RISE Program Goals
• Create mentoring to facilitate students’ intellectual, personal, cultural, vocational, and spiritual development.
• Help students develop competencies, skills, and habits
that contribute to academic and personal success.
• Provide challenging opportunities that support
reflection and exploration of personal assumptions,
values, and beliefs, and contribute to the students’
• Achieve an 85 percent rate of student participant
re-enrollment each fall semester.
• Achieve a 70 percent rate of student participant
graduation within six years.
• Help students understand the importance of
• Encourage students to develop relationships with mentors who are resources and are invested in their success.
• Assist students in navigating higher education.
• Help students share in experiences that connect them to
the university and to each other.
In addition, the RISE program had a significant impact
on students’ academic probation status. During the fall 2007
and spring 2008 academic terms, 57.14 percent of RISE
students were able to recover from academic probation
compared to 42.12 percent of the overall African American
Not only have RISE student participants made academic
strides, but many have realized their professional potential.
Student participants have received internships from such organizations as P.J. Dick Trumbull, Merrill Lynch, Case Western
Reserve University, Columbia University, Pittsburgh Public
Schools, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. These
internships provide RISE students with opportunities to work
with and be mentored by professionals in their prospective career
fields with the potential of future employment opportunities.
In addition, RISE participants have increased applications
to student organizations that traditionally have not benefited
from participation by members of the under-represented
student population. RISE students have applied to organizations such as the Blue and Gold Society (a student organization that serves as a liaison between students and alumni), the
University Debate Team, and the Office of Residence Life to
serve as resident assistants. In addition, students have applied
and/or been accepted to university graduate schools, such as
the School of Social Work and the School of Education.
Key Areas of Program Success
In its efforts to boost recruitment and retention of disadvantaged, under-represented students, a number of components were developed to enhance the study
skills and programmatically address the specific needs of
this student population.
The RISE program director collaborates with numerous
academic departments at the University of Pittsburgh to select
students. A letter is then mailed to the parents of potential
students, followed by a telephone call to encourage parents to
support student participation in the program.
Faculty, staff, and student mentors are preselected by
student affairs staff and encouraged to participate in the
program. Community mentors are chosen based on student
affairs staff involvement with community boards and in
community affairs. All mentors submit RISE profile forms
and résumés. Mentors are assigned to students by matching
characteristics of both mentors and students based on their
Mentees and mentors are required to attend a Reflection
Retreat. The purpose of the retreat is for mentees to challenge
themselves by preparing answers to the following questions
presented in the retreat workshops:
• Who am I?
• What career or personal paths fit who I am?
• What are my unique gifts, talents, and values?
• How do I navigate the college experience?
Students also attend a workshop presented by the mentors
entitled “How I Survived in College.”
The RISE Coaches (RCs) are university graduate students
responsible for providing participants with academic guidance
and coaching to enable them to achieve their academic potential. Among their responsibilities, the RCs:
• Provide students with academic guidance and serve as
their liaisons on all educational matters, including reviewing students’ syllabi and study habits, addressing note-taking skills, teaching time management, and establishing
• Maintain a biweekly meeting schedule with assigned students. Each coach is assigned at least 14 students.
• Monitor weekly study sessions.
• Contact professors to create learning experiences best
suited to the student’s developmental level.
• Oversee all outreach activities, including contact with
parents, professors, and attendance at success-driven
• Participate in all RISE program components.
• Meet with the program director biweekly to discuss student progress reports.
Students are required to attend at least two of four study
sessions per week. Tutors run the study sessions and help
students with their mathematics, science, and writing courses.
In addition, students attend a series of workshops to learn
strategies to improve their study habits.