OCTOBER 2023 - In philanthropy, impact measurement seeks to ensure accountability for grants made, effectiveness of the intervention/program, and organizational willingness to change course as the data reveals the need to do so. Yet not all organizations have equal capacity to undertake impact measurement. This is particularly true in the work to decriminalize mental illness, which is complex — lacking standardized data collection tools across interventions and suffering from siloed data between systems.
AUGUST 2023 – As a person who grew up inside a social service organization on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1970s — the early days of the deinstitutionalization of people with mental illness — I have a lack of patience when it comes to finding solutions to complex social problems. Why am I so impatient? Human lives are at stake. Compassion, creativity, and curiosity (the 3-Cs, as I think of them) are the key ingredients to forging change. My impatience motivates me on all 3-C fronts to find and foster nontraditional solutions to complex problems, including the decriminalization of mental illness.
JULY 2023 – Today, July 16, 2023, marks the one-year anniversary of 988, the new three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Its existence is the result of years of advocacy efforts by numerous individuals and organizations, many of which the Foundation is honored to partner with and support. In a nation where mental illness continues to be criminalized, 988 offers a promising opportunity to ensure people in mental health crises receive care rather than punishment and incarceration.
Correctional facilities in the US are considered the largest provider of mental health services.1 The Sozosei Foundation is tackling the question—"What can be done to accelerate solutions so that we eliminate the inappropriate use of jails and prisons for mental health care?” But tackling the criminalization of mental illness is complex and there is no single solution or ‘magic bullet’ to eliminate the use of jail or prison for the treatment of people with mental illness. Identifying effective solutions is difficult, in part, due to the limited availability of data needed to evaluate whether solutions work.
To understand the Sozosei Foundation’s approach to impact, a team from the RAND Corporation interviewed grantees, representatives from partner organizations and thought leaders; reviewed scientific and grey literature; and met bi-weekly with the Foundation’s Executive Director. This document summarizes what the RAND team learned about the Foundation’s approach to impact and an evaluation strategy that aligns with this approach.
The Sozosei Foundation launched its Resilient Communities Program (RCP) in the summer of 2020 at the request of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. (OAPI), with the intent of evolving the company’s longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The goal of the program was to refine the company’s philanthropic commitment by designing guidelines and priorities to support diverse, under-resourced communities where the company has a presence. Over the two years of its grantmaking, the program provided over $1 million in grants and served over 177,000 people across six target communities.
When COVID-19 swept across the United States in the Spring of 2020, Sozosei had just formalized its governance structure and was in the midst of a national search for its inaugural executive director. Simultaneously, Sozosei – with leadership from its Board of Directors — moved swiftly to address the immediate needs of patients, healthcare workers, and families impacted by COVID-19.