Funding available for Washingtonians wanting to operate Clubhouse International facilities


Shane Ersland


New funding opportunities are available for health care workers looking to establish facilities that assist Washingtonians struggling with mental health illnesses.


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Clubhouse International officials discussed plans to add three additional clubhouses to the program during a meeting on Thursday.

Clubhouse International operates more than 300 clubhouses in 33 countries. It offers people with mental illness opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, education and access to medical and psychiatric services in a single caring and safe environment.

Washington currently has a total of six clubhouses. With funding available through the Washington State Health Care Authority, officials plan to add three more in 2022-23, Clubhouse/Peer Run Organization Program Manager Lauren Robbins said.

“Funding was established to meet unmet needs of individuals experiencing behavioral health conditions by improving social relationships, and overall quality of life,” Robbins said. 

Those interested in establishing a clubhouse can apply for funding beginning April 11. The submission deadline is April 29, and award announcements will be made in early May, Robbins said. Those interested can contact Robbins at [email protected].

The yearly budget for an organization awarded funding for a clubhouse will be just under $150,000. Awardees do not have to be startups; expansions will also be considered. Special consideration will be given to applicants who are based in areas that do not currently have a clubhouse, as well as applicants in rural areas, Robbins said.

“It’s important for us to expand to rural areas,” she said. “It could be a startup, a program development, or a program expansion.”

The application process includes a question/answer format, which states that preference will also be given to applicants with at least three years of experience working in the field. That does not mean that applicants who do not have three years of experience operating a similar agency shouldn’t apply, however, Robbins said.

“We ask for a guideline of three years,” she said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean you have an agency that’s been around for three years. If you’re doing a startup, you may not have that. Don’t let that stop you from applying for funding. You could detail your years of experience as an [individual provider.]”

Contracts will require agencies to provide evidence that they’re operating under best-practice models, establish a project plan with clear goals, and conduct status reports on program progress at facilities.

Kailey Fiedler-Gohlke is the CEO at HERO House NW in Bellevue. She described the experience of a clubhouse member.

“Membership is voluntary and lifelong,” Fiedler-Gohlke said. “[Members] have a key role in organizing clubhouse activities. It’s meant to help them regain self-worth, confidence, and purpose. Clubhouses are holistic. We also help them with acquiring, and keeping affordable, and dignified housing, medical, and psychiatric services. It is an incredibly inclusive and welcoming community.”

Members enjoy activities that involve traveling together to various entertainment venues like movies and zoos, Fiedler-Gohlke said.

“A clubhouse is a place where people with mental illness participate in their own recovery process by working and socializing together in a safe and welcoming environment,” she said. “Participants are known as members, and there’s something special about being a member. It has a sense of belonging.”