Project Highlights

New Projects

Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship (2023-2027)

The Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health MSW Fellowship (RTBH) is committed to transforming behavioral health ecosystems to address structural inequalities, respond to intersections between culture, trauma, and colonization, and expansively represent equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging in services, supervision, and the workforce.

High debt burdens, living expenses, and requirements for internship/practicum/field placement hours have been reported by students, educators, and employers as significant barriers to college affordability, persistence, and completion, especially for adult learners, low-income students, and caregivers. As a result, many students work full time or part time jobs in retail, food service, or other low-wage, hourly occupations in addition to unpaid internships and coursework, causing many of them to fall behind in their course requirements, drop out, and/or burn out and pursue other career opportunities outside of behavioral health after program completion.

Thanks to grants from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, the United States Department of Education, and the California Social Work Education Center, the RTBH Fellowship will strengthen California's behavioral health workforce by identifying Social Work graduate students with a strong interest in working for behavioral health organizations in underserved rural and Tribal communities and provide them with Supported Basic Income during their professional graduate studies.

The related Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health Supervision Program addresses a shortage of licensed behavioral health professionals in rural and Tribal communities of Northwestern California due, in part, to challenges in securing licensure supervision for Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASWs). The Rural and Tribal Behavioral Health Supervision Program is designed for Cal Poly Humboldt MSW graduates pursuing clinical licensure and working in selected community-based organization(s) in Northwestern California that do not have the capacity to provide supervision for clinical licensure.


Mentored Internship Program

The institute supports the efforts of Mentored Internship Program (MIP) Project Director, Jamie Jensen, Ph.D., MSW, to provide opportunities for students 18 and older at multiple stages of their education to gain practical on-the-job experience. The goal of the MIP project is to enhance the professional development of diverse students through thoughtful mentored internships and to grow the future behavioral health workforce. The California Department of Health Care Services has awarded funding to several Northwestern California nonprofit behavioral health provider organizations, tribal organizations, and county-operated providers that offer mental health and substance use disorder treatment, including United Indian Health Services, Open Door Community Health Centers, Redwood Community Services, Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Mendocino County Behavioral Health & Recovery, and Hill Country Community Clinic.


Rural and Tribal Substance Use Disorder Earn & Learn Program (2023-26)

This program will increase the number of substance use disorder counselors with advanced certification in California’s outlier, rural, frontier, and Tribal communities. Over the project period, twelve undergraduate social work participants will receive a $20,000 educational stipend, comprehensive education, job experience, and support for certification as a CADC-III, CATC III, or SUDCC III.


On-Going Projects

Oliner Altruism Research Archive

Sam and Pearl Oliner's original research on Holocaust rescuers and survivors, forgiveness and apology, love and compassion, heroism, moral exemplars, and more is beginning to be shared with the world. As of 2023, over 25 audio interviews with Holocaust Rescuers and well over 100 surveys of survivor experiences during the Holocaust are available for review here:


Conversations on Altruism

Initially convened for the 40th Anniversary of the Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute (now known as the Altruistic Behavior Institute) these ongoing public conversations join seasoned academics, researchers, practitioners, and educators with a new generation of those interested in possibilities for doing good while honoring the work of Sam and Pearl Oliner. Maral Attallah, Altruistic Behavior Institute Board Member and faculty in the Cal Poly Humboldt Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, co-facilitates the conversations. Videos from previous Conversations on Altruism are available below:


Northwestern California Rural and Tribal Integrated Behavioral Health Training Program (2021-2025)

This grant through the United States' Health Resources and Services Administration expands the number of professionals working with persons in high need and high demand rural, vulnerable, and medically-underserved communities by providing team-based primary/behavioral health care training, rural/Tribal experiential training placement opportunities, a $10,000 stipend, and post-graduation employment search assistance for 34 advanced year Master of Social Work students over the project performance period.


Manifesto for Ethical Research with Indigenous Communities of Northwestern California

With support from the Cal Poly Humboldt Indian Tribal & Education Personnel Program, Sponsored Programs Foundation, and Advancement Foundation, a team of Native students is assisting in the development, production, and circulation of principles, commitments, and basic conditions necessary (but not sufficient) for ethical research with Northwestern California Tribal communities. This is particularly important given the increase in research requests stemming from Humboldt State University's transformation into California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt.


Evidence-Based Panhandling

The Institute continues to distribute pocket-sized and weather-proofed cards that aim to increase the amount of money people engaged in panhandling receive, decrease incidence of conflict between people panhandling and law enforcement, and decrease incidence of conflict between people solicited and those soliciting (thereby leaving both parties feeling safer and more respected). Read the "white paper" here.


Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies

The Altruistic Behavior Institute is a member of the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, a nonprofit organization that endeavors to be the primary assembly and professional organization of center directors committed to securing, integrating, and advancing Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education on U.S. college campuses. We are a consortium of experts that leads in scholarly projects, educational innovation, and networking opportunities. We offer our expertise and support to faculty, directors, administrators, and campus leaders seeking to strengthen existing centers, as well as develop new ones. We are a unique Consortium in that we believe in building upon the current tides of political and social concerns by incorporating our work and activism on our campuses in the service of students’ future and welfare. 

Completed Projects

Opioid Overdose Prevention and Education

The Institute has trained over 100 people across the state on administration of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medicine naloxone (Narcan) along with opioid overdose prevention education. Each trainee received two doses of naloxone to use if they encounter an opioid overdose in the course of their work. This project is winding down as naloxone has been approved for over-the counter purchase.

Fentanyl test strips were distributed across the Cal Poly Humboldt campus to provide people who use drugs with important information about fentanyl in the illicit drug supply so they can take steps to reduce risk of overdose.


Wellness Coach Certification Training Guide

The State of California has developed an early career behavioral health provider role that can provide services covered by public and private insurance. Formerly called a Behavioral Health Coach, the name Wellness Coach was recommended by consumer stakeholder groups. Wellness Coaches will be based in schools and community-based organizations to engage directly with youth 0-25 years old. Certification requires completion of a specific training curriculum. The institute developed a process to assist participating California State University undergraduate social work programs with demonstration of training equivalency.


We Live Here: Humboldt Families Coping with COVID-19

This podcast series cultivated community connections by collecting, editing, and sharing interviews with parents and caregivers of young children about their stories of struggle and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic in Humboldt County, California. Listen here.