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Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation Receives $250k from Direct Relief's Fund for Health Equity

Funds Will Help Build a Workforce to Confront Mental Health Crisis


Klamath, CA, April 26, 2024 - Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation announced today that it received a $250,000 grant from Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity to provide scholarships to tribal citizens pursuing degrees in behavioral health.

The Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation’s Wah-sekw Won Scholarship Program assists Yurok tribal members, their families and other local tribal members with college-related costs. The scholarship program has funds to offer financial assistance to approximately 20 participants. The funds can be used to cover tuition, books, transportation and other fees. Upon graduation, scholarship recipients must work in a local tribal community health program for the same amount of time that they received support from the Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation.

“The Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation sincerely thanks Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity for investing in our community. These funds will help us establish a workforce to confront the mental health crisis in our rural region,” said Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation Board Secretary Jessica Carter.

“This latest round of more than $7 million in grants, made possible by generous support from MacKenzie Scott, the AbbVie Foundation, and Eli Lilly and Company, is the most recent infusion of funding for organizations deeply committed in eliminating health disparities and improving healthcare quality in their communities,” added Dr. Byron Scott, Direct Relief COO and Co-Chair of the Fund for Health Equity. “Direct Relief is proud to support and grateful for the work they do every day.”

Currently, the Yurok Tribe is developing plans to construct a state-of-the-art, inpatient wellness center in far Northern California. The center will offer culturally relevant and conventional drug, alcohol and mental health services. The facility is part of the Kee Cha-E-Nar Board's and the Yurok Tribe’s comprehensive Wellness Vision, which aims to address the disproportionate rates of mental health, alcohol abuse, and substance use disorders among Yurok families and the local tribal community.

Wellness vision projects range from the regional treatment center to an outpatient substance abuse treatment clinic offering cultural and holistic approaches to pain management and wellness. The plan also includes the provision of medically assisted treatment services, residential treatment for women with their infants and young children and preventative services.

The plan requires a much greater mental health workforce than exists today. Through the Wah-sekw Won Scholarship Program, the Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation hopes to increase the number of qualified professional personnel by supporting tribal citizens who are interested in acquiring behavioral health-related degrees.

Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity

Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity mobilizes financial resources for organizations focused on non-clinical interventions that affect a person's health. Commonly known as the social determinants of health, these factors include an individual’s physical, social, political, cultural, and economic environment.

This year’s awardees were selected by the Fund for Health Equity’s Advisory Council, which includes the following members:

  • Co-Chair Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA, 18th US Surgeon General of the United States, Founder Bayou Clinic, Inc.

  • Co-Chair Byron Scott, MD, MBA, Direct Relief COO

  • Martha Dawson, DNP, MSN, RN, FACHE, President and CEO President of the National Black Nurses Association, Associate Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

  • Jane Delgado, Ph.D., MS, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health

  • Gail Small, JD, Head Chief Woman, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

"We are pleased to support the essential work of Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation and other grassroots organizations striving to reduce disparities and increase equity in vulnerable populations across the United States," said Dr. Byron Scott, MD, MBA, Co-Chair of the Fund for Health Equity and COO of Direct Relief. "It is a privilege to promote and support these organizations that are deeply connected to the communities they serve, know best what their patients and communities need, and the most effective means of providing it."

The Kee Cha-E-Nar Corporation is a tribal nonprofit. The Wah-sekw Won scholarship application can be found here:

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