Social Change Fund United Scholarship

Funded by
The Social Change Fund United
Learn more about the Donor
2 winners, $5,417 each
Application Deadline
Nov 6, 2021
Winners Announced
Jan 19, 2022
Education Level

“The magnitude of racial inequality is staggering with Black lives socially, politically, and economically marginalized. We are committed to supporting organizations that directly represent and benefit the Black community with the Social Change Fund. Our goal is to create a pathway for inclusion and success by deploying the necessary funds and resources to invest in long-term change.” - Dwyane Wade

Today, Black Americans are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress than white Americans, however despite this need, only one in three Black Americans who need mental health care receive it. This is compounded with the fact that Black Americans are also not representative among mental health care professionals. According to American Psychology Association, in a study conducted in 2015, 86% of therapists in the U.S. workforce were disproportionately white, with only 5% Asian, 5% Hispanic, 4% were Black/African-American. This can be disparaging for members of the Black community seeking mental health care.

Eliminating the barriers that exist to mental health care and education in communities of color is an essential step towards healing generational trauma and creating a just society.

Social Change Fund United was created in 2020 by philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade to support critical and timely issues impacting the Black community. Now, they have created The Social Change Fund United Scholarship to help students of color achieve their dreams of becoming mental health professionals with $5,000 each toward their education.

Black students who are currently studying or plan to study mental health care, such as psychology, social work or similar, are eligible to apply.

To apply, please share your utopian vision for optimal mental health in the Black community; and how mental health care and advocacy can help achieve social justice for communities of color.

Diversity and Inclusion
Selection Criteria:
Essay, BIPOC, Mental Health, Purpose, Ambition
Essay Topic

What is your utopian vision for optimal mental health for the Black community? How can mental health care and advocacy help achieve social justice for communities of color?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Kervin Isaac
University of North FloridaJacksonville, FL
I was born to two Haitian parents that struggle to adapt to American culture. As a Haitian American, I’ve seen a lot of Caribbean families neglect to address any of the issues they faced in their childhood. My family came to this country as teenagers and dealt with countless horrors, from child trafficking to physical abuse, and they refuse to address the trauma. These traumas later impacted the relationship between myself and my family members. I struggled growing up in a dysfunctional environment and stressed myself with academic achievements to become something I never really wanted. I was depressed, dealing with anxiety, and labeled as disruptive, all things that would normally be addressed if mental health was more normalized in society. I struggled after high school, not knowing that the traumas of my past were going to heavily influence the direction of my future. I ended up working with the Department of Children and Families, with no real direction forward. I’ve spoken to families who have been listed in the Florida Safety Family Network for generations, who remain neglected because their trauma was never addressed. Consistently, Licensed Mental Health Counselors and Licensed Mental Health Social Workers were the only ones that would call in and express that their trauma was being taken care of instead of being dealt with. They were the only ones to care about how each family member was interacting with each other. They were the only ones affecting the nature of these families. An LMHC will call regardless of the information being previously reported and they’ll continue to call to update any additional information. They’re one of the few mandatory reporters that would like to be contacted by Child Protective Investigators or Adult Protective Investigators about any updates with a family. I realized that this is where I can become the change that I was searching for. My goal is to impact the lives of families, hoping to break the cycle. I don’t want to pass them along without trying to deal with the trauma that both adults and children face in their day-to-day lives. I want to be the change that impacts how my own family deals with things. I want to be the reason why they address their issues. Mental health is an expanding field, but there are concerns due to the lack of representation in mental health professions. Only 4% of therapists are of African American descent. African Americans have struggled with clashing ideals of choosing religion and seeking professional therapy. Even when they do seek therapy, there are major disconnects between the community and therapists. Black people are more likely to be misdiagnosed based on the DSM's criterion. Most therapeutic interventions are Eurocentric, designed for white westernized culture. Interventions are harder to incorporate when techniques aren’t adapted to the client’s cultural norms. It’s harder to form a therapeutic relationship with a client if you ignore the collectivist roots of their culture. Despite educational programs that influence becoming a multicultural-competent therapist, many tend to ignore the differences and force their views on clients. There needs to be more representation to address the different cultural norms that therapy tends to ignore.
Michaela Dennie
Winston-Salem State UniversityGary, IN
When I was eight years old, my mother was detained in a psychiatric ward and diagnosed with schizophrenia. While the experience was scary, mental health had been no stranger to me. I, myself, had been in therapy since I was seven due to a traumatic experience with sexual assault I had endured. I am now twenty years old, and I have attended therapy sessions semi-regularly since I was six years old. Presently, I struggle with depression and anxiety, and despite all of that, I am an African American female. I was lucky enough to grow up in a Black family that was filled with therapists and social workers, so I was never ashamed of the fact that I went to therapy or that I had these chemical imbalances in my brain. However, for a majority of the Black community, this luxury of acceptance is not as common. Mental health has a tendency to hold a negative connotation when discussed in the black community. Black adolescents are no stranger to the impression that mental illness such as depression or anxiety is close to nonexistent within their communities. However, mental illness knows no specific race or color, and therapy is not “just for white people”. Within the past few years, adolescents in the black community have strayed from the stereotypical stigmatization of mental health, and are now acknowledging the large amount of depression, anxiety, and trauma that has been suppressed in the past. As a child of a parent with a severe mental illness, I know firsthand the toll that these conditions have on individuals, and that is why I am adamant about making a change concerning mental health in black and other minority communities. My utopian vision for optimal mental health in the Black community would be the implementation of free, non-profit, mental health clinics in urban and underfunded communities. As a product of Gary, Indiana, I am no stranger to the conditions of poverty, and how deeply those in my community struggle to gain the resources necessary for the betterment of their mental health. Fortunately, self-care and mental health has become more of an accepted topic in the Black community, which makes the utopian vision seem possible. A part of this vision would be mental health centers with a plethora of services such as therapy sessions, group sessions, self-care classes, and other means of therapeutic relaxation. It is also desired that these community centers would be run by black therapists and social workers because it is equally as important to see someone who looks like us to care for our mental health just as much as we do. A community of Black mental health professionals will promote acceptance and inspire adolescents in the community. It is imperative to advocate for mental health regardless of race or color because mental illness is a condition that anyone can endure. I believe that it is important that mental health care as well as mental health awareness become a more common topic within the minority communities. Being open and honest about our internal struggles with someone--such as a therapist--will help release the stigma on mental health in the Black community and will allow room for healing as an entire race. The Black community has hundreds of years of generational trauma to overcome so that we might be able to level the playing field, and this healing process will begin when we, as a people, open up to the possibility of therapy, as well as other means of mental health care.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Nov 6, 2021. Winners will be announced on Jan 19, 2022.

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