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Breaking Barriers During Mental Health Awareness Month: Fresh Start Announces Expanded Services for Women of Color Through $1.3 million Investment from JPMorgan Chase
By Brian O'Malley - Thursday May 18, 2023
Women experience depression twice as much as men, and Black women are only half as likely to seek care as White women. There are several barriers that account for the disparity in seeking support, including a lack of therapists from communities of color, cultural stigmas, and high costs. Through a $1.3-million commitment from JPMorgan Chase to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, the local nonprofit will provide expanded resources and support directly to women of color across the Valley.

Fresh Start was selected as one of eight organizations nationwide to be awarded a grant from JPMorgan Chase’s Annual Challenge competition, receiving funding to increase support services for women, especially women of color. The local nonprofit plans to further integrate mental health support into programming and increase the number of trained mental health providers who are representative of women of color in Arizona. The investment will allow Fresh Start to escalate and expand access to its Impact Program, increasing the numbers of women supported on their journeys to self-sufficiency and economic independence.

During an event focused on resource access, mental health, and financial well-being for women of color, Fresh Start featured local Black therapist and successful business owner Ashlea Taylor-Barber, and local JPMorgan Chase leaders announced the grant, discussing the importance of these themes towards long-term economic mobility, wealth building and success. “Studies show women of color suffer disproportionately from the kinds of adverse life experiences that can lead to depression, anxiety disorders, and toxic levels of chronic stress,” said Taylor-Barber. “It is important to offer culturally competent resources, so women of color have a wider pathway to healing, well-being and success.”

“Access to high-quality mental health services, so women can manage stress, build resilience and cope with everyday life challenges, is one key component of Fresh Start’s Impact Program, which holistically supports women on their journeys to personal empowerment and self-sufficiency,” said Kim McWaters, President and CEO of Fresh Start. “We couldn’t be more grateful to JPMorgan Chase for the support that will allow us to expand and scale services to women of color throughout Greater Phoenix. Giving women access to the support and resources they need to succeed in critical areas of life, including family, health, finances, education, and career, positively impacts not only their lives, but their children and generations to come.”

Fresh Start’s mission is to provide access and resources that help women achieve self-sufficiency and use their strength to thrive. The organization has a three-decade history providing holistic support services to women and, with the launch of its Impact Program, an expanded strategic focus on education, training, and career placement. The goal is for women to gain in-demand job skills in the fastest growing sectors of Arizona’s economy, so they can earn wages at a self-sufficient level and support themselves and their children.

“Fresh Start has a strong record of success in providing essential services to help women become self-sufficient,” said Kathy Hu, Managing Director for J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “At JPMorgan Chase, we’re thrilled to help Fresh Start expand its skills training, financial coaching, wrap-around support, and access to culturally-competent mental health services for women of color.”

This announcement was part of JPMorgan Chase’s $30 billion racial equity commitment to drive economic inclusion and build on the firm’s $500 million, five-year initiative to invest in solutions to drive equitable growth and community-based strategies across the country.

Fresh Start and the other awardees were chosen for their innovative, sustainable solutions that create economic opportunity and resilient wealth generation for women of color. This year the competition also provided solutions at the intersection of mental health and economic mobility. Data has shown that there are disparities in accessing mental health care for women of color, which is linked to financial stress and mental health challenges.

Winning partnerships demonstrated significant experience improving outcomes for women of color and offered timely and promising approaches to financial health and coaching, career support, mental health support, entrepreneurship, and housing stability. JPMorgan Chase will also work with national partners to support evaluation and facilitate a learning community among the eight winners to enhance the sustainability of their solutions, meet changing needs of each community, and share learnings. The Annual Challenge centers on supporting proximate diverse leaders that are driving sustainable solutions.

For more information on Fresh Start, please visit