#FirstRespondersFirst Raises Nearly $8 Million to Support Healthcare Workers on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Launches New Mental Health Initiative and Announces Leadership Council

For immediate release: July 9, 2020

LOS ANGELES – #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthThrive Global, and the CAA Foundation, which launched on March 23 and has raised nearly $8 million to support healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, today unveiled its new Mental Health Initiative, designed to provide real-time support and resources to health care workers both domestically and abroad.

“At #FirstRespondersFirst, we understood early on it was our public health imperative to make the mental well-being of frontline workers our highest priority,” said Michelle A. Williams, dean of the faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “In times of crisis, the tendency for health care workers is to deprioritize their own well-being. But self-care saves lives. You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.”

Recognizing an urgency to address the mental health needs of those battling the enduring pandemic, #FirstRespondersFirst will implement a holistic approach focused on needs assessment, direct offerings and services, and a campaign to help first responders move from awareness to action. Johnson & Johnson has expanded its role in #FirstRespondersFirst as the first corporate sponsor for this initiative and has been instrumental in curating a list of quality mental health service providers. #FirstRespondersFirst has brought on several notable implementing collaborators to the initiative that are focusing largely on the co-creation, curation, and exchange of content and resources around mental health and well-being for first responders and frontline health care workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as direct service provision through digital mental health offerings and one-on-one tele-mental health.

#FirstRespondersFirst will support trainings, workshops, and resources for healthcare professionals through Americares global partner network, provide no-cost outpatient mental health service through Give An Hour, and offer free anonymous support groups through Hims & Hers. #FirstRespondersFirst will also provide free access to the digital self-care mental health app InnerHour and free access to Osmosis.org, the learning platform for millions of current and future health professionals. In addition to sharing content and resources from The David Lynch Foundation, #FirstRespondersFirst will also collaborate with The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare to undertake a survey of healthcare professionals and conduct webinars.

“Our #FirstRespondersFirst initiative takes a whole-human approach to supporting frontline healthcare workers and their families. From the very beginning, we recognized the urgency to address their mental health needs as well as help provide child care, accommodations, essential protective equipment and food,” said Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global. “When the story of this pandemic is written, the heroes will be the healthcare workers who risked their own health and endured burnout and exhaustion among many other challenges on our behalf. We have to stand for their health — and their families’ health — because they stand for ours.”

As #FirstRespondersFirst continues to focus its efforts domestically, it also begins its domestic and global expansion through content and resource collaborations with Global Health Corps and You Okay, Doc? Alongside all of these offerings, #FirstRespondersFirst will launch a campaign around destigmatizing the issues of mental health for caregivers and frontline health care workers.

“In response to the life-cycle of needs of this pandemic, we are listening to the diversity of care workers’ experiences in order to advocate for and better support them on the frontlines,” said Deborah Marcus of the CAA Foundation. “Our immediate relief efforts were focused on providing PPE, child care, and accommodations to these healthcare workers. In our continued efforts, we will ensure that self-care and mental health is supported, prioritized, destigmatized, and accessed.”

#FirstRespondersFirst today also announced the formation of its inaugural Leadership Council, comprised of 10 global influencers who have dedicated their expertise, reach, and resources to further the mission of the initiative.

Members include:

  • NBA All-Star, Entrepreneur, and Philanthropist Carmelo Anthony
  •  Activist and Co-Founder and Board Chair of Global Health Corps Barbara Pierce Bush
  • Philanthropist and Humanitarian Ray Chambers
  • Venture Capitalist Juliet de Baubigny
  • Former Secretary of Health of Mexico and President of the University of Miami Julio Frenk
  • Award-winning Director, Producer, and Philanthropist Antoine Fuqua
  • Former Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett
  • Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of CORE, Community Organized Relief Effort Ann Lee
  • President and CEO of Latino Victory Project Nathalie Rayes
  • President of Dutch Bros Coffee Joth Ricci

“These are unprecedented times. I am honored to participate in this most important effort to give much needed support to our dedicated and selfless first responders,” said Leadership Council member Antoine Fuqua. “This pandemic has caused much pain, fear, anxiety, exhaustion and many other emotions. Our healthcare frontline professionals face this virus every day and have been responsible for saving many lives. Their work is hard. They have saved many lives while putting their own health at risk and being unavailable to their own families. We must give careful attention to the physical and mental well-being of our frontline healthcare professionals as they are living an experience that none of us had imagined. We also must take better care of each other and ourselves. It is my privilege to partner with such an esteemed group to help those who are working the hardest to end this national emergency. Collectively, we will improve the human condition.”

In recognition and support of the heroic efforts of those working on the front lines of the pandemic, Fuqua created a moving piece of short content, which launches today via the initiative’s social channels. Presented in both English and Spanish, the video also encourages front line workers to email their own heroic stories to FirstResponderStories@thriveglobal.com to be shared by #FirstRespondersFirst, in addition to pointing first responders to the website to access helpful mental health resources.

#FirstRespondersFirst’s fundraising call to action helps provide essential protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, mental health support, and other resources to this demographically and socially diverse workforce, ranging from minimum-wage hourly workers in home-care settings to social workers, nurses, physicians, and beyond. Powered by Thrive Global’s behavior change platform, #FirstRespondersFirst also provides access to Harvard Chan School’s evidence-based content, specifically tailored to this critical workforce, to help improve the physical and mental well-being of healthcare workers. Dutch Bros Coffee, the country’s largest privately held drive-thru coffee company, serves as #FirstRespondersFirst’s premier corporate donor.

In just three months since its launch, #FirstRespondersFirst has:

  •  Committed nearly $2,000,000 for provision of essential PPE, including N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves, isolation kits, and face shields, with logistical support from Americares and Direct Relief
  • Served more than 40,000 healthy meals, provided by World Central Kitchen
  • Provided 7,227 days of child care to 292 families in eight states through Bright Horizons
  • Delivered 7,913 days of hotel accommodations to 581 first responders in 79 cities through Marriott and IHG Hotels & Resorts
  • Reached more than 172,300 unique visits to our Microstep-first content, supporting self-care and positive mental health
  • Provided direct relief to frontline nurses through the National Black Nurses Association
  • Offered support groups and skill-building workshops and trainings for health workers in COVID-19 hot spots

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Meaghan Agnew


Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere. As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices. Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses. Founded in 1913 as the Harvard-MIT School of Health Officers, the School is recognized as America’s oldest professional training program in public health.