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Meet a Minds Matter Student


Leslie is a hard-working and enthusiastic junior. She talks with us about her passions, overcoming hardships, and her drive to succeed. 

Q: What is your favorite part about Minds Matter?

Leslie: In Minds Matter I am constantly reminded of my capability. The community that has been built for us is a lovely blessing. Volunteers come to work with us and challenge us in order to go beyond our limits. They believe that we are capable of much more than we ourselves think. They are always there for us when we need them. They motivate us to work hard in school and support us in order to be college ready and pursue our dreams. They push us to try new things and hand us the resources we need in order to succeed in our journey.

 Q: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome?

Leslie: The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome is the loss of my mother in her battle with cancer. It happened so quickly that until this day it seems unreal. My mom is my motivation, role model and my strength to move forward and take myself and my dad out of the darkness we live in. When I look into my father’s eyes, all I see is hope and sacrifice. Hope that one day we will achieve the American Dream. Sacrifice because he works every day for long hours to pay the bills that lead to stress and frustration. He inspires me to strive in my education and standout. Both of my parents have built the person that I am today.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school?

Leslie: In school I have gravitated towards the power of math and I have developed a passion for art. This has inspired me to become an architect. I am fascinated by the work that can be done by combining math and art. Opportunities offered to low income students like myself at Minds Matter will benefit me in pursuing a career in architecture.

Q: What is an interesting fact about you?

Leslie: An interesting fact about me is that I have a passion for dancing, especially Salsa.

Support students like Leslie. Donate today!

Minds Matter College Tours

This fall, Minds Matter students embarked on the first three college visits for the 2016-17 year!
Sponsored  by BlackRock Gives, Minds Matter juniors and seniors were able to interact with current students on the Lafayette, Vassar and Manhattanville campuses. These visits broaden student perspectives and give them a more tangible look at the college experience.  These visits also allow students to demonstrate their interests and help the admission office evaluate the student as more than simply the sum of their transcripts and test scores.
“The college trip was really helpful in terms of exploring different campus environments. It was a taste of what college life might actually look like and it makes students think of where they might belong.”
– Brandon, Class of 2018
Follow us on Instagram @mindsmatternyc for photos of our College Tours and other Minds Matter experiences!

Meet a Minds Matter Student


Brandon is a dedicated, optimistic and creative senior who is excited about his future. 

Q: What does college mean to you?

Brandon: College is the place where you find and mold yourself as an individual. This is the place where you can seek knowledge and make vast key connections. College is the place where you transition from childhood to adulthood.

Q: What is the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome?

Brandon: My greatest obstacle occurred at the age of 1, where my mother was impacted by 9/11. Growing up with a disabled mother has been difficult to overcome; I was forced to balance taking care of my mother, participating in sports, and excelling in school. At times I had to work to put the little food we had on the table. I still managed to do well in school, sports and more importantly keeping my mom healthy.

Q: What is the most interesting thing about you?

Brandon: Most of the kids who go through tough situations like I have use it as an excuse to walk towards the wrong path. My situation actually gives me purpose to be successful, in order to help my mother in the best way and give aid to families that go through similar situations. I use my background as an excuse to make a difference.

Q: What has been your favorite Minds Matter moment?

Brandon: My favorite Minds Matter moment would have to be the ALDA summer program. To be a part of the beautiful NYU campus, making connections, and getting closer with the staff and students was an awesome experience. The summer program molded my goals into perspective and I realized what I wanted to do with my life.

Support students like Brandon. Donate today! 

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Sponsor a Student 2016

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Become a Student Sponsor today!

Soiree Volunteer Ticket Contest: Update 4/22/16!

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Looking for ELA and Math Teachers!

Are you an ELA or Math teacher looking for teaching opportunities this summer? We want to hear from you!

Each summer, Minds Matter hosts the Academic & Leadership Development Academy (ALDA), a three-week summer-intensive program focused on math, reading and writing. Students in the program will also participate in professional and leadership development workshops led by industry executives.

Minds Matter seeks enthusiastic, credentialed ELA and Math teachers to teach our high-achieving and motivated students during this three-week program!

