helps fund Sunny Days, a SDYS mental health program that offers a holistic approach to building resilience and promoting emotional wellness among youth, ages 13 to 25, who have experienced homelessness, engagement with child welfare or justice systems and are disconnected from school or employment. The program offers trauma-informed individual and group counseling services, as well as psychiatric services.

Sunny Days equips youth who have experienced homelessness and other forms of trauma with knowledge and skills that support healthy mental health, healing and thriving.

“Youth who have been involved with the juvenile justice system or have experienced abuse, neglect or  homelessness are disproportionately affected by mental health challenges,” said Walter Philips, chief executive officer, San Diego Youth Services. “This grant allows us to expand our services for some of our most vulnerable youth and provide the mental health services they need to live healthy and independent lives.”

This program also raises awareness and mobilizes action to address social inequities that impact youth mental health such as transphobia, racism and homophobia through a targeted social media outreach campaign. The campaign will be created by two youth already receiving services from SDYS. The youth will be mentored by SDYS staff and will lean on their lived experience when creating the campaign. (

“We are looking forward to directly working with our youth on this campaign, and get their input,” said Philips. “We are hoping to create an insightful campaign that really moves the needle when it comes to reducing stigma.”

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of California provided support as part of a $1.5 million investment in community-based programs aimed to reduce health disparities and improve health equity in San Diego. San Diego Youth Services is one of 17 organizations to receive funding to enhance initiatives to address specific health needs of underserved members of the community and address gaps in access to health care.

“Teenagers are already facing the unprecedented challenges that come with growing up during a pandemic,” said Monique Knight, director, marketing and community outreach, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of California. “Accessible resources, especially to support behavioral health mental wellness of young people, is crucial to our future. We are proud to support San Diego Youth Services to deliver needed health equity resources in our community.”

San Diego Youth Services is a nonprofit organization serving more than 17,000 youth annually. SDYS has helped stabilize the lives of more than 797,000 youth living in San Diego County since its founding in 1970. SDYS is working to end homelessness, prevent delinquency and school failure, break the cycle of child abuse and neglect and promote mental health and addiction recovery.


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