Do you know about how many families are helped by Sky’s the Limit Fund (http://www.skysthelimitfund.org/)? Do you know about the recent evolution it has gone through? Do you need help with financing wilderness therapy treatment? This is an exciting organization, founded by Rochelle Bochner, a mother, whose child went to Wilderness Therapy; after experiencing the benefits there, Rochelle decided to help make wilderness an option for families in crisis with financial need.
Rochelle is like many mothers I have met over the years, who sees an opportunity and does not rest until more families and students are served. I love these types of women who are mothers or grandmothers who drive to create successful schools like the Diener School in Maryland or organizations like Autism Speaks. After 6 years and great foresight, Rochelle realized it was time to pass the day-to-day operations on to Nancy Moore, the current Executive Director, and Linnea Lukatch, the Program Coordinator. Rochelle remains committed to Sky’s the Limit Fund (STLF) as the Board Member and involved in development. Here is my conversation with Linnea Lukatch and Nancy Moore, who are just as passionate about the next phase of Sky’s the Limit Fund as their founder.
Thanks for talking with me, Nancy and Linnea. When I first spoke to Rochelle about Sky’s the LImit Fund (STLF), I admitted to her that I had been stalking the organization online since it was founded. I must put that out there to the readers of the blog, in full transparency, the mission, values, drive and the volume of families you have helped over the years.
When did STLF begin? How many families have you helped to date?
Thank you Jenney, we are so thrilled to share with you the efforts of Sky’s the Limit Fund because All Kinds of Therapy clearly does what we try to do: make life easier for families who are on the edge and are struggling day to day to keep their unit together.
Sky’s the Limit Fund began 6 years ago in 2010 by founders Rochelle Bochner and Lani Dorff, I believe in a room in Lani’s own house. Grassroots as a tree itself, Sky’s the Limit Fund started with the simple premise that we would help 1 or 2 struggling youth in crisis per year, considering the tremendous challenges of fundraising for wilderness programs that cost around $30,000+ per family!
Skip ahead to 2016, and we have helped 241 troubled teens and young adults by providing grants that families need to get their kids to wilderness therapy. Without these grants, many families simply could not come up with the money. Our average grant is around $5,000 and this is matched by the wilderness therapy programs dollar-for-dollar, doubling the average grant to $10,000!
Sky’s the Limit Fund was created because your core belief is the financial barrier to wilderness therapy treatment access and follow up services (residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools or family services for troubled teens) should not prevent help for all families in need. And the financial and emotional stress to a family member makes a crisis situation - harder. How do you work with families? Or more specifically how does a family access your help?
You couldn’t have worded that more accurately. The stress that families are experiencing is equal to being 10 feet underwater or on the absolute edge of the tallest mountain. These families struggle just to make ends meet on a day to day basis, and now, a glimpse of hope - a wilderness therapy program that can help save their children is priced at $30,000 . How do we work with families? We answer their calls, in more ways than one. Families call our organization asking how much we can provide and if there is any possibility they can make this work.
Families can apply from anywhere across the U.S. The average income of the families we help is around $47,000. We listen to their story, we connect with them emotionally, we tell them what amazing parents they are for getting to this point, and we tell them not to give up. We tell them the wilderness therapy programs will match whatever grant we give them dollar-for-dollar. They begin to breathe, they begin to smile, and they ask us how to apply.
We make it very, very simple and easy for families to apply AND our turnaround rate for a grant determination is about 2-3 business days or less, especially if it is an urgent crisis. Families love Sky’s the Limit Fund because we are very, very effective and gentle at communicating during the whole grant process from beginning to end and beyond, after their child graduates wilderness. They will never be unanswered by us. It is like having another family at their side.
How is the Wilderness Therapy Program chosen?
Families will typically already be accepted into a Wilderness Therapy Program before they contact Sky’s the Limit Fund. The programs give our name to families who know they will not be able to afford it, and that is when they call us. Some, not all, have Educational or Therapeutic Consultants that guide them in the direction of a highly recommended program, others do their own research online.
When families call us and do not have any program already chosen, we guide them to our list of 10 Wilderness Therapy Partner Programs www.skysthelimitfund.org/partner-programs. We fully vet and visit each program to ensure its safety, its success, and many other factors. Sky’s the Limit Fund, however, does not recommend any particular program, and leaves that to the family and the programs to decide whether a young teen or adult will succeed in that particular environment and therapeutic model.
I am impressed with how STLF is successful with its fundraising efforts. What can be done to help? What are your fundraising goals for the year?
Thank you! We run 100% from donations and grants, so fundraising is very important to us. Our goal this year is to again increase the number and amount of grants given as well as increase the credits given to families towards transition support services. To help, you can donate, become an annual sponsor, help connect us to companies or foundations that provide grants to organizations such as ours, attend an event, hold an event, or even just use Amazon Smile with Sky’s the Limit Fund as your designated charity. More ways to help are on our website, please visit it often! http://www.skysthelimitfund.org/other-ways-to-give/
Besides Nancy becoming the Executive Director, what is the largest change that the organization has had since its beginning?
