The Covid-19 pandemic exposed gaps in access to mental health care for children and young adults across Omaha. Staff at the Methodist Hospital Community Counseling Program, which was already providing a licensed mental health professional in every Omaha Public high school, middle school and alternative program, wanted to expand to fill those needs. Using funds from the City of Omaha’s ARPA Community Grant Program, the program expanded to include the two new Omaha Public high schools and all three Metro Community College campuses.

“Many Metro Community College students are graduates of Omaha Public Schools, where the Methodist Community Counseling Program is available. It’s a natural fit to have the program’s services available to students as they graduate and transition to college,” said Tracy Madden-McMahon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Methodist Hospital Foundation.

Approximately 80% of secondary education clients qualify for Medicaid. Due to the generosity of funders such as the City of Omaha and its ARPA Community Grant Program, no student is turned away due to the inability to pay. As a result, hope is being restored and lives are changing.

‘I wasn’t alone’

During Emilie’s sophomore year in high school – and after relationship issues started taking a toll on her schoolwork – a guidance counselor suggested Emilie meet with a Methodist Community Counselor.

“When I saw my counselor for the first time, I felt like I was right at home. She just wants to help you,” Emilie said. “It helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. We’ve been through some deep stuff and I have seen so much improvement in my mood and everything else.”

Today, Emilie attends college. With a nod to the program’s impact, she said she ultimately hopes to become a therapist herself.

A path to graduation

Jacqueline had lost passion for high school. She was struggling with depression and anxiety, and she didn’t have the tools she needed to cope.

“Given my anxiety, there was a time when I was considering dropping out,” she said, but instead, she found a counselor. “It’s not enough to take it on yourself. Sometimes you need to reach out.”

Today, Jacqueline attends college on multiple scholarships.

“Without the program, I honestly might not have been able to graduate high school,” she said.

Making a difference

One student grew up in a home filled with dysfunction and substance abuse. He sold drugs and spent time in jail. He also battled paranoia and psychosis.

The counseling program is helping him address feelings of being lost, alone and unsupported. This has led to a healthy life balance and stability. The student is part of a support group and has identified a career goal, all while continuing regular counseling.

“My client feels like a new person and, for the first time, has hope for the future,” said counselor Tabitha Jameson, MA, LIMHP.

More about the program

The Methodist Community Counseling program also provides therapy at community locations across Omaha. In total, counselors conducted 8,616 sessions in 2022, a 16% increase over 2021.



The City of Omaha partnered with the Omaha Community Foundation to administer the ARPA Community Grant Program because of the foundation’s work with local nonprofits and awareness of community needs. The grant program focused on providing funding to expand or enhance existing programs in areas of Crisis Intervention & Violence Prevention, and Workforce Development.

The ARPA Community Grant Program awarded $9.6 million to 35 nonprofit organizations. Eligible programs included youth programs such as mentoring, gang prevention and intervention, mental health, crisis response, and assistance to unemployed workers including workforce readiness training, certification, and employment services.

See all City of Omaha ARPA Community Grant Program grant recipients.

This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0230 awarded to the City of Omaha by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.