NAMI Westside LA announces $1.2 million gift

By Kamala Kirk

The Lowell Milken Family Foundation recently gifted $1.2 million to provide programmatic and operational support to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Westside Los Angeles, furthering its work to provide support, guidance and hope for the growing number of Angelenos affected by mental health conditions.
The three-year commitment ensures that NAMI Westside LA, whose programs reach thousands of families, individuals and educators each year, will expand its ability to offer free in-person and virtual programming in English and Spanish, as well as operational funds to continue to attract, retain and support its leaders.

“Our organization has distinguished itself, both within California and on a national level, by our ability to pivot all our programs onto a virtual platform in 2020,” said Erin Raftery Ryan, NAMI Westside LA executive director. “Throughout the pandemic, we expanded our programs, conducted additional facilitator trainings, and provided mentorship along the way to other NAMI CA affiliates. NAMI National even arranged for us to lead a workshop for NAMI affiliates across the country on how to deliver virtual services more effectively. This generous gift from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation reaffirms the value of this work and challenges us to reach even greater heights at a time when our programs and services are needed by so many.”

Communities directly impacted by NAMI Westside LA include Culver City, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, Venice, among others. Due to its rapid response to the mental health crisis brought on by the pandemic, NAMI Westside LA has been recognized as a leader in the greater LA community and beyond.

“Our partnership with the Lowell Milken Family Foundation allowed us to expand all our programs during the pandemic to meet the increased needs of our community,” said Tim Davis, NAMI Westside LA’s program director. “Since March 2020, we have conducted over 175 Ending the Silence virtual presentations, reaching over 2,500 students, educators and parents. Over that same period of time, NAMI Westside LA has also expanded the classes and support groups we offer, while creating new ways for our members to build community and find hope through several innovative awareness-raising, stigma-busting events.”

The new gift builds upon LMFF’s support for NAMI Westside LA that began with the Lanetta Wahlgren Fund, which has supported the operational and programmatic needs of NAMI Westside LA since 2019 and made possible the expansion and enhancement of its signature programs.

“This gift furthers our foundation’s mission over more than three decades to equip people to pursue and attain lives that have value to themselves as well as to others,” said philanthropist and education reform leader Lowell Milken.

“Our new commitment will enable NAMI Westside LA to deepen the effectiveness of its programs and services; maintain, enrich and grow its strong leadership and staff; and continued to provide classes and community programs to families across Westside LA.”

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