The Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI) is a nonprofit organization that creates college opportunities for first-generation Latino high school students through rigorous academic challenge, leadership development, supportive mentorships and scholarship awards.
Since 2012 at Harrisonburg High School and 2013 at Winchester’s John Handley High School, over 80 SLI scholars have participated in college-level writing and analysis seminars taught by university faculty members, leadership and service partnerships with community organizations, and leadership and networking retreats held on university campuses.
High school students selected as SLI scholars complete a 3-year program from 10th-12th grades to:
- Accept new academic challenges and leadership responsibilities that empower their paths to higher education, with guidance from SLI high school teachers and mentors;
- Develop personal statements and goals, evaluate careers and majors, apply for college admittance, and seek financial aid, all with the help of faculty mentors; and
- Receive friendship, social support and help from college student mentors in navigating the social challenges that come with being a Latinx college-bound student.
In addition, SLI offers the following financial support:
- Dual-enrollment course tuition relief for eligible SLI scholars taking college courses while still in high school. These courses improve college readiness, enhance academic portfolios, and may reduce the number of credit hours needed in college.
- SLI $1,000 computer awards that help eligible SLI scholars purchase the technology they need to start college.
- SLI college scholarship awards of up to $5,000 that support eligible SLI scholars who are admitted to two- or four-year colleges.
The Shenandoah Valley Scholars Latino Initiative was initially modeled after NC Sli (now LatinxEd) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, founded by Peter Kaufman.