I’ve blogged a lot about my doctoral journey, including how I struggled through my program due to a combination of naivety and lack of mentorship. As I wrote about last month, I know that I was already ahead of the curve in terms of academic success since I had parents who had the means and interest in advancing my education, but I also know that there are thousands of Black women around the world who, if given the opportunity and the resources, would excel in doctoral programs and become impactful scholars, leaders, educators, and policymakers.
In the past 8 months since I started Cohort Sistas, it has grown to a community of 1,300 members at all stages of the doctoral degree process representing over 40 countries and dozens of academic disciplines. We have been able to provide professional development seminars led by higher education professionals, offer an 8-week course for students applying to doctoral programs, launch a weekly podcast highlighting the stories of Black women with doctoral degrees, and create a mentorship-matching program to help women achieve their short term academic and professional goals.
Today, at the intersection of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, we launch the 3.1% campaign to support our efforts to increase the number and retention of Black women in doctoral degree programs. We have two main goals:
- Highlight stories of the #3Point1Percent: We’ve put together a list of 31 Black women with doctoral degrees who are living history — inventors, policymakers, leaders, and all-around bosses. But all of us who are or have been on this journey are part of the 3.1% and we’re highlighting stories from our community with the hashtag #3Point1Percent.
- Raise money for the 3.1% Fund: Cohort Sistas has been totally bootstrapped since last summer but in order to grow the number of women we serve, expand our programming, and offer scholarships for our application course and mentorship program for those who need it the most, we need help from our community. Our March goal is to raise $31,000 over 31 days to support the 3.1%!
Not gonna lie, it’s been really challenging juggling Cohort Sistas alongside the Ijeoma Kola blog and brand for the past couple of months, but I’ve never felt more clear about my purpose and the point of my “influence.” I know that there’s so much more impact that Cohort Sistas can have, and I’m excited to hopefully have the ability to expand the team and programming over the next few months, thanks to your support of the 3.1% campaign!