Zalik Gives Big for Children’s Mental Health
Children's Health Care of Atlanta receives a $34 million site for mental health center.
The Zalik Foundation, founded four years ago by high tech entrepreneur David Zalik and his wife, Helen, has donated a 10-acre site near the new hospital being constructed by Children’s Health Care of Atlanta.
The site, which is valued at over $34 million, is alongside the northbound I-85 access road adjacent to the billion-dollar main campus that Children’s Healthcare is building on North Druid Hills Road. The Zalik gift, which includes two existing office buildings, will be devoted exclusively to the psychological needs of children. The plan is for the health care provider to build what it calls “a transformative center that will innovate the way behavioral and mental health care is delivered in Georgia.”
The Zalik’s bequest was announced just two months after Children’s announced the hiring of Dr. John Constantino as its new director. He is expected to oversee the expansion of the health care system efforts to increase its psychological services program.
Dr. Constantino, a child psychiatrist, came from St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine’s program in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which he headed. He praised the generosity of the Zaliks for helping to lay the foundation of Children’s new commitment to expanding pediatric mental health.
“With the Zalik’s gift and Children’s deep commitment to impacting the problem, our expanding corps of mental health professionals will have a venue in which to meet the community’s ever-increasing needs for child mental health care, in a space that supports recovery and is conducive to coordinated delivery of the latest innovations in clinical practice.”
Constantino pointed out that, in the last seven years, the number of children needing medical care for behavioral or mental health issues has more than doubled. The average age of patients is now only 9 years old.
According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the suicide rate for children increased 60 percent in the state last year. For children between the ages of 10 and 14, it is now the second leading cause of death.
It’s statistics like these that gained the attention of Helen Zalik who, in announcing the gift, said that the mental health of children is “something that affects everyone, and the crisis is growing exponentially.”
“We are humbled by this unique opportunity to provide tzedakah to help Children’s further enhance its standing as a healthcare provider at the forefront of answering the call for help,” Helen Zalik said, “and for it to become a leading model for other children’s hospitals working to address the mental health crisis.”
This is the second large grant that the Zalik Foundation has made this year. In June, they gave The Weber School a $19 million grant to expand its facilities. The new funding will help the school to build an Israel and Global Education Academy and a Music and Performing Arts Academy that will include a theater building with studios for dance and recorded music.
Last year, David Zalik sold the financial services company he founded, GreenSky, to Goldman Sachs, for $2.24 billion. In October, Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of The Home Depot, declassed that he was helping to mentor the couple as they have expanded their giving.
Marcus told an online audience at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center that he was working with the Zaliks to help them master the process of philanthropy that he has practiced over the last 20 years. The goal, according to Marcus, is to make sure that a philanthropic gift achieves the outcomes that have been set by the donor.
“The process of giving away money is easy. You write a check. But being involved with it and making sure that it works properly is where the challenge is. I think what he did with Children’s Healthcare was great, a wonderful gift. And I think that’s going to help them a lot. They have the leadership, fortunately. So, when you give them money, you spell out what you want them to do with that money, and you make sure they do the things you agreed to. That’s the follow up,” Marcus said.
The process of giving away money is easy. You write a check. But being involved with it and making sure that it works properly is where the challenge is. I think what he did with Children’s Healthcare was great, a wonderful gift. And I think that’s going to help them a lot.
The Zaliks’ gift joins a significant project that Marcus funds through his foundation to support the Marcus Autism Center of Children’s, one of the nation’s most ambitious research and treatment center for the full spectrum of autism disorders in children.
In addition, three years ago, Children’s opened an outpatient clinic to work with youngsters who are experiencing anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, medical adherence, and conduct and behavior challenges. This additional location, funded by the Zalik donation, will help them to expand capacity for treatment and to provide a center for the 200 professionals there for research with community partners.
- Bob Bahr
- The Zalik Foundation
- David Zalik
- Helen Zalik
- Children’s Health Care of Atlanta
- Dr. John Constantino
- St. Louis Children’s Hospital
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- Georgia Bureau of Investigation
- The Weber School
- Global Education Academy
- Music and Performing Arts Academy
- Goldman Sachs
- Bernie Marcus
- Home Depot
- Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center
- Marcus Autism Center
- sleeping problems
- medical adherence