Partner Spotlight: Kellen Foundation

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing and Communications

The mission of the Kellin Foundation is to strengthen resilience for children, families, adults, and communities through trauma-informed behavioral health services focused on prevention, treatment, and healing.

“We prevent, treat, and heal,” said Dr. Kelly Graves, Kellin Foundation’s executive director, and co-founder. “We do this primarily two ways – one is behavioral health services including mental health and substance abuse, and the second strategy is community and systems transformation.”

Focused on advocacy and outreach, clinical and peer support services, and building resilient communities, the organization serves about 10,000 people a year. The Kellin Foundation is one of only two nationally recognized community behavioral health centers in North Carolina with expertise and focus on trauma and resiliency as a partner with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Duke University is the other center.

“Using that trauma-informed lens is critical because our behavioral health, our physical health, and our health, in general, is strongly connected to stress and adversity,” Graves said. “It’s understanding and realizing the impact that trauma has, recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress has on our bodies and integrating what we know about these impacts into our practices, policies, and treatment.”

The organization created the Child Response Initiative (CRI), which helps children impacted by violence and stress and their families. CRI has four objectives: early intervention, information and education, community connection and referral, and building relationships. It provides community-based coordinated services delivered within a trauma-informed framework, leveraging the Guilford County Trauma Provider Network, a group of about 30 partners and organizations that work together to support safety and wellness among children and families.

Graves explained that traumatic stress can be experienced through an adverse childhood experience and systemic issues like discrimination and racism. She says the COVID-19 pandemic has created a broad awakening that stress impacts every aspect of our life, including mental health.

“The pandemic has opened the door to deeper conversation around how stress impacts us and the importance of monitoring and addressing that stress,” Graves said.

In addition to her work at the Kellin Foundation, Graves has been involved in Ready for School, Ready for Life’s system-building work, serving on various focus groups, workgroups, and committees throughout the years. She recently participated in the ages 3-5 social-emotional development workgroup for Phase II of Ready Ready’s work.

“What I’m excited to see in Ready Ready and in groups across the community is the emphasis given to the importance of social-emotional development and mental health as critical to helping children get ready for kindergarten, as well as the importance of taking a multi-generational approach to the work,” Graves said.

Graves and her team at the Kellin Foundation believe that behavioral health is strongly connected to adversity and trauma; everyone deserves to live in a home and in a community that is safe and free of trauma; that people, families, and communities are resilient and can thrive despite adversity; and that community organizations and systems play a key role in addressing adversity and building resiliency using a trauma-informed framework.

We work with more than 100 community organizations. You can see the extensive list on our website. If you’re one of our partners and would like to be featured, please contact Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications.

Ready for School, Ready for Life seeks partners for Phase II work

For immediate release
Media contact: Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications or 336.579.2977 ext. 2015

(March 17, 2022 — GREENSBORO, N.C.) Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready), is seeking responses from local partners to lead the initial implementation of community-wide strategies designed to improve outcomes for children ages three to five in Guilford County.

A Design Team of diverse community stakeholders from across Guilford County worked for six months to develop 10 strategies designed to improve services for these children and their families. Three strategies will be piloted in Guilford County this year:

  • To increase alignment between early care and education programs and the school system, implement coordination activities, including offering joint professional development between child care center staff and kindergarten teachers and offering transition supports to families (e.g., coaching, virtual school tours, etc.).
  • To improve children’s early literacy skills, implement a county-wide active reading effort. We anticipate selecting evidence-based interventions to implement across settings (public libraries, home-based care, child care centers, etc.) that will encourage adults to read frequently with children, focusing on families reading with children more at home.
  • To improve adults’ and children’s social-emotional development, implement and expand evidence-based interventions targeting children ages 3-5. We anticipate training adults serving children in various settings, like educational and medical settings, so that they are better equipped to build children’s skills and competencies.

Ready Ready anticipates partners will respond to lead implementation of one of the three strategies.

Interested organizations may view the RFP Webinar which provides an overview of Ready Ready’s current and proposed work. Learn more about the three strategies selected for initial implementation by viewing a strategy-specific webinar linked below.

RFP Webinar: Early Care & Education/Kindergarten Transition & Alignment

RFP Webinar: Active Reading

RFP Webinar: Social-Emotional Development

You may view all RFP-related documents, including a Q&A, by visiting this link.

The intent to apply form can be found here and is due by the end of the day on Monday, March 28, 2022 with the full response due by Thursday, April 14, 2022.