Since its inception in 2005, the NBCC Foundation has been working to increase the number of counselors and Mental Health Facilitators working with high-priority populations, with an emphasis on increasing access to mental health care in rural, military, and minority communities. The Foundation provides several capacity-building opportunities: scholarships, fellowships, capacity-building initiatives, the annual Symposium, and webinars.
One of the earliest and most central initiatives of the Foundation has been to provide an option for NCCs and stakeholders who wish to help support scholarships. Since 2010, donors have contributed more than $860,000 to fund scholarships awarded by the NBCC Foundation to more than 200 counseling students, significantly expanding mental health access to underserved communities. Scholars receive funds to support their education as well as training, mentorship, and professional development services. Scholarships of up to $8,000 are available and applications will open in May this year.
The Foundation currently administers two major federal grants provided through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): the NBCC Minority Fellowship Program for Mental Health Counselors (NBCC MFP-MHC) and the NBCC MFP for Addictions Counselors (NBCC MFP-AC), which is administered in a collaborative partnership with NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. Fellowships range in amounts from $10,000–$20,000 for both master’s- and doctoral-level counseling students. Fellowship applications for the 2022 award year will open in September 2021.
One program that excites and reenergizes Foundation scholars, fellows, and NCCs is the annual Bridging the Gap Symposium. It also provides an opportunity for new fellows to meet past fellows and to network with alumni and NCCs from across the country. The theme for the 2021 Bridging the Gap Symposium: Eliminating Mental Health Disparities is Making Spaces for Unseen Faces, with an emphasis on counseling skills, research, and resources that can improve, strengthen, or enrich the lives of individuals who represent minority and other underserved communities. The event will be held later in 2021 with plans to offer some virtual event experiences for those who cannot attend in person because of space or travel limitations.
In addition to participating in the Bridging the Gap Symposium, fellows and scholars also participate in a best practices and professional development training and a program orientation that gives them a deeper look into the program, their program deliverables, as well as what resources will be provided to them.
Newly named Foundation Program Director Amber Khan, PhD, NCC, LCMHC, says she “is looking forward to offering numerous innovative programs and professional development opportunities, like the annual Symposium. These resources will focus on expanding the knowledge of counselors, as well as providing resources for best practices.”
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Foundation has adapted to continue to provide quality support for the counseling community. “Now more than ever,” Dr. Khan says, “recent events in our world have highlighted the significance of the services provided by mental health professionals. During a time when the underserved and never-served populations are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, our commitment to increase the number of NCCs who serve these populations remains strong.”
In addition to the annual Symposium, the Foundation offers a wide range of live, monthly webinars that explore topics on counselor self-care, professional development and networking, research, social justice and advocacy, among others. Recent Foundation webinar topics and titles have included: A Clinician’s Ethical Responsibility to Reduce Cultural, Sexual, and Gender Identity Microaggressions; Beyond Basic Needs: Counseling and Support for Foster Youth During a Crisis; Disrupting Educational Spaces: Using School-Based Mentoring Programs to Center African American Males as Public Intellectuals; and COVID-19–Related Stress in Health Care Workers.
The NBCC Foundation is currently seeking energetic webinar presenters who can provide creative and unique sessions that highlight evidence-based and promising practices or relevant research addressing mental health disparities for minority, military, rural, and other underserved communities. The Foundation staff is eager to review potential presenters. They invite qualified practitioners and counselor educators to apply as webinar presenters and to share their invaluable skills and knowledge with counselors across the nation.
Webinars are conducted online, requiring no travel, and the Foundation handles all the logistics of managing the webinar platform, advertising, and promotion. Most webinar series also provide a small honorarium or in-kind option for webinar presenters. All webinar presenters must hold a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling or a related mental health field and be a board certified counselor.
If you are interested in presenting a webinar, please submit a proposal through the online webinar submission form.
The Foundation also relies on a dedicated group of volunteers whose commitment is critical to the ongoing success of each program. Volunteers can serve in several ways and include being an application reviewer, a mentor to a master’s- or doctoral-level counseling student, and providing trainings or specialty workshops during Symposium.
Isabel Gomez, Vice President of the Foundation and Professional Services Division, is grateful to the many individuals who work to fulfil the goals of the Foundation. “The success of the Foundation in ensuring that we improve the mental health of the underserved and never-served throughout the world is dependent upon the generosity and commitment of our volunteers. Whether serving as mentors to our fellows and scholars, application reviewers, or webinar and Symposium presenters, volunteers are the life-blood of the work we do. We are ever grateful to their dedication and passion for working with counselors-in-training and being innovators in counseling practices that benefit the underserved.”
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with the NBCC Foundation, you can view different opportunities on the NBCC Foundation Volunteer Information Page. Application review sessions typically last 2–3 weeks and require an average of eight hours of review time. All reviewing is done online and staff will train new volunteers on the online application platform. Mentors commit to one year of mentoring and all communication is done through electronic means. Any questions related to volunteer opportunities can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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