Future Scholars Overview
Need for the Program
According to the 2000 Census, African Americans represent more than 30 percent of the population of the City of Louisville and roughly 19 percent of the population of Jefferson County. As the only major public institution located in this racially diverse area, the University of Louisville enrolls more African American students than any other institution in Kentucky. However, in recent years, comparatively high enrollment numbers have not translated into correspondingly high retention and graduation rates.
As a consequence, both the Challenge for Excellence and the University’s agreements with the Council on Postsecondary Education and the U. S. Office of Civil Rights commit the institution to making significant improvements in these areas in the short-term future. These commitments, however, create a seeming paradox. The University is raising its admission standards and phasing-out developmental education. At the same time, African American students remain poorly served by local and regional schools, resulting in a relatively small percentage of black high school graduates being fully prepared for college-level work.
The resolution of this paradox—and the key to achieving University enrollment, retention and graduation goals—lies in how well the University cultivates, recruits and serves the students in its own literal “backyard.” Decades of frustration have demonstrated that the University cannot rely on or afford to wait for public and private secondary schools to prepare more African American students more effectively for college. Thus, to achieve its goals, the University must develop some new capabilities, one of which entails direct and systematic University involvement—in partnership with the local schools and local community groups—in the identification and cultivation of talented high school students.
The Future Scholars Program (formerly the Young Minority Scholars Program) is an initiative based in the Department of Pan-African Studies and sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, consistent with the College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Plan (March 2000). The Program is an academic enrichment experience for local African American high school students—designed to cultivate the talents of participants and to prepare them for higher education, ideally at the University of Louisville.
The Summer Phase of the Future Scholars Program meets on Belknap campus in the last five-week summer term, roughly from July to August. For each participant, the Summer Phase is structured around a research project supervised by a University faculty mentor and a research/writing class (at the Writing Center) in which students learn to use college-level research methods and appropriate technological aids. Under the supervision of their mentors, participants present their research at a closing ceremony to which their parents and other University faculty and administrators are invited.