Head of Social Impact

Zoom Cares: Supporting Mental Health & Global Connection

Zoom Cares: Supporting Mental Health & Global Connection

Last year during Zoomtopia 2020, we introduced Zoom Cares, our social impact arm that builds upon our core values to drive positive and lasting change. 

Since then, we’ve focused on providing community leaders with the funds and tools necessary to further their goals. We’ve distributed grants, in-kind product donations, and activated our caring Zoomies to support nonprofits with their time, expertise, and dollars.  

We recently shared about our partnership with Taraji P. Henson and her foundation – dedicated to destigmatizing mental health while providing Black culturally competent therapy resources to students, parents, and teachers. We’re excited to share our most recent efforts in youth mental health, including details on our community-centered approach to grantmaking. 

Moving the needle on youth mental health 

Given Zoom’s role in keeping the world connected, along with our deep commitment to serving the education and healthcare sectors, it was a no-brainer for us to play a role in advancing the well-being of young people. We know that youth are heavily impacted by — and under-resourced in addressing — today’s ongoing challenges of COVID-19 health inequities and structural racism in schools, workplaces, and communities. 

Research tells us that 7 out of 10 youth between 8 and 23 years old are likely to report experiencing common symptoms of depression, with suicide as the second leading cause of death. When it comes to funding needed services that support this population, according to the World Health Organization, there is currently a significant need for donations to advance mental health. Charitable giving in this area is only 2% of global health funding and currently just 0.5% of all philanthropic health-giving. 

Community-centered grantmaking 

At Zoom, we are obsessed with a customer-first approach to all that we do. This mentality drives our social impact efforts — including how we select and fund organizations. In the same way our customers know what they need to operate and deliver their services effectively, nonprofit leaders and issue area experts know what solutions they need to make positive change happen in their community. 

This is exactly why we turned to seven individuals with lived experience and career knowledge in addressing mental health challenges to advise us in moving $2 million to support the well-being of young people disproportionately impacted by both COVID-19 and systemic racism. These advisors brought an intersectional lens of geographic diversity, cultural and racial identity, funder and classroom expertise, entrepreneurship, and firsthand understanding of marginalized communities around the world. Not only did the group select the organizations, they communally determined the allocation of funding as well. 

This approach is oftentimes referenced as trust-based or participatory grantmaking and was facilitated by Forward Movement Consulting. The goal in ceding decision-making power to our advisors was to achieve greater impact than if we went about this work on our own. We trusted that their proximity to, and understanding of, the deeply rooted, centuries-old challenges affecting underserved populations would lead to more informed and more impactful funding outcomes.

Advancing impact for LGBTQ+ and students of color   

We are indebted to our advisors for connecting Zoom to eight organizations implementing transformative solutions. These organizations represent grassroots nonprofits, each with a budget under $5 million and leadership team demographically representative of the populations being served. For many, Zoom is the first corporate funder providing large, unrestricted financial support. 

We encourage you to get to know these leaders and their critical work: 

  • Aliento, a nonprofit based in Phoenix, Arizona, led by young adults, serving undocumented, DACA, and mixed immigration status families, and creating community healing through art that reflects the humanity of undocumented immigrants.
  • Black Girls Smile, which provides virtual and in-person mental health literacy programming, education, therapy scholarships, and resources to help black girls and women lead mentally healthy lives.
  • The Friendship Bench, whose mission is to lead people out of depression by creating safe spaces and a sense of belonging in communities throughout Zimbabwe, to enhance mental well-being and improve people’s quality of life.
  • Hopebound, which provides free one-on-one virtual-based therapy to adolescents in need in Newark, New Jersey, and Atlanta, Georgia.
  • iCall, a psychosocial helpline that provides people in India, particularly those who belong to marginalized communities, with counseling by trained mental health professionals. Services are free and available over telephone and email in multiple regional languages.
  • Kaleidoscope Youth Center, serving LGBTQIA+ adolescents with a focus on mental health and wellness, leadership development, independent living/life skills, and addressing the needs of homeless, housing insecure, and vulnerable young people in Columbus, Ohio.
  • National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, which is committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color through community and capacity building, resource and skill sharing, training, and leadership development.
  • We R Native, a Portland, Oregon-based comprehensive health resource for Native youth, by Native youth, providing content and stories to promote holistic health and positive growth for young people across the U.S.

Stay in touch with Zoom Cares

We’re excited about all the work Zoom Cares has been doing since last year’s Zoomtopia celebration. If you’d like to read about our work from 2020, check out our first annual Social Impact Report

We can’t wait for what’s to come as we continue forging partnerships and making an impact in our local and global communities. Follow our blog for the latest Zoom Cares news.

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