“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” —Mark Twain

LIFE READY is a semester online learning community. Our registered “Fellows” are recent high school graduates (graduated in the last 5 years) who are looking to enrich their lives by investing in themselves.

The LIFE READY program is a journey of self-discovery. It is also a clear advantage as LIFE READY fills the gaps in education by giving our fellows the skills to find success not just in school, but life.


With an emphasis on the personal journey (MTG COACH), the importance of life skills (MTG LIFE HACKS), and the need for career exploration (MTG NEXT) before deciding next educational steps, our fellows leave confident, equipped, and READY to make their next move in the world.


LIFE READY Fellows are assigned a life coach trained by the Co-Active Training Institute. MTG coaches meet Fellows where they are to empower them to dream wildly with unwavering trust and resilience by facilitating a process of self-discovery and transformation because we believe in the personal journey. MTG life coaching curriculum covers five program domains – Health & Wellness, Inward Self, Outward Self, Learning, and Hard Skills. 

Fellows will receive personalized coaching sessions through the LIFE READY program.

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life hacks

#adulting can be done. We will show fellows how to “adult” with easy hacks. MTG Life Hacks expose fellows to all the things that are never taught in school, but yet, are needed for success in day to day life. Learning with experts in the field, topics include home maintenance, health insurance, cooking, cybersecurity, and more. MTG Life Hacks give our fellows the tools for success in the real world (not school!).

LIFE HACKS is an asynchronous curriculum. Every week there will be a new theme released. As it is asynchronous, fellows can work at their own pace throughout the week to finish their LIFE HACKS challenges. Fellows will share off their #adulting by posting photos and reflections with their Group! 

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Seventy-three percent of college graduates are not using their degrees (but yet are still paying for them). It is an unrealistic expectation for students to pick a major after a High School education. MTG Next is an opportunity to explore various vocational fields that include healthcare, public policy and law, entertainment, business, education and more! Through a lens of social impact, fellows will become apprentices and solve real world problems in the field. 

MTG NEXT is asynchronous and synchronous. While much of the learning can be done at your own pace, there will be a weekly live session with your learning facilitator that will include expert panelists in the field of study. 

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At MTG we believe in community. Collaboration is our human super power! Your Group members will become your friends, playmates, and collaborative working fellows as you go on this personal journey.

Every fellow will be assigned a Group (of approximately 10 peers) that is overseen by a Learning Facilitator.  Together Fellows will learn how to leverage each other’s strengths to creatively problem solve. Groups will be diverse from your local time zone. Using video conferencing designed for education from the ground up, Fellows will speak to their Group daily as they reflect, discuss, and execute ideas to work challenges. In addition, Groups will have social e-gatherings like distant dinner parties with our Wednesday dinner and a movie. The MTG community is as rich as our Fellows and clubs will play a role. We are excited to see what the cohort of Fall 2020 proposes. 

MTG GROUPS will need to be in constant contact to design, iterate, and execute their ideas. Learning facilitators will be present at some of the Group’s meetings, but much will be peer driven and depend on texts, emails, and video calls to stay connected in a digital workplace world. 

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course details


WEEK I (September 8-11): DO YOU HEAR ME NOW?!

Fellows (as we refer to our program participants) will dive into the most essential skill that the majority of employers report their employees lack, the ability to truly listen. In week I, fellows will practice the skill of active listening. They will learn to not only listen to others, but also, themselves, and possibly the universe (we believe it has plans for them!).

  • MTG Coach: Meet your coach, start meeting YOU (and let someone REALLY listen)
  • MTG Life Hacks: Let’s get organized digitally and physically
  • MTG Next: Active listening is more than just having ears

WEEK II (September 14-18): I + YOU = WE

Fellows will dive into teamwork as collaboration is vital in driving efficiency and productivity in the workplace. Creative collaboration will be the goal as Groups become not many voices, but one. 

  • MTG Coach: What is my life purpose and core values? My purpose to contribute to the collective
  • MTG Life Hacks: Deep Work/ organize your thoughts
  • MTG Next: Let’s creatively solve problems, launch COVID challenge


Fellows will learn the art of giving and receiving feedback. Life doesn’t have grades and papers are never “done.” Learn how work can always be better by giving and receiving feedback in a way people can hear it.

  • MTG Coach: Get clear on your big vision and goals for this year
  • MTG Life Hacks: Food glorious food, let’s cook!
  • MTG Next: Giving and receiving feedback

WEEK IV (September 28- October 2): SCHOOL YOUR WAY

Groups will put it all together by designing the school of the future. Working together for their first challenge, Groups will leverage each other’s strengths and build school the way it ought to be! 

  • MTG Coach: Your team: meet your leader within and inner allies!
  • MTG Life Hacks: Exercise
  • MTG Next: School Challenge

WEEK V (October 5-9): LAW & ORDER? 

Fellows will dive into public policy and government. Diving into the growth sectors of this field, Fellows will research and understand what life in public policy and government can look and feel like.

