Bearcats Academy (BA) is a multi-year mentoring program in partnership with Cincinnati Public Schools that aligns with the University of Cincinnati's CPS Strong strategic direction of increasing the number of UC graduates from CPS schools. In its current state, BA serves students from three CPS high schools (Aiken, Hughes, and Taft) by pairing students from underrepresented communities with undergraduate mentors. Mentors share skills, behaviors, and attitudes as well as experiences that are important to developing a young scholar. The intent is to expand to reach more CPS students in future years.
Mentoring is a foundational piece of Bearcats Academy. Near-peer mentors have walked through many of the same trials and tribulations in which the mentees have gone through, or will go through in their pursuit of college. Mentors commit to 30+ annual hours to developing a relationship with their mentee that will impact their academic success and life goals. Sharing weekly and quarterly experiences on and off-campus that are rooted in college readiness and preparation gives mentors satisfaction and mentees an advantage in navigating post-secondary opportunities.
Overall, the Bearcats Academy program supports a robust pathway of scholarship from early high school to college-entry by providing motivation, academic planning, scholarly and social experiences and financial awareness to cohorts of motivated students. BA provides readiness and preparatory experiences in partnership with CPS so high school students have opportunities to be on campus, engage with research, and interact with various disciplines. The multi-year structure allows for a community of support to be fostered and expanded through repeated and deeper connections. The ultimate aim is to help shape the next generation of college-bound scholars and increase their comfort in a college environment so they may contribute to their academic field and impact their community in innovative ways before day one of college enrollment.
Bearcats Academy aims to support CPS students' pathway to college by infusing multiple opportunities to create a supportive community, to practice scholarly work, and to experience new and exciting college programs and career paths.
- Belonging: Bearcats Academy aims to create cohorts of support for high school and undergraduate students by fostering a community of scholars through weekly engagements that focus on academic motivation and skills and scholarly and social experiences. Hosting quarterly events on UC's campus allows high school students to see themselves as a part of the fabric of the UC community and network before they even enroll. It allows mentors to showcase their campus and the programs that make it their academic home.
- Research: Bearcats Academy wants to develop scholars with repeated research experiences. From learning foundational skills that help form research questions to presenting findings at research conferences, high school students will be mentored by near-peers through research activities so they may contribute to their community and academic discipline as scholars when they enter college.
- Exposure: Bearcats Academy offers four years of access to different colleges, programs, and majors through quarterly events that expand the future career and academic outlooks of high school students. UC Mentors are pivotal in sharing what opportunities can be found at the university. With repeated exposure, high school students will be more comfortable with the path they choose at college-entry.
If you are interested in joining our scholarly community, fill out the application below for consideration.
Why Participate in Bearcats Academy?
- Find and expand a network of support on- and off- campus (i.e., mentors; academic and professional guides)
- Set and achieve life and career goals with guidance
- Make more of your strengths (i.e., Leadership; Activism)
- Scholarly preparation (i.e., Research; Study Skills)
- Learn more about college and the path to college-entry (i.e., Test Prep, Scholarships, Majors, Common App)
- Participate in enriching on-campus University of Cincinnati experiences
What do some of our community members have to say about Bearcats Academy?
Kaylee Smith Thomas is a CPS Guide and is the 8th and 9th grade English teacher at Taft High School:
“Bearcats Academy is an incredible opportunity for students to explore their academic and personal interests in an environment that is exciting, engaging, fun and challenging. Students who are a part of this program explore their future interests now, and that is both wildly exciting and deeply beneficial in creating positive futures for Cincinnati students.”
Shantelle is an 11th grader at Hughes High School:
“We get to see different parts of college before we actually get here, and not a lot of people get to do that. I learned a lot from the mentors. I thank everyone involved.”
Josie Evans-Phillips is the Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Community Partnerships in CECH:
“Bearcats Academy creates a space that allows educational access partners to come together for the success of a student. Whether a parent, mentor, teacher, faculty or staff member, we all can come together as partners to guide students on their path to discovery."
What are the responsibilities of a Bearcats Academy Participant?
A Bearcats Academy student, who wishes to be competitively eligible for four-year college enrollment upon graduation will:
- Attend scheduled Bearcats Academy sponsored sessions
- Actively participate in opportunities that will shape their future
- Work towards success in college preparatory courses
- Maintain a GPA that opens up doors to college acceptance
- Prepare and take college entrance assessments
- Participate in leadership and community service activities
- Take responsibility for their learning and their learning environment
A Bearcats Academy family who wishes their student to be competitively eligible for four-year college enrollment and success upon graduation will:
- Attend scheduled Bearcats Academy sponsored family sessions
- Support student efforts in school and in community activities
- Actively participate in activities that shape college opportunities
- Encourage their student to do their best
Mentoring is a foundational piece of Bearcats Academy. Near-peer mentors have walked through many of the same trials and tribulations in which the mentees have gone through, or will go through in their pursuit of college. Mentors commit to 30+ annual hours to developing a relationship with their mentee that will impact their academic success and life goals. Sharing weekly and quarterly experiences on and off-campus that are rooted in college readiness and preparation gives mentors satisfaction and mentees a boost above their peers.
The structure of mentoring in Bearcats Academy has many benefits for multiple people.
How can college and high school students create relationships to learn about how to approach challenges and the unknown in the road ahead?
Bearcats Academy aims to provide the environment for positive relationships that can inform good choices and present a network of resources that can benefit all involved.
Watch this video for an example of the importance of mentoring.
What is the experience of being a mentor like?
Jordan Watt is a 2nd Year UC Student who works with 11th grade students at Hughes High School:
“My favorite part of Bearcats Academy is getting to work with and getting to know all the students in the program, all of which have unique talents and ideas. Helping prepare students for college has let me reflect on what high school was like and appreciate the effort the students are putting in."
What are the responsibilities of a Bearcats Academy Mentor?
A Bearcats Academy mentor who wishes their student to be competitively eligible for four-year college enrollment and success upon graduation will:
- Attend scheduled Bearcats Academy sponsored sessions
- Contribute their strengths to developing and actively engaging in mentor sessions
- Build quality positive relationships with students and their families
- Encourage and push for student excellence
- Support and shape scholarly and social experiences aimed for students' benefit
How do I join?
Fill out the following information form and we will be in contact on what the next steps are in becoming a mentor in the Bearcats Academy Program.
Weekly Mentoring Sessions
Taft High School (Serving 20 students)
- (9th/10th/11th grade) Tuesday 11:00 AM - 11:40 AM
Hughes High School (Serving 46 students)
- (9th/10th/11th grade) Thursday 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM
Aiken High School (Serving 12 students)
- (10th/11th grade) Thursday 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Family Events are scheduled twice a year. The first will be held in the fall to learn more about the program goals for the year and build community among families. The second will be held in the spring and will expand families’ knowledge of college readiness, based upon their expressed needs.
Quarterly events offer the exciting opportunity for students to come to UC’s campus and interact with departments and colleges and their respective faculty and staff.
The Bearcats Academy Summer Program invites scholars to UC’s campus to take part in a residential experience where they’ll focus on the following themes:
- 9th: Discover UC and create a sense of Belonging on the college campus.
- 10th: Deepen connections on campus and visualize career and college goals.
- 11th: Prepare college application materials. Share strengths and accomplishments.
- 12th: Prepare for first-year of college at UC.
For any questions about the program, email Bearcats Academy.