5 College Mentorship Programs That Support BIPOC Students

Navigating college as a BIPOC student is tough without a campus support system. Read how several schools are offering mentorship programs to initiate change.

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by Crystal Onyema

Published September 2, 2022

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5 College Mentorship Programs That Support BIPOC Students
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For BIPOC students, attending college can present unforeseen challenges without enough resources and support. There are times when you have to figure it all out by yourself. Fortunately, some colleges have implemented mentorship programs that offer assistance and guidance for BIPOC college students.

April Tillett, program director of Scholarshot, says, "It is incredibly important for students of color to network with those that look like them. If we want to continue to grow the next generation of leaders, innovators, and teachers, BIPOC must pour into those that come behind them."

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Ready to start your journey?

Keep reading to learn more about the function and importance of mentorship programs and discover five institutions that offer specific mentorship for BIPOC students.

What Are Mentorship Programs?

Mentoring programs help students to keep on track and success with their goals. It usually involves a mentor with knowledge and experience to pass down to the mentee, who learns from them. In addition, students have a trusted point of contact to discuss any issues or concerns they may have while in school.

Mentorship programs can operate in different ways. Student mentees may meet up with their mentors for a set time throughout the school year, in person or virtually. In addition, there may be activities like field trips, retreats, networking, and workshop events.

Some mentorships are designed for specific groups, such as BIPOC men, women, LGBTQ students, first-generation students, and students in certain degree programs. Mentorships are usually run by a college, university, or an outside, third-party organization. Students may have the option to choose their mentor, or the program may randomly select one for them.

Five Benefits of Mentorship Programs

Prepares Students for Future Careers

Many mentorship programs offer specific opportunities for the degree the mentee is pursuing. Also provided are field trips, professional speaking engagements, and interview and job search preparation. The mentor provides advice and career preparation as well. With a trusted resource behind them, mentees feel at ease about making decisions on their future career.

Keeps Students Accountable Academically

Providing students with accountability goals in their classes makes a difference in academic success and retention. Mentors usually help mentees with any questions and concerns. They also offer resources to help students get back on track.

Provides Networking Opportunities

Some mentors are industry experts and are currently in their careers. Mentors may have access to give their mentees a front-row seat to networking events or can even bring them into their workspace. Even student mentors may assist in introducing students to individual staff, clubs, and organizations to use to their advantage.

Is a Resource Hub for Students

Distressed students may find relief knowing that what they need is in one place. Mentorship usually provides more than just one-on-one meetings and is connected mainly to community support. Programs may also provide study habit tips, campus health and safety resources, snacks, and computers.

Is a Safe Space for Students

Distressed students may find relief knowing that what they need is in one place. Mentorship usually provides more than just one-on-one meetings and is connected mainly to community support. Programs may also provide study habit tips, campus health and safety resources, snacks, and computers.

Five Mentorship Programs for BIPOC College Students

1. Mentoring of Students and Igniting Community program, Columbia University

MOSAIC was launched specifically for first-generation BIPOC public health students. The new program focuses on making students feel heard and supported in both their program and the public health field.

Mosaic utilizes a group mentorship model, so students are mentored only by BIPOC staff and faculty members. The mentors offer to help them succeed both in and out of their classes as a point of contact.

Students also participate in projects, leadership, and alumni-led career development workshops. MOSAIC is one of few programs that offer direct student-to-faculty mentorship and has multiplied membership in the past two years.

2. UW School of Drama BIPOC Student Mentorship Program, University of Washington

This program was created through the drama school's initiative, UW School of Drama Anti-Racist Action Plan. Created in 2020, they admitted to generational racism and white supremacy both in the classroom and on the stage.

The department vowed to acknowledge this and provide an improved environment for minority students. The BIPOC Student Mentorship Program created several panels for students to network. Although the undergraduate mentorship program is still developing its mentorship side, graduate students can pair up with an external mentor based on their needs and preferences.

3. Heman Sweatt Center for Black Males Mentorship Program, University of Texas at Austin

This program aligns with the initiatives of the Sweatt Center, an academic community of professors, administrators, and graduate and undergraduate students dedicated to supporting Black male student success at the university.

Students have the chance to connect to BIPOC male faculty, staff, and community members at an academic, professional, and personal level. Several goals include Increasing the four-year graduation and advanced education rate of Black males and improving students' engagement in co-curricular learning activities.

4. Great Expectations Mentorship Program, Lewis & Clark University

GEM prides on making BIPOC students feel heard and supported. Unlike other programs, GEM mentees are paired directly with student mentors. Mentees are first-generation or first-year BIPOC students. Mentors are usually second-years or upper-level BIPOC students.

GEM encourages a close mentoring relationship, including an all-expense-paid weekend retreat so mentees and mentors can get to know each other better. Outside of the mentorship, students

5. ScholarShot

ScholarShot is a nonprofit that is not directly anchored to a university. It was founded in Dallas, TX, by business professionals and educators concerned with underserved first-generation BIPOC students connected poorly with their college advisement programs.

The founders created a program providing students with academic management, resources, and financial support. Since then, over 90% of its students have completed a two-year or four-year degree program. The professional mentors in the program are on a volunteer basis and help students set attainable goals, complete college, and network.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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