• Cheer for SLI scholars

    Intense grit and determination are staple attributes of SLI scholars, to an inspiring degree. In this pandemic, perhaps all of us need more of these – along with copious amounts of moral support and friendship. 

    You are invited to cheer for SLI scholars here – or learn more:

    Even as schools are closed for the academic year and college admissions offices are figuring out how to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, SLI is committed to its scholars. 

    Until we can again serve our scholars in person, we’re doing what we can – through social media and online writing and reading assignments, for example. And donors continue to step up to fund the college scholarships, computer awards, and dual enrollment tuition assistance that SLI scholars are counting on for this fall.

    A Zoom session for Winchester SLI scholars and mentors

    Cheer for SLI scholars by writing words of encouragement to them in the comments for this Facebook post. Maybe you know what it’s like to be the first in your family to pursue higher education. Maybe you admire determination. Maybe college was a life changing experience for you, and you wish the same for SLI’s graduating seniors. 

    Your heartfelt words will be meaningful. Go for it.


    P.S. Want more ideas for helping SLI?

  • You have been on our minds: A letter from the SLI Board of Directors

    Estimados Participantes de SLI, Alumnos y Donantes,
    Mientras que nos encontramos en esta época de pandemia, la junta directiva de SLI ha estado pensando mucho en todos ustedes. Esperamos que sus familias estén bien de salud y les deseamos lo mejor durante esta crisis….VER MÁS

    Dear SLI scholars, alumni, and supporters,
    As we each face challenges in this time of pandemic, you especially have been on our minds. We hope for good health for you and your families, and for renewed energy for pursuing your goals…..READ MORE

    Jason Good, chair, and Karina Kline-Gabel, chair elect
  • SLI is a community of support for “truly exceptional” scholars

    For the tenacious SLI scholars preparing to be the first in their families to attend college, the coronavirus pandemic is merely another source of deeply felt anxiety and uncertainty. 

    Carlos Aleman, SLI program director and JMU professor

    “The social uncertainty and isolation of our coronavirus moment is not too far off the everyday reality of many SLI students and their families,” said SLI program director and JMU professor Carlos Aleman. “The first-generation students we’re working with are truly exceptional in their abilities to move toward college given everything else that’s happening in their lives.” 

    When you donate to SLI, you are providing encouragement, strength, and a way forward for SLI scholars like Everth, Flory, and Noel.

    “SLI has always been a community of people that care for me and encourage me to reach out when I need help,” said SLI alum and supporter Rebecca, who is studying economics and political science at Tidewater Community College.

    Thank you for being part of the community that surrounds SLI’s highly motivated and determined scholars even – especially – in this difficult time.

    Christopher Clymer Kurtz
    Director of Development

  • Congratulations to SLI alum Maria!

    Congratulations to SLI alum Maria Garcia Martinez (Harrisonburg High class of 2017), who has been accepted into the nursing program at Blue Ridge Community College. This video about her was created when she was in high school:

  • SLI scholar profile: Everth

    Even though soccer had always been a big part of his life, the suspense was nerve wracking. SLI scholar Everth had never before tried out for a school athletic team, and that February night, along with 60 or 70 hopeful peers, he watched as the coaches filled their rosters. READ MORE

  • New board members in 2020

    Larry Miller

    The SLI board of directors has welcomed six additional members: 

    Sylvia Whitney Beitzel, Home School Liaison, Harrisonburg City Public Schools
    Evelin Gonzalez Espinoza, Financial Consultant, Everence Financial
    Larry Miller (pictured), retired banking executive and former SLI Director of Development
    Bryan Pearce-Gonzales, PhD, Professor of Hispanic Studies, Shenandoah University
    Christopher von Rueden, PhD, Associate Professor of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond
    Carl Rush, Division Equity Specialist, Winchester Public Schools

  • SLI scholar profile: Flory

    Today, it’d be different. But then, back in November 2019, the Richmond Times-Dispatch headline quoted SLI scholar Flory as saying, “I didn’t know that I could make a difference.” READ MORE

  • SLI scholar profile: Noel

    Talk even briefly to SLI scholar Noel, and you’ll quickly figure out that he’s a passionate learner with varied interests, Ivy League goals and a growth mindset. READ MORE

  • SLI scholar profile: Elly

    By the time her family left Guatemala when she was eight years old, SLI alum Consuelo “Elly” Mazariegos already knew what she wanted to do with her life: care for people. READ MORE

  • Summer update: 2019

    SLI continued its successes this year, helping the 2019 cohort of scholars access college opportunities, gain recognition for their achievements, and secure funding to help pay for their higher education:

    SLI scholars class of 2019, Harrisonburg High School

    • SLI scholars were admitted to and offered support packages at Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University, George Mason University, Georgia State University, James Madison University, Liberty University, Lord Fairfax Community College, Mary Baldwin College, Marymount University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Shenandoah University, University of Mary Washington, University of Virginia, and Virginia Commonwealth University.
    • The 12 SLI scholars who graduated from Winchester’s John Handley High School and Harrisonburg High School were granted $43,000 in SLI college scholarship awards and $11,000 in SLI computer awards. These awards will help to fill a critical gap in covering expenses for their first year of college.
    • Thanks to new financial backing from the Richmond area, this year SLI expanded its support to include SLI scholars in Richmond. These generous donations allowed SLI to award $10,000 in scholarships to members of the cohort of five graduating high school students. The Richmond SLI program is directed by Dr. Peter Iver Kaufman, professor at the University of Richmond and founder of the original SLI at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
    • SLI teachers and professors also helped to connect scholars to additional funding opportunities that recognize academic merit and leadership development. In Harrisonburg alone this year, graduating SLI scholars accepted nearly $470,000 in college awards and support grants from the institutions they will attend. These awards included a JMU Centennial Scholarship, two JMU First Generation Scholarships, an Ace Scholarship at JMU, two McKinney Ace Scholarships at Bridgewater College, and a Virginia Merit award at VCU. Several students also received local awards totaling $8,000 from the Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs of Harrisonburg and the Harrisonburg Education Foundation. 

    This summer, SLI scholars in Winchester, Harrisonburg and Richmond are involved in a variety of activities such as volunteering at a homeless shelter, shadowing university students doing research, and developing literacy skills. Additional activities include employment and participation in leadership conferences such as the Hispanic College Institute at Virginia Tech and HOSA-Future Health Professionals.

    We are already preparing learning and leadership opportunities for the new academic year, and a new grant of $6,000 from Wells Fargo will help cover anticipated costs associated with SLI’s Early College curriculum, leadership development programming and computer awards. 

    Click here to support SLI’s ongoing work!