Vanguard STEM

Unbound: VanguardSTEM’s Community Mentoring Program

#VanguardSTEM is launching our first ever mentoring cohort program! This has been a long time coming.

This is a banner ad for our program. On the left is an image of two Black women dressed in warm colors, one with braids, the other with curly hair. They sit across from a friend with long wavy hair having coffee. The image is cropped into a circle. On the right side “Vanguard STEM” appears in a purple search bar above the words “Unbound Community Mentoring Program” in retro groovy typeface. Below this is an “Apply Now” button.

It’s National Mentoring Month and we are SO excited to tell y’all that #VanguardSTEM is launching our first ever mentoring cohort program! The term “unbound” is our homage to the seminal 1976 paper, The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science, authored by Dr. Shirley Malcom, a Black woman zoologist, alongside Paula Q. Hall and Janet W. Brown. Their work addressed the structural oppressions imposed upon minoritized women in STEM. The Double Bind asserted “it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to determine which ‘ism’ is in force. In such a case, it does not matter whether one is being hit with the club of sexism or racism — they both hurt. And this is the nature and the essence of the double bind.” Dr. Malcom’s visionary leadership on these topics made the way for generations of successful women of color in STEM; #VanguardSTEM is descended from her insights.

It’s our goal to continue creating and supporting efforts for to thrive outside of the systems that attempt to bind us.

In the Unbound Community Mentorship Program, participants will meet with mentors across various STEM disciplines to build community and gain exposure to the wide variety of paths and opportunities in these fields. With the support of our community, we’re putting our Decolonized Mentorship framework to use to help mentees build connections, discover new paths, and bolster their toolkits for surviving and thriving in STEM. This program is built for our budding STEMists — folks without a graduate degree — who are still exploring different paths. If you don’t fit into this category, we hope you will share this announcement with your community members who do. If you do fit into this category and are interested in joining this program, please fill out this form by February 4th. If you still need a little more convincing, we provide some additional program details below.

A square flyer for the program. It reads “Unbound Community Mentoring Program” in retro groovy typeface at an angle. Below this is the VanguardSTEM logo: Vanguard in hand-written font with “STEM” in a purple circle below. We highlight three points of the program on the flyer: navigating STEM while maintaining your identity, receiving mentoring from BIPOC women and enby experts, and joining a community of peers for support. On the left is a photo of two Black people in bright colors smiling.
Apply at by Feb 4., 2023!

Who is this for?

This mentoring program centers women and non-binary people of color interested in pursuing a career in STEM. This does not mean academia or bust! Folks interested in science communication, entrepreneurship, policy/advocacy, etc. are welcome and encouraged to join.

We will prioritize applications from folks in community colleges, tribal colleges, HBCUs, and MSIs, but emphasize that all folks who are 18 or older, identify as gender minorities of color, and do not have a graduate degree are encouraged to apply.

What will the sessions be like?

Once a month from March-June, we will meet on Zoom for ~90 minutes. For the first 30 minutes, we will connect as a group to discuss and reflect on the “theme” of the session. Themes will be decided based on your application responses and may require some pre-reading prior to our session. Then we will break off into small group mentoring sessions where 1–4 mentees will meet with one mentor. Prior to the event, mentees will be given a roster of potential mentors and select 2–3 with whom they would like to meet for these small groups. This is where you can ask targeted questions and get advice on your career and personal endeavors.

Who are the mentors?

For each session, we will recruit women and non-binary scientists, engineers, doctors, industry leaders, non-profit founders, educators, sociologists, faculty, post-docs, and senior graduate students (with ABD status) who identify as persons of color. You can expect 2–4 mentors per session. You can view some of our past mentor rosters here.

This has been a long time coming. From the launch of in-person #GuerillaMentoring in 2018, to expanding our existing online hyperspaces that have overcome physical barriers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been out here working hard to bring mentoring directly to our people from our people. And thanks to all the love, support, and feedback we’ve gotten from our community these past few years, we’re ready to level up!

Questions about our mentorship programming? Email us at

Love what we’re doing here at #VanguardSTEM? Consider donating to our parent not-for-profit, The SeRCH Foundation, Inc., to help support our mentoring programming.

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