Lisa Mennet, PhD, an infant and early childhood mental health practitioner and field leader, founded Perigee Fund in 2018. A perigee is the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is nearest to the earth. The name Perigee Fund evokes the secure attachment behavior in the young child who moves in an orbit around a primary caregiver and can safely enjoy both the warmth of intimacy, and the joy of independent discovery and exploration within a healthy relationship.
Through Perigee Fund, Dr. Mennet has dedicated her philanthropy to advancing the fields of infant and early childhood mental health and maternal mental health, as well as improving broader social conditions that affect the well-being of babies, toddlers, and their primary caregivers. Perigee Fund envisions communities where all parents and primary caregivers are supported in caring for their young children with confidence, competence, and joy. It focuses on the youngest children, prenatal-to-3, and their parents/primary caregivers, prioritizing families affected by racism, poverty, and trauma.
It funds deeply in its home state of Washington and makes national investments that advance the field and change policies and systems.
Perigee Fund focuses on prenatal-to-3 mental health. Additional focus areas include maternal and child health and parent supports. Its approaches include health systems integration, workforce development, field capacity building, improving community well-being, policy advocacy, and communications.
Total Grant Spend: $25 Million FY20
Grant Spend Dedicated to Health-Related Grants: $10 Million FY20
Special Initiatives and/or Representative Health and Human Services Grants
Prenatal-to-3 Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot — Perigee Fund recently issued an RFP to select an intermediary organization to plan and implement a guaranteed basic income pilot program in Washington state that will provide unconditional cash support to families starting in pregnancy through the children’s third year. (Total investment TBD)
HealthConnect One (HC1) and Open Arms Perinatal Services — The community-based doula model resonates with Perigee Fund because of its dyadic approach that emphasizes both birthing parent and infant. The model is designed to serve Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) families and reduces birth inequity. In funding HC1 (national) and Open Arms (local), Perigee Fund supports access to doulas for underserved birthing people, workforce development programs for doulas and other practitioners, and policy advocacy for Medicaid reimbursement. Further, the funding assists both organizations with capacity building from monitoring and evaluation systems to executive director transitions to financial sustainability. ($600,000 total)
“Paid Family and Medical Leave: It’s Time to Bond” Community Outreach — Modeled on community-based Affordable Care Act open enrollment efforts, Perigee Fund has provided funding and training to 30 community-based organizations in two Washington state counties to serve as trusted messengers able to assist communities that have historically lacked access to paid family leave with enrollment in the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. The goal is to promote family leave awareness and uptake among birth, adoptive, and foster families so that they can reap health, mental health, and bonding benefits with economic security. ($1.5 million total)
Pediatrics Supporting Parents National Funder Collaborative — Joining the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and Einhorn Collaborative, Perigee is on the leadership team for the second phase of the Pediatrics Supporting Parents (PSP) national funder collaborative. PSP aims to improve the standard of care for pediatric well-child visits, which reach over 90 percent of all infants and young children, to better support social and emotional development and parent-child relationships. ($500,000 per year for five years per funding partner)
Partnerships with Birth Equity and Reproductive Justice Organizations — BIPOC and trans birthing people are furthest from equity across numerous maternal and child health issues, including maternal and infant mental health. Perigee Fund supports over 30 reproductive justice and birth equity organizations in Washington state and nationally. It sees these organizations as the natural leaders for expanding understanding of maternal and infant mental health, factoring in experiences of racism, intergenerational trauma, community trauma, bodily autonomy, and culture. These organizations will define solutions, expand the agenda for change, and serve communities. Grantees include National Birth Equity Collaborative, approximately 30 grassroots organizations across the country via Groundswell Fund, Shades of Blue Project, Surge Reproductive Justice, and a Washington Indigenous birth justice network. ($3million total)
Health Affairs — Perigee Fund has partnered with California Health Care Foundation and Zoma Foundation to sponsor a partial theme issue of the journal, Health Affairs, on the subject of maternal mental health. Sitting at the intersection of practice, policy, and empirical research, this agenda-setting publication will raise the profile of maternal mental health as a health issue with an evidence base, but less attention than its population prevalence warrants. The issue will be published fall 2021. ($150,000 per funding partner)
Perigee Fund and GIH
Perigee Fund is a new GIH Funding Partner. It is not a traditional health funder, but its goals and approaches unequivocally include health. Perigee Fund is looking forward to finding where it fits in the GIH funding partner community—ostensibly with funders interested in early childhood, behavioral health, equity, and maternal and child health, as well as those that fund policy advocacy.
At the 2019 GIH Annual Conference, Perigee Fund and the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative proudly helped arrange the site visit to Seattle’s El Centro de la Raza featuring King County’s groundbreaking voter-approved Best Starts for Kids early prevention and intervention initiative. Director Elizabeth Krause added, “I am with Perigee Fund because I met my now colleagues at the 2019 GIH annual conference in Seattle, Washington. Thanks for the matchmaking GIH.
Orientation for the Organization
“To some Perigee Fund may seem like a niche funder. We see our work as highly intersectional. We hold an imperative to build the small and evolving fields of infant and maternal mental health. And, we do not look away from the concentric circles. The families we prioritize need improved access to specialized mental health supports. They also benefit from social policies that provide them with more time and money. They have a right to parent in a racially just society.
What’s exhilarating about being a new and nimble funder is that we are not entrenched in outdated philanthropic ways. Each day we build toward our values and aspirations with our practices.”
–Elizabeth Myung Sook Krause, Director, Perigee Fund