Engaging The Steve Fund for student health and wellness

By Angie Chatman, SM ‘88   

MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach and Programs (OEOP) engaged The Steve Fund to offer scholars workshops on wellness during times of increased isolation and racial tension. Through a series of webinars and workshops, OEOP scholars have learned strategies to improve their physical and mental health.

The Steve Fund is the nation’s leading organization focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color. Founded by Professor of Engineering and Associate Dean of Faculty at Brown University and MIT alumnus, Chris Rose, SB’79, SM’81, Ph.D’85, and his family, the Steve Fund recognizes that the mental health needs of students of color are unique and poorly understood, so it works to promote programs and strategies that build understanding and assistance for the mental and emotional health of the nation’s young people of color.

“Over the past couple of years, our students experienced an unprecedented series of change, including moving all academic and social interactions online, isolation, greater awareness of systemic racism, and social unrest,” said OEOP Manager of Programs Reimi Hicks. “The Steve Fund’s tools and expertise offer our students a renewed sense of energy and empowerment to stay healthy and continue on their path towards college.”

At the height of the pandemic, the Steve Fund led a series of webinars “Our Wellness Our Peace: Persisting through the Pandemic,” and “Teen Activism: Stepping into my Power during the Pandemic,” that included a lively discussion and downtime for meditation and a personalized curated music playlist.

“The Steve Fund webinars were really helpful and informative,” said Yong Yan (Crystal) Liang, MOSTEC ’20 alumna. “Throughout the pandemic and even before, my best friend and I wanted to help other students find in person and virtual opportunities, so we started a student organization called ‘OpportuniTeens.’ Our goal is to help fellow high school students with college/career readiness through posting jobs and programs on our website and Instagram page. Attending the webinars only further supported our passion for this mission and we hope to continue this nonprofit in college too!”

More recently, the Steve Fund offered students a webinar titled “College readiness: Our Wellness, Our Peace,” which equipped students with skills to cope with, process and respond to, and heal from physical, emotional, and psychological stress and trauma, specifically caused by experiences with preparing for college, living through a pandemic, and being exposed to racial trauma.

The workshops have included a Wellness Scavenger Hunt activity where MOSTEC students formed teams and practiced using tools such as Immunity Booster smoothie recipes and natural ways to increase serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins also known as Happiness Chemical Hacks. OEOP scholars also discussed the basic checklist for physical and mental health, particularly the Big 3: sleep, exercise, and eating right.