A Minnesota-based organization is an inaugural winner of an award focused on recovery. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced the winners of the first behavioral health Recovery Innovation Challenge. A panel made up of political and academic figures identified 10 organizations that have developed innovations that advance mental health or substance use disorder recovery.
Among the winners is Voices of Hope, a Minnesota-based organization that fosters healing through singing for incarcerated people. Created by Dr. Jim Verhoye and Dr. Amanda Weber in 2015, Voices of Hope began as a 17-member women’s choir at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee.
It has since grown to nearly 50 singers. In 2020, Voices of Hope formed a men’s choir at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater. Also, a group of former Voices of Hope-Shakopee members are working to build a re-entry choir for women.
Voices of Hope will receive $40,000 in prize money, as will the other nine winners. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that SAMHSA’s Recovery Innovation Challenge will allow the department to learn about innovative recovery tools that can be scaled nationwide.