Local Foundation Receives Major Grant to Expand Suicide-Prevention Program Nationally

The Hartford-based Jordan Porco Foundation has been selected as one of 13 non-profit organizations to receive a $100,000 grant from the Alkermes Inspiration Grants program. The grant will support Fresh Check Day, which is an uplifting mental health fair that builds a campus community around mental health and suicide prevention through engaging peer-to-peer education. Fresh Check Day, the foundation’s signature program, creates an approachable atmosphere where students are encouraged to engage in dialogues about mental health, and it helps to build a bridge between students and the mental health resources that exist on campus, in the community, and on a national level. Research supports that peer-to-peer education is one of the most effective ways to educate students, especially when the subject is suicide and mental health.

Since the first event in 2012, Fresh Check Day has grown exponentially, expanding throughout Connecticut, New England and nationwide.  There are now 26 colleges and universities in Connecticut that offer the program, and nearly 150 schools in 37 states.

“We are thankful to be awarded this grant in support of our signature program, Fresh Check Day. It helps in our national expansion and efforts to reach more young adults with our critical message of hope,” said Marisa Giarnella-Porco, President and CEO of the Jordan Porco Foundation.

The mission of the Jordan Porco Foundation, a 501(c) (3) public charity, is to prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults. They accomplish this by providing engaging and uplifting peer-run programs. Their programs strive to start a conversation about mental health that reduces stigma while encouraging help-seeking and supportive behaviors.

“Addiction and mental illness affect millions of people and their families every day, and require an integrated approach to treatment that is scalable in communities across the country,” said Richard Pops, Chief Executive Officer of Alkermes. “Medicines play a role, but importantly, it is the innovative programs, like the Jordan Porco Foundation, designed to support people affected by these diseases and led by passionate leaders on the front lines that will ignite sustainable and meaningful change for patients.”

The primary goals of Fresh Check Day are to:

  • Increase awareness of mental health resources and services available to students
  • Challenge stigma and misconceptions around mental health and suicide that often deter individuals from seeking help
  • Empower peers to be gatekeepers by understanding warning signs and knowing what to do if a friend is exhibiting signs of suicide or a mental health concern
  • Increase willingness to ask for help if experiencing emotional distress

Now in its second year, Alkermes Inspiration Grants focuses on two key areas: improving or enhancing support or resources for people affected by mental health concerns or substance use disorder, and/or integrating the perspective of people affected by mental health concerns or addiction into drug development or care delivery. Alkermes is a global biopharmaceutical company with a “steadfast commitment” to developing innovative medicines for central nervous system (CNS) diseases.  The company has facilities in Ireland and the United States.