Donation to support youth development efforts

Rocky Mountain Health Plans in Grand Junction has donated $300,000 to fund youth development efforts across Western Colorado.

The donation to the YouthZone will help the Glenwood Springs-based organization expand its services to school-based settings and deliver mental health and substance abuse support to least 470 youth and their families a year.

“There couldn’t be a better time to increase support for youth mental health,” said Jami Hayes, executive director of YouthZone. “This generous support from Rocky Mountain Health Plans will help us serve more young people as we’re seeing the needs skyrocket.”

Alyssa Rose, executive director of Rocky Mountain Health Plans community and state, said health care providers have seen a growing need for mental health and substance abuse support for youth and families. “We are honored to support YouthZone and expand access to mental health services to meet the needs of youth who need support.”

Rocky Mountain Health Plans, a UnitedHealth Group company, completed a $5 million pledge to establish the Healthy Youth/Strong Colorado Fund in partnership with the Colorado attorney general’s office. The donation is part of a $30 million contribution by UnitedHealth Group to nonprofit organizations in Colorado to promote health equity.

The donation follows a $50 million payout from a lawsuit against the federal government seeking unpaid funds from an  Affordable Care Act program.

Funding also was allocated to three youth corps, including the Western Colorado Conservation Corps based in Grand Junction. In addition, funding will promote science, technology, engineering and math education among women and people of color to diversify the health care work force as well as other programs across the Western Slope.