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To address critical health equity issues facing racially and ethnically diverse populations, it is essential to have researchers from similarly diverse backgrounds. Such researchers provide different perspectives that may lead to distinct research questions, novel interpretation of findings, and innovative recommendations for health promotion practice. There is a continuing need to increase the number of researchers leading health research studies who are from underrepresented minority populations (URMs). The literature demonstrates the effectiveness of mentoring for career development and the need to hone existing mentoring models. The TREE Center developed an innovative model for building capacity among early stage investigators, with a focus on URMs, to increase the inclusivity of the research pipeline. Our model involves community-engaged behavioral health research mentoring, career development, training for grantspersonship, and guidance for manuscript development and submission. A pilot project program provided opportunities for 10 early stage investigators to develop relationships with public health practitioners and other community partners, to obtain funding, to manage a complex pilot research project, and to generate preliminary data. Awardees worked with an academic mentor, a community mentor, and TREE Center faculty to conduct and disseminate their research. Lessons learned include the need to account for funding cycle timing, address challenges of recruiting URMs, consider overutilization of senior URM mentors, and overcome institutional bureaucracies that hinder transdisciplinary research across campuses. We discuss strategies for addressing these challenges. Our model is replicable and could be implemented, especially by academic programs interested in cultivating early stage URM investigators to conduct behavioral health research.