Since 2005, the NBCC Foundation has worked to bridge the gap in mental health resources in a variety of areas. Over the last 15 years, one of the most integral parts of the Foundation’s mission to leverage the power of counseling by strategically focusing resources for positive change is the Foundation’s Scholarship Program. Over the years, the Foundation has awarded $860,000 in scholarships to counseling students committed to working with military, rural, and other underserved or never-served populations around the world and over $360,000 in capacity-building initiatives impacting military, rural, and international communities.
Dr. Neil Duchac, chair of the NBCC Board of Directors, shares, “In thinking about the Foundation’s global impact, I feel a real sense of community that transcends intolerance and provides us with a sense of hope and compassion for the future.”
The reach of Foundation scholars spreads far, with past scholarship recipients working with statewide veterans’ affairs organizations, migrant communities in the Yuma Valley area of Arizona, rural areas stretching from Idaho to Eastern North Carolina, and many other underserved and never-served populations.
The Foundation’s scholarship program currently awards at least five rural and five military scholarships each year in the amount of $8,000 per award. Though $8,000 may not seem like much with current rises in tuition costs, many recent scholarship recipients note they wouldn’t have been able to continue their studies without it.
For many recipients, the monetary award allows them to take unpaid internship opportunities where they gain invaluable knowledge working with populations like veterans or those with substance use disorders. The scholarship program also provides recipients with a mentor who provides a guided professional relationship and perspective for the students while they navigate school and begin field or client work.
The Foundation’s resources also give scholars access to continuing education opportunities such as monthly webinars and additional trainings like those offered as a part of the 2020 Substance Use and Suicide Prevention Training and the 2020 Bridging the Gap Digital Experience, which offered 27 different virtual workshops for continuing education focused on working with underserved communities.
In 2012, the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) began funding scholarship opportunities administered by the NBCC Foundation for individuals holding the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) credential in order to increase the number and reach of professional counselors providing quality career development services.
Over the last eight years, the scope and reach of these CCE scholarships has grown to include scholarships and training awards for individuals seeking a variety of professional development opportunities and additional credentials such as the CCE Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS), Board Certified Coach (BCC), and in 2020 a newly introduced award for those seeking the Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH) credential.
These endeavors continue to play an important role in the NBCC Foundation’s mission. With the ongoing challenges of counseling during a global pandemic, the new BC-TMH award will provide at least 10 counseling professionals with the training needed to pursue this credential and be equipped to provide safe and effective services to their clients.
Since these CCE awards were started in 2012, the NBCC Foundation has distributed over $136,000 to counseling professionals working to expand their scope of practice and professional competency. Longtime NBCC Foundation supporter and current CCE Board Member Lorin Letendre shares, “It makes me incredibly proud to see CCE’s funding support for the NBCC Foundation that enables scholarships to aspiring counseling professionals, especially those who intend to provide mental health resources for underserved and never-served populations.”
Dr. Lela Kosteck Bunch, chair of the CCE Board, says, “Simply put, the need is there—the need to increase and encourage the number of mental health services providers in order to meet the ever-increasing mental health needs of [these] populations.”
Though its programs have grown and shifted over time, the NBCC Foundation remains committed to underserved and never-served communities in need of expanded mental health services.
With the addition of the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) in 2012 and expanded funding awarded in 2014, the Foundation now awards scholarships, fellowships, training awards, and capacity-building grants to around 120 counseling students and counseling professionals each year. “When you consider the reach that one of our fellows or scholars has in their community, and then multiply that by all those they are positively affecting, the impact is great,” shares Isabel Gomez, Vice President of Foundation and Professional Resources for NBCC and Affiliates. “There are so many counselors and even students doing the work in the trenches to reach vulnerable communities. It is rewarding to get to be a part of helping to ensure that they are equipped and confident to continue doing the work.”
As the Foundation looks to another 15 years ahead, its leadership strategizes ways to continually provide support for those counselors and counselors-in-training working to support the most vulnerable and marginalized around them.
The NBCC Foundation Board of Trustees recently met to discuss what this next chapter could look like and looks forward to expanding current programs and implementing new ways to grow capacity.
Dr. Tahani Dari, one of the newest trustees for the Foundation, former MFP Fellow, and longtime Foundation volunteer, recently shared that she continues to invest much of her time with the Foundation because as a counselor herself, she “has the ability to shape the future of the counseling profession and how we serve our clients.”
Before joining the NBCC Foundation Board, Dr. Dari most recently served as chair of the MFP Advisory Council and views her investment as an opportunity to advocate and represent the profession on behalf of those she serves.
The work of the Foundation is made possible through the support of invested and dedicated individuals who want to see services expanded and see gaps bridged for those most in need.
Thanks to the ongoing investment of NBCC and Affiliates and other corporate sponsors, every dollar donated to the NBCC Foundation goes directly to providing these scholarships and training opportunities as well as domestic and international capacity-building efforts.
Contributions from Giving Tuesday will help fund additional scholarships for master’s-level counseling students committed to bridging the gap in areas most in need.