Whew — we did it! We got through 2020! No one really knows for sure what 2021 will bring, but I think most of us can agree that 2020 brought far more unanticipated “adjustments” than any of us could have imagined.
In a mostly unprecedented year rife with civil unrest, large-scale natural disasters, and a once-in-a-century global pandemic, virtually every human across the planet shared similar struggles, yet the inequities between those with choice and optionality and those without were drawn in even greater relief.
What became clear through all of the events of 2020 — foreseen and unforeseen — is that our work continues. Connections matter. Relationships matter. Mentors matter. Minds Matter.
So while much of the world ground to a halt, the importance of our work — helping deserving students get into college and get it paid for — took on even more relevance. We know that a college degree can help young people break out of the cycle of poverty. In a time when the size of your bank account determines prospects in life, a college degree matters.
That’s why we’re happy to say that through it all, 2020 turned out to be one of our most successful years ever. As a collective team, Minds Matter looked obstacles square in the eye and turned them into opportunities. And here are just a few highlights:
Where we’ve been:
- 21 seniors graduated the program and are attending schools across the state and country, including Minds Matter Colorado College Partners (University of Colorado-Denver, MSU Denver, and Colorado State University) as well as Colorado School of Mines, CU Boulder, UCCS, DU, Dakota State, University of Hawaii – Manoa, Arizona State University, and Howard University!
- Our students won hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships from the Daniels Fund, Greenhouse, and All Ways Up Foundation, among others.
- We transitioned our programming to 100% virtual in March, closing out the end of the year with 10 straight online sessions, and continued virtual programming into the 2020-2021 school year.
- Feedback was remarkably positive, with 80-90% attendance of Mentees, and Mentors saying they felt their relationships with their Mentees deepened even more than when they were face-to-face
- We launched our first site outside of Denver with 5 students at Harrison High School in Colorado Springs! This makes us the first Minds Matter chapter in the country to expand beyond our home city.
- We’re serving the most students ever (101) in MMCO history making us the one of the largest chapters in the country.
- Our first ever Chromebook Challenge was a raving success, raising $26k+ (over our $24k goal), covering the costs of 80 new Chromebooks to ensure each of our students has new, reliable, accessible technology of their very own to access Minds Matter college/scholarship/summer program applications and resources
- Our year-end Miles for Minds Campaign to support our current students and our new launch site in Aurora shattered our $75k goal by raising $143,000!
- We celebrated our holiday break by distributing 250+ gift bags with cookie decorating kits and hot chocolate (compiled by the folks Footers Catering & Summit Catering) to all our students and volunteers
Where we are:
Most importantly, in light of the attention and urgency brought to the cause of equity for all our students of color, specifically our Black and African-American students, we’re working with other Minds Matter chapters to build a consistent and deep culture of anti-racism and diversity, equity, and inclusion across all 14 chapters nationwide.
Part of this work has pushed us to revamp our mission statement to be even more student-centered and asset-based:
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.
We’ll be launching a refreshed website to showcase our new mission and our new messaging so stay tuned!
And as we get ready to start the second semester in a few days, we’re excited to announce that we’ve also launched our Minds Matter Connect platform — an online community for alumni to learn new skills, connect with each other, and find career opportunities.
If you’re looking for highly-qualified students for internships or early-career jobs, this is a great way to share those roles with our alumni network. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any job and internship postings you’d like highlighted to our alumni and MM alumni from across the country.
And we’ve finalized a partnership with Aurora Community Connection to launch a new site in Aurora in Fall of 2021! We’ll be looking for mentors and key volunteers soon, so if you’d like to learn more check out www.mindsmatterco.org/volunteers.
Where we’re going:
Lastly, we’re incredibly excited for what we’ve got in store for our annual spring fundraiser, formerly known as Casino Night. You’ll hear more from us in the coming days, but for now, hold your calendars for the night of Saturday, April 24th, 2021. More to follow!
Thank you for all your support of our students over a trying but ultimately successful year. We couldn’t have done any of it without your investments in our students, whether with time, money, energy, or emotion. We’re grateful to have you in our students’ corners and look forward to another (even more) successful year!
Minds Matter Colorado | CEO