What is Minds Matter?

Minds Matter connects driven and determined students from low-income families with the people, preparation, and possibilities to succeed in college, create their future, and change the world.


What are the results produced by Minds Matter?

  • 100% of Minds Matter graduates are accepted into a four-year college or university
  • 73% of students attend schools ranked by Barron’s as most, highly, or very competitive
  • 93% of Minds Matter alumni aged 28 and older have received a bachelor’s degree (vs. 41% of all high-achieving, low-income students)
  • 17:1 ROI: Every dollar of donor-invested funds yields $17 in economic and social impact


What is the paid staff to volunteer ratio?

Minds Matter is truly a volunteer-driven organization. There are only two paid staff members nationally.


General questions?

Contact us at twincities@mindsmatter.org.


Questions about volunteering?

Contact our Volunteer Recruitment director at brenna@mindsmattermn.org.


Questions about being a student with Minds Matter?

Contact our Student Recruitment team at student.recruitment@mindsmattermn.org.


I’m interested in becoming a mentee. Where can I get more information about Minds Matter and the application process?

To learn more about the sophomore, junior, and senior programs, click here. To learn about the application process and requirements, click here.


When do students get accepted into Minds Matter?

Students are accepted into the program as sophomores in high school.


How does the mentoring process work?

Once admitted, students are assigned a pair of mentors with whom they meet weekly throughout the school year. The mentors and students work together to research and apply for Summer Programs/colleges, write essays, discuss financial aid, apply for scholarships, etc.


Are there costs for participating in Minds Matter?

There is no cost to the students, their families, or their schools. Minds Matter helps students apply for financial aid awards and raises funds to supplement financial aid.


How are students notified whether they were accepted into the program?

Students will be contacted via email regarding the interview notification. Final acceptances to the program will be communicated via a call.


How often and where does the Minds Matter program meet?

Minds Matter sessions for mentees are held on Saturdays from 10 AM–2 PM during the school year. Sessions are not held on holidays or during school vacations. Currently, we are doing a hybrid model (meeting in person in Minneapolis and online) due to the pandemic.


What process is used to match Minds Matter students with their mentors?

Minds Matter takes mentor/mentee matching very seriously. Volunteers and students are asked a series of questions during the application process to assess interests, areas of strength, and areas of improvement. This input allows the program leaders to do their best to ensure a good match and overall experience for everyone involved.


Do students stay with the same mentors throughout their entire Minds Matter experience?

Ideally, a mentee will have the same mentors throughout the entire program. Minds Matter does its best to assess each volunteer’s availability and match accordingly. We do understand that “life happens,” and sometimes we experience turnover due to unforeseen circumstances such as job changes, relocation, and graduate school.


What criteria are taken into consideration when matching a student to a Summer Program?

In early spring, Minds Matter mentors begin work behind the scenes with the Summer Programs. Based on each student’s attendance, commitment, and involvement in Minds Matter and the scholarship money offered to each student, we work to place each student in a Summer Program. Students are notified of their placement in April and May.


What kinds of Summer Programs do Minds Matter students apply to?

Minds Matter sophomores and juniors apply to a variety of academic Summer Programs at colleges, universities, and prep schools around the country. Here are some examples of where our students have gone in previous years: Boston Leadership Institute, Brown University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins Engineering Innovation, MIT Research Science Institute, Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of Southern California, and University of Virginia Summer Enrichment.


What are the benefits of being a Minds Matter student?

Minds Matter can help you learn more about the college application process and get support from mentors to navigate it, improve your writing, critical thinking, and math skills (helpful for the ACT/SAT exams and college application essays), explore your educational and career goals by attending Summer Programs and workshops, and build your network with your mentors, program directors, and peers. In addition, you may receive a scholarship for college after completion of the program.


Who are Minds Matter volunteers?

Minds Matter volunteers are college graduates at varying stages of their careers looking to make a difference in their community by directly impacting a high school student’s chance at a college education.


What happens after I submit the volunteer application?

The Volunteer Recruitment team will review your application and schedule an interview with you to learn more about your background and interests in being involved in Minds Matter and answer any questions you may have. The Volunteer Recruitment team will also discuss next steps with you during the interview.


What is the time commitment for a typical volunteer?

