Lyda Hill

Lyda Hill

Philanthropist Lyda Hill, who donated $8 million last year to create the National Institute for Human Resilience at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, now will have her name attached to the charitable gift.

Renamed the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience at UCCS, the institute in the past year has produced 70 scientific publications, launched three research initiatives, added 12 research affiliates and hired a new associate professor.

The institute works to help people recover from the repercussions of trauma by building resilience, which is the ability to cope with pain and suffering from natural disasters, violence, pandemics, accidents and workplace experiences.

Not being able to deal with adversity can produce depression, anxiety, explosive anger, suicidal thoughts and other mental imbalance, according to mental health experts.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, the institute has trained more than 2,000 coaches in 42 states and eight countries in the Greater Resilience Information Toolkit, known as GRIT.

The solutions are based on research and evidence showing they work and including healing therapies, said UCCS psychology professor Chip Benight, developer of the GRIT model and the institute’s executive director.

The idea comes from 25 years of research that emphasizes “human empowerment as a key to trauma recovery and puts clients at the center of their care in order to move forward for complete recovery,” Benight said when the institute launched last year.

Such work is “so desperately needed” at this time, Hill said in a statement.

“The rapid spread of GRIT to most states and several foreign countries is a testament to the research and educational techniques utilized,” she said.

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The program that evolved into the new institute was founded 19 years ago as the Trauma, Health, and Hazards Center at UCCS.

The Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience formed last year to address the mental health challenges of individuals and groups impacted by trauma, including first responders, emergency personnel, active-duty military and veterans.

Hill also was the main donor in launching in 2014 the campus’ Veteran Health and Trauma Clinic and Mind-1 supplementation, which provides care primarily for veterans experiencing combat-related trauma.

In 2017, Hill underwrote a public safety initiative at the School of Public Affairs.

She’s also known locally for developing and building the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center and funding other education, life sciences and community revitalization projects.

Hill’s donation to the institute carries a $7.5 million challenge for the university to raise. 

Over the next five years, Benight said the more than $15 million in contributions will have national reach and fund the institute's missions of conducting resilience esearch, providing programs for healing, innovating new care models for trauma survivors and building community empowerment.

“Lyda Hill has been a champion of the work of our researchers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to expand the scope and impact to help society maintain and improve their mental resilience,” Benight said.

For information on donating, contact development director Tom Dewar, 255-5104 or email

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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