Community Resiliency Initiative

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
Coretta Scott King

Youth in our community need more help. How do we know this? They are telling us — with words as well as behaviors, which include self-harm, acting out, and in some cases even aggression. While these needs grew during the pandemic, they are not fading away as we emerge out of it. Instead, many signs point to a still-growing need for mental health resources and behavioral health support among Santa Cruz County youth.

In light of these needs, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and school districts are partnering with United Way of Santa Cruz County, Monarch Services, and Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance to build a coalition of partners working to increase support available to students, families and educators. Called the Santa Cruz County Community Resiliency Initiative, this effort is based around three pillars: Awareness, Building Capacity, and Belonging & Healing.


  • Raising awareness about the need within our community, sharing data and leveraging media, social media, events, and engagement through our schools

  • Sharing impactful resources, expanding our coalition, and destigmatizing the conversation around mental health

  • Launching a new website and resource portal with targeted information for students, parents, and educators

Building Capacity

  • Building capacity, skills and resources to prevent/respond to youth and families who are struggling

  • Offer training and increase skill set for all interested middle and high school staff who serve youth on a daily basis, using Youth Mental Health First Aid for Adults, which helps identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among children and adolescents ages 12-18.

  • Offer training to all youth/teens grades 10 to 12, ages 15-18, in Teen Mental Health First Aid within high school districts and charter schools, private schools,, which helps identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges in their friends and peers linking them back to the adults who are trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid, at their respective school site

  • Increasing availability and access to the Positive Parenting Program (Triple P), an evidence-based program that offers parents simple and practical strategies to help them build strong, healthy relationships, and confidently reinforce their children’s positive behavior

  • Increasing familiarity with and use of existing community resources, leveraging our responsive partnerships to empower parents and expand our collective footprint County-wide

  • Offering parents and families support for their children’s education, e.g addressing learning loss, and wellbeing, e.g. addressing mental health issues

  • Working directly with school sites and districts who want and need help engaging parents and and center family voice and leadership in all that we do

  • Use the Cradle 2 Career Santa Cruz model which has expanded from Live Oak School District (4 established sites) to reach San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, Santa Cruz City Schools and Soquel Union Elementary School District

Belonging and Healing

  • Defining, celebrating, and creating supportive, healing spaces in our community

  • Increasing spaces where students have a sense of belonging at school, in the community, and at home

  • Mapping Mental Health and Behavioral Health Initiatives and Programs in our districts and community, helping us identify strengths, locate areas we can grow, and connect dots between our school and community supports

  • Revisiting the role of adults as key agents in creating supportive settings as they engage with youth

  • Listening to our students to further understand their behavioral and mental health needs with a commitment to act on their feedback and clear about our capabilities

  • Increasing access to mental health services

  • Increasing access to pro-social activities in the community