• Diversity

    Mayo Clinic, NAACP join forces to create new pathways to success for Black, underrepresented students

a young Black teenage boy in a t-shirt working at a desk, with a notebook and a pencil, perhaps doing homework in his bedroom or college dorm room

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Branch of NAACP today launched "RISE for Youth," an innovative program that will provide Black and underrepresented students with new pathways to success in education and employment, while also addressing the racial disparities that stand in the way of their success. The program is part of Mayo Clinic's $100 million commitment against racism.

According to a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development report, a huge employment gap exists between white college graduates and minorities such as African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians. Mayo Clinic and the NAACP have designated November as Empower Month. In doing so, they will host a series of virtual events in November to shed light on these disparities and pathways to equity and promote the RISE for Youth program.

"All young people have potential, but not all of them ― particularly Black and underrepresented students ― have the opportunity to realize it," says Anjali Bhagra, M.D., medical director of Mayo Clinic's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. "The RISE for Youth program will provide these students with critical educational and leadership skills, and training and long-term mentoring, for successful careers in health care, science and beyond."

The four-week summer program will provide coursework and hands-on experience to two groups of students: RISE Up targets postsecondary students, and RISE High targets high school juniors and seniors. While the focus is on each student, the potential program impact goes further.

"As participants complete the program, they in turn become leaders and changemakers who will further reduce racial disparities and break down barriers for those that follow," says Walé Elegbede, president of the Rochester branch of the NAACP. "Our goal is to expand this program to other communities and states, so that racial equity in education and employment truly becomes a reality. The National NAACP sees the RISE for Youth program as an example of Mayo Clinic taking concrete steps toward advancing racial justice."

The NAACP and a consortium of community leaders will select the students who will participate in the program.

The first Empower Month virtual event, "RISING Together: A Conversation About Creating Equitable Pathways," will be held Thursday, Nov. 4, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. CDT. Visit the RISE for Youth website for a Zoom link.

Learn more about the RISE for Youth program on the Rochester Branch of NAACP website and Mayo Clinic's Community Engagement website.


Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP is the largest and most preeminent civil rights organization in the nation. It has over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2 million activists. Its mission is to secure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all people. The Rochester Branch of the NAACP continues to fight for social justice for all people. Its vision is to ensure a society where all people have equal rights, and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination, through equity and social justice.

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