30 Years of The Leadership Alliance Succeeding Beyond Boundaries

Administration January 2024 PREMIUM

The Leadership Alliance (TLA) was established to support underrepresented students, particularly Hispanic/Latinx, in pursuing graduate degrees. Through programs like the Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP), TLA has significantly increased the number of Hispanic/Latinx students earning doctoral degrees, far surpassing the national average.

Who We Are

The Leadership Alliance (TLA) was founded at Brown University in 1992 as a partnership of 23 institutions that came together to develop underrepresented students into outstanding leaders and role models in academia, business, and the public sector. Today, the consortium has grown to 36 academic partners and one private company and has provided research, mentoring, and networking experiences to over 6,000 undergraduate students. Thirteen TLA consortium partners include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). TLA’s flagship undergraduate programs include the 9-week Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) and the First Year Research Experience (FYRE), where diverse undergraduates are intensively mentored and coached through a summer research internship. 

What We Do

Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP)

The SR-EIP hands-on, cutting-edge research experiences are designed to develop a pipeline of research-focused, highly qualified scholars who will be competitive for graduate training programs in STEM, Humanities, and Social Sciences at highly competitive R1 institutions. In the summer of 2023, 402 undergraduate students participated in SR-EIP; 38% (n=153) of students self-identified as Hispanic/Latinx. The culminating event of the SR-EIP is The Leadership Alliance National Symposium (LANS), where undergraduate students who have participated in SR-EIP present their research to peers, mentors, and administrators from TLA partner institutions. LANS offers skill-building, networking, and professional development opportunities for undergraduate students. 

First Year Research Experience (FYRE)

Freshman, first year undergraduate students from TLA MSI and HSI institutions are encouraged to apply to the FYRE program. Since the launch of the FYRE in 2015, 25% (n=48) of the students accepted into the program identified as Hispanic/Latinx. Seventy-six percent (n=36) of TLA FYRE students are currently enrolled at TLA HSIs. The FYRE program is designed to promote early research engagement, nurture students’ interests and motivation for pursuing graduate studies, and support a successful transition into graduate school. Tracking data demonstrate that 64% (n=103) of FYRE participants continue engaging in external research experiences after their initial research experience.

Professional Development

TLA also offers a Virtual Professional Development Series (VPD). VPD is open to all undergraduate students looking to pursue advanced degrees in STEM, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Over 1,000 students have participated in the VPD since its launch in 2020. The unique structure of VPD engages students in virtual workshops, conversations with TLA Doctoral Scholars, graduate school recruitment events, and discipline-specific virtual meeting spaces. Past virtual workshops have included sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion, finding your scholarly identity, financing for graduate school, and applying to graduate school.

Our Impact

Over 2,200 Hispanic/Latinx students have participated in the SR-EIP program since its inception in 1992 (N=2,216). Fifty percent of the Hispanic/Latinx students who have participated in the SR-EIP graduated from an HSI. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse® as well as SR-EIP demographic data show that TLA has supported 38% of Hispanic/Latinx students on the path to obtaining a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degree (N=372). Of the 38% of Hispanic/Latinx students who have completed a Ph.D. degree, 43% (n=161) graduated from a TLA HSI. Fifteen percent (N=141) of all TLA Doctoral Scholars (a former SR-EIP student who has earned their Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D degree) attended the University of Puerto Rico as an undergraduate, one of the largest HSIs in the country. The percentage of Hispanic/Latinx students who participate in the SR-EIP and go on to earn graduate degrees far surpasses the national average of Hispanic/Latinx students who obtain Ph.D. degrees (NCSES 2023). 

Longitudinal pre-/post-data collected from 2018 student surveys show that Hispanic/Latinx participants (n=151) were more likely to evaluate their mentor as “excellent” at offering guidance on research: 77% (n=116) Hispanic vs. 70% (n=118) Non-Hispanic; 79% (n=119) HSI vs. 71% (n=120) Non-HSI. Participants from HSIs were more likely to stay in touch with graduate students, with 62% (n=38) from HSIs “very likely” vs. 50% (n=45) from Non-HSIs. 

TLA statistics highlight the quality and support of TLA programming for Hispanic/Latinx students. Pre and post program data collected from student surveys in 2019 (n=383) show that Hispanic/Latinx from Hispanic Serving Institutions were more likely to “strongly agree” they had a strong interest in pursuing a career as a researcher, with 61% (n=105) Hispanic vs. 48% (n=101) Non-Hispanic. Post data collected from the 2022 post-student survey (n=200) indicated the most significant proportion, 75% (n=150), “strongly agree” that their experiences over the summer will enhance their overall undergraduate experience. Almost two-thirds (62%) (n=124) of participants also “strongly agreed” the skills they learned will help with future coursework. 

Many participants felt the most valuable part of the SR-EIP professional development training was information about the graduate school application process, funding, and evaluating graduate school programs. Students’ understanding of the graduate school application process was greatly enhanced by their summer research experience. One participant responded, “Having conversations with professors really gave me a better insight as to how to apply to Ph.D. programs and what these programs are looking for in applicants.” Ninety percent (n=180) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their commitment to pursue a research career was stronger following the SR-EIP program. 


The TLA SR-EIP is successful in promoting Hispanic and Latinx student persistence in pursuing a doctoral degree. Hispanic and Latinx SR-EIP students earn doctoral degrees at 4 times the national average (PNPI, 2023). Hispanic and Latinx participants gain experience and develop research skills in methodological techniques and training that enhance preparedness for graduate school. The data clearly shows that by leveraging TLA programs, mentoring and networking opportunities, participating in LANS, and engaging in professional development opportunities, Hispanic/Latinx undergraduate students are better prepared and more likely to matriculate into graduate school and obtain a Ph.D. degree.  •


National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). College Enrollment Rates. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 6/16/2023, from

National Science Foundation under grant nos. DRL-1119670, DRL-0918743, and DRL-0822388.

Zhou, E. (2022). Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2011 to 2021. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools

National Science Foundation (2023). National Science Foundation: National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) Who Earns a U.S. Doctorate? Retrieved on 6/21/2023 from:

Post Secondary National Policy Institute (2023). Factsheets on Latino students. Retrieved on 6/15/2023 from Latino Students – PNPI and

About the authors:

Dr. Taiese Bingham-Hickman, M.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., is The Executive Director of The Leadership Alliance and an alumna of the Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP). After participating in the SR-EIP, she earned both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from New York University and completed her M.B.A at Northeastern University.

Dr. Astorini, Ed.D., currently serves as the Associate Director for The Leadership Alliance. Dr. Astorini is focused on developing, evaluating, and improving programming that serves underrepresented students to support preparedness and critical skills necessary to pursue careers in research.

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