News Release
Posted by The Molina Cares Accord

The MolinaCares Accord Invests in Expanding Youth Behavioral Health Programs in Washington


Media Contact: Rhonda Frazier, Rhonda.Frazier@MolinaHealthcare.com, 562-980-3849

Kennewick, Wash., June 28, 2022 The MolinaCares Accord (“MolinaCares”), in collaboration with Molina Healthcare of Washington, announced a $77,000 grant to SPARK, an organization dedicated to providing a career pathway for youth and students to become certified peer counselors in the state of Washington.

“I have seen first-hand the power of peer counselors on the road to wellness and recovery,” said Dr. Sasha Waring, senior behavioral health medical director at Molina Healthcare of Washington. “We are honored to assist the SPARK program, which will help expand the behavioral health care infrastructure in our state and facilitate a more effective and compassionate care environment for Washingtonians living with behavioral health challenges.”

As of September 2021, just 16.8% of Washington’s mental health care workforce need was being met and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need for behavioral health services. SPARK’s program works to resolve this shortage by empowering young adults who have dealt with mental health challenges to become certified peer counselors. By sharing their own experiences, counselors possess the empathy to create meaningful connections that benefit youth seeking support and resources.

“This grant will expand the number of youth peer counselors serving our community, while ensuring they gain the skills needed to be successful in the peer support role,” said Maria Nunez, executive director of SPARK Peer Learning Center. “We are thankful for MolinaCares’ support of our mission to strengthen the youth peer support workforce and create an environment where all youth are comfortable to seek support for their behavioral health needs.”

The grant is just one component of MolinaCares’ Behavioral Health Initiative, an over $700,000 philanthropic effort to expand access to behavioral health care across Washington. The funds donated to SPARK will go toward the identification, outreach, training, and placement of youth peer supports in the state. 

For more details about the SPARK peer support program, visit https://wayouth.us/.

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About The MolinaCares Accord

Established by Molina Healthcare, Inc., The MolinaCares Accord oversees a community investment platform created to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations by funding meaningful, measurable, and innovative programs and solutions that improve health, life, and living in local communities. The MolinaCares Accord funds such measures through The Molina Healthcare Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) established in 2020 by Molina Healthcare, Inc.

About Molina Healthcare of Washington 

Molina Healthcare of Washington has been providing government-funded health care for over 20 years. The Company serves members through Medicaid, Medicare and the Health Benefit Exchange programs throughout Washington. Additionally, Molina Healthcare of Washington operates a primary care clinic in Everett (MyHealth Everett) and a mobile health unit (MyHealth Mobile) in the Spokane area. Through its locally operated health plans, Molina Healthcare, Inc., a FORTUNE 500 company, served approximately 5.1 million members as of March 31, 2022. For more information about Molina Healthcare of Washington, visit MolinaHealthcare.com.

About SPARK

Spark is a career pathway to becoming a Certified Peer Counselor in the state of Washington for youth and students getting ready to graduate/graduated. We also explore a career path to higher education in the social service industry. The SPARK Program started at the New Horizons School in Pasco, Washington. We have partnered with WAHCA (Washington Health Care Authority) to help build the workforce development of the youth peer counselor with an emphasis on the WISE programs in Washington state. 

To learn more about training opportunities, please email Spark.ignite2019@gmail.com or call (509)735-5092.