Savinay Chandrasekhar lives to promote equity and eliminate poverty through peace, love, and compassion. Those are his own words, and they’re 100% accurate. A dedication to community drives everything he does. Savinay is the Executive Director of Minds Matter Denver; the first ever paid staff member of the organization, a position he earned after years of volunteering. He leads a dynamic team of over 200 dedicated volunteers whose mission is to provide college access mentoring to high achieving high schoolers from low-income backgrounds. And Savinay is an enthusiastic leader. Here’s what he says about Minds Matter:
“These kids are brilliant, and through mentorship, college readiness programming, and pre-collegiate summer experiences, we help every single one of them get into college. WITH scholarships.”
He’s also involved with the Luminary Learning Network, an innovation zone comprising four "innovation" schools within Denver Public Schools that formed an independent organization to provide them with more autonomy and flexibility in serving their students. Savinay is also on the boards of Civic Canopy, an organization dedicated to building capacity for collaboration to develop stronger communities, and the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, dedicated to giving civic leaders the tools they need to grow their impact.
Savinay’s present is powerful, but it’s his past that formed the man he is today.
He grew up in California, after an early childhood in India and Saudi Arabia. As a child his family traveled all over the world, giving Savinay direct experience with poverty, wealth, and inequity. He wondered, Why do some have so much and others have so little? But it was a near-death experience at age 12 that pushed him toward a life of service.
“At age 12 I contracted a rare tropical disease in India and came back to the US where the medical establishment had no clue what was going on. After days of me lying unconscious in bed, they came to my parents with good news, bad news, and worse news.
“Good news: they knew what it was (Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever). Bad news: they didn't know what caused it or how to fix it. Worse news: all 10 people who reported it in the US were adults. And they all died.
“What chance did a scrawny, 4'6", 65 lb 12-year old like me have? Some chance apparently. I made it out with a full recovery. And ever since I've felt the need to make up for lost time, to make the best of the chance I've been offered, and to contribute to the world in the way those 10 adults who didn't survived would have -- and more.”
But even beyond that brilliant reason, Savinay feels called to service because he has had the privilege, the opportunity, and the luck to succeed in his life. So he wants to pass that energy on to his Minds Matter students, and to the communities in which he works.
Under Savinay’s guidance, Minds Matter has grown, and hundreds of kids’ futures have brightened. And the organization has just launched an ambitious 10-year plan to serve every qualified student in Colorado, helping them all get into "reach" schools with zero financial burden. If we follow his lead, with the clear eyes and full heart he lives by, the future will be very bright.
LINK: MINDS MATTER DENVER