Our work: a brief summary of impact and 2017 Goals
March 22, 2017


The Kennedy Forum’s total support from donors 2014-2016 (to date) was $1.8 million. With this investment, in two short years we made a measurable impact:

  • Helped to return more than $2.3 million in Federal dollars to the State of Illinois
  • Engaged 5,000+ residents in stigma-busting conversations via our “On the Table” initiative, our convenings with the business and legal community and our annual Community Forum. In 2016, nearly 80{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of conversations hosted by The Kennedy Forum had someone with mental health or addiction experience.
  • Developed an online directory of MH/SUD services for residents of the Chicago;
  • Helped advance federal payment for Collaborative Care and adoption of this model by major health systems in Illinois, characterized by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as “one of the biggest steps forward in paying for mental and behavioral Health in U.S. history.” This step, the first in the expansion to Medicaid and Commercial reimbursement, will bring new revenue to cash-strapped providers of care, and save the system money. Research suggests that up to $6 are saved in health care costs for each dollar spent on Collaborative Care, a return on investment of 6:1
  • Created the IL Parity Implementation Coalition, a group of 25+ organizations working together to advance implementation of insurance parity laws, which will help providers and patients get reimbursed by commercial and Medicaid plans for the treatment and care they deliver and receive.
  • Launched the West side community outreach project. By may of 2017, more than 400 faith leaders, school staff and CBO staff in East and West Garfield Park, Austin and North Lawndale will be trained in mental health first aid or mental health awareness, including how to access Crisis Intervention Team trained police officers.
  • Engaged nearly 100 new partner organizations in the State of Illinois to accomplish all of this work, including corporate and civic leaders, community organizations and voices, media and philanthropy, policymakers and advocacy groups.


Areas of focus:

  • Reduce Stigma by improving the quality of mass media coverage and public dialogue around mental health and addiction.
  • Expand Access to Care by fully implementing and expanding parity in insurance payment for mental health and substance use disorder care.
  • Improve Quality and Efficiency through improved system integration, coordination and quality.
  • Promote Prevention and Early Childhood Brain Health.
  • Leverage Technology for better prevention, reach and care.

2017 GOALS

  1. Improve access to care and treatment: Demonstrate Clear Progress in Advancing MH/SUD Parity & Access.
  2. End Stigma: Be purposeful about incorporating this mission into our work, take steps that are measurable.
  3. Shape Debate, Demonstrate Leadership: Grow a Sustainable, Reputable “War Room” Organization with Policy Gravitas.
  4. Deepen/Widen Engagement: Widen Reach, Deepen Engagement and Amplify Visibility.



  • Strengthen IL Parity law, pass amendment to HB1.
  • 200+ complete parity registry.
  • 80{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of people have productive follow up either with IDOI, their provider, payer or other source.
  • Regulators and providers report increased knowledge of parity laws and regulations.


  • On the Table evaluation shows that 50{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of people who participate report a shift in perspective.
  • 25{c48ccdf3c73afb47c94c61fa7aae86e62bfbb2e57db984400d0c5994c9d92c5c} of participants will feel more comfortable speaking about mental health and addiction with family members and friends.
  • 400+ community members trained in MHFA or other awareness, shows 1) stigma reduction 2) improved knowledge 3) referral to services.


  • Priority MH/SUD issues and key messages reflected in the policy platforms of all candidates in the IL Governor’s race.
  • Release 2-4 Agenda-setting issue briefs with clear recommendations for Illinois.
  • Priority MH/SUD issues and key messages reflected in the agenda of the IL MH Task Force and Special Committee on MH.
  • Guide IL Transition to Integrated, Collaborative Care via technical assistance and training.


  • Engage more than more than 4,000 people from diverse communities, age groups and Illinois locations in over 400 conversations about mental health and addiction (2016 survey results) during On the Table this year.
  • Engage 2,000 people in convenings around key issues in 2017.
  • End of year stakeholder poll shows a majority of respondents: feel informed about our work, believe we are having an impact, have attended at least one event in the last year, know what our policy priorities are.

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