Jonas Philanthropies Announces $250,000 Grant to Support Children’s Health Fund’s Terra Firma: Healthcare and Justice for Immigrant Children

The five-year grant will directly fund a groundbreaking medical-legal clinic that provides
medical, mental health and social services to unaccompanied immigrant children


NEW YORK, NY, February 20, 2019 – Jonas Philanthropies, an organization committed to investing in healthcare solutions for the country’s most vulnerable citizens, has announced a five-year $250,000 grant to support Terra Firma, a first-of-its-kind medical-legal clinic committed to addressing the complex medical, mental health and legal needs of unaccompanied immigrant children in the U.S.


Terra Firma, a partnership program between Children’s Health Fund, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, and Catholic Charities was launched in response to the influx of migrant children seeking asylum in the United States. Since 2014, the U.S. has seen a dramatic surge in unaccompanied immigrant children and families seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border: over 50,000 children in 2018 alone – a 21 percent jump from 2017 – many of whom have never received comprehensive pediatric or mental healthcare.


“The American public is becoming increasingly aware of the tragedy at our border and the impact on innocent children and families,” says Donald Jonas, co-founder of Jonas Philanthropies. “Awareness is but a piece of the process; now we must call for action for something that is truly universal: the health and wellbeing of children. We are honored to partner with Terra Firma, an organization at the helm of this most worthy cause, and we are confident our five-year partnership will strengthen their operations to help make a greater impact.”


The grant from Jonas Philanthropies will provide critical funding for Terra Firma’s first full-time program administrator, who will coordinate clinical, legal and youth enrichment services, ensuring effective delivery of the program’s key components.

“We are so honored that Jonas Philanthropies shares our mission to help vulnerable populations,” says Alan Shapiro, MD, co-founder of Terra Firma. “The children coming to our program have experienced incredible hardship; being exposed to unspeakable violence in their native countries and during their journey to seek protection in the U.S. Our program was born out of the urgent need to address the psychological and physical trauma they have endured and provides a medical home for these children. Healthcare and legal professionals also work together to help unaccompanied immigrant children gain a pathway to legal residency – an important step towards the normalization of their lives. Since our program started at the Fall of 2013, we’ve helped over 500 children and their families, yet every day, the demand for our work grows. It’s not an understatement to say our work saves lives and we are deeply grateful that these donated funds will allow us to expand our services to meet the needs of more children.”


“Immigrant children and their families face increasing hurdles that affect their well-being and heighten their vulnerability. It’s a priority for CHF to champion the work of Terra Firma and the many other programs in our national network that work tirelessly to support the growing numbers of families who need our help,” said Children’s Health Fund CEO Dennis Walto.


About Jonas Philanthropies
Jonas Philanthropies is transforming healthcare for the better by investing where it matters most, in solutions that can be scaled for the greatest impact. Its programs address high-need issues and audiences with high-impact solutions: promoting leadership in nursing and veterans healthcare, preventing and treating low vision and blindness, and protecting our children’s environmental health.

For more information about the Jonas Philanthropies, visit, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

About Terra Firma
Terra Firma: Healthcare and Justice for Immigrant Children is a groundbreaking medical-legal partnership, designed to address the complex medical, mental health and legal needs of unaccompanied immigrant children (UIC) and families seeking asylum. The Terra Firma model promotes health and wellbeing through direct services and advocacy. Its location in a community health center in an immigrant-rich community in the South Bronx has been an important element of our success, enhancing trust and facilitating access to multi-disciplinary and multi-sector appointments at one time and in one place. Since its inception in 2013, Terra Firma has cared for 454 unaccompanied immigrant children and 50 families (50 adults and 65 children).

Services include: comprehensive immigrant-focused primary care, co-located and integrated mental health services with expertise in trauma, case management subspecialty referrals, insurance enrollment, and nutrition. Terra Firma also runs a robust youth enrichment program that includes: ESL classes (for adults, too), photography, soccer, Zumba, workshops, and field trips.

In partnership with Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services, pro bono immigration attorneys are co-located at the health center. The legal team conducts intakes, provides legal representation and leads Know Your Rights workshops. The medical-legal partnership is a core component of the program and is crucial to its effectiveness. Healthcare providers uncover important physical and psychological trauma and use this to write professional affidavits that become evidence for immigration cases. To date, no case in which a professional affidavit has been submitted has been lost. Ultimately, Terra Firma empowers immigrant children and families to enhance resiliency, attain stability, and reach their full potential.

About the Children’s Health Fund

Children’s Health Fund (CHF) envisions a future where all children in the United States get the care and support they need to thrive.  Because healthcare is a critical component of that vision and inequities in access exist, CHF’s mission is to ensure access to high-quality healthcare for America’s most disadvantaged children. CHF also works to reduce health barriers to learning, bring the voice of children to local and national policy debates, and, in times of disaster, activate to care for those in need.

Since 1987, CHF has been delivering high quality, comprehensive healthcare to children in some of the most impoverished and underserved communities in the country.  From South LA to Phoenix, from Chicago to the South Bronx, our National Network of 26 programs and fleet of 50 mobile medical units have provided care to thousands of poor children in over 400 service sites:  fixed-site clinics, schools, Head Start centers, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and community agencies.
Media Contacts:

Jonas Philanthropies                                                    

Sharp Communications, Inc.
Danielle Muzones, ext. 137


Children’s Health Fund
Meredith Shapiro

Communications Manager