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Our History

For over 50 years, Inspiring Minds has been serving students by providing the academic support they need to succeed. Names, faces, ethnicities, and languages have changed during those years; the disadvantages of poverty have not. Just as the founders knew in their hearts, there are always children waiting to benefit from individual attention. The sustained support from a caring community makes it possible


A small group of East Side residents offered to work with struggling Providence students. One administrator, Thomas McDonald, the new coordinating principal of Doyle & Jenkins, welcomed them. A handful of volunteers began working with students. Four years later, he attributed a significant improvement in reading and arithmetic scores to Lippitt Hill Tutorial. In 1975 Mt. Pleasant Tutorial was founded on Providence’s West Side to provide tutorial and enrichment support to help students. By this time, English as a Second Language and other literary services were in demand.


At the request of the Providence School Department Lippitt Hill Tutorial and Mt. Pleasant Tutorial merged to form Volunteers in Providence Schools (VIPS). The purpose was to make their supplemental educational support services available to all Providence students. It was also to have a single broker for those wanting to become school volunteers and assure tutoring services and enrichment filling activities were equitable among the schools.


A Tech Center was opened to make computers more accessible to students who had none in their homes. The Tech Center focused on older students, offering them tutoring and hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiential learning projects. The projects gave students a chance to become aware of 21st century careers and practice skills these careers require.


VIPS began to research a new name and branding that better reflected its professionalism, expanded work, and organization accomplishments. The name chosen was Inspiring Minds.


The Board of Directors and Executive Director undertook a process to deeply understand Inspiring Minds’ purpose in the context of the community it serves. That process cumulated in reframing Inspiring Minds’ mission and developing a 3-yr Strategic Plan 2019 – 2022, identifying strategies that will best enable Inspiring Minds to advance its mission.


Global pandemic COVID-19. When schools closed on March 13th, volunteers swiftly implemented new programming to meet the changing needs of students and their families. We secured and delivered books and school supplies to 1,075 students to support their distance learning. We created a pen pal program to ensure students and volunteers could stay connected and transformed the KidsBridge Summer Learning Program into an at-home learning experience.

Inspiring Minds continued to provide meaningful programs and services in consultation with our families. Virtual tutoring and mentoring, a parent helpline, and continued delivery of materials and supplies to support in-person and distance learning.