Donation establishes new Mental Health Professionals Scholarship Fund

New scholarship opportunity aims to increase access to mental and behavioral health professionals in Southwest Florida

Local philanthropist Jerry F. Nichols has donated an undisclosed amount to establish and endow in perpetuity a mental health professionals scholarship fund through Kids’ Minds Matter and Lee Health Foundation. The Mental Health Professionals Scholarship Fund will be used to support multiple and renewable annual scholarships to Southwest Florida health care professionals who are pursuing advanced education in pediatric mental and behavioral health.

Scholarships will be available to professionals who are employed by or partner with Golisano Children’s Hospital for professional development opportunities including scholarships, training, certifications and other needs related to mental and behavioral health. The application process for these funds will begin in the fall of 2025.

“We are extremely grateful for the vision of Jerry F. Nichols and others who understand that investing in ongoing education for health care professionals will enhance the quality of care provided and help address the mental health provider deficit in the community,” said Anne Frazier, system director of development for Lee Health. “This fund and others like it contribute to the education and development of the next generation of mental and behavioral health care professionals, fostering a positive and lasting impact in Southwest Florida.”

Nichols previously funded a Mental Health Navigator position, pediatric rehabilitation services, Barbara’s Friends – Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund, and the construction of Golisano Children’s Hospital. In addition, the Nichols Pediatric Behavioral Health Clinic at the Bonita Health Center and the Nichols Pediatric Specialty Clinic in Naples are named in recognition of his support of pediatric health care services at Lee Health.

“My giving is motivated by my love of children and strong belief in the importance of having exceptional health care available close to home for our local families,” Nichols said. “I am very aware of the deficit of mental health providers contributing to issues with access to care, as well as challenges recruiting providers given the area’s cost of living and lack of affordable housing.”

More donations are needed to expand this fund and others designed to help with the community’s mental health needs. Call Lee Health Foundation at 239-343-6950 to learn about opportunities to support the lifesaving health care mission in Southwest Florida or click below to donate today.

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