The Minority Fellowship Program was founded in 1974 by members of the then American Sociological Association Black Caucus, now the Association of Black Sociologists. The mission statement for the program was “To identify and to aid prospective Minority Sociology Graduate Students. To develop and enhance the capacity of minority individuals to conduct research in sociology and mental health. To develop and enhance the capacity of institutions to prepare, sustain, and expand research opportunities to minorities. To contribute to the development of sociology by recruiting persons who will add more variety, dynamism, and creativity to the field.”
With funding provided by National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Education forty-two students were selected for the first cohort. Over forty years later the Minority Fellowship Program has seen over 500 sociologists come through the program. MFP maintains a strong position in the discipline for not only financially assisting students also for providing mentorship and professional training to all Fellows.
Since 1974, MFP has supported the development and training of sociologists of color in any sub-area or specialty in the discipline. Currently, MFP is generously funded by regular annual contributions from organizations such as Alpha Kappa Delta, Sociologists for Women in Society, the Midwest Sociological Society, the Association for Black Sociologists, the Southwestern Sociological Association, the Eastern Sociological Society, and the Southern Sociological Society, as well as support from ASA Council and many individual ASA members.
MFP seeks to attract talented doctoral students to ensure a diverse and highly trained workforce is available to assume leadership roles in research that is relevant to today’s global society. Areas of interest for former Fellows include social psychology, gender and sexuality, education, medicine and health, inequalities and stratification, race and ethnicity, and more. All of these areas of research and expertise are not just important for the growth of the discipline, but also to address important issues facing society. Sociologists have much to contribute to these research agendas, and many former Fellows have published or presented their work at leading conferences in their specialty area.
In addition to providing financial support, MFP works with its Fellows and their faculty mentors to help prepare the Fellow for a research career. Also, MFP plans workshops and paper sessions at the ASA Annual Meeting, offers travel support to scientific conferences, and fosters the development of formal and informal networks for Fellows.