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The Leadership Alliance was established in 1992 as a consortium of 23 institutions to address the shortage of underrepresented minorities in graduate programs in the sciences at competitive universities. The goal of this increased representation is to encourage underrepresented groups to seek careers that require training in research in a variety of disciplines and fields.

Alliance institutions, highly diverse in geographic distribution, range in student population from roughly 1,000 to more than 50,000. The Alliance consortium includes leading research and teaching universities, historically black colleges and universities, and several institutions that primarily serve Hispanic and Native American students. A core value of each institution is an intimate scholarly relationship built upon student-faculty mentoring, through which opportunities for undergraduate research in the biological, physical and social sciences as well as the humanities are promoted.

The primary issue addressed by the Leadership Alliance is the relatively low participation of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in the academic areas as educators, leaders and decision makers. The Leadership Alliance’s contribution to overcoming this discrepancy is to expand the opportunities for underrepresented students and increase the participation of those students in the academic enterprise. The strategies employed by the Alliance are designed to identify, motivate and move young scientists from these populations in and through graduate training and professional apprenticeships to compete for positions in the academy.