Saturday, April 8, 2017

Nation’s only non-profit focused on the mental health of students of color, the Steve Fund, has appointed its first Executive Director, Dr. Terri D. Wright

 Dr. Terri D. Wright


Terri D. Wright, PhD, MPH, a leading public health education and policy expert, has been named Executive Director of the Steve Fund, the nation’s only non-profit focused on the mental health of students of color.  

NEW YORK, NY, April 6, 2017 — Terri D. Wright, PhD, MPH, an experienced and nationally renowned public health education and policy expert, has joined the Steve Fund as the organization’s first Executive Director. The two-year-old non-profit is the nation’s only organization focused on the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.

Most recently, Dr. Wright served as the Director of the Center for School, Health & Education and of the Center for Public Health Policy at the American Public Health Association. Prior to joining APHA in 2010, Dr. Wright served as a program director for health policy for the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for 12 years.  Dr. Wright has also served as Maternal and Child Health Director and Bureau Chief for Child and Family Services at the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing, Michigan. 

“We have found a leader with the perfect background and combination of talents,” says Evan Rose, President of the Board of the Steve Fund. “Dr. Wright has worked all her life for a more equal chance at health for everybody, and I think we are lucky to have her incredible talents focus now on increasing mental health equity.” 

“I am incredibly excited to join the Steve Fund at a time when leaders at colleges and universities are becoming increasingly aware of the urgency around mental health in the context of students of color, in large part because of the Steve Fund’s activities to date, but also because of the more intense national discourse around race and equity issues” says Dr. Wright. “There is a shift in awareness going on, and for the Steve Fund this constitutes a real opportunity to make a profound difference. I am also very happy personally to have this unique opportunity to expand on my past public health work involving students and families.” 

Studies show that students of color at American colleges and universities are almost twice as likely to not seek help when they feel depressed or anxious. They also report more micro-aggressions than their European American counterparts. 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.

Recent activities of the Steve Fund include:   

  • Collaborating with the JED Foundation on a framework of evidence-informed recommended practices for improving support for the mental health of students of color on college and university campuses. The project includes a Nielsen study with 1,000 college and university students. A draft version of the framework was recently discussed by 110 senior higher education leaders gathered at Morgan Stanley headquarters in New York. The results will be rolled out nationally in early 2017.
  • A partnership with Crisis Text Line, an online crisis support service, and with the Knight Foundation to enable students of color to text the keyword “Steve” to 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Steve Fund scholarships to young scholars to research psychological challenges confronting their respective populations, in cooperation with three notable U.S. mental health organizations.
  • A convening for more than 250 leaders in mental health and higher education for the Steve Fund’s third annual Young, Gifted & @Risk Conference in partnership with the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis last November.
  • Partnerships with organizations such as Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), the NAACP, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow as part of the Steve Fund’s efforts to bring mental health programming to organizations serving people of color.
In 2017, the Steve Fund plans to continue its focus on college students and to expand activities that support young people of color who are in transition from college to life beyond and their families. 

About the Steve Fund
The Steve Fund is the nation’s only philanthropic organization focused on promoting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color. It prioritizes students transitioning into college, those enrolled in college, and young people transitioning from college into emerging adulthood. The Steve Fund uses programs, research, thought leadership, strategic partnerships, technology innovations and communications to stimulate dialogue and best practices that reduce stigma, build knowledge, and support assistance to its target group of young people. Enhancing the effectiveness of higher education institutions around the emotional and mental health of students from diverse families and communities is critical to the mission of the Steve Fund. 

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