Diane Egbers’ Grant Us Hope nonprofit for suicide prevention to move into three NKY schools this year

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

There’s hope Northern Kentucky.

Thanks to Diane Egbers — and Grant Us Hope.

Egbers is Founder and President of Leadership Excelleration, Inc. (LEI) and author of The Ascending Leader.

Diane Egbers

In her role with LEI, she helps business leaders secure the right talent to achieve high performance, sustain it over time and create cultures with leadership continuity.

“Leaders and organizations become the best version of themselves and achieve transformational results,” she told the Northern Kentucky Tribune.

She knows – she has 25 years developing leaders to enhance performance.

In 2016, she took those leadership skills and founded Grant Us Hope after she lost her 15-year-old son, Grant to suicide. Out of the tragedy, Diane was inspired to create Grant Us Hope in her son’s memory with the goal of bringing hope to other teens.

She is committed to changing the dialogue and stigma around teen mental health and creating awareness for suicide prevention across the country by changing the culture of schools.

And she’s taking her skill set to Northern Kentucky this Fall.

“Seven out of 10 youths say that when they are struggling with something they are more likely to confide in a peer than a trusted adult,” Egbers said. “That’s why Grant Us Hope implements Hope Squad – evidence—based peer-to-peer suicide prevention program.”

This school-based initiative includes ongoing mental health/suicide prevention curriculum and empowers youth to apply the lessons using their own creativity and keeping their specific school’s needs in mind.

“This,” says Egbers, “leads to Saving Young Lives Together.”

Hope Squad Members are trained to identify at-risk students, provide friendship and seek help from an adult, Egbers said.

At present, according to Egbers – Grant Us Hope is alive and well in Ohio and Indiana. “We’re projecting 250 schools with some 400,000 kids,” she said.

And thanks to a grant from Whiskey and Wishes – three Northern Kentucky schools are on the horizon – Dixie Heights, Notre Dame Academy and Ryle High School – with a projected start this Fall.

“The Hope Squad program contains a curriculum that utilizes QPR techniques, emphasizes suicide prevention fundamentals, self-care and anti-bullying practices,” Egbers said.

The purpose of the curriculum is to create common knowledge and understanding within the school community and does not replace the role of school counselors, according to Egbers.

“When we introduce ourselves to a school,” she said, “we have kids nominate peers they would turn to if they had issues. . .Kids that are kind and caring with trust.”

Once nominated those members form The Hope Squad; and they’re taught to reach out to peers as well as adults.

“Peers know who’s in trouble,” Egbers said.

Most schools start their Hope Squad in high school – then add Middle School, according to Egbers.

The three Northern Kentucky schools will be nominating and training with staff, coaches, students and parents with introductions this semester with their launch in the Fall.

“We feel our program is quite beneficial for Middle Schools,” she said, “the signs of suicide are quite prevalent from ages 10-14.”

Egbers stressed that the Grant Us Hope program is available and active in urban, rural and suburban schools.

“In our large schools, like Mason and Lakota districts,” she said, “we’ll have up to 36 kids in our Hope Squads, “some smaller schools may have as few as 12 squad members.”

Hope Squad meetings that are most successful, she says, are in class daily through our curriculum. “We also have after-school programs as well as a number of formats to meet the school’s needs.”

And as for Grant Us Hope’s success – Egbers says her office receives at least a call a week about a student they’ve saved.

“The feedback is tremendous,” she added, “parents are so proud to have their kids nominated, promoting leadership with good kids.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to be in Northern Kentucky,” Egbers said, “every kid deserves to be in a safe place.”

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