Aurora Mental Health Center

Thank you for supporting Aurora Mental Health Center and our mission to help everyone live life to the fullest through access to service and programs that improve emotional well-being and addiction recovery. This year, please help us keep community mental healthcare accessible and strong in Colorado

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Culinary Program


Human Services 


At-Risk Populations
Poor, Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent
Unemployed, Underemployed
Young Adults (20-25 years)


Please support us in the development of the Aurora Mental Health Center Culinary Institute, where clients can learn marketable skills in the culinary arts. Acquiring new skills builds confidence, leads to stable employment, job satisfaction and has a positive impact in one's quality of life. Culinary arts provides structural support skills that will enhance individuals' emotional, mental health, addiction recovery, meal planning, financial education and overall better health.

Aurora Mental Health Center is a local leader in vocational rehabilitation, serving more than 5,600 individuals since 2005. Your support will enable us to increase our service offerings and reach more clients. We are proud to serve our diverse community through this new endeavor, which will serve as a community resource for food prep certification and training for jobseekers pursuing a job in the food service industry.

Culinary therapy is being utilized in many clinics across the country as an adjunctive element for supported employment. Our vision in the Career and Vocational program is to increase the success rate of job seekers by providing tools including on the job training for employment opportunities they choose! Through our evidenced-based Individualized Placement Support (IPS) model, we had a success rate of 74% employment retention over last year.

Research has shown that 60-70% of individuals with severe mental illness and addictions want to work. Layering those core principles of our IPS evidenced based model paired with cooking/culinary arts will help to decrease mental health stigma, hospitalizations, dependence upon human service systems and of course the ultimate goal increase employment.


Evidence of Program's Success

Mental Health First Aid and Community Education


Mental Health, Substance Abuse 


General population


At Aurora Mental Health Center, we help people build the resilience skills to achieve mental wellness and live their best lives. To do this requires more than individual therapy. We believe it is critical to shed light on the issue of mental illness and to educate and inform our community as a whole. Our commitment to community education encompasses a wide range of activities that inform, educate and provide information including mental health screenings, health fairs and speaker's bureau educational lectures. Whether working with parents, teachers, first responders or other members of the community individually or through civic groups and organizations our staff is committed to reducing mental health stigma and increasing resilience in the community we serve. Some of our offerings include:

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) - One of our most recognized programs throughout the community is Mental Health First Aid Certification program. This program trains and empowers individuals to identify, understand, and respond to those who are experiencing a mental, emotional, or substance abuse crisis. Our certified trainers provide MHFA for youth, adult, Spanish-speakers, first responders, refugees and older adults. Past attendees at our MHFA trainings include the City of Aurora Supervisory Team, Goodwill Industries, Easter Seals, Tri County Health Department, Volunteers of America, and the Arapahoe Sheriff's Department, where Mental Health First Aid is now part of the Academy curriculum

Speakers Bureau - Our professional staff share their expertise on a number of topics with groups and organizations in the Metro Area.

Wellness Classes and Events - AuMHC offers a variety of educational opportunities as well as helpful community meetings and initiatives such as Aurora Health Access, The Community Conflict Center, and The Build Initiative.

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT): Aurora Mental Health Center is the local provider of CIT in partnership with the Aurora Police Department. This program was created in 1988 in Memphis, Tennessee, as a means for first responders to more effectively engage with those experiencing a mental health crisis. It has become a national model for community policing that brings together law enforcement, mental health providers, crisis services, emergency departments, and individuals with mental illness - and their families - to improve responses and increase pre-arrest jail diversion for people in crisis.

With your support, we can continue to provide these programs and services that help break stigma, improve public safety, and bring our community together.


Evidence of Program's Success

The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department incorporated Mental Health First Aid training into their Academy curriculum based on the reception and success of trainings provided to staff by Aurora Mental Health Center's talented MHFA trainers.

Aurora Youth Options


Youth Development 


Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
At-Risk Populations
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
General population


Aurora Youth Options (AYO) works with at-risk middle and high school-aged youth, along with their families, to navigate and connect to positive individualized resources for success. At AYO, youth gain necessary life skills for personal, professional and emotional happiness through personalized support. Since its inception in 2009, AYO has directly affected the lives of thousands of youth in our community. This year, AYO was honored to be recognized as a Top 50 Mentoring Program in the United States, and was awarded the Silver Partner Medallion by Mentor Colorado!
At AYO, we use the Positive Youth Development framework to guide program participants in gaining the life skills and confidence necessary for personal success and happiness. AYO provides personalized support and nurturing to each participant.
The Positive Youth Development framework consists of:
• Connections - having positive relationships
• Confidence - believing in yourself
• Character - having values and morals
• Contribution - feeling you can make a difference
• Caring - showing sensitivity to feelings of others
The AYO Mentoring Program matches adult volunteers with young people based on mutual interest and personality traits. Trained mentors serve as teachers, advocates, and positive role models while developing friendships with participants. Following PYD principles, these caring adults help young people develop their strengths and achieve their individual goals.
Prevention Awareness through Core Training (PACT) is a life skills program offered by AYO that works to provide the drug resistance, social and personal self-management skills youth need to succeed. Skills learned through PACT include:
Drug Resistance Skills
• Youth learn and understand the consequences of substance use, risk-taking, and the influences of media and marketing.
Social Skills
• Youth gain interpersonal and communication skills to meet personal challenges and build healthy relationships.
Personal Self-Management Skills
• Youth learn and develop the skills that help them enhance self-esteem, develop problem-solving skills, reduce stress and anxiety, and manage personal emotions

One of the best leadership opportunities that AYO offers is the PACT Leadership Development Program. It helps youth develop personal responsibility, an interest in community service, and a life vision to guide them through the numerous challenges and obstacles they may encounter.

AYO also offers homework help and personalized tutoring. In a safe and encouraging environment, young people can interact with volunteer adults and peer tutors to get the assistance needed.
AYO has been recognized by the City of Aurora, the Aurora Police Department, the school boards of both Aurora and Cherry Creek Public Schools, the Colorado Juvenile Council, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, The Denver Post, and Colorado Behavioral Health Council, to name only a few. We are proud of the work we do in creating a stronger community for everyone.


Evidence of Program's Success

Everyone at AYO is very friendly and they're all unique. They are like the seeds that help everyone grow." -- Dereni, 7th grader

"I thought mentoring would be difficult and take up too much time, but it has made my life richer than I ever thought possible. It has changed MY life!" - Derrick, mentor

Top 50 Mentoring Program in the United States

Mentor Colorado Silver Partner

Locally recognized by the City of Aurora, the Aurora Police Department, the school boards of Aurora and Cherry Creek Public Schools and the Colorado Juvenile Council

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.