Know that Minds Matter is going to have high expectations of you, but only because there is a mutual understanding that you have high expectations of yourself. This program is one of the best things that could happen to you.- Deborah, Minds Matter Class of 2016, Columbia University
Poverty has a zip code. Potential doesn't.
In 1991, six Wall Street professionals established Minds Matter in New York City to mentor high-achieving, low-income high school students who had the potential and ambition to pursue a college education, but who lacked the resources to achieve that dream. Since then, Minds Matter has grown into a national organization with fourteen chapters across the United States in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, the Twin Cities, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
The organization’s services have developed into a holistic three-year curriculum for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors. Each year students are guided through valuable lessons in Academic Preparedness, Writing & Critical Thinking, and SAT Preparation.
Today, with over 600 volunteers each contributing over 120 hours of service every year, Minds Matter is one of the largest volunteer-led organizations in the nation dedicated to promoting higher education.
Core Beliefs and Values
Who We Are
Our mission is supported by four core beliefs that define the purpose of our work.
- We believe in the power of a college education and are confident that a college degree can help students become informed citizens, reach their professional potential, and attain financial stability.
- We believe that all students who dedicate themselves to the pursuit of higher education should be connected to the support, resources, and network they need to discover their best-fit college—and to enter it ready for the challenge ahead.
- We believe our mission can only be fulfilled when we invite and embrace diverse backgrounds, when we exercise understanding and empathy in building lasting connections with each other, and when we are all able to honor and value our full identities.
- We believe in the necessity of Minds Matter as a space that puts students’ needs first.
Our values define how we fulfill our mission, guide our decisions, and determine our priorities. Our values help us recognize what is Minds Matter and what is not.
- Community: Community is Minds Matter’s highest value and the basis for our success. Our community is built on mutual generosity, care, and respect—all nurtured through individual compassion and vulnerability. Diversity is our strength; our unique assets and experiences combine to elevate the whole. One member’s achievement is a celebration for all; one member’s struggle calls each of us to help. Our community is deep, long-lasting and far-reaching.
- Commitment: Minds Matter thrives when all of us are wholly committed to our mission, our community, and our individual roles. Success requires us to be fully present: physically, emotionally, and mentally focused on the goal of preparing all students to succeed in college and beyond. We are responsible and accountable to each other and the Minds Matter community.
- Growth: Minds Matter invites people from diverse backgrounds to come together with the goal of getting all students into their best-fit college. Accomplishing this goal requires each of us to evolve our thinking and expand our knowledge over time. We are ready to learn; we are ready to listen. We set aside assumptions about ourselves and others, and we open our minds to new ideas and perspectives. Together, we strive to grow towards our full potential.
A Unique Focus, A Huge Return
While most mentoring organizations provide one mentor for one mentee, Minds Matter mentees are provided with an entire team of highly skilled professionals from various industries. Each student is assigned to two mentors who they meet with weekly: a team leader; and SAT/ACT test preparation, writing, critical thinking and math instructors. In addition, students are supported by volunteer program directors and counselors as well as full-time staff. This structure provides unparalleled support for our students, enabling them to benefit from collaborative learning opportunities as well as individualized attention tailored to their specific academic and social need.
The organization also thoroughly addresses their need for guidance through the college admissions and financial aid processes. As first-generation college-bound students, many of them would otherwise have little support through this complicated process. At Minds Matter we believe that as we help our students (or mentees) earn a college education, we are also cultivating them to be the next generation of leaders.
Short Term Goals
Our Short Term Goals
Every day we strive to maintain our ideals and provide the best possible experience for our students and volunteers. In addition to running the program efficiently, our small staff and team of volunteer leadership are focused on the following initiatives:
- Develop a long-term growth plan that addresses strategic chapter expansion, student enrollment, program enhancement, and organizational development.
- Continue to develop an alumni program that extends Minds Matter’s services and reinforces the focus on college diplomas, not just acceptance letters.
- Develop improved metrics that will allow Minds Matter to more effectively evaluate and enhance programs.
- Ensure that Minds Matter programming maintains its focus on academic excellence, while also expanding it to address the importance of leadership, citizenship and early professional experiences.
- Refine and refresh test preparatory program to better prepare students for undergraduate college entrance.