Harper launches mentorship program for Black, Latino students

Harper College in Palatine has launched a mentorship program for first-year Black and Latino students that aims to address equity gaps while affirming their identity and ensuring representation.

It is a peer-to-peer group mentorship model to help incoming freshmen cope with college life, said Esmeralda Guerrero Lopez, coordinator for student diversity initiatives, including the GLIDE Mentorship Program.

“One of the goals definitely would be to address the persistence, retention and graduation of these students,” said Lopez, a first-generation college graduate and Harper alumna.

One student mentor, who has been at Harper for at least a year, is responsible for overseeing four mentees. Two faculty DEI coordinators, including Lopez, support the 10 student mentors and 40 mentees in the program, which includes academic, professional and social activities. “They support the students with information and resources on how to navigate higher education,” Lopez said. “They work from that peer relationship model. They share about their experiences ... and when they need to, connect the students with one of the (faculty) coordinators. That's the idea that they are not alone and they are always connected.”

Mentees attend sessions on financial aid, scholarships, resume- and cover-letter building, and time management and go on one group excursion per semester.

“This is the first year of a two-year pilot,” Lopez said. “We are still assessing how the program is going given that we've only had one semester behind us.”

Black history

Elgin Area School District U-46 will host a Black History Month celebration at 7 p.m. Friday at Larkin High School in Elgin.

It will feature a keynote speech from Roger Simmons, Judson University's director of diversity and spiritual development. He helps develop programs, policies, and practices promoting an institutional culture of diversity, equity and inclusive excellence.

His presentation, “Power, Promise and Purpose: Our Gaze is Fixed!,” is open to all members of the U-46 community.

Also this week, U-46 and the Alignment Collaborative for Education will host a college admissions panel with representatives and alumni from four Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

High schoolers and their family members can attend the virtual panel discussion at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Register at

Combating antisemitism

Chicago-based Spertus Institute will present “Critical Conversations: Combating Antisemitism” at 7 p.m. today in person at the institute, 610 S. Michigan Ave., and online.

The annual program brings together high-profile experts and activists to address critical issues of the day.

This year's focus on antisemitism explores its current manifestations and what can be done to combat it, within and beyond Jewish communities.

Tickets are $18 for the in-person program; online participation is free. Reservations are required at

Dreamers scholarship

The application deadline for TheDream.US' National Scholarship for undocumented immigrant youth is Feb. 28.

The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program shields from deportation young undocumented immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers, who arrived in the U.S. at a very young age.

TheDream.US is the nation's largest college access and success program for Dreamers. Its scholarship is open to students about to graduate high school or earn a GED, current community college students or current university students to attend a partner college in their state.

For more information, visit

Earthquake relief

Bridgeview-based Zakat Foundation of America is preparing a large shipment of in-kind donations and emergency supplies for earthquake relief in Turkey.

Zakat Foundation Executive Director Halil Demir traveled to affected areas to help and survey the devastation, including at the group's local office in Turkey. Members of its staff lost family members in the disaster. The nongovernmental organization has been working in the Turkey and Syria regions for more than 15 years.

New, in-kind donations are being accepted through Feb. 27 at 7421 W. 100th Place, Bridgeview. Call to make an appointment at (888) ZAKAT-US.

Items being accepted: tents, sleeping bags, sanitary pads, diapers, hygiene items, hand wipes, infant formula, gloves, scarves, hats, socks, thermal wear, blankets and hand warmers. The nonprofit also is accepting monetary donations, of which 100% will go directly to emergency aid. Visit

DEI efforts

The Geneva City Council's committee of the whole on Tuesday will discuss hiring a consultant to help the city's DEI Taskforce hone its focus.

It will consider a draft resolution authorizing the acceptance of a proposal from Ethos of Evanston at a cost of up to $20,000 for helping create a community Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Plan.

In spring of 2021, the city council approved the formation of a DEI Taskforce made up of nine residents, a city staff liaison and a liaison from the city's Strategic Plan Advisory Committee.

After a community listening session in April 2022, the group identified 13 key areas of focus: ADA accessibility, city practices, community partnerships, community policing, economic empowerment, gender/sexual orientation, health care, housing, language access, public engagement, race and ethnicity, senior citizens and youth.

Tuesday's meeting is at 7 p.m. in the council chamber, 109 James St. To attend virtually, visit

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Esmeralda Guerrero Lopez
Harper College in Palatine has launched a mentorship program for first-year Black and Latino students. Two faculty coordinators support the 10 student mentors and 40 mentees in the GLIDE Mentorship Program. Courtesy of Harper College
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