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Laurel House Offers $10,000 Racial Equity Scholarship for a Black or Hispanic Student Pursuing a Master’s of Social Work Degree

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
 – Malcolm X


* Post updated 05/01/2024 *

In May 2022, Laurel House, Inc., the sponsor of www.rtor.org, announced the creation of a $10,000 scholarship available each year to a Black or Hispanic resident of Connecticut enrolled in a Master of Social Work program in CT or NY.

The Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship was established to improve access to mental health care in communities of color in CT by supporting the advancement of Black and Hispanic social workers committed to social change. The $10,000 scholarship will be awarded on a one-time basis to a qualifying student. The winner will be decided by Laurel House’s Award Selection Committee, and the funds will be paid directly to the school of social work where the student is enrolled to cover the cost of tuition, books, and related fees.

Two cash awards of $1,000 and $500 will also be awarded to the first and second runners-up.

To qualify for the Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship, applicants must:

  • Be a Connecticut resident
  • Be Black or Hispanic
  • Have enrolled in a Master’s of Social Work program in CT or NY in the coming academic year
  • Demonstrate need for financial assistance
  • Explain how they are dedicated to improving access to mental health care for underserved individuals in Connecticut’s communities of color
  • Include a letter of recommendation from a college or university they attended

Online applications for the 2024/2025 school year must be submitted on or before May 15, 2024. Winners will be announced Monday, July 1, 2024 by the Award Selection Committee.



Scholarship winners are not eligible to receive a second award. Past runners-up may re-apply for the Scholarship.

Employees of Laurel House, Inc. and members of their families are not eligible for this scholarship. However, Laurel House employees may apply for tuition assistance of up to $5,000 per year for relevant graduate studies.

The Need for More BIPOC Social Workers in Connecticut

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) have higher rates of some mental health disorders and face greater disparities in access to services than Whites, largely due to lack of access to services (American Psychological Association). With proper mental health care, 70 – 90% of people with mental illness experience a significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life. However, people of color seeking help for a mental health problem encounter significant barriers, including low accessibility and high cost of treatment, stigma, and low availability of local, culturally relevant mental health care resources.

According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), nearly 67 percent of the nation’s licensed social workers are White, while 15 percent are Black, and only 12.4 percent are Hispanic or Latino. Black and Latino communities in the US value self-reliance, but when someone shows signs of a mental health problem, the first response may not be to seek help from a therapist or mental health professional. Mistrust of the medical establishment and helping professions is rooted deeply in communities of color, the result of generations of racism, discrimination, and trauma.

According to a paper published in the National Library of Medicine, BIPOC clients feel that issues regarding race and ethnicity are more important than those of White clients. Cultural relevance and responsiveness of care are important to BIPOC clients and affect how they respond to services.

Dr. Jessica Welt, CEO and Clinical Director of the Child Guidance Center of Southern CT, states that organizations like hers strive to attract clinicians who are representative of the clients they serve, as there is considerable evidence that this is a predictor of improved treatment outcomes. Laurel House’s Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship “will provide invaluable support to BIPOC individuals with a demonstrated commitment to serving communities of color and helping reduce health disparities in our state,” says Dr. Welt.

Our Tribute to Kathleen Gilbert, LCSW, Resources to Recover Advisory Board Director

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Kathleen Gilbert is the inspiration for Laurel House’s Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship. She is a highly accomplished social worker who epitomizes the ideals and values of the profession. In her work for Darien High School and Board of Education, Kathy counseled students and their families.  She was also mentor and role model to many Laurel House counselors whom she supervised for clinical licensure. As a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Chapter of NASW, Kathleen was a strong advocate for the profession. She currently serves as a Board Director on Resources to Recover’s Advisory Board and the Award Selection Committee for the Racial Equity Scholarship.

Details about the Laurel House Social Work Racial Equity Scholarship and an online application form are available on Laurel House’s website.


About Laurel House, Inc. and www.rtor.org

Laurel House, Inc. helps individuals and families achieve and sustain mental health to lead fulfilling lives in the community. Our core purpose is social inclusion, early intervention, and recovery. The mission of www.rtor.org, a free service of Laurel House and a gateway website to mental health resources, is to close the gap between detection of the first signs of emerging mental health problems and engagement in effective care and treatment.

Laurel House and www.rtor.org are committed to the advancement of racial equity and social justice, and to making mental health services accessible to all.

Image by Adobe Stock

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Jay Boll, Editor in Chief www.rtor.org

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