Winston School graduate creates nonprofit: Mentoring Autistic Minds

David Rivera, founder of Mentoring Autistic Minds
David Rivera, founder of Mentoring Autistic Minds

David Rivera graduated from The Winston School in 2020 and was the recipient of the Bulldog Award. This award is the highest honor at The Winston School and recognizes one student every year who not only does well academically but is involved in many different aspects of the school, is friendly and always looking for a way they can serve the Winston community. Since graduating, Rivera has made his own mark on the nonprofit world.

Rivera says, “Since graduating, I have done a lot for myself that I believe has reflected very positively on the impact Winston has had on me. I volunteer at the San Diego Superior Courthouse regularly, registered for a fencing class, and I have registered for the Gold Congressional Award that Congress gives to young adults such as myself.” Participants earn bronze, silver and gold certificates and bronze, silver and gold medals. Each level involves setting goals in four program areas; Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

Rivera has taken it upon himself to start a nonprofit in San Diego — Mentoring Autistic Minds. This organization’s mission is to provide mentoring to as many people as possible on the autism spectrum. Rivera says, “We are in the process right now of getting official 501c3 status and are raising funds and recruiting board members.”

Along with starting his nonprofit, Rivera has dreams to become a lawyer one day. He says, “I’ve volunteered at the San Diego Superior Courthouse and had the courage to apply the week before high school graduation.” He continues with, “The counselors at Winston, especially Ms. Erika, helped me find my voice and really inspired me.”

Rivera is an example of what The Winston School community can give students; a chance to find their passions and their voice. Rivera’s goal is to implement his advocate program throughout San Diego schools to give students with autism more opportunities.

“Our mission is to be able to provide peer mentoring with high school kids who are on the spectrum. I’ve had the chance to be an advocate in school IEP (Individual Educational Plan) meetings and use evidence-based methods to represent myself and others in achieving their education goals,” says Rivera.

Find the link to Mentoring Autistic Minds’s GoFundMe page at