The Viola W. Bernard Foundation makes 20-30 grants of $10,000-$20,000 each year, at the intersection of child welfare, mental health and social justice.  The Foundation’s small, well-placed grants represent projects that ‘but for Viola W. Bernard Foundation support’ might not have happened or might not have as great an impact. The following grants represent the Foundation’s efforts to find and reward rigor, risk and potential for replication.  As noted in the descriptions, each grant represents at least two of these three qualities.


The Animation Project, $10,000 in 2011

Citing rigor and potential for replication, the Viola W. Bernard Foundation trustees awarded The Animation Project support for programs integrating emerging digital arts technologies, aimed at youth involved in the juvenile justice system within their communities, at secure detention centers, the Department of Probation, and alternative-to-incarceration programs. Trustees noted the community-based, research-oriented, and outcome driven programming as well as its focus on mental health.  To learn more, visit



Child Welfare Organizing Project, $15,000 in 2010

Citing risk and rigor, the Viola W. Bernard Foundation trustees supported the Child Welfare Organizing Project [CWOP] and its efforts to organize and empower biological families of children in the foster care system.  Though riskier, reunification of families has been found to result in more positive outcomes for children.  CWOP is a self-help and advocacy organization of parents who have had contact with the New York City child welfare system. Most of our staff and Board of Directors are parents who have had children placed in foster care, succeeded in reuniting their own families, and now use this experience both to help other parents facing similar challenges, and to organize for system change.

The Child Welfare Organizing Project (CWOP) began in 1994 with a grant from the Child Welfare Fund to Beth Rosenthal, a research consultant, and the Hunter College School of Social Work / Education Center for Community Organizing. CWOP’s initial purpose was to explore in what ways, if any, clients of the public child welfare system in New York City were involved in the design, practice, and evaluation of programs and policies impacting their families. Extensive interviews, a series of 1995 focus groups, and a 1996 “Client Summit” attended by over 300 parents, youth, foster parents, professionals, and advocates yielded a broad consensus that the client voice in general, and the parent voice in particular, were the missing links in child welfare reform efforts at that time. These activities were also instrumental to making parents an integral part of CWOP’s organizational structure, and prioritizing issues that they wished to pursue.  To learn more, visit



Yale Police Project, over $35,000 from 1991 – 2000

Potential for replication motivated Viola W. Bernard Foundation early support for the Yale Police Project, which has become the Child Development-Community Policing Program (CD-CP), a model collaboration of mental health, law enforcement, juvenile justice, education, judicial and social service professionals who work to heal the wounds that traumatic exposure to violence inflicts on children and families.  CD-CP had its inception in 1991, when the Child Study Center began its partnership with the City of New Haven and the New Haven Department of Police Service. In New Haven, the CD-CP Acute Response Service responds to approximately 8 referrals per week involving children and families exposed to violence, trauma and tragedy.

Children of all ages, from birth to 18 are helped by the program.  More than a third of all calls to the CD-CP Program involve children exposed to domestic violence.  More than half of the children referred following domestic violence exposure are under 6 years old. Police-mental health partnerships based on the CD-CP Program have been implemented in communities across the U.S.  To learn more, visit

Common Justice, $20,000 in 2011

Potential for replication motivated Viola W. Bernard Foundation’s support for Common Justice, the Vera Institute’s newest demonstration project. Common Justice uses the principles of participatory justice—often called restorative justice—to meet the needs of victims, reduce recidivism, and improve satisfaction with the justice system.  Common Justice’s innovative approach to mental health consequences of violent crime is the first project of its kind in the country to systemically divert serious and violent crimes to participatory processes, and among the first alternatives to incarceration in America to focus on cases involving violence. Emphasis is on young men of color whose needs as crime victims are currently unmet.  To learn more, visit



The Board of the Viola W. Bernard Foundation met on January 22nd, 2015 and determined to award the following grants:


Common Justice – $15,000

The grant was awarded to support a model of culturally appropriate victim services designed to respond to complex needs of young men and women of color when they are harmed by crime. 

Drama Club – $20,000

The grant was awarded to support theater programming to incarcerated youth in NYC. 

Grand Street Settlement – $10,000

The grant was awarded to support their IMPACT program, which builds knowledge and skills of early childhood professionals required to identify, assess and meet the mental health needs of children.

Power of Two – $15,000

This grant was awarded to support the planning and development of a new project in collaboration with the Administration for Children’s Services, other government agencies and community organizations. The aim of the project is to being “Attachment and Bio behavioral Catch-up” (ABC), a powerful parent coaching program for families with young children, to New York City.

New Yorkers for Children – $30,000

The grant was awarded to support initiatives that improve outcomes for youth in foster care and to expand and launch programs that improve the well-being of young people. 

Northside Center – $10,000

The grant was awarded to support a Creative Arts Trauma Therapy Program that helps children and teen survivors of sexual abuse face their traumas through art therapy, group support and family education.

The Children’s Law Center – $10,000

The grant was awarded to support a client practice and policy project that consists of three integrated components: assessment and analysis, training, and building capacity for systemic change. 

The Possibility Project – $10,000

The grant was awarded to support Foster Care Alum to Foster Care Program Team to expand presence in youth’s lives and to create a small fund that can provide youth with transportation, food and hygiene products and other basic material needs. 

Veteran’s Education Success – $25,000

The grant was awarded to support education programs that enable veterans, service members and their families secure higher education.