29 Oct Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Minds Matter Southern California Gala
Every mind matters. Every person deserves an education and a bright future and that is the mission of Minds Matter Southern California. 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. To celebrate their students, this past week was the Minds Matter Southern California Gala. Not only was this a lovely event for a great cause, but I personally received quite the surprise and combined, that is why the Minds Matter Southern California Gala is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
As a child, I was fortunate to have a family that understood the importance of education but more importantly, they had the means to guide me through the process of college. There are many high-achieving, determined students from low income families whose families do not necessarily know how to navigate the college system. But, these bright children deserve a chance and Minds Matter makes it a reality that they will get to college.
Minds Matter is a national non-profit that I first learned about when my brother was one of their volunteers in New York. When he moved back to Los Angeles, he started a chapter here. Since 2010, Minds Matter Southern California has impacted hundreds of low-income students and today covers two cities in Southern California, has 200+ volunteers, and 3 full-time staff members.
Here are three important facts:
- Over 50% of our nation’s high-achieving, low-income students do not apply to a single selective college or university.
- Low-income students are over 10x more likely to drop out of high school than their high-income peers
- More than 80% of LAUSD students live at or below the poverty line.
Minds Matter offers mentoring support, group instruction, and social-emotional learning. Students are supported beginning in their sophomore year in high school. Throughout high school they are provided resources and guidance to apply and succeed at top four year colleges. They also spend their summers in top university summer programs in order to experience college life. And support continues during college and beyond.
Nationally to date, Minds Matter has 100% of their students accepted into four year universities and colleges. 77% attend Barron’s Top Tier colleges and there is a 95% program retention rate. 93% of the students complete college, most within four years and 19% have earned, or are pursuing, their graduate degree.
The Minds Matter Southern California Gala was a way to raise money for the organization. Held at the beautiful Vibiana in downtown LA, attendees enjoyed food by chef Neal Fraser while having fun playing casino games. We also got a live musical performance from 12-time Grammy winner Babyface.
Raffle tickets could be purchased, or we could gamble and turn our winnings into raffle tickets. Prizes included tickets to this year’s Super Bowl, tickets to the American Music Awards with access to attend rehearsals, as well as tickets to Rams, Ducks, and Dodgers Sporting events and more.
I had fun playing Blackjack with the chips we received at check in and after a bit of playing, I had a $500 chip. I took my chip over to the raffle table and had to decide what raffle I wanted to enter. Raffle tickets ranged in price, but for the Super Bowl tickets, one raffle ticket was $500. So, I decided to go for it. I filled out my one ticket and entered the drawing.
After Babyface’s performance, former students from Minds Matter Southern California introduced themselves. One young woman had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Nursing School and is an ICU nurse and another graduated from UC San Diego and is working in technology. To see the success of these young people is heartwarming and inspirational!
After the young adults introduced themselves, they started the raffle. When it came time for the big ticket item, I thought to myself how little of a chance I had with just one ticket. I was thinking about how random it is to pick a winner but how with just one ticket, my odds were so low that I did not think I had a chance. And then they called my name! I WON TWO TICKETS to Super Bowl 2023! I am still shocked!
As I start to plan my trip next February, I keep thinking about the core of Minds Matter and what a great organization it is. While I am excited about being a winner, it is really the students who are the winners. They are the future of our country and that gives me hope.
If you are looking for a cause to support, consider Minds Matter. $25 will cover the monthly cost of a student’s lunch; $50 pays for summer program application fees; $100 pays for SAT preparation textbooks; $250 pays for a student’s summer program stipend; $500 helps offset the cost of airfare and transportation to a summer program.