The has announced , which has created a successful model to help those suffering from mental illness to reclaim their lives and realize their potential through work and the support of a caring community, as the 2014 winner of the $1.5 million .
Established in 1949 in New York City, Fountain House/Clubhouse International today serves more than a hundred thousand individuals through hundreds of clubhouses in thirty-two countries. Clubhouse members share ownership and responsibility for their community based on the concept of a "work-ordered day" in which members are assigned duties to work with staff in running the clubhouse. The Fountain House model also includes a transitional employment program in which local employers provide members with paid employment of between fifteen and twenty hours a week for a period of six to nine months.
Studies have shown that clubhouse members are more likely to be employed and have longer job tenure and higher earnings than non-members with mental illness. Moreover, for the average cost of a two-week stay in a New York City hospital, Fountain House can provide a member with housing for a year, access to community services, health care, education, employment, and social support.
The clubhouse model began in the early 1940s as a self-help group for patients who met in a hospital "club room" to prepare for the challenges of finding shelter and work and dealing with relationships and relapses after discharge. That original group eventually began to meet on the steps of the New York City Public Library to recreate the clubhouse experience as a way to sustain their recovery, provide a mutual support system, and ultimately change society's perception of people living with mental illness.
"Mental illness is an issue that touches significant areas the Hilton Foundation has been working on for many years, such as chronic homelessness and substance use," said Hilton Foundation president and CEO Steven M. Hilton. "The Fountain House/Clubhouse International program of social relationships and meaningful work has literally saved thousands of lives over the past sixty-six years. Its program is a beacon of hope for those living with mental illness who are too often consigned to lives of homelessness, imprisonment, social stigma, and isolation."