Connecticut Children’s Receives Innovation Grant From The Tow Foundation

For Immediate Release: September 27, 2022
Media Contact:

Monica Buchanan, Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Connecticut Children’s

HARTFORD, CT – Connecticut Children’s is pleased to announce it has been awarded a $132,000 Innovation Grant from The Tow Foundation. This grant, given as part of The Tow Foundation’s newly created Innovation Fund, will support Connecticut Children’s work in developing and launching a first-of-its-kind secure web portal that will make transformative and innovative counseling services and resources available to LGBTQIA youth.

Launched in December 2021, The Tow Foundation Innovation Fund supports nonprofit organizations pursuing inventive approaches to three issue areas affecting children and their families: mental health, early intervention efforts in schools, and public health approaches to reducing gun violence.

Connecticut Children’s was chosen as one of only 10 Innovation Grant recipients out of a pool of over 400 applicants. For the first time in its history, The Tow Foundation assembled a committee of experts, including directly impacted community members, to review applications and make grant recommendations.

Melissa Santos, PhD, Connecticut Children’s Division Head of Pediatric Psychology, William Zempsky, MD, Connecticut Children’s Division Head of Pain and Palliative Medicine, and Kevin Borrup, DrPH, JD, MPA, the Executive Director of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center will serve as co-principal investigators on the project.

Through this grant, Connecticut Children’s will work with community partners and the LGBTQIA community to develop the secure web portal, which will feature comprehensive, evidence-based educational materials, peer mentoring, and counseling services. The portal will initially serve youth ages 8 to 24 in Connecticut, and will have a particular focus on serving transgender and gender diverse youth. During future phases, Connecticut Children’s plans to open the portal to youth throughout New England and then expand it nationwide. Beyond the benefit to the LGBTQIA population, the portal will make resources available to those who want to learn more and become allies for LGBTQIA youth.

“It is critical for LGBTQIA youth to have access to peer support and clinical counseling before a crisis occurs,” said Dr. Santos. “We know that LGBTQIA youth are at higher risk for suicide and often report feeling unsupported. This web portal will ensure LGBTQIA youth are able to access counseling services and resources in a safe and secure way.”

“This program could not come at a more critical time,” said Frank Tow, chair of the Innovation Fund Committee and vice president of The Tow Foundation’s Board of Directors. “When reviewing Connecticut Children’s application, it was easy to see how this unique approach to addressing the mental health needs of LGBTQ+ youth has the potential to change lives.”

As a grantee of The Tow Foundation, Connecticut Children’s will have an opportunity to participate in a cohort learning model alongside fellow Innovation Grant recipients. For more information on The Tow Foundation Innovation Fund, please visit

About Connecticut Children’s
Connecticut Children’s is the only health system in Connecticut dedicated to children, providing more than 30 pediatric specialties along with community-based programs. We’re known for exceptional care that kids and parents love, conveniently delivered at locations close to home and by Video Visit. Our experts lead breakthrough research and innovative partnerships, and have won awards for everything from nursing excellence to patient-friendly technology. U.S. News & World Report named us a best children’s hospital in the nation.

About The Tow Foundation
The Tow Foundation, established in 1988 by Leonard and Claire Tow, supports visionary leaders and nonprofit organizations that serve historically marginalized populations, help individuals contribute to their communities, and champion advancements and experiences that make it possible for all people to live healthy and joyous lives. We invest in innovative programs and reform in culture, higher education, journalism, justice and community wellness, and medicine. For more information, visit or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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