Press Releases

Lowell Milken Family Foundation Provides $1.2 Million Gift for Mental Health Education, Support and Advocacy Efforts

Aug 19, 2021

Santa Monica, CA: After a year that brought mental health issues to the fore, the Lowell Milken Family Foundation (LMFF) has made a gift of $1.2 million to provide programmatic and operational support to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Westside Los Angeles (NAMI West LA), furthering its work to provide support, guidance and hope for the growing number of Angelenos affected by mental health conditions. The three-year commitment ensures that NAMI West LA—whose programs reach thousands of families, individuals and educators each year—will expand their ability to offer FREE in-person and virtual programming in both English and Spanish, as well as operational funds to continue to attract, retain and support its leaders.

NAMI Westside Los Angeles Impact Statement 1 Page 2 copy

Communities directly impacted by NAMI West LA include Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Culver City, Hollywood, Malibu, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Santa Monica, Topanga, Venice, Westwood and West Hollywood.

 Due to its rapid response to the mental health crisis brought on by the pandemic, NAMI West LA has been recognized as a leader in the greater Los Angeles community and beyond. “Our organization has distinguished itself, both within California and on a national level, by our ability to pivot all our programs onto a virtual platform in 2020,” said NAMI WLA Executive Director Erin Raftery Ryan. “Throughout the pandemic, we expanded our programs, conducted additional facilitator trainings, and provided mentorship along the way to other NAMI CA affiliates. NAMI National even arranged for us to lead a workshop for NAMI affiliates across the country on how to deliver virtual services more effectively. This generous gift from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation reaffirms the value of this work and challenges us to reach even greater heights at a time when our programs and services are needed by so many.”

The new gift builds upon LMFF’s support for NAMI West LA that began with the Lanetta Wahlgren Fund, which has supported the operational and programmatic needs of NAMI West LA since 2019 and made possible the expansion and enhancement of its signature programs.

Philanthropist and education reform leader Lowell Milken views the enhancement and expansion of mental health educational classes and resources as critical to the wellbeing of students, families and the community at large. “This gift furthers our foundation’s mission over more than three decades to equip people to pursue and attain lives that have value to themselves as well as to others,” he said. “Our new commitment will enable NAMI West LA to deepen the effectiveness of its programs and services; maintain, enrich and grow its strong leadership and staff; and continue to provide classes and community programs to families across West Los Angeles.” 

As an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness—long considered the largest and most widely recognized mental health non- profit in the nation—NAMI West LA offers free education programs in both English and Spanish, including:

·  Family to Family Class: an 8-week graduate-level educational course for family members and those caring for loved ones with a mental health condition;

·   Peer to Peer Class: An 8-week educational course for persons living with mental health conditions;

·   Family and peer support groups facilitated by trained leaders with lived experience;

·   Ending the Silence: a school program designed to give middle and high-school students, teachers, and parents an opportunity to learn about mental health, including information about warning signs, facts, statistics, and how to seek help for themselves or a friend.

“Our partnership with the Lowell Milken Family Foundation allowed us to expand all our programs during the pandemic to meet the increased needs of our community,” said Tim Davis, NAMI West LA’s Program Director.  “Since March of 2020, we have conducted over 175 Ending the Silence virtual presentations, reaching over 2,500 students, educators and parents. Over that same period of time, NAMI West LA has also expanded the classes and support groups we offer, while creating new ways for our members to build community and find hope through several innovative awareness-raising, stigma-busting events.”

“By investing in the human capital of NAMI Westside Los Angeles, Lowell Milken has given our affiliate the gift of long-term sustainability and allowed us to flourish in ways that were never before possible,” said President and NAMI West LA Co-Founder Sharon Dunas. “Over the past two years, and during one of the most challenging mental and medical health crises of our time, the LMFF gift has enabled us to further our standing as a pillar across the many diverse communities of Los Angeles County.”


About NAMI Westside Los Angeles (NAMI: West LA)

As an independent 501c3 charity, NAMI West LA offers entirely free programming, including educational classes, support groups, lectures, warm-line phone support, and a host of community services to provide knowledge, guidance, and hope for the growing number of Angelenos affected by mental health conditions. For more information about NAMI West LA resources and giving opportunities, please visit, visit

For information or an interview, please contact Gigi de Pourtales at:


About the Lowell Milken Family Foundation (LMFF)

Founded in 1986, the Santa Monica-based Lowell Milken Family Foundation (LMFF) creates and supports initiatives that cultivate human capital—that is, the knowledge, skills and experience essential to lead productive and satisfying lives. LMFF pursues this mission through education programs that are both groundbreaking and comprehensive. By fostering and inspiring excellence, creativity and responsibility within the formal education environment and beyond, LMFF seeks to equip people to pursue and attain lives that have value to themselves as well as to others. Among LMFF’s initiatives are the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes, and the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography at ArtCenter College of Design.

For more information visit


Principal Omar Duron Wins Arizona Milken Educator Award

Jennifer Williams Surprised with Louisiana Milken Educator Award

2019 Lowell Milken Founder's Award Goes to Wildflower School in Goodyear, AZ

STEM Teacher Nichole Anderson Receives Milken Educator Award

2010-19 Missouri Milken Educator Therese Shain Shares Big News

Angie Beavin wins Milken Educator Award in Kentucky

Erica Stephens Accepting 2018 Tenneesee Milken Educator Award

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins 2018 Milken Award

Kansas 2018 Milken Educator Award Recipient Linda Dishman

West Goshen Elementary School Named 2018 TAP Founder's Award Recipient

Teacher Theresa Cross Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Principal Debreon Davis Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Receives Milken Educator Award

Lisa Rodgers Announced as this year's Colorado Milken Educator Award Recipient

Lowell Milken's James Bryant Conant Award Acceptance Speech

Lowell Milken Congratulates 2015 Milken Educator John Lary

Lowell Milken Speaks at 2015 Chapman University Commencement

Lowell Milken with Students at Friendly House Academia del Pueblo Elementary Charter School

Lowell Milken Keynote Address at 2017 TAP Conference

Felicia Casto wins Milken Educator Award at Rim Rock Elementary

Lowell Milken Speaks with Students at East End Prep in Nashville, TN

Ryan James Presented with 2017 Milken Educator Award in Richmond, Virginia

Lowell Milken, Tom Torlakson and Wayne Jospeh at 2017 Milken Educator Award Presentation

Lowell Milken Accepts 2017 James Bryant Conant Award

Media Interviews at Devon Willis-Jones Milken Educator Awards Assembly


Lowell Milken Presents Music Teacher Nicolas Jacques with Nevada Milken Educator Award

Computer Teacher Nichole Anderson Surprise with Milken Educator Award

Missouri Teacher Therese Shain Receives Milken Educator Award

Angie Beavin Surprised with Kentucky Milken Educator Award

Principal Wendy Shirey Receives Nevada Milken Educator Award

Sarah Szymanski Wins Colorado Milken Award

Math Teacher Erica Stephens Wins Tennessee Milken Award in Memphis, TN

Heather Hurt Announced as 2018-19 Alabama Milken Educator Awardee

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins Milken Award

Perry Township Schools Receives First-Ever National Award of Excellence for Educator Effectiveness

AZ Science Teacher Jonathan Cadena Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Math Teacher Angela Boxie Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Chino Hills Teacher Alexis King Receives 2017 Milken Educator Award

G.W. Carver Primary School Wins 2017 TAP Founder's Award

Arizona Teacher Ana Gutierrez Receives Milken Educator Award

Milken Archive Releases Retrospective Documentary