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Behavioral Health Equity Challenge for Underserved Racial and Ethnic Communities


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) is conducting the Behavioral Health Equity Challenge: Outreach and Engagement Strategies for Underserved Racial and Ethnic Communities”.

Donor Name: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

State: All States

County: All Counties

Type of Grant: Challenge

Deadline: 06/08/2023

Size of the Grant: $500,000


The goal of this challenge is to identify and highlight Community-Based Organization (CBO) outreach and engagement strategies that increase access to behavioral health (mental health and/or substance use) services for racial and ethnic underserved communities.

CBOs have an important role in addressing the needs of their community members. CBOs may be public or private nonprofit organizations, peer-run organizations, or faith-based organizations, and are the primary participants for the Behavioral Health Equity Challenge.  Entities that are not a CBO, including local or state governments, health systems, hospitals, or health plans, may not be a primary participant, but are encouraged to partner with a CBO to participate in the Challenge. This challenge allows participants to share their innovative strategies to help underserved racial and ethnic communities access behavioral health service (mental health promotion, substance misuse prevention, and treatments and supports that foster recovery). SAMHSA will use this challenge to engage and learn from a larger and more diverse number of CBOs providing services and supports across the behavioral health continuum of care.

SAMHSA defines behavioral health equity as the right to access high-quality and affordable health care services and supports for all populations. Through this Challenge, OBHE aims to gain a better understanding, from the community perspective, of the barriers to accessing behavioral health services; innovative strategies designed by community-based organizations to improve outreach and engagement of community members with behavioral health services; and the impact/effectiveness of these strategies and how they are assessed by the CBOs.

Focus of the Behavioral Health Equity Challenge

The Behavioral Health Equity Challenge addresses the following questions:

  • Understanding of barriers
    • What challenges have you faced in connecting people from underserved racial and ethnic communities to behavioral health services?
  • Describing Innovative Strategies and Implementation] (30 points)
    • What outreach and engagement strategies or innovative methods have you used to connect people from underserved racial and ethnic communities to behavioral health services?
  • Demonstrating Impact
    • How do you know your outreach and engagement strategies are successful? How do you measure your success?
  • Incorporating Equity
    • How do you incorporate equity into your outreach and engagement strategies?

Funding Information

The Challenge fund has $500,000 available for up to ten awards through this competition. Four awards will be dedicated to the winning strategies that address mental health; three awards will be dedicated to the winning strategies that address substance use prevention; three awards will be dedicated to the winning strategies that address substance use treatment, respectively. The challenge prize for each winner is expected to be $50,000 plus multiple opportunities for recognition.

Eligible Participants

CBOs such as public or private nonprofit organizations, peer-run organizations and faith-based organizations are encouraged to participate. CBOs can be a sole participant or serve as a primary participant in a partnership with other organizations such as treatment centers, prevention and early intervention organizations, local and state health departments, health systems, hospitals, health plans, academic medical centers, or for-profit organizations.

Eligibility and Participation Rules

The Challenge is open to any participant(s) that is (i) an entity or (ii) a group of entities (i.e., a team assembled with the purpose of participating in this Challenge).

  • To be eligible to win a prize under this Challenge, a participant (whether an entity or group of entities)
    • Shall be a community-based organization such as public or private nonprofit organization, peer-run organization or faith-based organization as the primary participant on a team;
    • Shall have registered to participate in the Challenge under the rules promulgated by HHS/SAMHSA as published in this announcement;
    • Shall have complied with all the requirements set forth in this announcement;
    • In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual participating in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. However, non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents can participate as a member of a team that otherwise satisfies the eligibility criteria. Non-U.S. citizens and non-permanent residents are not eligible to win a monetary prize (in whole or in part). Their participation as part of a winning team, if applicable, may be recognized when the results are announced;
    • Shall not be a federal entity or federal employee acting within the scope of their employment;
    • Shall not be an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, or any other component of HHS) acting in their personal capacity;
    • In the case of a participant who is employed by a federal agency or entity other than HHS (or any component of HHS), should consult with an agency Ethics Official to determine whether the Federal ethics rules will limit or prohibit the acceptance of a prize under this Challenge;
    • Shall not be a judge of the Challenge, or any other party involved with the design, production, execution, or distribution of the Challenge or the immediate family of such a party (i.e., spouse, parent, step-parent, child, or step-child).
  • Federal grantees may not use federal funds from a grant award to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.
  • Federal contractors may not use federal funds from a contract to develop their Challenge submissions or to fund efforts in support of their Challenge submissions.
  • By participating in this Challenge, each participant agrees to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the federal government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from participation in this Challenge, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise.
  • Based on the subject matter of the Challenge, and the type of work that it will possibly require, an analysis of the likelihood of any claims for death, bodily injury, property damage, or loss potentially resulting from Challenge participation are unlikely, participants in the Challenge are not required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility in order to participate in this Challenge.
  • By participating in this Challenge, each participant agrees to indemnify the federal government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Challenge activities.
  • A participant shall not be deemed ineligible because the participant used federal facilities or consulted with federal employees during the Challenge if the facilities and employees are made available to all participants participating in the Challenge on an equitable basis.
  • By participating in this Challenge, each participant warrants that they are the sole author or owner of, or has the right to use, any copyrightable works that the submission generates, that the works are wholly original with the participant (or is an improved version of an existing work that the participant has sufficient rights to use and improve), and that the submission does not infringe on any copyright or any other rights of any third party of which the participant is aware.
  • By participating in this Challenge, each participant grants to SAMHSA an irrevocable, paid-up, royalty-free nonexclusive worldwide license to reproduce, publish, post, link to, share, and display publicly the submission on the web or elsewhere. Each participant will retain all other intellectual property rights in their submissions, as applicable. To participate in the Challenge, each participant must warrant that there are no legal obstacles to providing the above-referenced nonexclusive licenses of the participant’s rights to the federal government. To receive an award, participants will not be required to transfer their intellectual property rights to SAMHSA, but participants must grant to the federal government the nonexclusive licenses recited herein.
  • Each participant participating in this Challenge must comply with all terms and conditions of these rules, and participation in this Challenge constitutes each such participant’s full and unconditional agreement to abide by these rules. Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements herein.
  • Each primary participant who is a CBO shall submit no more than one application. If there is more than one submission, only the first qualified submission received will be accepted.
  • If selected as a winner, a participant must provide all requested information and documentations to SAMHSA within a specific timeframe to expedite payment. Failure to respond to such request may nullify the result and an alternative winner may be selected.
  • SAMHSA reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to (a) cancel, suspend, or modify the Challenge, and/or (b) not award any prizes if no entries are deemed worthy.

For more information, visit Behavioral Health Equity Challenge.

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