Ever since day one, our dedicated Board of Directors have asked over and over again of Sky’s the Limit Fund, what can we do after the youth that we have helped graduate their wilderness therapy intervention? With many of our board and staff members personally connected in someway to wilderness therapy or to some other aspect of mental health treatment, everyone knows that wilderness therapy is not the end of the journey for these youth and their families. Sky’s the Limit Fund is so excited to announce one of our biggest achievements thus far, our Family Coaching Transitional Support Services.
We have hired two excellent, highly qualified therapists and family counselors, Rebekah Tayebi, MSW & Lauren Lollini, MA, LCPC to provide 12 weeks of structured, integrative family coaching that engages the parents and gives the entire family the tools they need to succeed with everyone at home. This ends up costing the family between $200-$800 for 12 weeks and, like everything else we do, this cost is based on their income. Our families typically do not have the resources to go on to any type of residential treatment center, or therapeutic boarding school or enroll in an aftercare program. Our new Family Coaching Program gives these families hope for success and keeps their children on track with all the amazing skills they learned in wilderness therapy.
On an important note, our Family Coaches not only provide 12 weeks of family coaching, but also provide much needed resources to the families pertaining to therapeutic/counseling treatment options that exist in their community. This is a vital aspect of the work that Rebekah and Lauren do with the families. The coaching support is supplemented by a grant foundation, correct? The Family Coaches, Rebekah Tayebi and Lauren Lollini both have many years of experience in therapeutic and transitional support care. They have both worked in family choice behavioral healthcare treatment programs and understand the intricacies of wilderness therapy. Because so many see the importance of a transitional support service, we were able to receive a $15,000 grant to develop and implement our own transitional support service which is our Family Coaching Program.
Are you looking for other wilderness therapy program partners? What is the process of becoming a partner program?
Sky’s the Limit Fund is partnered with 10 unique, superior wilderness therapy programs and each has applied to our organization with the desire to also make a change in the lives of financially struggling families. The application process requires that the program continually meet criteria that is set forth by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council accreditation. Questions we ask them involve
- the ratio of students to field guides and therapists,
- what kinds of licensing and permits are held,
- the ins and outs of their insurance and liability,
and many many more questions about the safety and health procedures taken for the students.
Very importantly, each wilderness therapy program must be willing to match each and every grant we provide for a student attending their program dollar for dollar and they must be willing to assist STLF in fundraising efforts through their alumni programs and/or event participation. Once we have reviewed the wilderness therapy program’s application, STLF visits the program to finish the vetting process. Wilderness Therapy Programs can apply to Sky's the Limit Fund anytime to begin this process.
The Family Choice Behavioral Healthcare Interventions (FCBHI) treatment programs recently participated in an Economic Impact Study for the state. It was determined that $19,385,587 per year is given in scholarships or discounted tuition by the 59 programs (https://www.allkindsoftherapy.com/economic-impact-treatment-programs-utah ). Do you share the total number of discounted tuition dollars that wilderness therapy programs have donated?
Yes we do! We are very proud to say that Sky’s the Limit Fund has donated $1,128,114.00 to families of youth in crisis and that our wilderness therapy partner programs have additionally donated $1,128,114.00 to those families as well, making our total dollar impact $2,256,228.00 for 241 families! And to think we started in 2010 with the hope of helping only 1-2 families per year!
When I was placing teens in varying types of schools or treatment programs, I always ended my conversations with the student, inquiring “is there anything else I need to know?” I would sometimes get mounds more information and other times, just a shrug. I ask you, is there anything else that the readers of this blog should know about with Sky’s the Limit Fund?
We want everyone to know that there are many ways to be involved with Sky’s the Limit Fund! Aside from applying for a grant, people all over the US can be a part of this change by volunteering, hosting an event, spreading the word and donating. We recently were given a movie by successful Producer & Director Jay Silverman who created an incredibly true and moving film called Girl on the Edge (see trailer here) about his own daughter who went through a parent choice behavioral healthcare treatment programs similar to the ones that we partner with. Before it was picked up by a major production company, Jay Silverman gave us this film to show across the US and we had free (donation based) screenings in cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Denver, Phoenix, Park City, and Asheville/Charlotte. We spread the word about wilderness therapy programs and Sky’s the Limit Fund. It was a huge success for STLF and we raised awareness in ways we never thought possible.
Anyone can help STLF spread this knowledge, and we are always available at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 650-472-2915 to collaborate and create new possibilities for outreach and fundraising! That is what we are all about! We sincerely thank you for helping families find the resources they need to transform their kids lives through All Kinds of Therapy.