Key Responsibilities:

  • Implement Math or ELA curriculum designed by expert teachers
  • Instruct small groups of students of varying academic levels in above curriculum
  • Use assessment tools to identify student needs
  • Ensure students are receiving sufficient support to master the curriculum
  • Participate in daily check-ins with ALDA teachers
  • Participate in weekly check-ins with Minds Matter staff during ALDA
  • Partner with Minds Matter staff to evaluate course material and structure

Required Dates:

  • ALDA Teacher Orientation: Wednesday, June 15, 5:30 – 7:30pm
  • Program Dates: Monday, July 11 – Friday, July 29
  • Instructional Times:
    • Math Teachers: Monday – Friday, 9:00 – 11:00am
    • ELA Teachers: Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 3:30pm (including a 90-min lunch period)


  • Bachelor’s degree in Education (Master’s degree preferred)
  • NYS certification (or equivalent) in Algebra or Geometry (for Math teachers) or in high school ELA (for ELA teachers)
  • Experience in SAT Test Prep a plus (for Math teachers)
  • Minimum three years teaching experience in an urban setting
  • Strong curriculum development experience focused on short-term gains
  • Excelled track record of establishing strong rapport with students
  • Ability to use coaching, discussion-oriented instruction and didactic models
  • ESL and bilingual teachers preferred
  • Passionate believe in Minds Matter’s mission and high standard of excellence
  • Experience working in a highly collaborative environment


  • Math Teachers: $2,000 (includes planning, instruction and evaluation)
  • ELA Teachers: $3,000 (includes planning, instruction and evaluation)

To Apply:

Applications will be reviewed and processed in the order received. The application deadline is Monday, May 2. Applicants should email resume and letter of interest in MS Word or PDF format to Julia Loonin at The subject line of the email should include your full name and “ALDA [Math or ELA] Application.” Please call (212) 626-6590 with any questions.


Meet a Minds Matter Student!

Deborah is a determined senior who will explore her passions at Columbia University this fall.

Q: What do you like best about Minds Matter?

Deborah: The best part about Minds Matter has to be the support system I’ve had this entire time. My team is just amazing. My team leader is one of my biggest supporters and I love him for that. My mentors have done an amazing job at keeping me grounded and sane just when I thought that I would go crazy with school, extracurricular activities, etc. And the rest of the mentees have been there through it all with me so we’ve done a lot of growing up together. We’re a little Minds Matter family and it is going to hurt very much when we have to say our goodbyes.

Q: What would you tell a freshman who is interested in applying for Minds Matter?

Deborah: You have to be mentally ready. If you’re applying to Minds Matter, it’s probably because you’re already a great student, so understand that it has to stay that way for the next three years and beyond.  Know that they’re going to have high expectations of you, but only because there is a mutual/unspoken understanding that you have high expectations for yourself. You should also keep in mind that this program is one of the best things that could happen to you. You’ll have an amazing support system, you will go to college (that’s a fact), you’ll participate in incredible summer programs, and you’ll meet some unforgettable people along the way. If you think life is hard now, know that it’ll only get harder from here on out, but it will also get better. And you better believe Minds Matter will make sure of it.

Q: How has Minds Matter helped to prepare you for college?

Deborah: For the past three years, I’ve learned countless lessons from Minds Matter. However, if I had to choose one thing, it would be how amazing college is going to be. We are surrounded by people who are more than willing to help us and give us advice. From what to bring to your dorm freshman year to what classes will be helpful and necessary in the real world. We had the chance to see what college could be like through our summer programs, and we’ve also had staff members teach us college classes to show us just how difficult it can get. The program has been an incredible resource in terms of preparing us for college.

Q: Where will you be attending college next year and why did you choose that school?

Deborah: Next fall I’ll be attending Columbia University. I chose the school because I genuinely think that it is the right fit for me. I’ve always said that college isn’t just about getting an education; it’s also about expanding my horizons and challenging myself. And I can say with confidence that at Columbia I’ll be able to push myself in new ways and go beyond my comfort zone.

Support students like Deborah. Donate today! 

Upcoming Events: Happy Hours, NYC Half, Picnic, and Soiree!


Special Feature:

Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Soirée
Minds Matter Soiree is back! As always, tickets are in high demand so be sure to get yours as soon as they go on sale in March!

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, March 12, 2016 – Happy Hour
All-programs happy hour at Amity Hall (Downtown). Starting at 2:30pm, join all Minds Matter volunteers for our third happy hour of 2016. Bring a friend who wants to learn more about the program.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 – NYC Half Marathon
Proud to announce the Minds Matter, all-star runners for the 2016 NYC Half (below). Go out and support your fellow volunteers!

Tanya Kuoni – visit page 

Joy Chen – visit page 

Andrew Gulla – visit page 

Amit Bhandari – visit page 

Sushil Raja – visit page 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 – Leadership Recruitment
Interested in taking a leadership role in Minds Matter? Join us from 7:00–8:30pm to learn what opportunities are available and how you can get more involved. Email Julia at for more information or simply SIGN-UP HERE.

Saturday, April 9, 2016 – Happy Hour
All-programs happy hour at Amity Hall (Downtown). Starting at 2:30pm, join all Minds Matter volunteers for our fourth (and final) happy hour of 2016. Bring a friend who wants to learn more about the program.

Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Picnic
All-programs picnic at Central Park (exact time and location TBD). All Minds Matter volunteers and students are invited.

Have ideas for other fun Minds Matter events? Email with your suggestions!