FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT VOLUNTEERING

 

What is Minds Matter of San Francisco (MMSF)?

MMSF is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing access to important college prep resources and shaping the mindsets of low-income high school students to prepare them for college success. The MMSF program focuses on supporting these students with the discovery, planning, and readiness needed to get into great colleges and succeed.

In the instructional program, MMSF offers students math, reading, writing and critical thinking support needed to do well on the ACT and SAT. In the mentoring program, each student is matched with a pair of mentors dedicated to providing individualized support to help them navigate the complex college preparation and admissions process.
 

How does our program work?

Minds Matter of San Francisco is a 100% volunteer-run, educational non-profit that provides low-income students access to strong mentors, instructors and leaders, who help broaden their worldview and prepare them for college and beyond. There are three objectives of our program:

  • Discovery: self-knowledge, self-determination, and self-expression to help students understand and advocate for themselves, their wants and needs.
  • Planning: high school, college, and financial plans to ensure that students are taking on experiences that build their character and better prepare them for college. 
  • Readiness: academic, psychological and social readiness to help students not just get into college, but thrive.

Students join us as Sophomores, where they build up their academic foundations in math, science, reading, writing and critical thinking, and start the process of self-discovery, planning the rest of their high school experience and learning basic psychological and social skills that give them an early taste of college and their options for their futures.

As Juniors, our students take a strong focus on academic test-prep readiness and go much more deeply into college exploration, including narrowing down their focus for future colleges, majors, and careers.

During the summers after their sophomore and junior years, we support our students with finding summer programs at top colleges around the country. These experiences are important for giving them a taste of college life and increasing the likelihood of college persistence.

Finally, as Seniors, our students focus heavily on showcasing their best selves in their college applications and learning more key skills that will ensure that they don’t just graduate from college, but that they are ready and thrive. We also support them with learning about both traditional and creative ways of paying for college, so that finances don't become a barrier to considering a great school.

We’re looking for volunteers to help us with every part of this program from classroom instruction to mentoring to managing programs. At the heart of our organization are people committed to making an impact in education and these students’ lives. 

At Minds Matter, our mentees come first, but our strong community comes in at a close second. Many of our volunteers form lasting friendships and embark on new endeavors together. Whether we’re discussing the latest trends in education over dinner or picnicking in Golden Gate Park, our community knows how to get things done and have fun while doing it.
 

Who is a part of MMSF?

Our students are high-achieving, low-income students that attend high school in San Francisco. They live in various neighborhoods across the city from the Outer Mission and Hunters Point to Chinatown to the Richmond and Sunset. They are of a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities, but are typically the first generation in their family to go to college. They attend a diverse range of high schools in San Francisco, including Abraham Lincoln, Galileo, George Washington, KIPP, Lincoln, Lowell, Mission, SF International, and Thurgood Marshall. Class sizes are currently 25 + or - a few.

On the volunteer side, our team is comprised of over 200 mentors and instructors from top universities and companies in the Bay Area. Sixty of them take on additional responsibilities and lead different parts of MMSF's operations.

Our class of 2020 is planned to be our largest class yet!
 

What is involved in a typical MMSF session?

Minds Matter of SF takes place on Saturdays from 9:45 AM - 2:30 PM at a central location in San Francisco, easily accessible by Muni or any corner of the city.

Instructional Program (9:45 AM - 12:15 PM)
The instructional component of our programs is designed to equip students with the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary for achieving academic success at school and in their standardized tests. Our instructors serve as guides and role models for our students, encouraging them to deepen their knowledge base and to enjoy the process of learning. Instructors take on a variety of different roles in our organization: leading a class on a subject area, tutoring for the SAT/ACT, and developing and delivering workshops on close reading, critical thinking, and statement writing skills for our students and their mentors. We will work with you to find a role that best fits your skills and experience. 

Mentoring Program (12:15 PM - 2:30 PM)
Each student is matched with two mentors, who work closely to help their student become well-rounded and navigate the college experience from application to graduation. Mentors work with their students to explore different majors and career paths and learn a variety of skills, like writing resumes and personal statements, managing time and stress, and presenting and discussing a perspective. Our mentors serve as positive role models and catalysts for the students, encouraging them to fulfill their full potential.
 

