Behavioral Health Fund

The goal of the Behavioral Health Fund grant program is to address behavioral health (mental health and substance use) needs before people are in crisis.  The Fund will support primary and secondary prevention models and high-quality, affordable behavioral health care services.

The Behavioral Health Fund was created in August 2018 by the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner with funding from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. The Fund is intended to “improve the behavioral health of Rhode Islanders by supporting strategies and service models that enhance primary and secondary prevention and access to high quality, affordable behavioral health care services.” 

2019 Priorities

The Fund seeks to support emerging practices and evidence-informed programs that meet a specific local need. Grantees may serve general (universal prevention)1 or at-risk (selective prevention)2 populations. Proposals must include clear short- and long-term outcome targets and a strong evaluation plan that is adequately resourced. The plan will need to include elements for data collection and analysis to inform: 1) ongoing learning throughout the course of the award period, and 2) reporting on outcomes to the advisory committee.

Requests may be for one, two, or three years in duration, and up to $200,000 per year. Preference will be given to proposals that:

  • Show potential for positive, long-term outcomes for vulnerable populations, such as children, youth, and seniors.
  • Serve communities that are disproportionately impacted by behavioral health issues and underserved by behavioral health supports.
  • Represent a collaboration of multiple organizations including, but not limited to, public sector partnerships. 
  • Demonstrate a path toward sustainability.
  • Connect meaningfully to existing health investments and state priorities.

Tertiary prevention/care is not a priority for this funding round, but the program will consider applications that propose improving tertiary prevention/care by:

  • Developing innovative structural changes to current health system components.
  • Transforming how the health system addresses behavioral health needs through provider training, public and private partnerships, or other system-level initiatives. 

1 National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (NRC/IOM). (2009). Depression in Parents, Parenting and Children. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
2 NRC/IOM, 2009.

Scoring Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • The applicant makes a compelling statement of need that the proposal will address. There is a clear need and target population identified. We can see a logical connection between the need and proposed intervention.
  • The proposed outcomes are clear and meaningful, would have a positive impact on the behavioral health of Rhode Islanders, and are consistent with applicable population health goals identified by the Rhode Island Department of Health and other EOHHS departments.
  • Targets are ambitious but within reach.
  • There is a strong plan for evaluation to inform both ongoing learning and reporting on outcomes.
  • The applicant presents a solid implementation plan and budget. The funds requested would be used in valuable ways.
  • The applicant and its partners demonstrate the capacity to deliver upon the proposed deliverables. The receiving organization is financially stable, has strong leadership and relevant professional expertise, is operating under a current strategic plan, and demonstrates a culture of results.
  • The Fund would provide a unique and important source of capital for this program. The proposal may leverage additional public (i.e. Medicaid match or federal grant) or private (i.e. other charitable) funding, but should not replace other available funding.


  • Nonprofit 501(c) organizations based in or serving Rhode Island.
  • The Behavioral Health Fund does not fund individuals, scholarships, research, capital, endowment efforts, or fundraising events.
  • Research as part of a program evaluation is permitted, however, Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval or exemption must be obtained where human subjects are involved.
  • Grants may support faith-based organizations for secular programs or projects.
  • The Rhode Island Foundation believes that our community can best be served by charitable organizations that both reflect and serve the diversity of our community. We do not award grants to applicants or for programs that have a policy that discriminates against any person or group in any way that is either unlawful or inconsistent with the mission or values of the Foundation.

Application Overview

The application process is comprised of: 1) Stage 1 application open to any interested and eligible applicant; and 2) Stage 2 application by invitation. The entire application and reporting process is to be completed online. Paper applications or supporting materials will not be accepted.

Step 1: Stage 1 Application

  • Stage 1 applications provide the opportunity to briefly describe the work and goals the applicant seeks to achieve.
  • Stage 1 applications may be submitted by individual organizations, partnerships of organizations, or an organization representing a coalition or collaborative project.
  • If a collaborative is applying, only one application per collaborative should be submitted.
  • Stage 1 applications will be reviewed by Foundation staff and an advisory committee, and a determination made as to whether the applicant will advance to the next step.

Step 2: Stage 2 Application

  • A select number of applicants will be invited to submit a Stage 2 application.
  • Stage 2 applications will provide greater detail on the challenge(s) to be addressed, project goals, implementation plan, capacity to lead the project, key stakeholders or partners, and evaluation plan.
  • Detailed instructions will be provided to those proposals that are advanced.

To Apply

This program is not currently accepting applications.


LocationOne Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


(401) 274-4564

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