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Our Audacious project: Making mental health support accessible to over 9 million Central Americans

On April 11th, The Audacious Project announced Glasswing International as a 2021 grantee and has catalyzed funding of $42M over 5 years for the organization to expand access to mental health care and support at the community level in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Glasswing is the first organization whose team and programming are based in Latin America to which The Audacious Project has committed funding, and its work will bring trauma-informed care to over 9 million Central Americans.

The Problem

Over the past 20 years, the rate of violence has been increasing and has now reached crisis proportions in Central America, disrupting millions of lives and holding back social and economic development. The challenge is most extreme in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — the region known as the Northern Triangle.

Exposure to chronic and acute violence can result in trauma — which can have severe negative consequences for individuals, communities, and the region as a whole. Traumatic events — including experiencing or witnessing violence — are linked to chronic physical and mental health problems, diminished educational and economic outcomes, and an increased likelihood to perpetuate or be revictimized. Violence and trauma have also led to a loss of talent as hundreds of thousands of young people and families have been forced to flee the region.

Despite this context, access to mental health care to mitigate the effects of trauma is virtually nonexistent in these countries. Mental health remains stigmatized and underfunded, and there are very few mental health professionals, especially at the community level.

  • The region is home to only 8% of the world’s population, but 37% of its homicides, and over a third of Latin Americans reported being a victim of violent crime in 2016 alone.
  • According to the United Nations Human Development Report for El Salvador (2018) in 2014, violence had a total economic cost of USD 4,026.3 million, equivalent to 16% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the country, more than health (4.78%) and education (3.82%) combined.
  • In El Salvador, there are only 3.5 mental health professionals per 100,000 individuals, compared to over 271 per 100,000 in the US. In Honduras, this number drops to 2.14.
  • This is true in school systems as well. In El Salvador, for example, there are only 88 psychologists for every million students.

The Opportunity

Our Audacious project is to democratize mental health in the most violence-affected communities in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. With $42M over 5 years, we will rewire over 2,000 institutions, including schools, in 25 of the highest-risk municipalities in the Northern Triangle, as well as every one of El Salvador’s 30 hospitals and their surrounding clinics and precincts.

Bringing trauma-informed support to over 9 million people across the region by increasing trauma and self-care knowledge and skills:


School-based mental
health programs


trauma intervention


Trauma training
for law enforcement

Our trauma-Informed mental health ecosystem will have three levels of care:

  • Prevention and protection >> trauma training for frontline workers who serve individuals at risk of experiencing trauma
  • Acute care >> a smaller group will be trained as crisis interventionists to support survivors of violent injuries and aid in healing
  • Growing network of community-based support >> a subset of interventionists will be also trained to replicate their knowledge and skills with peers and other organizations.

Our Expected Impact

Reduction in negative effects of trauma for trained individuals and those they interact with:

  • Improved emotional regulation and coping skills for all trained individuals
  • Increased protective factors for all students at participating schools
  • Increased social cohesion
  • Increased workforce and institutional competence related to mental health and well-being, including greater support for frontline workers

Reduction in violence, a core contributor to and consequence of trauma

  • Reduced rates of peer-to-peer violence in participating schools
  • Reduced likelihood of readmission for a violent injury for patients that receive individual care from trained health personnel
  • Increased perception of safety in the community

Help us expand mental health in the region by joining our Audacious initiative and donating today.

About The Audacious Project

Launched in April 2018, The Audacious Project is a collaborative funding initiative that’s catalyzing social impact on a grand scale. Housed at TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, and with support from leading social impact advisor The Bridgespan Group, The Audacious Project convenes funders and social entrepreneurs with the goal of supporting bold solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges.