Project Community Pride of the Madison Area YMCA and the Community Mental Health Initiative were among 22 honorees that received one of the first Public-Private Partnership Awards from NJ BIZ magazine and the New Jersey League of Municipalities on Sept. 21.

Selected from among hundreds of programs that applied for the award, Project Community Pride and the Community Mental Health Initiative were recognized at an awards ceremony in Someset, NJ.

Project Community Pride is a no-fee youth, teen and family counseling program that is made available thanks to a unique public-private partnership among the school districts and boroughs of Chatham, Florham Park and Madison, working with the Madison Area YMCA. Project Community Pride was selected for its unique and cost-effective approach to providing mental health services without cost being a barrier. It was also recognized for its efficiency, structure and unique funding model that can be replicated elsewhere in the state. The public partners share the cost of counselor salaries, and the Y provides administrative and financial management, program oversight, marketing and charitable fundraising to help keep the program sustainable over time.

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Most counseling referrals come from school guidance counselors, but many also come from law enforcement. Counseling services, workshops and groups sessions help prevent serious mental health, addiction and self-harm issues with youth and teens. They also help young people avoid issues with the law that may result from underage drinking or drug use.

Thomas Curtin, publisher of NJBIZ, was master of ceremonies at the event and provided background information on each of the award winners. Council Member Fife attended the ceremony with Madison Area YMCA President & CEO Diane Mann. Detailed articles on each of the winning projects will be included in a special Public-Private Partnership Awards edition of NJBIZ to be published on Oct. 10.

The Madison Area YMCA is a 501c(3) cause-driven charitable organization dedicated to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Generous donations make it possible for everyone in the community to be enriched by the Y, regardless of ability to pay, to develop a healthy spirit, mind and body at any age.