Varner-Bayou Bend Heritage Fund
The Varner-Bayou Bend Heritage Fund supports efforts to increase the number of non-mental health professionals in the Houston/Harris County area who have an understanding of children’s mental health needs, and to encourage better prevention and earlier identification of mental health conditions in children and youth.
The Varner-Bayou Bend Heritage Fund was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on July 13, 1963. Gift funds were provided by the Varner-Bayou Bend Heritage Fund of Houston, Texas, of which Ima Hogg was then president.
This fund was originally set aside by Miss Ima to be used at the Houston Child Guidance Center to develop special education projects that would reach professionals working with children and parents. Several years later the center was absorbed by DePelchin Children’s Center. With the dissolution of the Houston Child Guidance Center, the purpose of the endowment was amended to read: “For mental health education purposes in the State of Texas under the direction of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.”
Today, the fund supports mental health training for people in Houston who work with children, such as primary care physicians, teachers, nurses, and after-school and day care providers.
In July 2013 the foundation selected the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) to offer the Healthy Minds Healthy Children Initiative. Over a five-year grant period the HCDE’s Healthy Minds Healthy Children project will train 400 Head Start teachers and staff to recognize mental health conditions, address and improve student behavior in classrooms and make appropriate referrals. Head Start parents will be coached on recognizing early signs of mental health conditions as well strategies for addressing their child’s mental health needs at home.
In May 2015 HCDE hosted its first Healthy Minds Healthy Families conference to offer educators and parents training to recognize and support children with challenging behaviors, and to increase community awareness of mental health conditions.
Hogg Program Officer
Vicky Coffee-Fletcher has committed over 27 years to enhancing mental health resources and supports in Texas in a variety of service positions. Coffee-Fletcher joined the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in 2007, where she currently leads initiatives to improve the mental health of youth and families in the Houston area. She leads the foundation’s work in the area of African American faith-based education and awareness. Coffee-Fletcher is a founding member of the Austin Area African American Behavioral Health Professionals Network and has also served as an executive board member and secretary for the National Leadership Council on African American Behavioral Health. For more on Coffee-Fletcher, see her bio.