Supporting youth mental health is one of the leading topics in today’s schools. The Cook Center for Human Connection will award grants totalling $100,000 to 20 schools across the country this year.

“We want to do anything we can to support schools’ efforts in meeting the mental health needs of their students.” said Anne Brown, President and CEO of the Cook Center for Human Connection.

“We had the opportunity to help fund a room at a local high school which has been a tremendous success,” said Brown. “We want to replicate that success and scale the impact.”

The “Zen Den” at Polaris High School in Utah is a space that “empower students to take control of their emotional health and well-being, by providing resources for students to develop and practice emotional self regulation,” according to the school website.

Brown announced the grant opportunity at a recent Mental Health Summit, hosted by the Cook Center.

Studies show that Calm Rooms, where students can learn how to self-regulate their bodies and emotions, can be an important component to the overall mental well-being solutions available in schools.

They can be a place where students can give their bodies and emotions time to reset or cool down. Staff also benefit from Calm Rooms by providing a positive tool to offer their students who are agitated or stressed.

“Students sometimes just need a place to re-center and re-focus. These rooms effectively use texture, color, light, sound, and even smell to tap into a person’s senses and give them an opportunity to deal with stressors in their unique way and get themselves ready to learn again,” said Brown.

Any school can apply. The Calm Room Grant requires that they have matching funds. School representatives can apply online at

“Calm rooms can be as unique as the schools that incorporate them, meeting the needs of the students they know best,” said Michelle Bartsch, Director of Programs and Partnerships for the Cook Center.

Bartsch manages the grant program and is on the panel to award the grants.

“We know that these types of resources at schools have been effective, so we want to give an incentive to schools who already have been thinking about creating one and encourage them to continue planning.”

“We are following the best research, which shows that these types of resources in schools can help students cope with stress, foster better relationships among students and staff, and boost student learning, among many other benefits,” said Brown.

“This is an opportunity for us to reward schools for prioritizing their students’ mental health needs,” she said.

The Cook Center for Human Connection is a non-profit organization that brings together the best organizations, programs, and products to provide mental health support, and enhance human connections essential for people to thrive.

School can begin the application process here: