Scholars Latino Initiative Scholarships

by Scholars Latino Initiative

This semester has been an exciting and significant time for SLI participants and supporters! Under the guidance of dedicated student leadership and knowledgeable faculty advisers, the SLI program has continued to blossom as our mentees further their personal journeys to higher education. Throughout the past several months, we have held several events for the academic and cultural enrichment of our students, as well as solidified the important bonds between mentors and mentees. In October, the SLI community events committee planned a Halloween-themed get-together for mentors and mentees. Most recently, SLI families and friends gathered together on the UNC campus for the annual holiday party, complete with a potluck dinner, a recap of the successes of the semester, and a white elephant gift exchange.

In addition to these regular social gatherings, SLI students also participated in service activities and the Early College classes with Dr. Peter Kaufman. Through these lectures, readings, and related assignments, SLI students experience the rigor and excitement of college-level academics. Our SAT preparation committee has been working diligently with the SLI mentees, sending them weekly SAT sample questions and essay prompts to tackle with the help of their mentors. SLI also led a campus-wide book drive, in which members of the university community donated SAT and Advanced Placement testing materials to be used in the preparation of SLI mentees for these important exams. In its organizational sector, the SLI Development Committee also recently revamped the SLI website in order to better convey its mission and goals to prospective mentors, mentees, and supporters, as well as to keep the entire community apprised of SLI events and news.

As we prepare for the spring semester, we would like to thank you for following the progress of the SLI program. We truly appreciate your support and wish you a wonderful 2010!

Scholars’ Latino Initiative is thrilled to begin another semester of meaningful service and enrichment. To start off the year, our SLI Student Executive Board came together to organize and improve on the structure of our organization and set goals for the 2009-2010 school year. The exciting new changes, including more focused and intensive committee work, promise to enable a more efficient and effective realization of SLI’s mission of helping Latino students pursue their dreams of higher education.

Our first group event of the year was our annual SLI Fall Fiesta, which brought together mentees, mentors, and families of the junior and senior classes to rekindle their relationships and renew academic and personal goals. Maintaining regular contact with their SLI mentors at UNC, our junior and senior mentees are hard at work preparing for the next phase in their education. In all of our three sites, Siler City, Lee County, and Asheboro, our juniors are focusing on academic improvement and SAT preparation, while our seniors are busy compiling essays and information for their college acceptance and scholarship applications.

This past week, the Scholars’ Latino Initiative was honored and excited to present our new sophomore class of mentors and mentees. At a meet-and-greet event on the UNC campus on Saturday, mentees from all three sites were introduced to their enthusiastic and accomplished SLI mentors. This year’s mentor class is our most diverse group of UNC students ever, containing musicians, dancers, water-skiers, Portuguese speakers, and Swedish, German, Chinese, Spanish, and Turkish students! We are eager to see this new set of mentors and mentees accomplish goals together.

Furthermore, at the beginning of this school year, SLI was thrilled to see the UNC campus explore the issues faced by Latino immigrants through A Home on the Field, a book by SLI Board Member Paul Cuadros and the required summer reading book for incoming freshman. After studying the book over the summer, UNC first year students participated in discussion sessions in which they delved into the difficult issues presented in A Home on the Field and educated themselves about the precarious position of Latino immigrants in North Carolina.

As the fall semester progresses, SLI will continue to support our scholars and their communities. We truly appreciate your support as we strive to make positive changes in the lives of our participants!

Scholars Latino Initiative is celebrating the close of another year of outstanding growth and service. This past year alone, SLI participants racked up nearly 8,000 hours of community service. SLI’s dedication to service helped earn UNC-Chapel Hill a spot on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, a prestigious recognition for commitment to service and civic engagement. SLI was specified as one of five organizations that helped the University earn this distinction. We’d like to highlight one of this year’s outstanding graduates. Oswaldo “Oz” Contreras, a SLI program participant and student at Jordan Matthews High School, earned the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. His parents, who completed only elementary school, escaped a civil war in El Salvador. Oz excels in his AP classes, serves as captain of his school’s soccer team, translates his family’s bills and mail, and frequently wakes up before dawn to earn money before school starts. Oz’s story was recently featured on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. (See it here: The Morehead-Cain, widely recognized as one of the most distinguished undergraduate scholarships in the world, covers full tuition and all expenses for four years of study, as well as summer enrichment programs and grants for personal exploration.

To raise awareness and scholarship funds, SLI hosted a benefit dinner on February 27th , 2009, in the FedEx Global Education Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. The dinner, which drew nearly 150 guests, featured campus “celebrity waiters,” including as Rhodes Scholars, the Student Body President, Chancellor Emeritus Moeser, favorite professors, and members of the women’s national championship soccer team. Douglas García, Assistant Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, was the keynote speaker, addressing issues regarding Latinos in education. SLI mentors and mentees also shared their personal stories with guests.

Finally, A Home on the Field, by SLI board member Paul Cuadros, was recently selected as the 2009 Summer Reading Program book at UNC-Chapel Hill which is read by all entering freshmen. The book chronicles the story of a Latino high school soccer team in Siler City, where SLI began. A Home on the Field addresses many issues affecting Latino immigrants in North Carolina, telling a story of incredible perseverance in the face of tough obstacles.

SLI is making a marked difference in the lives of our scholars and their communities, and we look forward to your continued support as our program grows!

Scholars’ Latino Initiative had much success in spring 2008 and looks forward to additional growth in the 2008-2009 academic year. The program is now housed under the UNC Center for Global Initiatives and continues to increase awareness of Latino education issues on the UNC campus and in North Carolina. We look forward to additional collaboration with both the Center for Global Initiatives and the UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas.

In May 2008, the Siler City and UNC communities celebrated the graduation of eight members of the SLI program at Jordan Matthews High School in Chatham County. Seven of the eight graduates were admitted into four-year colleges, including Harvard, Amherst, Guildford, University of Richmond, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro, Appalachian State, and Meredith College. Many of these students received scholarships to assist with the cost of college attendance from SLI’s Scholarship Fund.

The 2008-2009 academic year will be one of much-anticipated growth, as Scholars’ Latino Initiative continues to expand to other under-resourced communities. In August, Scholars’ Latino Initiative will expand into Lee County, making a total of three rural North Carolina Counties served by SLI-North Carolina centered at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill (Chatham County, Asheboro County, and Lee County). Also in August, at the University of Richmond, the new SLI-Virginia branch will assemble its first conference with Virginia school district officials to select sites for SLI's expansion.

As SLI continues to expand in North Carolina and Virginia, the need for scholarship fund support is even greater. In the future, we look forward to additional growth of Public Service Corp, a program where SLI’s high school students assist younger, at-risk kids from their community.

Look for additional updates in the coming months as SLI continues to grow!

SLI Students at UNC Landmark, the Old Well
SLI Students at UNC Landmark, the Old Well

This fall, SLI welcomed twelve new pairs of Latino/a high school students and their undergraduate mentors. We are pleased to welcome them into the SLI community as they begin their pursuit of a higher education.

1) We’re delighted to announce that college acceptances for SLI seniors are arriving weekly! The University of North Carolina at Greensboro has accepted two SLI seniors, as has East Carolina University. We’re also proud to say that one of our seniors has received a full scholarship to Guilford College.

2) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chancellor James Moeser expressed his support for SLI this November when he visited Jordan Matthews High School to meet with the mentors and their students.

3) Janet Jarman, the award-winning photojournalist and documentary producer, who is based in Mexico, will be visiting Jordan Matthews High School February 6th and 7th. Jarman's work has been published in The New York Times, The Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Newsweek, Fortune, and on MSNBC.COM.

3) SLI students also started a letter writing campaign to thank North Carolina governor Mike Easley for supporting educational access for all undocumented students at NC community colleges, thus strengthening North Carolina’s future economy and its workforce, and maintaining the fight to keep higher education accessible to all people.

4) Plans to expand SLI to two other rural North Carolina counties have been drafted following invitations from several school officials. Keep an eye out for more information on our exciting growth in the next report.

Happy Holidays!

Group Photo of SLI Students
Group Photo of SLI Students

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Organization Information

Scholars Latino Initiative

Location: Chapel Hill, NC - USA
Website: http:/​/​​sli
Project Leader:
Peter Kaufman
Project Coordinator
Chapel Hill, NC United States

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Thanks to 462 donors like you, a total of $14,100 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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