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Change in Mind: Applying Neurosciences to Revitalize Communities is three-year coalition between philanthropists and non-profit organizations in Canada and the United States. The goal of the coalition is to promote policy and program decisions that will support and improve the well-being and long-term life prospects of children, youth, families, and communities for generations to come. Through Change in Mind, community-based organizations can become regional catalysts for system-level change. 

The initiative is the product of a partnership between the AFWI, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Research by the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, as well as the findings of the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study, have revealed connections between brain development and lifelong mental and physical health outcomes. The Change in Mind Initiative was launched in 2015 to infuse this research, along with new discoveries in neuroscience, molecular biology, and epigenetics, into policy and practice.

Using science as its foundation, Change in Mind is also guided by a set of values and principles that considers, among other factors, innovation, cultural awareness, and the voices of those with lived experiences. 


Through a competitive application process, Change in Mind identified and selected five Alberta and 10 U.S. non-profit organizations working to improve outcomes for families and communities. These cohort organizations were given a mandate to infuse, align, and accelerate established neuroscience discoveries about the effects of life-altering toxic stress into their community-based work; they will serve as leaders and change agents in their communities and across the public sector.


During its three-year period, Change in Mind will support and evaluate the processes that its 15 cohort organizations use to integrate brain science to effect organizational and community-level change. The goal of these evaluations is to determine if the science of brain development can transform policies and improve outcomes for some of the difficult social issues facing communities.


Each cohort organization created and committed to a set of policy and advocacy goals specific to its community’s needs. As Change in Mind progresses, coalition members will cross-pollinate, sharing their most successful strategies with each other. 

The list below has a description of each organization’s project; find more detailed information at Change in Mind.

Four briefs on impact of intentionally embedding the brain science

#1 Change in Mind Overview, Findings, and Lessons Learned

#2 Transformation through Organizational Change

#3 Transformation through Systems and Policy Change

#4 Advancing the Collection and Use of Data through Rapid Testing and Evaluation



CASA Child, Adolescent, and Family Mental Health, Edmonton
Using Brain Science to Understand Complex Needs and Build a Culture of Health and Resiliency
Goals: To implement organization-wide use of the ACE Questionnaire, and to use this information (along with diagnoses, demographics, and service utilization data) to inform policy and decision-making.

CUPS Health, Education, Housing, Calgary
CUPS Health, Education, Housing
Goals: To integrate findings from the ACE Study into all programs and organizational culture, and to develop policy and fiscal changes in co-operation with health, human services, and education organizations.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, Calgary
Extending Influence to Elevate Brain Science
Goals: To apply brain science research to programs, practices, and training while leveraging existing partnerships and networks to share research and advance systemic change.

Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Edmonton
BMHC Brain Science
Goals: To combine clinic data with ACE data, and use this information to improve the quality of collaboration with other agencies, expand understanding of ACEs and brain development, and create momentum for policy change.

Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, Calgary
Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre
Goals: To create a professional training institute that integrates brain science in its curriculum, and to develop brain science-informed policies and practices in partnership with health care, human services, education, and justice organizations.


Children and Families First, Wilmington, Delaware
CFF Looking Ahead
Goals: To disseminate ACE concepts to partners, legislators, policy-makers, and the public through a leadership framework, peer-to-peer networks, and statewide communications efforts.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Strong Families, Thriving Communities
Goals: To advocate for policy changes by providing training for mental health providers in evidence-based approaches, and to engage academic institutions in adapting evidence-based approaches that can be delivered to families in innovative ways.

Wellspring Family Services, Seattle, Washington
Aligning Brain Science with Best Practices to Support Family Well-Being
Goals: To translate brain science knowledge and principles into organization structure, culture, and programs while accelerating the integration of brain science into practice and policy that impacts homeless people in Seattle/King County.

LaSalle School, Albany, New York
Brain Science Awareness Project
Goals: To increase the knowledge of brain science among New York legislators, policy-makers, and regional and state-level stakeholders, and to collaborate with partners to provide brain science-based training for practitioners and parents/caregivers.

KVC Health Systems, Olathe, Kansas
Brain Science for Healthy Children, Families, and Communities
Goals: To educate KVC leaders who can infuse brain science into policy, regulatory, and fiscal changes, and to develop content to raise awareness with caregivers, treatment providers, teachers, and other community supports.

The Family Partnership, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minnesota Brain Science Coalition
Goals: To identify brain science change agents in Minnesota and create a coalition of experts, practitioners, advocates, and community members. The coalition will advance awareness and develop a working document outlining the policy implications emerging from brain science.

Martha O’Bryan Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Force for Good
Goals: To apply brain science research to current work, providing preventive solutions to domestic violence and community stressors while creating an evidence base that advances awareness for ACEs, trauma-informed care, and program delivery in Nashville.

East End House, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Catalyzing Community Around Brain Science Research
Goals: To act as a knowledge broker for the community, from policy stakeholders and government officials to residents, while creating system-level change by infusing brain science into the collective work of the Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition and the public education system in Cambridge.

Family Service Association of San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
Accelerating Brain Science Application in South Texas
Goals: To advocate for a holistic approach to families involved in Child Protective Services that brings together law enforcement, state caseworkers, and clinical providers, and to push for brain science-informed approaches to juvenile offender rehabilitation, childhood education, and childcare providers in San Antonio.

Children’s Home Society of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Tackling "Wicked Problems" of Child Welfare by Accelerating Use of Brain Science
Goals: To reduce and mitigate the effects of toxic stress on young children involved in the child welfare system by involving birth parents and connecting child welfare systems to early learning and development systems.

Find our more about Change in Mind here, and read the initiative’s newest policy document.