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Local Philanthropy Boosts Bozeman Health and Big Sky Medical Center Behavioral Health Programs

Foundation news | Thursday, December 26, 2019

Contact: Lauren Brendel, M.S.

BOZEMAN, MT [December 19, 2019]—In July of 2018, responding to documented community needs and informed by the work of the Elevating Behavioral Health community consortium, Bozeman Health’s board of directors committed to significantly expand mental health services and programs available throughout the region. At the same time, the independent Bozeman Health Foundation began actively pursuing up to $1 million in charitable support to help Bozeman Health and Big Sky Medical Center make up to $5 million in investments to meet the region’s behavioral health needs.

Bozeman Health announced today that, over the past 18 months alone, donors have provided $999,000 in gifts and pledges to support a wide array of new and expanded local behavioral health offerings. Of that total, more than $300,000 in gifts and pledges have been received to support Big Sky Medical Center’s targeted behavioral health plans.

Contributions received to date are helping to advance the Caring Forward Campaign which comes to a close on December 31, 2019. With much of that behavioral health funding coming in the form of venture philanthropy, or philanthropy to help build and grow innovative programs that will ultimately be self-sustaining, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital, Big Sky Medical Center and several of its primary care clinics have already begun to realize positive results for their patients in need. Additionally, new partnerships with area schools have helped increase understanding of mental health, reduce the stigma around seeking care and address suicide risk among our community’s young people.

Most recently, the Charles and Peggy Stephenson Family Foundation, with its strong ties to the Big Sky community, awarded Big Sky Medical Center a $350,000 challenge grant to establish an Integrated Behavioral Health program within the medical center’s primary care clinic. The Stephenson family grant has already led to more than $200,000 in new local giving and hopes their generosity will continue to inspire additional donors to support investments in telepsychiatry, community education, and suicide prevention programs, specifically in Big Sky. Subsequently, the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation quickly provided an additional $150,000 in essential support to support these behavioral health initiatives. Together with giving from the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation and numerous individual donors, total giving toward that challenge currently stands at $208,150, leaving just over $140,000 still to be raised to meet the $350,000 challenge set forth by the Stephenson Family Foundation.

In Bozeman, the Montana Healthcare Foundation has been joined by dozens of individual donors in supporting Bozeman Health’s early work to expand behavioral health services. While several of Bozeman Health Foundation’s leadership level supporters have chosen to make their gifts anonymously, donors Rich Deming and Julie Bennett were among those looking for a way to shine a spotlight on their community’s needs and opportunities to give. In memory of Julie’s sister, Andi, the two chose to establish Bozeman Health Foundation’s first-ever Behavioral Health Endowment Fund. Examples of where early funding has enabled initial impact include:

Implementation of Integrated Behavioral Health in primary care and pediatric clinics
Two Bozeman Health primary care clinics and its pediatric clinic began offering Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) services to its patients in 2018. This innovative program allows those visiting their primary care physician to access discrete, effective mental health screenings and services in the same, stigma-free setting with a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). To date, more than 1,600 patients have been referred within our clinics for IBH services, with more than 1,000 unique appointments having been completed with an LCSW. The program is being expanded to Big Sky Medical Center and Belgrade Clinic + UrgentCare in 2020.

Establishment of tele-psychiatry partnership to benefit two hospitals
Bozeman Health is working with InTouch, a highly experienced national telehealth provider, to establish telepsychiatry services that will benefit physicians, nurses, and patients both at Deaconess Hospital and Big Sky Medical Center. These services will allow local care team members to access behavioral health expertise to help with patient assessment, stabilization and the best possible care planning for those in crisis.

Delivery of evidence-based “YAM” suicide prevention programming in two high schools
In partnership with Montana State University’s Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery, Bozeman Health is helping to deliver the highly-regarded, evidence based Youth Aware of Mental Health curriculum to all ninth grade students at Bozeman High School and Lone Peak High School in Big Sky. To date, more than 900 students have participated in this intensive, hands-on, workshop based program.

As Bozeman Health continues to expand its behavioral health programs in Bozeman, Big Sky and beyond, Bozeman Health Foundation will continue to strengthen community partnerships and build on its early fundraising successes, seeking new charitable investments in future growth. In April, 2020, its annual Hospitality gala will raise funds specifically for Behavioral Health initiatives.

“We’re truly thankful to all of those who’ve rallied around Bozeman Health and our vision for addressing this enormous community challenge,” said Jason Smith, Bozeman Health chief advancement officer. “Thanks to the generosity of many, we’re off to a great start, but the work is far from done and the need is far from met.”

About Bozeman Health
Bozeman Health is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving an eight-county region in Southwest Montana. As a nonprofit organization, governed by a volunteer community board of directors, we are the largest private employer in Gallatin County, with nearly 2,400 employees, including 250 medical providers representing 40 clinical specialties. It is our privilege to deliver expert, compassionate health and wellness services across the care continuum, designed to meet the diverse healthcare needs of the communities we serve. Learn more about Bozeman Health at

About Bozeman Health Foundation
Bozeman Health Foundation is the not-for-profit supporting foundation for Bozeman Health. It leads campaigns and raises charitable funds for the benefit of patients and communities that Bozeman Health serves. Over the past 20 years, Bozeman Health Foundation has raised and stewarded nearly $35 million on behalf of Deaconess Hospital, Big Sky Medical Center, and Bozeman Health as Southwest Montana’s local health system. While Bozeman Health Foundation is proudly governed by a local, independent board of directors, underwriting support from Bozeman Health means that 100 percent of gifts received go directly to healthcare services that generous donors care about most. Learn more about Bozeman Health Foundation and the Caring Forward Campaign at