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Minds Matter Chicago

Program Description

Minds Matter is a non-profit organization whose mission is to transform the lives of accomplished high school students from low-income families by broadening their dreams and preparing them for college success. Our goal is to equip underprivileged high school students with the tools to gain acceptance to a four-year university and navigate the financial aid process.

Through these efforts, we help our students develop as individuals. We introduce them to a world of opportunity outside their neighborhoods and comfort zones. They are more confident of their abilities, and they are eager to succeed. Minds Matter works with motivated students because we believe that no student dedicated to earning a college education should be limited by socioeconomic status.

Success Stories

Zarai may be the youngest of six children, but she's the first of her siblings to attend college. She enrolled in Middlebury College this fall on a Posse Scholarship and credits Minds Matter Chicago with helping her become a trailblazer in the Zaragoza family.

"Minds Matter opened doors of opportunity, and my mentors were always there as I walked through them into new territory," Zarai said. "This program changed my life."

Zarai participated in Minds Matter Chicago during her sophomore, junior and senior years at Phoenix Military Academy on the city's west side. As part of her experience, Zarai was paired with two mentors, participated in test preparation sessions and attended summer programs at Skidmore College and in Japan - at no cost to her family.

Services Provided

  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
  • Scholarships and last-dollar grants


Populations Served

  • Academically At-risk


  • Between 50% and 75%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • Connecticut College
  • Cornell University
  • Dominican University
  • Kenyon College
  • Northwestern University
  • Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
  • Pomona College
  • St. Thomas University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 100%