Lyda Hill Philanthropies Announces Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute as Recipient of the $10 Million Lone Star Prize

June 15, 2021
Four Finalist Projects Receive Additional Funding to Improve the Quality of Life of Texans
Announcing Meadows Institute as the $10 M Lone Star Prize Recipient


Jeanne Culver, 214.352.5980, [email protected]

Marc Moorghen, 773.789.1714, [email protected]

Chicago, IL, June 15, 2021 – Today, Lyda Hill Philanthropies and Lever for Change announced Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute as the recipient of the $10 million Lone Star Prize, a Texas-based competition launched in early 2020 to improve the lives of Texans and their communities. The Meadows Institute’s “Lone Star Depression Challenge” will improve quality of life and mental health care access for communities across the state. The Prize, sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and managed by Lever for Change, was designed to find and fund bold solutions focused on building healthier, stronger communities.

After reviewing the finalist teams’ ideas, Lyda Hill Philanthropies is planning to award approximately $2 million in additional grants among the four projects proposed by the other finalists – JUST, Merit America, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and Texas Water Trade. All five finalists were previously awarded $200,000 in planning grants, bringing the combined total to approximately $12.2 million to bold solutions in the Lone Star State. Some of these grants require matching funds from other philanthropists to be fully realized.

“Despite the challenges Texas has faced this past year, the future is bright,” said Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “We were delighted by the response to the Lone Star Prize, which we launched last year to encourage local leaders to think big, inspire collaborations, and challenge the status quo. The Lone Star Depression Challenge has the potential to effect transformational change in our state – and potentially beyond. After rigorous evaluation, we can unequivocally state that the Lone Star Prize has been a resounding success.”

More than 172 proposals were submitted for the Lone Star Prize. Over 200 peer applicants, philanthropic and civic leaders, and subject matter experts with experience in health, workforce, and the environment among other issue areas evaluated the applications during a rigorous three-month review process. They evaluated applications based on four criteria: whether they were transformative, scalable, feasible, and evidence-based. The five top proposals were named finalists in January and each received $40,000 to work with a team of technical experts to strengthen, revise, and re-submit their proposed solutions.

“The challenges of the past year have highlighted the impact that untreated mental health and depression have on our great state and its people,” said Nicole G. Small, President & CEO of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “We are excited to award $10 million to accelerate the vital work of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. It was by far, the highest rated proposal reviewed by our external expert evaluation panel.”

According to the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, fewer than 1 in 15 of the more than 1.5 million Texans suffering from depression each year receive sufficient care to recover. Tragically, nearly 4,000 people in the state die each year from suicide. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these problems: symptoms of depression have increased four-fold and the number of people seriously considering suicide has doubled.

The “Lone Star Depression Challenge” is led by Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute in collaboration with the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use.

The program will improve quality of life and mental health care access for communities across the state, particularly for people of color, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty. It will reduce barriers for all Texans with depression, detect their needs earlier, and care for them more effectively through community-based care.

“The Lone Star Prize will make possible the first-of-its kind, wide-scale expansion of three proven initiatives to improve the lives of Texans living with depression,” said Andy Keller, President/CEO of Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “Our partnership with the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern will catalyze an unprecedented statewide and national effort to put depression care in Texas on par with care for heart disease and cancer, freeing millions more Texans from the cloud of depression and saving hundreds of lives over the next five years.”

Lyda Hill Philanthropies partnered on the Lone Star Prize with institutions that share its commitment to building a resilient Texas, including Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Advance Together (an initiative of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), Texas 2036, and The Texas Tribune. These partners provided a variety of strategic support and additional promotional platforms for the top applicants.

The Prize was managed by Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that helps donors find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, including racial and gender equity, economic development, and climate change.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with Lyda Hill Philanthropies in announcing the awardee of the Lone Star Prize,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “The unique nature of Texas – diverse in its demographics, economics, and geography – make it a wonderful testing ground for great ideas, and an incubator for getting them to scale.”

Lever for Change is featuring all of the awardees of the Lone Star Prize in its Bold Solutions Network. This Network seeks to match nonprofits and social enterprises – whose solutions to significant social challenges were highly ranked after rigorous evaluation in one of the Lever for Change competitions – with additional donors and funding. Interested donors may contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy at Lever for Change.

Learn more about the Lone Star Prize and the awardee:


Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Launched in 2014, the Meadows Institute helps Texas legislators, state officials, members of the judiciary, and local leaders identify equitable systemic solutions to mental health needs and has become Texas’s most trusted source for data-driven mental health policy. The Meadows Institute is making a significant impact in multiple areas, helping Texas leaders expand the mental health workforce, improve access to care for veterans and their families, shift the focus of new investments toward early intervention, and address the mental health crisis in our jails and emergency rooms. Learn more at

Lyda Hill Philanthropies
Lyda Hill Philanthropies encompasses the charitable giving for founder Lyda Hill and includes her foundation and personal philanthropy. The organization is committed to funding transformational advances in science and nature, empowering nonprofit organizations and improving the Texas and Colorado communities. Because Miss Hill has a fervent belief that “science is the answer” to many of life’s most challenging issues, she has chosen to donate the entirety of her estate to philanthropy and scientific research.

Lever for Change

Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helps donors to find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, ranging from racial and gender equity to economic development and climate change. Building on the success of the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million competition, 100&Change, Lever for Change customizes and manages open and transparent competitions for donors. In addition, the organization matches donors with nonprofits and social enterprises in its Bold Solutions Network, which includes solutions to significant social challenges that were highly ranked after rigorous evaluation in one of Lever for Change’s competitions. The organization has developed and managed nine competitions, ranging in size from $10 million to $100 million, unlocking $582 million in funding for high-impact solutions and strengthening dozens of top organizations. For more information, visit

Sign up for our newsletter

Sign up to receive announcements when new competitions launch and to learn about other updates.