Helping Students go to College with Minds Matter

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“I’m originally from China and came to the U.S. for college, so helping first- and second-generation immigrants to get into college really resonated with me. The mentoring is so powerful because I get to see the tangible impact we can make on mentees.” --Cindy Zhu, Associate at TPG



Minds Matter is a national organization that helps high-achieving, low-income students go to college, pairing them with mentors who give the academic and personal support and encouragement they need to make the leap to higher education. TPG employees have been working with Minds Matter’s San Francisco branch since 2011, and since 2012, TPG Principal Tim Millikin has volunteered and served on Minds Matter’s board of directors.

“It’s a great organization with a unique and important model,” Tim says. “It is completely volunteer run, and 100% of its students are accepted to four-year colleges and universities. The impact it has is quite dramatic.”

Volunteering with Minds Matter has become a personal mission for many at TPG. “I’m originally from China and came to the U.S. for college, so helping first- and second-generation immigrants to get into college really resonated with me. The mentoring is so powerful because I get to see the tangible impact we can make on mentees.”

Associate Kiva Dickinson was also motivated by the idea of working with youth, but when he first joined Minds Matter, all their mentoring roles were full. Instead, Kiva joined the fundraising team and discovered a real aptitude. He helped organize a 1500-person gala at San Francisco city hall that raised more than half Minds Matter SF’s annual budget. “When I finally started mentoring, I could see there was a person associated with the dollars I was raising, and that person mattered to me in a very special way,” Kiva says. He kept mentoring but also dug deep into fundraising, and he is now the organization’s co-president, leading events and marketing.
 

One of the rewards of volunteering is having the chance to apply the skills TPG employees bring to portfolio companies in a way that tangibly impacts the success of the organization.

“Our jobs are demanding, but we’re often still the junior people on the team, and we can’t always attack high level problems,” Cindy says. At Minds Matter, however, they can apply that strategic expertise to an organization they know well and care about. “I was able to have such an impactful role in the strategy of the organization which is a rare opportunity at this stage of my career,” Kiva says.

Tim looks forward to a long-term impact with Minds Matter, getting more of his colleagues involved and coaching them as volunteers, and ultimately helping the organization grow. “Minds Matter is not big, because it’s incredibly intensive, with a massive depth of impact,” he says. “It’s a powerful model and it makes a huge difference in students’ lives. Now the question is, how do you scale it? How do we have that impact with more and more people?”

For more infomation, visit mindsmattersf.org.