Founded in 1997 by Julie and Ken Hersh, The Hersh Foundation is a private family foundation located in North Texas. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Mr. Hersh is the cofounder of NGP Capital Management and is currently the Chairman and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Ms. Hersh is a speaker and the author of Struck by Living: From Depression to Hope, which chronicles her journey through depression and mental wellness. In addition to other volunteer work she does in the arts, Julie is also the board chair of the 2017 Tony Award winning Dallas Theater Center. The couple wanted to make an impact on North Texas by focusing their philanthropic efforts on areas where mental health and wellness were interwoven into different areas of focus, such as arts and leadership.
The Hersh Foundation is committed to enriching and improving the quality of life for all people by supporting organizations with demonstrable results in efforts that support the foundation’s mission and focus areas. It serves North Texans with a focus on mental wellness in all communities.
Program Information: The Hersh Foundation focuses on three areas: Mental health research and mental illness prevention programs (world-class institutions conducting research on mental health, mental illness and well-being, and programs that take a proactive approach to mental health and wellness), education/leadership programs (programs that work with students of all ages to become productive citizens and lead meaningful lives), and North Texas cultural organizations (arts programs that foster creativity, conversation, collaboration and inclusion.)
- Financial Information:
Total Assets: $37,000,000 (FY 16)
Amount Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $1,102,700 (FY 16)
- Special Initiatives and/or Representative Health and Human Services Grants
UT Southwestern Medical Center—The Hersh Foundation was the lead gift to the Center for Depression Research (CDRC) and Clinical Care at UTSW. The CDRC, led by Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, has a three-pronged mission: to bring mental health care to primary care practices, to conduct a longitudinal research project on the mental health trajectory of students, and to create a treatment resistant clinic for patients who require specialized care. ($5,000,000)
KERA—The Hersh Foundation funded part of the salary of the Health Science Reporter for KERA, a local PBS station. The Health Science reporter has received numerous awards for her work on various health-related topics including a Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow award. In addition, KERA added a mental health topic page under their news website which combines local and national news to provide users with a comprehensive look at mental health. ($75,000)
Grant Halliburton Foundation—The gift from the Hersh Foundation funds the foundation’s in-school efforts to educate middle and high school students on mental health care and wellness. Their #SAFE program is an interactive program designed to educate young people about mental wellness and encourage them to speak up and get involved concerning their mental health. ($50,000)
Dallas Theater Center—Dallas Theater Center launched a yearlong Public Works Dallas (PWD) program involving five community groups which culminated in a 200-person production of the Tempest. PWD builds community and fosters healing to preserve mental health and well-being, stretching participants to go beyond their comfort zone. The Hersh Foundation believes this kind of activity engages the brain, improving brain health. ($50,000)
Austin College—Austin College awarded Dr. Vikram Patel a $100,000 grant for outstanding work in mental health. The Hersh foundation hosted Dr. Patel with Dr. Madhukar Trivedi in a community discussion and lunch about fostering mental health. By empowering individuals and professionals with information to recognize and treat early symptoms of mental illness, more people will be able to obtain and maintain mental health. ($5,000)
Role of Philanthropy in Meeting Pressing Needs
“A community’s mental health impacts crime, the economy, emergency rooms, families, and individuals. Mental illness often festers untreated, addressed only after a major calamity has occurred (divorce, job loss, school dropout, addiction, suicide attempt, or worse). Our foundation sees preventative action as the key to long-term wellness and resilience. Through UT Southwestern, we’ve funded research that we feel will create a quantum shift change in outcomes, and arms physicians with tools that are affordable and precise. These ideas need to be communicated and implemented, as seen through the work of KERA, Grant Halliburton, and Austin College. Done well, the arts can build community, communication, and inclusion. Health can be joyful, not always a task. Public Works Dallas fosters health through work, play, song, and dance. Foundations play a critical role in shaping the outcomes of overall health in their area by investing in programs that provide mental health resources through medical centers, arts, and education for members of their community.”
Julie Hersh, President