Mental health of students of color is focus for first-of-its-kind non-profit

The Steve Fund partners with tech startups and others to support the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.

New York City (October 10, 2015) More than a year ago, the family of Stephen C. Rose established in his memory The Steve Fund, the nation’s first organization focused on improving the support for the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. After an initial year of convening experts, surveying the research landscape, and building strategic partnerships, the Fund, on World Mental Health Day (Oct 10), will announce three new projects to support the mental health of students of color:

1.  A text/SMS-based crisis support line in partnership with Crisis Text Line
3. A partnership with one of the nation’s leading organizations for student mental health, the JED Foundation, to create guidelines for colleges to better support student mental health
4. The second national conference on mental health of students of color, at Stanford University on November 20, 2015

“Research shows that differences in the ethnic background of students require culturally-sensitive approaches to fully support their mental health and emotional well-being,” says Stephanie Bell-Rose, Stephen C. Rose’s mother and a co-founder of the Steve Fund. “But these needs are understudied, and underserved.”

Studies show that students of color at American colleges and universities are often less likely to seek help when they feel depressed or anxious. They report more micro-aggressions than their European American counterparts.  According to a Harris poll (source: – p. 23), they are nearly twice as likely to report feeling less emotionally prepared when they first started college compared to their peers. Only 49% of African Americans students complete their 4-year college education, compared to 71% of white, non-Hispanic students, according to a CollegeBoard report (source: – p. 5).

“All we have is anecdotal data when it comes to the mental health determinants for students of color,” says Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University. “You would be hard-pressed to find any research, large-scale, conducted in a rigorous fashion.”

The mission of the Steve Fund is to grow knowledge and thought leadership among researchers, practitioners, young people and national leaders, work in partnership with other charitable organizations and educational institutions to promote mental and emotional well-being of students of color, build awareness and voice among students, and help introduce culturally sensitive best practices for mental health support at colleges and universities.

During its first year the Fund has co-convened top mental health scientists and college administrators at a national conference at Brown University and organized a well-attended series of expert Webinars. The Fund also developed a team of experts in research, education, and mental health to create a knowledge base of existing research and inform the Fund’s directions and activities. The Webinars and videos based on the symposium are available on the Fund’s Web site at The Fund will hold its second national conference at Stanford University on November 20, 2015.

The Steve Fund has teamed up with a text/SMS-messaging-based crisis hotline to provide support. Through Crisis Text Line, the fund will recruit, select, and train a group of young people of color to become crisis counselors. A unique keyword for communities of young people of color will provide access to free, 24/7 support when in crisis – all via text. The service is scheduled to launch in winter 2015. For more information visit

The Steve Fund has also partnered with the JED Foundation to jointly create a comprehensive set of recommended practices to help college leaders, professionals, students and families support the emotional and mental health of college students of color. The JED Foundation is a leading national non-profit working to promote emotional health and prevent suicide among young adults and college students.

Evan Rose, Stephen Rose’s brother, tech entrepreneur, and Fund president, says: “JED has an impressive record of accomplishment in its work with colleges on behalf of students, and together we will build and implement a program that reaches students from every background, especially those who are underrepresented in our higher education system.”

For more information about the partnership, please visit

“The Steve Fund is not ‘just’ about helping students of color deal with mental stress,” continues Evan Rose. “With minorities forming the majority of Americans by 2044, and the majority of children by 2020, the future success of our nation will depend on the mental health and emotional well-being of all student populations, and on colleges and universities providing support appropriately.”

(Source for census data: NPR, 2015:

For media inquiries, please contact: Marc Fest,, 305 604 9500