Press Releases

Bender Leadership Academy Receives Grant from Staunton Farm Foundation

The Bender Leadership Academy, a non-profit founded in 2018 committed to expanding opportunities for employment of people with disabilities from youth through adulthood, today announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Staunton Farm Foundation. The Staunton Farm Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of those who live with mental health disabilities and substance use disorders. This generous grant will help guide the Bender Leadership Academy’s strategic planning and will enable us to grow in the most efficient and effective way to advance our mission. 

As a new partner with Staunton, the Bender Leadership Academy looks forward to serving as a partner to raise public awareness about important behavioral health policies, especially as they relate to the youth the Bender Leadership Academy works to empower each and every day. Upon learning about this grant, Joyce Bender, Founder of the Academy, said “On behalf of the board and staff at the Bender Leadership Academy, I want to share how grateful we are to Staunton for this investment in our work. Together, we will deepen our support for people with disabilities, including those with mental illnesses and substance disorders that Staunton advocates for through their generous investments in local communities and beyond.”

The Bender Leadership Academy integrates mental health fitness into all of our programs. Students do a daily meditation in our Work Readiness program, watch a Healthy Mind Habit video in our Student Leaders program, and there is an entire session on Healthy Mind Habits and strategies for navigating mental health in our Advanced Leaders. In addition, we partner with AHN Chill Project to provide employer speakers and ways to partner. Bender Leadership Academy also addresses bullying in all programs. Initiatives include the #SlaughterStigma Campaign, named for best-selling mystery author, Karin Slaughter, and the #NotAshamed Campaign. The annual Mary Brougher Mental Health Initiative Golf Outing raises money and awareness for mental health.


The Staunton Farm Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of people who live with mental illness and substance use disorders. The Foundation works to enhance behavioral health treatment, support, and recovery through grant-making to nonprofit organizations in 10 southwestern Pennsylvania counties (Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland).

To learn more about Bender Leadership Academy programming, visit