#startsmall, an initiative Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey created as a way to fund global COVID-19 relief, has awarded Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) a $75,000 grant for our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund (ERF).

Teen Health Mississippi started the fund in April 2020 after talking with some of our youth partners and discovering that COVID-19 has negatively impacted them and other young people in Mississippi. We want to support our communities and their young people by connecting them to the resources they may need, including financial resources. To that end, THMS launched the COVID-19 ERF to help youth across the state whom the pandemic has affected negatively. THMS has received 4,000 applications to date and awarded $11,000 to more than 150 youth across the state. 

“We want to support youth so they can make informed, healthy decisions that positively impact their life trajectory. When youth make decisions because they are hungry or lack shelter, they may respond in ways that address the immediate need but that may jeopardize their overall well-being,” says Teen Health Mississippi Executive Director Dr. Hope Crenshaw.

Some of our findings, outlined in our ERF impact report, show that 63% of the 4,000 applicants were experiencing chronic/episodic food insecurities, and 41% indicated that they were experiencing chronic/episodic homelessness. Other findings indicated that 13.3% of youth were not able to get proper medical supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) and medicines to treat conditions like lupus, diabetes, and cancer.

“We are truly grateful for Jack Dorsey and his #startsmall initiative. The need for more support and financial resources is evident based on the data that we’ve collected from our applicants. As a youth-serving organization in Mississippi, it is our responsibility to do what we can to lend a helping hand to youth all across the state,” Justin Lofton, the Director of Youth Engagement & Advocacy at Teen Health Mississippi, said.

The funds from the #startsmall grant will be awarded to statewide youth-serving organizations to maximize the impact and reach youth across more areas of the state. 

For more information on the fund, go here. To help support THMS’s mission of providing continued support to young people through programs like the ERF, please click here.  

Teen Health Mississippi is a 501c3 with a mission of giving young people in Mississippi access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare. We also work to bridge gaps between young people and their communities because we know that when youth have the resources they need, everyone benefits. See teenhealthms.org for more information.

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