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Minds Matter New York

  • Minds Matter New York
  • 1120 Avenue of the Americas
    4th Floor
  • New York, NY 10036
  • 212-626-6534
  • 1991

Program Description

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.

Our 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. Minds Matter is a three year program that begins in students' sophomore year of high school. Minds Matter offers its students a combination of individualized mentor support and group instruction that provides students with the resources, information and guidance they need to gain admission to, enroll in and graduate from four-year colleges.

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.

Success Stories

Leonel is a Junior who loves writing, books, and Simon & Garfunkel.

Q: What do you like best about Minds Matter?

Leonel: What I like best about Minds Matter is the support and the love from the volunteers and everyone who is a part of it. It's hard to get my mind around it sometimes: so many people who want us to be successful and, even though they have jobs and lives, they just volunteer. I don't know how they do it.

College prep, schoolwork, participating in clubs and volunteering through my school, plus my personal life, can be so overwhelming. But I'm really improving on my SAT work now. I feel much more confident than I did when I was a freshman. Back then, I thought the SAT was like a scary monster under my bed, and now I can challenge it.

Q: Where did you go for your summer program last year? What was the best part about it?

Leonel: Last summer I went to the Iowa Young Writers Studio. I spent two weeks in Iowa City just reading fiction, writing short stories for my classmates to read and approve, and seeing the city. You'll be surprised how modern and chic the city was! There were all these big buildings and stores. I expected corn fields and cows in the streets, but Iowa City is like a miniature New York, with so many people and so much diversity. We saw the house where Kurt Vonnegut lived when he wrote Slaughterhouse Five, we went to used bookstores and I bought so many books that my suitcase was heavy.

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

Leonel: I'd tell them that Minds Matter really does help you. Besides the SAT work, you mature and you meet new people. People don't always understand how great Minds Matter is. Minds Matter is here to prepare you for the real world.

Q: What's one song you have on repeat right now? Why?

Leonel: It's not just one song, to be honest: it's the top 20 hits of Simon and Garfunkel. One of my teachers asked me on Friday if I liked them and I said yes, and he gave me this CD. So from Friday afternoon to like 3 a.m. I just listened to Simon and Garfunkel. I couldn't get enough! Each song had different beats and rhythms and sounds, and it was so great.

Q: Where is your favorite place in NYC? Why?

Leonel: For me it would be Saint Nicholas Park, near my house (in Harlem). I know there are greater parks, I mean, I've been to Central Park, but I have a close connection to this one. I've been going there all my life, I've explored every corner. It's home to me. It's like nature right where I live.

Q: If you could have dinner with one famous person, who would it be and why?

Leonel: If I just had that one chance, it would be Harper Lee. I would want to talk to her about her life, because she just gave us this one book and then she let it go. I wouldn't want to ask her too many questions or make her feel uneasy, but I'd just like to ask her, What have you been doing for the last fifty years?And I would ask her, Do you feel that you're a mockingbird?

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • 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


Race & Ethnicity

  • American Indian or Native Alaskan: 0%
  • White: 2%
  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 27%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 43%
  • Other: 5%
  • African American: 22%

Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 180
  • Middle School: 0
  • Elementary School: 0
  • Post-secondary: 0
  • Non-traditional: 0

Populations Served

  • Academically High-performing
  • Undocumented Students (6)


  • More than 75%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • Columbia University in the City of New York

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 100%
  • 4-yr College Graduation: 85%