mentoring (or how i spend my saturdays)

There are all kinds of charities throughout the world and various ways to give of your time or money. Once upon a time I was very involved with Sowers of Hope in DR Congo. It has had its ups and downs and with grad school and then moving to New York, I didn’t feel like I could really give the time or money I wanted to give. That said, I knew when I moved to New York I would want to find some way to give back.

Enter Minds Matter. One of my friends at work found this organization and I decided I wanted to get involved. As a firm believer in education and as someone who recognizes just how lucky I was to have parents who believed in education and a great example in my father who had a masters degree, and to have their support through high school, college, and then a masters degree, I feel like any organization that is trying to help kids not as privileged as I was get an education is something I can get behind.

Minds Matter is a program that helps high achieving, underprivileged high school students get into college. Interesting fact, the average income of these families is $21,000…in major urban areas. They do this by helping the kids with their test prep and getting them into incredible summer programs (Stanford, UCLA, etc, etc) that help them get into college. As a mentor of a high school sophomore, I meet with my mentee, Ivy*, every Saturday to help her prepare applications for various summer programs and whatever else she might need. Ivy is really interested in French and is in her first semester of it, so I get to help her with that; so fun for me.

I’ve also learned a lot from her. While I did not have the ideal childhood in terms of family situation, it could have been much harder. (I mean, I knew that, but…) Ivy lives in the Bronx and commutes to Queens for school (an hour each way) just so she can attend a better school. Her older brothers both live near her high school, so sometimes she stays with one of them. There are times when she doesn’t get to go home for a week at a time. I mean, she’s staying with her brother, but I know it’s rough for her. Her parents both work in a restaurant. One of her brothers is a mechanic, the other is a limo driver. No one in her family has ever graduated college. I actually don’t think anyone has ever even gone. Things that I took for granted as a kid (like having parents who knew how to apply for college) are things that are not at all part of her life.

This is a great program and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. Something about having to plan your whole weekend around spending a couple of hours with high school sophomore really helps a thirty-something keep her life in perspective.

The program is funded through grants and fundraising and the various summer programs work with Minds Matter to offer financial aid to the students. And this is the part where I ask you if you’d like to donate to this great program. If you are interested, you can donate directly on my fundraising site. I’m trying to raise enough to sponsor the cost of one student ($2,500). Any amount helps!

And with that, I’m off to run my three miles and get on with my day.

*Name has been changed.

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