At Gotham Scholars, our mission is to empower motivated public high school students to reach their fullest potential through rigorous academic enrichment, dedicated professional mentorship, exposure to extracurricular activities, and college access support.
Proud Memories in our Organization
"Our partners tell us, they cannot aim for what they cannot see. We help them see."
- Sheila Patel, founder
Meet our Founder
Sheila, founder and executive director of Gotham Scholars Inc., is a second-generation Indian American originally from Illinois and now resides in New Jersey with her husband and twin daughters. She graduated from Northwestern University in 1999 and pursued a career in management consulting, brand development, and, finally, entrepreneurship. During her college and professional years, she dedicated time to supporting public school students in Chicago, NYC, in the classroom through mentorship and giveback programs through her company sales.
Her passion has always been to one day "pay it forward" for highly motivated first-generation, low-income public school youth. , in 2020, she dedicated the next chapter of her career to this passion by establishing Gotham Scholars Inc.
Founder Q & A
What inspired the creation of Gotham Scholars?
Navigating the American education system in an immigrant family can be challenging at times, and students depend on supportive and knowledgeable leaders to not only guide them through the academic journey but also through college access.
Attending Northwestern University was a life-changing decision for me and my family. It solidified the link between education and opportunity, which has stayed with me decades later. Since I was 19, I found myself drawn to urban schools, volunteering as a teacher or mentor. And after moving to NY, I started working with students individually to help guide them on their academic path. My circuitous career path developed my skills as a businesswoman and my confidence in leading in many different spaces.
But, while I developed those skills, I dedicated time to guiding first-generation and/or low-income students on their academic journey. I knew how important that work was and directly understood the benefits that come when people invest the time in guiding these students. Students that weren't that different from me, way back when.
I think having a deep personal understanding of the link between education and opportunity has led me to create this organization. Its mission and values are an extension of what I believe students deserve to have around them to help them forge their path. Every day feels like an opportunity after founding this organization, and I am grateful to be part of each student's journey.
What are the Core Values of Gotham Scholars?
Our core values and principles center around honest hard work, self-advocacy, and communication. Our scholars are intrinsically motivated to succeed but sometimes don’t know how or what it takes to achieve their goals.
So, we operate with high standards and restorative practices to ensure students understand the commitment and openness to change needed to reach their academic potential.
What does Equity in Education mean at Gotham Scholars?
At Gotham Scholars, we believe in providing support for the whole student. That means academic enrichment focused on bridging gaps, teaching life skills, confidence in communication, and, most importantly, developing a student's intellectual curiosity. But equity goes beyond the classroom to college conversations and visits, mentor sessions on time management, discovering passions through extracurricular activities, and teaching mindfulness through wellness, yoga, and nutrition classes. We believe that every scholar deserves a holistic approach to their educational journey.