Today we want you to meet Tessa, the winner our of Grace Gives giveaway. Grace Gives is a way for us to give back to our community by gifting a free dress and alterations to a deserving bride. When we read Tessa's story we knew she was the bride we wanted to help.

Tessa serves as the Founder and Executive Director of a Denver-based nonprofit, Upstream Education, where she is tackling the youth mental health crisis. Her story begins when she was 8 years old and began experiencing severe panic attacks in the classroom. Whenever she’d have a panic attack, her teacher would give her a stress ball or send her to the principal’s office because they didn’t know what to do.

Luckily Tessa received a full-scholarship to attend a private high school. This school completely changed her life because they prioritized student mental health by taking time out of the academic day to teach coping mechanisms using mindfulness and positive psychology. She realized in college the inequity in her education experience: she had been extremely blessed to go to a school that prioritized student well-being and mental health, but all students deserve to go to a school like this.

Tessa started Upstream because she didn’t want any student to experience the lack of mental health resources that she did in school. At Upstream, they train and equip educators with concrete tools to help students reduce their anxiety, strengthen their resilience, and increase their well-being. 

Running a nonprofit is not for the faint of heart. Tessa puts her team, our educators, our students, and our families before herself in an effort to be of highest service. We are so excited to gift a free wedding gown and alterations to Tessa. Her selflessness and dedication to the Denver community is inspiring. We can't wait to see Tess and Christian's wedding photos. We know their day is going to be perfect!

To get to know Tessa more, you can watch her TEDx talk called "The Power of 5 Minutes for Youth Mental Health."