What are we looking for in a volunteer?

Please see our role descriptions to see our volunteer requirements and preferences.
 

What is the time commitment for a volunteer?

Please see the Volunteer Commitment section of our role descriptions for expectations around time commitment.
 

Do I have to live in San Francisco to be a part of Minds Matter?

No. However, you will need to be able to attend the required number of sessions each month, which all take place in San Francisco. As long as you can make it to session on time every week AND are able to support your student at other times, as needed, geography plays little role in whether you make a good fit for the program.
 

What is the typical student profile?

Our students are all high-achieving public high school students from low-income families (who qualify for free or reduced lunch plans). They are typically the first in their family to attend college.
 

Where have students gained admission to summer college programs?

During summer 2015, our students were accepted and admitted to the following programs:

  • Boston University
  • Brown University
  • BlueStamp Engineering - San Francisco
  • California College of the Arts
  • George Washington University
  • Girls Who Code
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • Phillips Academy Andover
  • Rosetta Institute of Biomedical Research - Berkeley
  • Skidmore College
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Michigan
  • Yale University
     

Where have students gained admission to full-time college programs?

100% of our students have been accepted to four year colleges. Graduates from the Class of 2015 and 2016 were admitted and are attending the following universities:

  • University of Southern California
  • Hamilton College
  • Harvard University
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • California College of the Arts
  • Kalamazoo College
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Pennsylvania 
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • University of California, Merced
     

What happens to students after they graduate from high school?

If we’ve done our job well, they are off to start their journey in college with a great financial plan that will support them until they graduate. We have an alumni program that aims to continue supporting our students with internship and career advice. Many of our mentors and students also stay in contact and maintain the relationship even after the student has started college.

While we don't provide high-touch weekly tutoring and mentoring after they graduate, we do support our student alumni via a variety of initiatives:

  • Annual MMSF reunions bringing together former students and mentors
  • Annual alumni panels to share our alumni wisdom with current students
  • Internship opportunities for alumni to apply to
  • Connecting alumni with current volunteers for Q&A on college and career advice
  • Semi-annual check-ins to gauge alumni sentiment and areas of assistance 
  • Local SF Bay Area office visits
  • National Minds Matter Alumni LinkedIn group for webinars and articles to help with life after high school
  • MMSF-only network group for students to stay in touch with each other and their mentors
     

What other types of opportunities are available at for MMSF volunteers?

MMSF is built off of the dedication of its volunteers, and our volunteers often extend their involvement above and beyond their core responsibilities. As a 100% volunteer-run organization, we also highly encourage volunteers get more involved. Opportunities we have offered in the past include:

  • Committees to help with volunteer recruiting, student recruiting, campus visits, alumni career development, etc
  • Translating for parents and at graduation 
  • Chaperoning field trips (past trips include Exploratorium, Stanford, and BCG)
  • Being a guest speakers for college, major and career panels
  • Leadership roles on various teams (community, programming, marketing, fundraising, etc.)

In addition, to align with our value of being a transparent organization, all our meetings are open door. 
 

What else does MMSF offer outside the core program?

Here at MMSF, students come first and community comes right after. MMSF is a group of professionals who want to make a difference in the San Francisco community. In addition to the direct impact they make on our students, our volunteers develop long-lasting friendships with fellow volunteers. In the past, our volunteers have gone on to become roommates, colleagues, and even Y-Combinator startup founders together! As a group of successful professionals, MMSF has a strong network and can benefit both your personal and professional endeavors.

Past social events have included:

  • MMSF’s Annual Gala (Tickets for our 2017 Gala are on sale between now and Feb. 25th!)
  • Dinner with Strangers, a fun way to meet people in different classes or teams
  • Annual Napa trip
  • SoulCycle
  • Picnics
  • Happy hours

In addition to planned social events, volunteers often organize their own informal social events. All events are totally optional.