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Since 1992 the University of Texas System Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation has promoted the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM with funding from the National Science Foundation. In 2003 the Alliance initiated the Bridge-to-the-Doctorate project to support students during their first two years of graduate studies. The expectation was that financial support, effective mentoring, and developmental activities would significantly increase the six-year completion rate for a Ph.D. degree. Consequently the Alliance has developed effective strategies to recruit, retain, and advance these students and to ensure completion of their advanced degrees. Recruitment strategies include nationwide solicitation, faculty nominations, intensive interviews, and competitive selection. Retention activities consist of seminars, personalized advising, team building, and workshops for achieving milestones in graduate studies. Advancing efforts include personalized academic advising and semester review of research progress to keep students focused and on track. To date, the Alliance has supported 70 students at three UT System institutions. From this group, 40 have earned their MS, eight have earned their Ph.D. and 30 are currently pursuing the doctorate. Best practices will be discussed along with important outcomes seen since the inception of the Bridge-to-the-Doctorate project in the UT System.