SLI History

The original SLI was founded by Peter Iver Kaufman and others in 2001 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2008 Kaufman brought SLI to the University of Richmond, Virginia, and later to the Shenandoah Valley, where this organization was incorporated in 2012 and became a 501c3 public charity.

SLI Beginnings (9 minutes/2022) reflects on the start of the college-access nonprofit Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative Inc (SLI) and features one of its first scholars, Dulce Alonso (Harrisonburg High School ’15, George Mason University ’17), plus four of its founding board members: Sandy Mercer, Paul Burkholder, Isabel Castillo, and Carlos Alemán.

Timeline (in development)

2013 – SLI receives 501c3 nonprofit status

2012 – Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative Inc (SLI) files articles of incorporation. Founding and early board members included Emily Reihl Bowen (chair), Carlos Alemán, Paul Burkholder, Isabel Castillo, Dick Gardner, Phil Helmuth, Pat Lintner, Sandy Mercer, Kirk Moyers, and others.

2008 – SLI Founder Peter Iver Kaufman Kaufman moves to the University of Richmond to start a SLI program there, and assists Emily Riehl and Sandy Mercer – with the cooperation of Harrisonburg City Public Schools leadership – in bringing SLI to the Shenandoah Valley

2001-03 – Peter Iver Kaufman, then professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, in collaboration with UNC alumna Eleanor Blake and several UNC undergraduates, sets out to address challenges faced by Latino high school students in Siler City, North Carolina. There at Jordan Matthews High School, administrators, counselors, faculty colleagues (especially Paul Cuadros, then soccer coach at JMHS and subsequently a professor of journalism at UNC), support the initiative that becomes the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI, pronounced ‘sly’). Within a few years, SLI is encouraging and assisting first-generation immigrant students from Chatham, Edgecombe, Randolph, Durham, Lee, and Orange Counties to find their ways to higher education.