May 29, 2020 · 5 min read

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $700,000 to Support Mental Well-being of Educators, Students

Funding Will Enable Nonprofits — Crisis Text Line and Healthy Minds Innovations — to Reach More Educators and Students Grappling With Fallout From COVID-19


The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) today announced more than $700,000 in grants to the Crisis Text Line and Healthy Minds Innovations, which are leveraging technology to promote improved mental well-being among students and teachers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we experience this pandemic together and the disruption, isolation and trauma that it brings, prioritizing connection and well-being for our students and educators is more important than ever,” said Sandra Liu Huang, head of education at CZI. “In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are proud to support the efforts of the Crisis Text Line and Healthy Minds Innovations to deliver much needed, and highly scalable support to students and educators nationwide.”

“School is the top location word young people use in conversations. We’re grateful CZI is making it possible for us to reach more students in pain,” said Nancy Lublin, co-founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line.

“At this challenging and uncertain time in the world today, it is particularly important to use simple tools to nurture our well-being. Scientific research has demonstrated that these simple tools can improve our emotion regulation and resilience and can enhance our social relationships,” said Dr. Richard Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide these tools to public school educators who are working under very difficult circumstances during this pandemic.”

“The Madison Metropolitan School District is pleased to have this opportunity to work with Dr. Davidson and his team at the Center for Healthy Minds and Healthy Minds Innovations. This program will introduce and further the skills of well-being among our educators at MMSD. From our initial experience with this program, we are extremely pleased and believe it can be of real benefit to our staff particularly at this difficult and uncertain time. We are very grateful to have this opportunity,” said Andrew J Statz, director of research, accountability, and data use at the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).

A March 2020 survey by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Collaborative for Social Emotional and Academic Learning asked educators to list the three most frequent emotions they feel each day. Anxious was the most common response, followed by fearful, worried, overwhelmed and sad. Research from the National Parents Union reflects a similar sentiment: Sixty-five percent of parents believe schools need to provide mental and emotional health assessments and counseling for students and staff when schools reopen.

The grants include:

  • $550,000 to Crisis Text Line, the nation’s largest text-based crisis service, which has seen an increase in texts from middle and high school-aged students in recent months. From March to May 2020 alone, there was a 22% percent increase in texts from students 17 and younger as COVID-19 and school closures spread across the country. The support from CZI will enable them to expand the reach of more than 27,000 trained, volunteer counselors who provide real-time support to individuals in crisis — and refer them to local care and services. The funding is part of the Mental Health Fund launched by Virgin Unite, Royal Bank of Canada, Draper Richards Kaplan, and others to assist the Crisis Text Line and other organizations in their efforts to provide mental well-being support during this difficult time. To connect with a crisis counselor, text HOME to 741741.
  • $205,000 to Healthy Minds Innovations, which will expand the reach of its Healthy Minds Program, an app-based training program designed to help educators develop “brain-based skills” that build resilience in four domains: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose. Founded in 2014 by world-renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson, the Wisconsin-based nonprofits driven by a mission to translate science into tools to cultivate well-being.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CZI has committed more than $9 million to support teachers and students impacted by school closures as they transition to distance learning. These grants include $5 million in COVID-19 response grants to support educators and families, $1.3 million aimed at providing resources for states and school districts impacted by school closures, $1 million to support the State of California’s efforts to expand access to distance learning, and $1.2 million to provide teachers nationwide with resources to support distance learning.

CZI’s education work is focused on ensuring that every student — not just a lucky few — can get an education that’s tailored to their individual needs and supports every aspect of their development. Part of that work is focused on supporting research, programs and organizations that work to advance the understanding and science of how students learn and develop, and support the pivotal role of teachers in supporting a student’s academic, mental, physical, emotional and cognitive development. CZI has partnered with the Black Teacher Collaborative, Deans for Impact, the Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning, Jefferson Education Exchange and others in this work.

For more information about how CZI and our grant partners are responding to COVID-19, visit


About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core Initiative focus areas of Science, Education, and Justice & Opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing, and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

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