A world where women and girls of color are mentored to achieve academic and personal success through higher education resulting in economically independent and meaningful lives.
OUR APPROACH AND IMPACT
We make a long-term commitment to the girls in our program starting in elementary and middle school and following them through high school and college graduation. Girls spend anywhere from nine to 15 years in our program. With mentoring, annual 4-day college visits and leadership and life skills workshops, our girls learn how to succeed in high school, in college and in life.
With peer-mentoring and writing retreats, the women of color doctoral students move from dissertation to doctorate. They mentor our young girls and benefit from career advancement and support through SisterMentors extensive network. They gain satisfaction from having made a difference in the academic and personal life of a young girl, while making lasting friendships with their peers who helped them succeed on their doctoral journey.
The ripple effects of our work are far reaching in and beyond the Washington, D.C. area. Since most of our girls are first generation college graduates, they make a significant impact on their siblings, their parents, their relatives and their community. The women we have helped to earn doctorates are now impacting the lives of countless people including as professors at universities, leaders at nonprofits, and executives in government and the private sector.
We have helped 45 young women to go to college and 65 women to earn doctorates, including in Math, Science and Economics.
In 1997, three women of color doctoral students, Shireen Lewis, Melissa Littlefield, Philipia Hillman and Judi Moore Latta met at Sisterspace and Books, a bookstore in Washington, D.C. devoted to selling books by and about African American women. We came together because we were all in desperate need of help completing our dissertations and were not getting the help we needed at our universities.
After that night, as word got out about the group, more and more women kept coming. The need for support for doctoral women students of color was unquestionable.
Sometime around 2000, Kangbai Konate, one of the women who had recently joined SisterMentors, suggested mentoring young girls of color from low income families, since the data showed a high dropout rate among children of color. We all knew this reality since, for those at predominantly white institutions, we were seeing so few young women of color undergraduates and even fewer pursuing graduate degrees. We also knew that there were no doctoral students or Ph.Ds organized in mentoring young girls of color and who were visible as role models — to open the eyes of girls of color to college educated women who looked like them and who were persevering in school and achieving academic success despite the odds.
Around that same time, Shireen Lewis and a group of people, including Montina Cole, created EduSeed, the nonprofit umbrella for SisterMentors. SisterMentors was then adopted as EduSeed’s nonprofit program.