The J. Derek McNeil Scholars Project


The J. Derek McNeil Scholars Project exists to provide doctoral students of color in professional mental health programs with a two-year system of mentoring and support to facilitate the development of a robust pipeline of faculty and graduate students of color to enhance CAPS with their scholarship and expertise and to contribute to a more diverse and equitable representation of professionals in the mental health field.


Provide doctoral students of color in professional mental health programs with formal networking, mentoring, and professional development within and between member institutions focusing on the completion of academic requirements and their entrance into professional roles.

Promote opportunities for doctoral students of color in professional mental health programs to advance their academic and professional careers through attending the CAPS conference and presenting original scholarship including research, clinical case studies, and theoretical work.

Connect student leaders of color with faculty, staff, peers and scholar alumni within and between member institutions to develop an ongoing network of support for their long term academic and professional goals.


Scholar Expectations:

  • Attend the annual CAPS conference for both years as a scholar
  • Present with mentor or present original research at a CAPS International Conference
  • Maintain open and timely communication with their mentor
  • Prepare to serve as a mentor for future J. Derek McNeil Scholars

Institution Expectations:

  • Nominate potential J. Derek McNeil Scholars
  • Assist with recruiting qualified faculty mentors
  • Provide full financial support for scholars to attend the annual CAPS conference for each year of the scholars program
  • Promote opportunities for professional development or leadership roles in the department and college/university level


Doctoral students of color in professional mental health programs who express a commitment to the integration of faith and professional studies in mental health  and who have been nominated by their institution.

Faculty or deans may nominate one or more students of color enrolled in a doctoral program in professional mental health. Nominee applications will be reviewed by the CAPS Scholars Advisory Board. A CAPS representative will notify successful applicants and pair them with a qualified mentor.

Any institution who wishes to nominate a student outside of professional mental health programs will need to present a special request to the CAPS Scholars Advisory Board to accept the nominated student. The CAPS Scholars Advisory Board reserves the right to consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.

The CAPS Scholars Advisory Board recruits faculty of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in professional mental health programs from institutions throughout the U.S. to serve two-year terms as mentors. Mentor applications are reviewed by the CAPS Scholars Advisory Board to ensure alignment with the program mission and vision. Additionally, students are encouraged to suggest mentors with whom they would like to work.

The benefits of the J. Derek McNeil Scholars program for scholars include increased opportunities for enhancing professional visibility through presenting research, networking with colleagues and other professionals, and receiving mentoring support for academic and career success. The benefits of the project for participating institutions include support of the recruitment and retention of doctoral students of color. The benefits for majority culture members of the community include increased representation by people of color within programs, at CAPS, and within the profession, leading to a more just and equitable professional mental health field.

Mentoring Guide

Effective mentoring begins, as all good things do, in a warm and caring relationship. Research has shown that mentees and mentors benefit from a collaborative and interactive experience together.

A healthy, constructive working relationship between you and your mentee is a vital support to the academic success of your student. This guide offers tips to help you think through how you will approach your role as mentor, including information about elements of mentoring relationships and stages of development that have been identified by mentorship researchers. We’ve also created a parallel guide for mentees. Mentorship is a two-way street.

The Mentoring Guide includes:

  • HOW TOs