Scholarship Applications are Updated

I’d like to thank the folks at Strategic Behavioral Health who recently sent a letter to about a thousand leaders in the behavioral health industry that endorsed our little program. Since then, I’ve received several emails from all over the country asking for information regarding our scholarship program. I am floored and honored. As far as I know, and based upon the response we’ve received, this is the only organization in the country that provides scholarship funding for this population of kids and young adults, those who’ve recovered from in-patient psychiatric care, either for a psychiatric disorder, substance abuse, or both. So I’d like to take a little bit of time to explain exactly who we are and why we do what we do.

JC Runyon, Jack, to those who knew him, was a private practice psychologist who strove to give his patients the tools to help themselves. He was my father. I grew up working in his office after school and during the summers and I vividly remember him walking client after client out of his office with his arm around their shoulder reminding him or her to “put legs on those prayers”. He meant that wishing things were different won’t always help, you have to stand up and reach for the life line that’s being thrown.  For someone with a psychiatric disorder or a substance abuse problem, finding that life line and pulling yourself up is harder than someone without these issues.

First, there’s the treatment, which is very expensive.  It’s estimated that the cost of inpatient treatment in a behavioral health care facility can cost upwards of $11,000 for 5 days. Oftentimes, 5 days is not enough, resulting in numerous stays over a period of a few years. In 2006 the average lifetime coverage for mental health care services was $50,000 – this includes emergency room visits, out-patient therapy, and in-patient stays. Compared to the $1 million dollars provided for medical care, this is far too little. Families are forced to create substantial debt to care for the immediate needs of a child in crisis. Thanks to the efforts of former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008, meant to reduce discrimination and improve access to care for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. But the US Department of Health and Human Services still has not issued a final rule to put the law into effect.

Then, there’s the stigma of suffering from a mental disorder. “Whacko, spaz, crazy,” are just a few of the names our first scholarship recipient, Eli, endured when first dealing with her diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. Being a teenager is hard enough in this world, but pair it with a mental illness,  it can be devastating for a young girl. Did you know that 1 in 8 adolescents seek help for a mental health disorder such as depression, substance abuse, or personal problems? Of this population, 2.8% have sought treatment in a mental health facility (NSDU, 2009).  In addition, since the 1970s, the suicide rate for teens has tripled, making it the second leading cause of death in teens (some reports indicate it’s the third leading cause of death). Fortunately for Eli, she was able to receive the treatment she needed, graduate from high school, and get accepted to the University of Memphis. Unfortunately for her, and for many kids like her, there was no money left to pay for college. She was one of the lucky few who was able to receive a Hope Scholarship in addition to the JC Runyon Foundation Scholarship. But most kids aren’t even eligible for the Hope because of the drastic changes “holes” in the transcripts. Have you ever tried to search for a scholarship? There’s all kinds for academic, sports, cancer survivors, diversity, the list goes on. These traditional college scholarships are extremely competitive, any inconsistency in grade patterns will usually render an applicant ineligible. So what is there to do?

That’s where we come in. The JC Runyon Foundation was founded for kids like Eli and the two other recipients who are able to pull themselves up using our life line. Our life line is money to pay for college tuition. We can’t get a student through treatment, he has to do that. We can’t get a student through high school, she has to do that. We can’t get him accepted into college, he’s on his own. But we can help relieve the financial burden on families who have already been through so much. Our Board is made up of professionals in the field, educators and therapists. We understand what you’ve been through and we can help you help yourself through education. That’s why our tag line is “If you’re ready to do the work, we’re ready to help,” because we really do want to help. Updated applications are ready to go which are downloadable here, let me know if you need one and I can either mail you a packet or email you a digital copy. Check out our Application Process page for eligibility requirements.

If you’re interested in donating, please do! We are a completely privately funded foundation and receive no public grants. Remember, the more money we have, the more kids we can send to college! 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes to the tuition costs, not to salaries or overhead expenses. We are a volunteer board.

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Scholar Spotlight – Rian

Rian had visual hallucinations all his life. Starting at the age of 5, although they were very disturbing, he thought everyone saw them. He never told anyone because he didn’t know it was abnormal. That was until middle school, when his hallucinations began to manifest into debilitating experiences, leading to worrisome self-harming and suicidal behaviors. […]

Our board consists of professionals in the behavioral health care industry and educators. We understand what you’ve been through, and we have the resources to help.