Minds Matter of Denver aids students in need



CU Denver has recently partnered with Minds Matter of Denver, a non-profit organization that is committed to serving underrepresented youth predominantly in Denver Public Schools (DPS). This partnership will lead to an influx of motivated and passionate intellectuals coming to CU Denver from disenfranchised communities within Denver.

The partnership guarantees that any graduate from Minds Matter of Denver will be accepted to CU Denver and receive assistance with scholarships and grants, opening previously unthinkable opportunities for marginalized students in Denver. According to the Minds Matter of Denver homepage, “Only 40 percent of Colorado’s students who qualify for free or reduced lunch—i.e. income under 185 percent of the federal poverty limit—will graduate from high school. Of those, only 45 percent enroll in college, as opposed to 72 percent  of their higher-income peers. Of those who enroll, only 36 percent complete bachelor’s degrees within eight and a half years, compared to 81 percent of high-income students.”

However, through the work of Savinay Chandrasekhar, the Executive Director of Minds Matter of Denver, new opportunities are taking shape for lower-income students. When asked about how students in the program responded to the partnership,  Chandrasekhar said, “Our students were flabbergasted and some were on the verge of tears. They are incredibly excited.”

This excitement is well-deserved, seeing as Minds Matter has achieved the improbable for DPS students. “Only 7 percent of low-income DPS students actually graduate from college,” Chandrasekhar said. “But we have been able to get 100 percent of Minds Matter students into four-year universities with scholarships.”

The students chosen to participate in Minds Matter must undergo a rigorous three year process throughout high school in order to graduate from the program. “We start by having any ninth grader with a GPA over 3.5 who qualifies for free or reduced lunch get recommended to us,” Chandrasekhar said. “They then must fill out a college-style application as freshmen. We get anywhere from 200 to 300 applicants yearly, and from those we select the top applicants to mentor. We show them how to apply for financial aid and work on crafting a compelling 30 second elevator pitch. The students spend 200 hours with adults during the school year.”

These students will gain access to the benefits of higher education. “I believe that if you do not have diversity of thought, then you’re losing out on all these different perspectives,” Chandrasekhar said. “You’re not getting perspectives that will benefit the campus at large. It makes the campus more rigorous and more effective.”   

The students in the Minds Matter of Denver program will bring new perspectives to campus. “Universities need as many diverse perspectives and lived experiences they can get,” Chandrasekhar said. “That caliber of intellect only pushes people to new and more innovative places.”

The CU Denver and Minds Matter of Denver partnership is creating new opportunities for DPS students, and this partnership will soon see a new generation of students.


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