“We need more underrepresented minority leaders in all aspects of health care delivery and scientific discovery. I think the more diverse we are, the better we are”

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Dental Education Association, the free, six-week “academic boot camp” has created a pathway to medicine, dentistry and other health professions for more than 22,000 participants from underrepresented populations.

The participants come from urban centers and rural towns. Middle-class neighborhoods, under-served reservations, and crumbling communities. While most have a clear destination, many lack a roadmap for getting there.

At SMDEP, they find more than a path; they get a carefully calibrated GPS.

For the program’s 25th anniversary, McKinney rolled out a year-long campaign to celebrate SMDEP’s far-reaching impact and extend its reach.

The anniversary was a prime opportunity to chronicle SMDEP’s phenomenal success in shaping careers and changing lives while expanding the cadre of messengers whose triumphs personify its life-changing impact.

McKinney established an outreach program through social media and built the campaign around personal stories—most notably Inspiring 25, a series showcasing 25 SMDEP “exemplars.”

Profiles of these exceptional alumni, who conquered hardships to become beacons of hope in their communities, were the soul of the campaign and were featured on the SMDEP anniversary website and in a “memory book.” We coordinated content, placement and outreach for the 25 stories, which were featured on the SMDEP anniversary website and in a printed and online “memory book.” The memory book also included a historical essay, photos, and reminiscences from program directors and alumni.

The campaign culminated in a celebratory alumni reunion event that drew 150 to Washington, DC, to share experiences, swap anecdotes and catch up with old friends—exceeding expectations by 50 percent. McKinney’s outreach activities increased alumni engagement by 250 percent, expanding the pool of potential alumni mentors.

Most important, we helped bring attention to SMDEP’s greatest triumph: its multiplier effect. By shaping the careers of its more than 22,000 alumni, the program has also changed the lives of everyone those alumni touch.