The Strategy Grant Will Help Support Peer Leadership Platform

Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) has been awarded a $30,000 Strategy Grant by the Santa Barbara Foundation. This grant will be used to implement a Peer Leadership Platform for clients of the mental health system, at TMHA’S Recovery Learning Communities (RLC) in Santa Maria and Lompoc.

The RLC’s are client-designed and client-led peer-oriented recovery centers, where individuals with mental illness can go to gain support toward their life goals, enjoy recreational activities, and connect with others. This program will recruit, train and employ individuals recovering from mental illness to serve as Peer Speakers and Leaders, not only spearheading trainings and advocacy efforts, but forming a Speakers Bureau that will visit schools, community centers and public forums throughout North Santa Barbara County.

The Speakers Bureau will serve two purposes: it will raise awareness about mental illness in the community, helping to eliminate stigma in the process; and it will produce over a dozen peers who, over time, will be able to make the leap from expository and personal presentation to addressing mental health policy and community need.

“In this manner, a new generation of community leaders will emerge: a group who is deeply invested in the cause of mental health advocacy and can accurately and empathically represent their peers in the process,” said Frank Ricceri, Associate Director of Santa Barbara County Programs for TMHA.

Recovery, growth and independence are crucial to TMHA’s mission, and both Recovery Learning Communities are dedicated to these client outcomes. “Our goal is to essentially reach as many adults in the community as possible who can use this powerful resource, and then let them discover and shape the experience they desire,” said Ricceri.

“Over the course of the 12 month grant, we anticipate reaching 200-300 new adults and youth ages 16-25 who are underserved in the mental health system throughout Northern Santa Barbara County, said Ricceri. “What is critical is that these individuals may not know how to begin a path towards recovery, and presentations from Peer Speakers–presentations that are deeply personal and describe steps towards balanced and productive lives–will reveal important answers and opportunities.”

“One of TMHA’s greatest strengths as an agency has been a combination of flexibility and creativity in responding to the changing landscape of the mental health system,” said Jill Bolster-White, Executive Director of TMHA. “Philosophies, models, budgets, and client and family participation have all transitioned dramatically in recent years. TMHA repeatedly embraces these changes, evolving and adapting programs as necessary. This program is another indication of that facility.”

The grant was made possible through collaborations between the Santa Barbara Foundation, Orfalea Foundations and the Cavalletto Charities.


Transitions-Mental Health Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating stigma and promoting recovery and wellness for people with mental illness through work, housing, community and family support services. TMHA operates 27 programs at over 35 locations that reach over 2,000 people and 1,500 families in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. As an agency, 35% of the 247 employees are mental health consumers holding positions in a variety of areas. In Santa Barbara County, 50% of our employees are peer staff. The emphasis of TMHA’s many services is to teach vital independent living skills, and build a framework for community re-entry through personal empowerment and hands on experience. For over 30 years, TMHA has been dedicated to providing housing, employment, case management and life-skills support to teens and adults with mental illness; and support, resources and education for their loved ones. For more information, visit

The Santa Barbara Foundation was established in 1928 by Max Fleischmann and a forward thinking group who wanted to enrich the lives of people from Santa Maria to Carpinteria. For more than eight decades, the Santa Barbara Foundation has been at the center of civic activity, a vibrant expression of its engaged citizenry, a solver of problems, a partner in philanthropy, and a critical supporter of community organizations and efforts. As we have grown, our goals have remained the same – turning community dollars into community change. Today, thanks to the unwavering generosity of our community, our assets have grown to exceed $260 million and we are the largest grantmaker in our county. Our Mission: The Santa Barbara Foundation is a community foundation established in 1928 to enrich the lives of the people of Santa Barbara County through philanthropy. Our Goal: As one of the largest private sources of funding for area nonprofits, agencies, and college bound students, we identify, address, and positively impact the county’s most pressing issues. By creating solution oriented partnerships, sharing knowledge, and providing a means for all those interested in the intersection of private initiative and the public good, we help to connect charitable passions with community need.