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Advancing Racial Equity through Mentoring
by Christie Denson
December 20, 2022

Photo: Laura Hamilton and a mentoring client. Photo courtesy of UpTurnships

SCORE Twin Cities is making strides to strengthen support for our diverse business communities. In 2021 alone, SCORE mentors helped start 25,084 new businesses and create 96,559 new jobs. In the same year, 59% of SCORE's clients were women, 44% were minorities, and 9% were veterans. By creating strategic partnerships with community development organizations and working with volunteers who have a passion for racial justice, learn more about how SCORE Twin Cities is working for change.

Volunteers Making an Impact

“I feel that as a white woman of privilege, I have a couple of responsibilities,” explains SCORE Mentor and retired CEO Laura Hamilton.  “One, I think it is my job to speak out about racial inequity. We can’t leave identifying systemic racism to people of color. We’re at a point that remaining quiet is part of the problem. I want to try to address some of this conflict, and not push it under the table.”

Hamilton, who moved on from a career in the C-suite at a public company, now serves for organizations that primarily help underserved communities. She has been heavily involved tutoring youth with housing insecurity and was instrumental in the literacy mentoring program for Simpson Housing Services. She is also a volunteer with UpTurnships, coaching and mentoring students to secure and succeed in paid internships. Both based in Minneapolis.

“I felt my next step of addressing inequity could be helping small business owners, and so I asked SCORE if I could specifically focus on Minneapolis or Twin Cities small business owners of color,” she adds. Now working with BIPOC business owners and entrepreneurs, Hamilton emphasizes that mentoring needs to go beyond business basics.  

Hamilton describes a recent experience mentoring a Latina client who was navigating bias and discrimination with a contractor. Another challenge she faced as refugee business owner, was with Green Card approval. Due to her “deferred action” status she had her business loan rejected moments before it was a done deal.

“The more I work with an immigrant population, the more I understand what someone might be going through. The more I work with people who have experienced homelessness or are living in poverty, the more I can understand when they come forward with a business idea that's not fully formulated, how important it is for them that this might be the only way out. And it's not always going to end up in a new business--  but hopefully it ends up with this person somehow moving forward.”

Tatiana Mendez, one of Hamilton’s mentee’s, says that her experience with SCORE Mentors has been an important and necessary part of her business.

“I'm from Ecuador. In 2021 I decided to open a Child Care center in Edina MN, one of my bosses suggested to get a SCORE mentor to join me in this journey,” says Mendez. “I just can say that I feel blessed to had found Laura Hamilton, she had been an amazing and extraordinary human being, not just helping with the financial part of my project, she is taking care of everything: numbers, projections, remodeling process, getting/applying loans, city requirements, etc. She has been so engaged, passionate with the success of my business. I cannot thank enough for her and what she has done for me.”

Key Partnerships

Hamilton’s path of volunteerism in mentoring led to developing a partnership between SCORE Twin Cities agencies like MEDA (Metropolitan Economic Development Association) and Neighborhood Development Center (NDC), both organizations work toward creating racial economic equity through successful BIPOC entrepreneurships.

With the help of volunteers like Hamilton, MEDA and NDC clients will be assigned to SCORE mentors.

“In the near future, the hope is that MEDA and NDC volunteer mentors will also become certified SCORE mentors,” says Hamilton.

SCORE Twin Cities is also working with Minnesota Africans United and the Brazil Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on mentoring for immigrants.

Making an Impact

It’s important that SCORE continue to recruit volunteers and mentors who can look at business mentoring with the complex challenges of racial inequities, and provide that next level of support.

“I recommended SCORE to some members of my family and will always do,” adds Mendez. “Thank you Laura for helping minority groups and for making such an impact on people from different parts of the world, with different languages, but with a heart full of dreams.”

For more information on SCORE efforts in the Twin Cities see


About the author
Christie Denson | Christie Denson Communications
Christie Denson
Christie Denson Communications
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The SCORE Twin Cities Chapter has over 140 volunteers that have an ongoing commitment to extend free education and mentoring to all our business communities including women and people of color. SCORE Twin Cities is working with Minnesota Africans United (MAU) and Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON).
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