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Our Story

The Scholars' Latino Initiative (commonly referred to as “SLI”) was founded by Peter Kaufman in 2003. The program began as a partnership between Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City and students of UNC-Chapel Hill, with the mission of improving access to higher education for Latino high school students.

SLI operates on a three-year long mentorship model, for which we select 25 sophomore UNC mentors and 25 sophomore Latin@ high school students each year.  The organization has grown to include nearly 150 high school and college students from across the state.  After the incredible success observed at Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City, SLI expanded and now also partners with Lee High School and Southern Lee High School in Lee County in Sanford, Asheboro High School in Asheboro, Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, and Jordan High School in Durham (our newest site).  The Scholars' Latino Initiative has had/will have a positive impact at each of these six high schools, especially in regards to promoting a Latin@ culture that strives to attend an institution of higher learning. 

Mentees in SLI participate in a composition course, as well as a college preparation seminar.  They also receive training in skills such as interviewing and resume building, and are required to complete at least 20 hours of community service per year.  Consequently, our mentees are often extremely competitive applicants to college.  Once our mentees graduate from the program, SLI provides guidance and access to scholarship funds.

What once began as a student initiative among a few UNC students and Peter Kaufman, the Scholars' Latino Initiative is now a robust program sponsored by UNC's Center for Global Initiatives (CGI). With the new resources and leadership available in CGI, SLI has been able to continue improving our model and the services we offer across the state.  


SLI has a sister organization, SLI-Shenandoah, in Virginia.