For DonorsFor Applicants

Social Change Fund United Scholarship

3 winners, $5,000 each
Application Deadline
Oct 27, 2023
Winners Announced
Dec 22, 2023
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Black or African American
Field of Study:
Mental health
Education Level:
High School Senior, Undergraduate, graduate

“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, and 4% 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 toward 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 three students of color achieve their dreams of becoming mental health professionals with $5,000 each toward their education.

Black students currently studying or plan to receive degrees in mental health related fields at U.S. based colleges and universities are eligible to apply.

The scholarship will support students committed to alleviating inequities in communities of color by pursuing careers providing quality mental health services. 

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.

Selection Criteria:
Essay, BIPOC, Mental Health, Purpose, Ambition
Published May 17, 2023
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

Amari Cody
Kennesaw State UniversityAlbany, GA
Community to me is togetherness, caring, helping, oneness, and love. People in my community may not look, live, drive, eat, dress, or thrive as I do, but I desire for them to at least have some assistance in trying to obtain a better life. I was born and raised in rural southwest Georgia where there are so many dilapidated homes, high poverty and crime rate, homelessness, and undereducated individuals. I love, love, love helping others and I have been doing so practically all my life. I’m only 18 years old but I started joining clubs in middle school and volunteering at all the activities. Collecting blankets, coats, socks, canned goods, gloves, toys, etc. for the homeless or less fortunate meant so much to me. I participated in events such as Stash the Trash—cleaning up the trash in the community, Feeding the Homeless during Thanksgiving, volunteered and worked with for the mayoral and senatorial campaigns, and many others. I continued as I entered high school and my first semester entering college, I set out to join clubs and create opportunities to assist. At Kennesaw State University, I am a part of the student volunteerism club and we have even extended a helping hand to children in another country. We collected, sorted, filtered, and shipped books to assistance children in Africa. That made me feel like I was on top of the world. Years ago, I heard this song pinned by the late Michael Jackson and it is literally the way I live my life. It says, “Heal the world make it a better place for you and for me and the entire human race; There are people dying and if you care enough for the living make it a better place for you and for me.” This too is my heart’s desire. During my very first semester at Kennesaw, some of my professors took note of my love and desire to help others and one asked if I would be his Undergraduate Teacher’s Assistant and one asked if I would be her Student Learning Assistant. In these roles, I tutored students that needed additional assistance. I have also participated in an Undergraduate Research Assistance program where we studied the psychosocial factors that promote youth behavioral health in the context of adversity, including poverty, disconnection, and exposure to violence. I am currently participating in a Sex/Human Trafficking research project. All these things coupled together will assist me as I obtain my bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in child advocacy studies, my master’s degree, and licensure in social work, and my PsyD in psychology. I’ve never missed a day of school from Pre-K through to this very day in college, I graduated high school a year early, and I also obtained my associate degree while in high school. I hold myself to such high standards because I can’t ask anyone to do anything that I am not willing to do. I pray for continued strength as I go forth in my future. As a kid, I remember telling my mother that I wanted the homeless to come eat dinner at our house for Christmas and spend the night so they would have a nice place to sleep. I still have that desire in my heart, so one day I will open a homeless shelter, a nonprofit that provides supplies for the less fortunate, a private practice to counsel those dealing with so many disparities, and tutorial services for students that need educational assistance.
Toru Fiberesima
University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago, IL
Allen Davis
University of Northern ColoradoGreeley, CO
My utopian vision for optimal mental health care is something that I work toward every day. I envision an African American community that is well-informed about mental health and embraces mental health and all its aspects and this is facilitated through the development of a great deal more mental health professionals of color. With more mental health professionals of color who are educated, advocates for people of color in communities of color. With more people of color who are educated about how to develop and maintain their own mental health then we as a people would be less susceptible to the tools of oppression leveraged against us. One of the main tools of oppression is making and keeping people of color in a crisis survival state. If you keep people off balance and under pressure to survive, then it makes them that much less likely to be able to resist inequities and injustices. Mental health, or more accurately, the mental health of the people around me, had been a huge part of my life from the beginning. I’m originally from Trenton, New Jersey. I was born into a family very much affected by generational trauma. My father was a Vietnam veteran, and my mother suffered from substance abuse. Both were taken from my life before I was eight years old due to their negative coping skills. In the African American community, mental health isn’t talked about. Mental health isn’t supported in many urban environments of color. Not many people work with the African American community because the rapport built between the therapist or mental health professional and the client is one of the most essential aspects of adequate mental health treatment. If your white, middle-aged female counselor can’t connect with you, you are more or less out of luck. Not many people of color, especially men of color, are successful in making it through mental health training programs because they are challenging in ways that are hard to prepare for. There is also a lack of support from people that understand the situation of people of color in mental health training programs or even want to in some cases. I aim to become a doctor in counseling education and supervision and provide education and resources to the veteran and African American communities to make conversations and resources around mental health more accessible. I want people of color to pay more attention to their mental health. I want to help set up systems that make the development of mental health professionals of color easier and more comfortable. I have already begun researching ways to support students of color going through mental health training programs. I’m planning research on supporting veterans of color from career specialty fields. I suffered mental health challenges while in the military and now as a veteran. It has been hard to find support. My sister died in 2021 because she did not have the resources to support her mental health. She saw how hard I struggled to manage to complete my clinical mental health counselor training and didn’t want to worry me with her struggles. It’s entirely understandable for mental health professionals not to serve their families, but she didn’t really have anyone, and now she is gone. This loss devastated her three children and me. I need the skills, credibility, and training background to get people in positions of authority to support me in making a change.
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
Indiana University-NorthwestGary, 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 Oct 27, 2023. Winners will be announced on Dec 22, 2023.

This scholarship has been awarded, but we have hundreds more!
Find a perfect scholarship now