UNCF and the Steve Fund Announce Two-Year Partnership

Media Contact

Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231 monique.lenoir@uncf.org

Focusing on transforming mental health outcomes at 40 Black colleges and universities

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and the Steve Fund announced today a two-year partnership to transform student mental health and wellbeing outcomes with a focus on campuses of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs). The collaboration will bring together the UNCF’s efforts to build capacity at our nation’s Black colleges and the Steve Fund’s expertise in supporting the mental health of young people of color.

“Today more than ever, we are keenly aware that student success is linked to the ability of institutions to respond to the mental health status of their students,” says Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “Our students have shown tremendous resilience in the face of an unprecedented and unpredictable time. Together with the Steve Fund, we are ready to place the mental health of Black students and Black colleges and universities at the center of an initiative focused on their student success and excellence.”

the Steve Fund logoThe partnership kicked off in 2021 with a student conference and HBCU mental health survey that received responses from 47 HBCUs. The survey revealed that nearly 70% of HBCU students expressed a desire to be informed of resources and events regarding emotional wellbeing. Together, UNCF and the Steve Fund will also host a mental health track at UNITE 2022: UNCF Summit on Black Higher Education.

This expanded partnership will build a more comprehensive research and action plan to strengthen the culture of mental health and emotional wellbeing at up to 40 HBCU and PBI campuses, while also supporting leaders, faculty and staff. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s racial reckoning and polarizing media and political debates, students of color are experiencing heightened incidences of stress, racialized trauma and mental health challenges in their communities.

“Black students face very real mental health stressors and challenges today that must be addressed,” explains Dr. Tia Dole, executive director of the Steve Fund. “This unique collaboration with UNCF will focus attention on mental health on campus and foster communities of action that break down stigma and promote mental health information, tools and resources on HBCU campuses—and serve as foundational work in the Steve Fund’s growing HBCU portfolio.”

The Healthy Minds Study (HMS) from the Healthy Minds Network is a key resource the new partnership will use to help each HBCU gain and share a detailed look at the mental health, service utilization and attitudes about mental wellness among undergraduate and graduate students. Since its national launch in 2007, HMS has been used at 400 colleges and universities, with more than 550,000 survey respondents. Healthy Minds plans to collaborate with UNCF through its Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute to uncover new data to understand the dynamics of mental health on the campuses of Black colleges and universities.

“This new partnership represents a powerful way to gauge and then support the mental health of a critically important segment of our nation’s students and leaders on HBCU and PBI campuses,” says Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, principal investigator at the Healthy Minds Network. “We could not be more excited to embark on this work with UNCF and the Steve Fund.”

To achieve these shared goals, the two-year partnership will pursue mutually reinforcing lines of actions to promote mental health and wellness on HBCU campuses, including:

  • Hiring a postdoctoral fellow who will focus explicitly on the initiative. The fellow will be a graduate of one of the nation’s HBCUs or PBIs.
  • Administering the Healthy Minds study to all participating HBCUs with each campus receiving reports and Healthy Minds leading development of a comprehensive assessment report of all participating institutions.
  • The Steve Fund will collaborate with UNCF to deliver a student-facing conference, building on its pilot January 2022 conference with continued focus on the mental health and wellness needs of Black students.
  • Based on the Healthy Minds Study results, the Steve Fund will deliver responsive programming for UNCF HBCUs intended to meet campuses where they are, address surfacing mental health needs, and build institutional capacity to serve student mental health needs.

“While the current mental health landscape for young people of color is very challenging,” Dole adds, “we believe this new partnership and the lines of actions we’ll pursue, will give us a path to reach and support young people. And that gives us a lot of hope.”



About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 13% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 24% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.


About the Steve Fund

The Steve Fund is the nation’s leading organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color. Working with colleges and universities, nonprofits, researchers, mental health experts, families, and young people, the Steve Fund promotes programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s young people of color. Learn more at stevefund.org and follow the Steve Fund at @thestevefund.


About the Healthy Minds Network

The Healthy Minds Network is dedicated to improving the mental and emotional well-being of young people through innovative, multidisciplinary scholarship. HMN spans coast to coast with our principal investigators at the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, and Boston University. Our network proudly serves as a resource for secondary and post-secondary education administrators, students, researchers, clinicians, policy-makers, and the greater public. For 15 years, the network has administered the Healthy Minds Study, a population-level survey of post-secondary student mental health, collecting over half a million responses from students at 400+ colleges and universities.