A guide for psychology departments looking to sponsor and partner with NPSP

NPSP is currently sponsored by UMN, PSU and Indiana University, and a long-term goal is to partner with additional psychology departments. In addition to the mutual benefits of increasing our networks, we hope such partnerships will allow us to pay more graduate mentors in order to properly incentivize the support and unique perspectives they offer our community of scholars. Current PhD students are increasingly more diverse than faculty, can draw more readily from lived experiences after recently navigating the application process themselves, and are able to devote more time to mentees than faculty can. As a peer-to-peer mentorship program, we acknowledge and leverage these assets and thus believe that graduate mentors–especially those from underrepresented backgrounds–deserve to be compensated for their time, talents, and efforts.

With generous support from UMN, PSU, and Indiana University, NPSP is able to fund up 10-12 underrepresented PhD students from UMN and PSU each year to serve as “lead” mentors ($150), who co-create and lead virtual workshops and panel discussions. An additional ~50-75 graduate student mentors (from both underrepresented and non-underrepresented backgrounds) are paid a smaller fee ($50-75) to mentor at least one mentee and participate in panels and workshops as needed. 

We have over 200 graduate student mentors from psychology PhD programs across the U.S. and Canada who are currently serving as unpaid volunteers. One way of paying these students is through individual programs’ internal funding mechanisms that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. One example is UMN’s Tri Psych funding mechanism, which is a pooled funding source across three psychology departments that supported the launch of NPSP. Offering approximately five $1,000 or $2,500 awards each year, Tri Psych seeks applications that provide opportunities to support the grad student community across departments and gain insights from shared and differing experiences. Based on conversations with current graduate mentors in NPSP who do not attend UMN, most psychology programs do not have similar funding initiatives in place. We encourage graduate students and faculty to advocate for these funding initiatives in their departments and use NPSP’s materials to apply for funding to support mentors in their departments.

Below are commonly asked questions about how psychology PhD programs can work towards establishing a partnership with us:

  • What should the payment structure look like?
    • We recommend paying at least one lead mentor a consultant payment of $150 and the remaining mentors $50-75 in the late fall of each year. Lead mentors should identify as being a member of an underrepresented identity and are required to submit an application for the NPSP Directors to review in April of each year.
    • See our admin team page and our FAQs for additional details about what is involved in these roles. In the context of a partnership, these lead mentors will be responsible for liaising between NPSP Directors and their department (see below).
    • We also highly recommend including funding for at least 5-10 fee waivers for NPSP mentees wanting to apply to your program. This would be overseen by your department’s lead mentor and your admin contact.
  • What is the role of faculty in the program?
    • Faculty serve as advocates to the graduate students leading NPSP. Faculty do not serve as lead mentors nor are they added to our Slack. This is because NPSP operates as a peer-to-peer mentorship model that aims to cultivate a more informal and comfortable space for mentees to raise questions. However, we rely on faculty to serve as advocates for the program and rely on them to support the sustainability of the program and its funding. We also ask faculty advocates from partner universities to serve on an Admissions 101 panel in the fall (see below).
  • When the yearly recruitment occurs, does our department distribute it to our entire undergraduate population and all grad students, or do you generally target those from underrepresented backgrounds?
    • Every May (usually in the first week), the NPSP Director creates email templates that get sent to undergrad listservs, grad listservs, and academic society listservs. The Director will send the template to the lead mentor from your department, who will then distribute to your university listservs.
    • Although the program is targeted at mentees and mentors from underrepresented backgrounds in the psychological sciences, it is open and inclusive to all who would like to participate. Our recruitment materials describe this as well.
  • Who pairs the undergrads and grad students to each other?
    • The NPSP Co-Director and Coordinator work together to create the mentorship pairings. They use our signup form (which is sent out in early May as mentioned above) to create matches based on whether mentees said they preferred to be paired by program area or identity. Given we get about 300 mentees and 250 mentors signup each year (which continues to increase), an algorithm is used to make these matches and then our Co-Director and Coordinator double-check the pairs. A list of the pairs is then sent out to our community after our June welcome session.
  • Would our graduate students mentor only undergrads from our institution, or from any undergrad that signs up?
    • Although pairings within institutions can technically occur, we do not include this in our matching algorithm. Only program area and identity are used to make the best possible matches.
    • However, we encourage local NPSP scholars to interact outside of the one-on-one match. This is done through Slack channels, where, for example, your university can have a channel that only has mentees and mentors from that university to ask questions, share resources and local events or job/RA postings, and plan in-person meetups. To this latter point, we highly encourage a budget line that supports at least 1-2 in-person parties where the NPSP scholars from your university can bond in person and celebrate their hard work and accomplishments.
    • We also recommend leveraging the training your local NPSP mentors have received by having them lead additional in-person diversity recruitment efforts your department may already have established. For example, UMN has a “Diversity Days” where they set aside five spaces for NPSP mentees who apply, and we host a NextGen panel for the attendees. Participants from that Diversity Days event are subsequently invited to join NPSP to gain additional support on their applications.
  • How will this program and the partnerships developed be sustained? What happens when the lead mentors graduate?
    • The core logistics are maintained at UMN and the NPSP Founders have established a written plan for sustainability that will ensure the program continues as grad students come and go. When there is a shift within the core administrative leadership team, the Director knows to reach out to university partners.
    • Additional logistics throughout the year are discussed in Slack so that the core team across the partnerships are up-to-date.
  • Other than mentoring, what sort of tasks are required of the department?
    • The department is expected to oversee all of the payments to the participating grad students who serve as NPSP mentors. As mentioned above, we recommend assigning at least one lead mentor (preferably from an underrepresented background) from your department to be responsible for recruiting mentees and mentors from your institution, maintaining a list of mentees and mentors from your university who participate in a given year, training the next lead mentor to take over when they graduate, and plan in-person events.
    • In the fall, we’d like to invite one faculty member from your department to participate in an Admissions 101 Q&A session. This serves multiple benefits. In addition to providing mentees with a demystified overview of how admissions work broadly, programs can use that space to discuss specific aspects of their programs and thus engage in indirect recruitment efforts.
    • We additionally hope the department thinks of creative ways in which our efforts can intersect with in-person recruitment efforts (see above) in order to enhance the sense of community for the NPSP mentees and mentors in your university.
  • Will our department be part of the NPSP branding?
    • Yes, once you become a sponsor/partner, we will add your university logo to our materials and acknowledge your financial support whenever it makes sense.

More questions? Explore our website or reach out to our NPSP Director to start the process!

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