Crisis Text Line and Steve Fund to expand information on mental health, provide support to young people of color with $863,000 from Knight Foundation

New customized texting platform aims to meet the needs of young people of color, track data to better inform communities

New York – Oct. 11, 2016 –  Crisis Text Line and the Steve Fund today announced the expansion of a joint effort to support young people of color who suffer from mental health issues with $863,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The investment will help strengthen Crisis Text Line text-messaging support services in communities of color, while increasing data collection and research.

In early 2016, Crisis Text Line, a free, 24/7 text-based support line for people in crisis, and the Steve Fund, a nonprofit focused on the mental health of students of color, launched a Knight-backed collaboration to better support young people of color in crisis. New funding will help strengthen this partnership, so the organizations can work to increase the number of racially diverse (African-American and Latino) teens who use Crisis Text Line through targeted outreach and by customized services.

They will also collaborate to expand the number of crisis counselors of color on the platform. By tracking and analyzing large collections of data in this area, the effort will inform journalists, leaders and researchers on the mental health issues of young people of color. The effort aims to create the largest youth mental health data collection on this population ever amassed via text message.

“Crisis Text Line has partnered with over 60 cities, states, universities and issue-specific organizations,” says Cornelius Bethea, crisis counselor advocate at Crisis Text Line. “This collaboration will drive more young people of color to the platform and as a result, accumulate more data that can be used to improve services for these populations.” 

“Our collaboration with Crisis Text Line not only offers a way of supporting the mental health of young people of color,” said Evan Rose, president of the Steve Fund. “It’s also an opportunity to build a line of research related to the mental health and emotional well­being of young people of color, based on evidence and data.”

“With technology and data at its core, this partnership will help explore solutions to a pressing problem, while helping to inform communities and foster more research and public attention on mental health trends among diverse youth,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for technology innovation.

Crisis Text Line launched in August 2013 and has already processed more than 23 million crisis messages leveraging over 1,800 trained volunteer crisis counselors. New funding to Crisis Text Line builds on Knight’s previous investments of more than $4 million to support the expansion of the platform. The service provides support for individuals struggling with issues such as suicide, depression, self-harm, LGBT issues, and beyond.

The Steve Fund launched in 2014. The organization promotes dialogue and effective programs and strategies to support the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.

The two organizations began their collaboration in early 2016, with a joint effort to reach out to more texters of color experiencing mental stress.

With Knight funding, the Steve Fund will further provide access to its community of experts and other affiliates to help Crisis Text Line examine the types of issues most often reported by young people of color and other questions. They will recommend interventions and improvements to tailor messages for these groups. The Steve Fund’s senior scientific adviser, Dr. Alfiee Breland-Noble, associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University, will lead the analysis of the Crisis Text Line data.

The Steve Fund will also promote awareness of Crisis Text Line to young people of color through a campus engagement program, partnerships with diverse nonprofits, and outreach via social media and public relations campaigns. A portion of the funding will also go to strengthening the Steve Fund’s capacity and reach.

Crisis Text Line has collaborated on similar efforts with other partners in the past. Examples include research projects on child abuse, LGBT communities, and the behaviors of suicidal texters in digitally mediated counseling conversation.

About Crisis Text Line
Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for people in crisis via text. For more, visit

About the Steve Fund
The Steve Fund is the nation’s only nonprofit organization focused on promoting the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit


Liz Eddy, Director of Communications, Crisis Text Line, [email protected], 212-254-2390, ext. 225

Marc Fest, The Message House, [email protected], 305-604-9500

Anusha Alikhan, Communications Director, Knight Foundation, [email protected], 305-908-2677