NAMI-NYC Gets Challenge Grant for Anti-Stigma Campaign

NAMI-NYC has received a challenge grant from The Pershing Square Foundation, created by investor Bill Ackman and his wife Karen.  The grant, announced at NAMI-NYC’s annual Seeds of Hope gala on December 5th, pledges to match a third of all donations to NAMI-NYC’s anti-stigma campaign #IWillListen up to $100,000. If an additional $300,000 is raised before the final whistle on Super Bowl Sunday, NAMI-NYC Metro will receive a $100,000 grant to continue to build momentum around #IWillListen, and take this crucial campaign to the next level. So far NAMI-NYC has raised $250,000, but it needs help to raise an additional $50,000 by February 2nd.

#IWillListen is a social media-based, anti-stigma campaign which transforms popular social networks into communities of support. It challenges negative stereotypes which keep many from seeking treatment by encouraging the public to make videos, Facebook posts, and Tweets pledging to listen to and support those affected by mental illness. #IWillListen videos can be uploaded to and viewed at the NAMI-NYC Metro Facebook page, which acts as the hub for all #IWIllListen user-generated content.

“Eradicating stigma is critical and is the reason our organization was founded more than three decades ago. Stigma prevents people from seeking treatment, which is key to managing mental health issues, and makes individuals who are ill and their families feel ashamed, to blame, and isolated,” said Wendy Brennan, Executive Director, NAMI-NYC Metro. “What is extraordinary about the “I Will Listen” campaign is that everyone, no matter where they are or their experience with mental health issues, can participate in a dynamic dialogue surrounding mental health by committing to listen to those who are impacted. By promising to listen, we can really change society’s perceptions about mental illness.”

“We are proud to be offering matching funds for NAMI-NYC’s innovative project to help those affected by mental illness – people who have too often been overlooked,” said Paul Bernstein, CEO of The Pershing Square Foundation.

NAMI-NYC Metro launched the #IWillListen campaign on October 2nd. Since its launch, #IWillListen has gained thousands of pledges to listen, including celebrity pledges, and has been featured in over 300 media outlets.

The challenge grant from The Pershing Square Foundation has ignited NAMI-NYC Metro’s fundraising efforts around #IWillListen. As NAMI-NYC Metro embarks on a new year, they are asking for the public to rally behind the campaign and to fight stigma through participating in this challenge grant by making a donation to NAMI-NYC Metro to kickoff 2014.  To contribute, go to

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City, Inc. (NAMI-NYC Metro), the largest NAMI affiliate in the nation, provides support, education and advocacy for families and individuals of all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds who live with mental illness. Serving 16,000 New Yorkers annually, NAMI-NYC Metro works collaboratively with state and national affiliates to educate the public, advocate for legislation, reduce stigma and improve the mental health system. For more information, visit
The Pershing Square Foundation, based in New York, was founded in December 2006 by Karen and Bill Ackman. Bill is the CEO and Portfolio Manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, L.P. The Pershing Square Foundation has committed $225 million in grants and social investments to support exceptional leaders and innovative organizations that tackle important social issues and deliver scalable and sustainable impact. To learn more, visit