Mission & Vision

We seek to create pathways to educational, professional, and civic engagement opportunities for a new generation of Latinx leaders in North Carolina.

We aspire to create stronger, more equitable communities in North Carolina by building a support network that identifies our students’ strengths, affirms their identities, and invests in their leadership.


In 2003, Dr. Peter Kaufman, professor of religion at UNC-Chapel Hill, set out to address the challenge in North Carolina educational institutions resulting from the dramatic increase in its Latinx population.  After hearing about the challenges facing Siler City, NC on an NPR program, Dr. Kaufman connected with Paul Cuadros, whose wife reported the story. Cuadros is the author of A Home on the Fieldassociate professor at UNC, and most importantly, soccer coach at Jordan Matthews High School in Chatham County, NC. The two professors began collaborating to create the Carolina Scholars Latino Initiative, which initially operated out of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid as a way to support first-generation immigrant students from Jordan Matthews High School find a path to college.  This effort eventually became the Scholars’ Latino Initiative (SLI).

As a result of its success at its flagship school, Jordan-Mathews High School, UNC Chancellor James Moeser supported the program with seed operational funds in 2008. Subsequently, this service-learning and scholarship initiative found a home at the Center for Global Initiatives.  Since then, this project has exploded into one of the largest service-learning initiatives at UNC, with mentors investing over 10,000 service hours each year, helping over 150 high school students from over 7 high schools successfully enroll in college, and even supporting the growth and expansion of its mentoring and college prep model to other universities across North Carolina and Virginia.

Because of those who have come before us, we are an even larger network of professionals and scholars who continue to invest in new generations of Latinx leaders beyond the high school level. Today, we identify ourselves as N.C. Sli (pronounced as “sly”) and strive to encompass more students across the broader landscape of North Carolina.

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