The time commitment for a typical volunteer is approximately 3 hours at regular weekly sessions as well as an additional 2-4 hours during the week, depending on the volunteer’s role and engagement with the student(s).


Does Minds Matter offer leadership volunteer opportunities?

Yes, visit the “Apply Now” page to learn more about the leadership positions.


What types of volunteer activities take place outside of regular session?

Minds Matter volunteers enjoy spending time outside of session getting to know one another in a social setting. Each chapter organizes volunteer-only activities such as happy hours, day trips, and potluck dinners, throughout the year.


Does Minds Matter offer short-term volunteer opportunities?

While the majority of Minds Matter volunteer opportunities are long-term commitments of at least one school year (about nine months), some short-term volunteer opportunities do exist. Short-term volunteer opportunities include college and career fair participants, college admissions panelists, and “interviewers” to help with mock interview workshops.


What kind of commitment is expected of volunteers with regards to fundraising?

Because Minds Matter is a largely volunteer-driven organization, volunteer participation in fundraising is crucial. Volunteer fundraising can take place in the form of requesting donations from friends, family, and co-workers. Volunteers can also help by seeking out matching gifts and volunteer grants from their companies.


What if I would like to volunteer for a certain position but don't see it listed in the "Apply Now" page?

If you would like to volunteer for a certain role but don't see it in the volunteer positions list, please let us know how you would like to get involved.


What does a Minds Matter mentor do?

Minds Matter utilizes a 2:1 mentor-mentee model: mentors work with their student alongside one other adult mentor to form a triad. Every week, triads work through the Minds Matter curriculum, which guides students through exercises to develop the hard and soft skills they need to succeed in college. Mentors commit to following their student throughout their three years in the program and directly impact their mentee’s chance at a college education.


What are the key responsibilities of a mentor?

The mentor role is all about strong relationships. In order to effectively guide, challenge, and celebrate their mentee, mentors exhibit and develop a few key characteristics:

  • Your relationship is built over time, in and out of session, but the majority of your interactions happens at Saturday session. Therefore, showing up and being present at session is the baseline for your effectiveness as a mentor. Mentors are required to attend at least 80% of Saturday sessions during the course of the school year.
  • Acting as a role model and caring adult for your mentee requires active listening, empathy, commitment, and integrity. Furthermore, it’s critical that mentors follow through on their commitments made to their mentee. Unfulfilled promises negatively impact relationships, but especially those with young people. Mentors act as role models and mentor not only their own student, but also all of the students on their team.
  • While there are no required meetings outside of Saturday session, we ask mentors to be responsive to texts/emails from their student during the week, and actively check in from time to time.
  • All volunteers act as representatives of Minds Matter in and out of session, and are asked to uphold the organization’s values and core beliefs.


What does a Minds Matter session look like?

The program directors (PDs) share the agenda for the session. In the sophomore and junior years, the primary focus will be researching and applying for Summer Programs. In the senior year, the mentors and their mentees will research colleges, apply for scholarships, discuss financial aid, etc. The PDs lead the Saturday sessions and support the mentors and mentees.


What is a Summer Program?

In the sophomore and junior years, mentees apply to a Summer Program at a top college and take courses during the summer. The Summer Program allows mentees to grow their academic abilities, inspire them to think of what they want to study in college and what they want to do for a career, and give them the opportunity to experience “college life.”


What is the time commitment?

The time commitment is approximately 2 hours at regular weekly sessions as well as an additional 2–4 hours during the week, depending on the mentor’s engagement with their mentee. Sessions with the mentors/mentees are at 12–2 PM almost every Saturday of each month. The program starts from September/October–May. Mentors should be prepared to commit to three years as volunteers as they follow their student through the program.


Where do we meet?

Currently, we are doing a hybrid model (meeting in person in Minneapolis and online) due to the pandemic.


What types of support does a mentor have?

In general, the PDs will provide additional support as needed.


What are the benefits of being a mentor with Minds Matter?

There are many benefits of being a mentor with Minds Matter. Here are a few of those: build your network and friendships with other mentors and executive leaders, enhance your leadership experience for your resume, and make a positive impact in a student’s life by helping them get into college.

Questions? Contact Us At: twincities@mindsmatter.org