University of Southern California Hillel Announces the Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative

MEDIA CONTACT:
Dave Cohn, Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director
213.973.1203. dave@uschillel.org


University of Southern California Hillel Announces the
Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative

The generous support of Glenn and Andrea Sonnenberg, in memory of their son, along with a Cutting Edge Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, will ensure improved access to mental health resources and make Hillel a center of wellness on campus

As part of its ongoing work to create a culture of wellness, the University of Southern California Hillel announced today the Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative to help students cope with the challenges of stress and mental health issues. Through this initiative, USC Hillel will appoint a full-time, licensed social work professional to serve as associate director of health and wellness, providing valuable classes in mindfulness and healthy living while adding to mental health resources at USC.

“Many students on college campuses feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and helpless when it comes to managing their stress in healthy ways,” said Dave Cohn, the Allen & Ruth Ziegler Executive Director at USC Hillel. “We are humbled that Glenn and Andrea Sonnenberg have chosen to honor their son in such a profound way, and grateful to the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles for their visionary investment in this initiative. Together we will promote the holistic wellness of our students, provide Jewish Trojans with personal support through stress and trauma, create expansive resources to promote balance and mindfulness, and offer leadership to address the stigma around mental health and well-being on campus.”

In a recent study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 73 percent of students on college campuses living with a mental health condition experienced a mental health crisis, but nearly half reported that no one at the school knew about their crisis. While USC Hillel already provides guidance for students struggling with depression and drug abuse, the Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative will partner with on-campus resources including the USC Engemann Health Center and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life to create counseling outside the clinical setting.

The Wellness Initiative at USC Hillel began in 2015 under the leadership of then Executive Director Bailey London, who had counseled a series of students through serious personal challenges when they felt they had nowhere else to turn. The students who led the initiative the inaugural year focused on ending the stigma of discussing mental health publicly and promoting physical wellness. Early programs included ShalOM Yoga, Hiking with Hillel, and a campus-wide Wellness Fair. Four years later, wellness has been formalized as a core program pillar at USC Hillel, and the work has grown to include staff trainings and ongoing wellness programs that include mindfulness meditation, art therapy, puppy therapy and physical activity. The newly established Bradley Sonnenberg Wellness Initiative will help professionalize and grow the incredibly valuable work that was started informally by a small group of committed students.

The initiative will focus on physical and mental health programs, including one-on-one professional case management as well as peer-to-peer support. This will ensure that any student who comes to Hillel, regardless of religious identity, receives services to meet their needs, with an eventual goal of developing a roadmap to healthier experiences. As part of the physical wellness programming, USC Hillel will continue to offer weekly yoga, hiking and intramural sports. Outreach through the Health and Wellness Fair at USC and collaboration with Office of Wellness and Crisis Intervention, under the leadership of Vice Provost Varun Soni, will help this initiative reach a larger audience across campus.

“We are impressed with USC Hillel’s record on promoting the well-being of students and fostering a culture of openness when it comes to mental health. This work is deeply important to us,” said Glenn and Andrea Sonnenberg, the lead donors of the Wellness Initiative, who are granting funding to ensure sustainability into the future. “This program will help many young adults come forward and feel comfortable seeking help and support in navigating the stresses of college life. We hope this encourages a more honest, constructive, and healing conversation around wellness and meets the specialized needs of college students.”

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About the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles
Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1 billion entrusted to it by over 1,300 families. The Foundation partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. Over the past 15 years, it has distributed more than $1 billion to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum. www.jewishfoundationla.org

About Hillel International
USC Hillel is affiliated with Hillel International. Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives. For more information, visit Hillel.org.

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