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Insights from a Minds Matter Mentor

This week, I had a chance to grab lunch with Patrick from Minds Matter SF (MMSF) and learn more about his work with the mentees. Both Patrick and I have been working with MMSF for some time now. While I work more with external partnerships, Patrick has been working closely with the mentors and mentees as the Vice President of Sophomore Programs.

Photo of Shane Zhao
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Minds Matter of San Francisco (MMSF) is a chapter of the national Minds Matter organization. MMSF is a non-profit that is dedicated to helping motivated high school students from low-income families prepare for success in college and life. Since its founding in New York City in 1991, the effectiveness of Minds Matter has been affirmed – 100% of its students have been accepted into a four-year college.
 
Minds Matter sessions take place every Saturday throughout the entire school year. For every mentee, there are two dedicated young professional mentors. During sessions, a primary focus has been to prepare them for future success through the development of relevant skills outside of school. The extracurricular programs have included SAT prep, resume writing, college application prep, public speaking, writing professional emails, how to form arguments, knowledge of current affairs, financial literacy, and career fairs. Minds Matter also covers the cost of tuition for all mentees to attend pre-college programs every summer.
 
Patrick has been leading the coordination of sessions for the Sophmores, and will be working on the development of programs for the Junior class this year. In addition to preparing mentees for college entry, the Minds Matter program is also designed to equip young people with important skills for success in life. During our chat, Patrick shared some great insights with me on this matter:
 
Demonstrating Potential
Participating in a mentorship program builds a mentee’s discipline and long term potentials.
● The MMSF mentees come into the program as highly motivated individuals with good GPAs and good work ethics.
● Attendance builds discipline. By dedicating every Saturday to MMSF, the mentees have demonstrated motivation and interests in their futures.
● A great percentage of the mentees are first generation immigrants who will become the first one in their families to attend college.
● The mentees are very empathetic. Coming from low-income backgrounds makes them want to help others and do good for society.
 
Practicing Independence
Pre-college experiences expose mentees to new social contexts and future career possibilities.
● Pre-college exposes the mentees to different social networks
● They start sharpening their goals and start thinking about their futures
● Mentees come back with more confidence in themselves
● Mentees learn to be resourceful during their time in pre-college programs
● They grow in maturity and start to present themselves professionally
 
Role Models as Cheerleaders
Dedicated mentors are cheerleaders who motivate mentees to strive for the best.
● Mentees applied to good summer programs because mentors pushed them
●  “My mentor works at Google. So I want to work at Google.”
● Mentors are positive and show the mentees that they care
● Mentors help mentees expand their horizons and open up doors
 

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Photo of Aysha Teja

This reminds me of a very successful non-profit that I used to volunteer with focused on reducing the drop out rate of high school students in low income neighbourhoods in Canada. The organization is called Pathways to Education Canada. They use a three pronged approach and one being mentorship between the high school students and professionals or university students.

The outcomes (as reported on their website):
- High school dropout rates have declined by more than 70%
- The rate of students going on to college or university has increased by up to 300%
- The program generates a $24 social return for every $1 invested (Boston Consulting Group)

http://www.pathwaystoeducation.ca/en/home

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Photo of Shane Zhao

Thanks for sharing this Aysha. It's great to see how Pathways to education has been reducing high-school drop out rates and helping students build skills for long term development This would be a great to share with the community as a research post! Youth mentorship programs in primary and secondary schools provide great foundations for students to succeed later on in life.