  • MTG Coach: The Mindful life: Mindfulness practices to live by
  • MTG Life Hacks: Home Maintenance
  • MTG Next: Public Policy & Law


Groups will tackle a public policy challenge that is set in the NOW. Let’s get political. 

  • MTG Coach: My lifelong self-care pillars for success
  • MTG Life Hacks: Financial Literacy, budgeting
  • MTG Next: Public Policy & Law (continued)

WEEK VII (October 19-23): WHAT UP DOC?

Fellows will enter the world of healthcare. Never a hotter topic and a growing sector. Dive into this field and learn what a life in healthcare could be.

  • MTG Coach: Overcoming fear and limiting beliefs
  • MTG Life Hacks: Financial Literacy, Saving
  • MTG Next: Healthcare

WEEK VIII (October 26-30): TEST + TRACE

Groups will tackle the healthcare challenge happening TODAY by becoming COVID tracers and designing a testing site that works for their local community.

  • MTG Coach: Living authentically, no matter what
  • MTG Life Hacks: Financial Literacy (continued)
  • MTG Next: Healthcare (continued)


Fellows will be introduced to the entertainment industry (TV, film, music, & theater). Always an exciting topic, fellows will dive into all of the vocations of this field. 

  • MTG Coach: Exploring the infinite possibilities in my life
  • MTG Life Hacks: Financial Literacy (continued)
  • MTG Next: Entertainment


Groups will use the entertainment world to leverage social change. 

  • MTG Coach: Who do I want to be and what is my impact?
  • MTG Life Hacks: Insurance
  • MTG Next: Entertainment (continued)


Fellows will explore the world of business with a focus on entrepreneurship.

  • MTG Coach: Designing my epic life vision
  • MTG Life Hacks: Taxes
  • MTG Next: Business

WEEK XII (November 23-27)


  • Reflection week

WEEK XIII (November 30-December 4): PITCH PERFECT

Groups will learn the art of the pitch. Business is not a business without SALES!

  • MTG Coach: My vision into action
  • MTG Life Hacks: Intimacy 
  • MTG Next: Business


Fellows will dive into their passion and explore a vocation.

  • MTG Coach: Reflection and processing
  • MTG Life Hacks: Security & Self Defense
  • MTG Next: Explore a vocation & share with your Group

WEEK XV (December 14-18): LIFE READY

Fellows will reflect on their journey and write the next chapter of their lives.

  • MTG Coach: Celebration and completion
  • MTG Life Hacks: Resume Writing
  • MTG Next: Write your next chapter

our story

We are educators, parents, students, and researchers who believe education has a purpose. A purpose to help others find success in the real world, not just in school. 

Currently, the education system is failing our youth who are graduating into the workforce burdened by student debt, lacking workplace skills, and reporting high levels of anxiety and depression. 

This is not success.

Informed by the data sciences, the Mind The Gap team believes deeply in the “Gap” space. The research is clear. A “Gap” is an advantage and the best-kept secret. Students who Gap prior to or during their higher education have a clear advantage. 

Gap students are more likely to…


Outperform: Gap students have higher GPAs than their peers. They are also 60% more likely to take their academics more seriously.

Graduate: Gap students are more likely to graduate (and on time!). They are less likely to transfer. Students who Gap are 60% more likely to know what they want to study and stick with their majors. 

Be Happy: Gap year students report a higher sense of self-awareness and report feeling “more mature” than their peers allowing them to navigate anxiety and stress easier. 

Get a job: 75% of Gap year students report that their gap year played a role in their first job placement.


Therefore, we created LIFE READY, a Gap program like no other. Not a year “off,” but a step into the future. Our graduates have trust in themselves as they have the skills to tackle life. They are READY to enter the world.

We are Mind The Gap.

Where young adults become self-aware, independent, intellectually curious, and empathetic to prepare them to be life-ready.

We are Mind The Gap. 

Where we provide clarity, leadership and inspiration, an organization to fill Gaps that can operate at scale. 

We are Mind the Gap.

Where young adults create their own narrative as they transition from high school to adulthood. 

We are Mind the Gap. 

Where we offer an alternative to the conventional choice of diving blindly into college that allows young adults to take a breath to walk into their next steps with direction.

We are Mind the Gap.

Where young adults wake up to the world around them, learn life-ready skills and find their true north. We are a vehicle for exploration, experiences and ideas that propel our Fellows forward.

Our team

Abby Brody

Founder & Chair of the Board

Abby Brody is a lifetime educator with over 15 years of experience in the classroom and eight years in administration. Abby Brody considers herself a research-informed educator looking to transform education to meet the needs of the next generation. Start-ups is where she thrives having launched Avenues: The World School where she served in leadership roles for eight years.

Abby believes higher education is in need of radical reform to meet the pace of the changing world around it. Inspired by her own students, who arguably had access to the best education in the nation, she saw a gap in their skills for success in life. Mind The Gap is a nod back to the apprentice model of learning where skills were taught through experience. Backed always by research, Abby is passionate about the pivotal role of gap years in closing the void of skills that traditional schooling does not/cannot provide.  Abby earned her B.A. at Duke University and her M.S. in special education from Bank Street College.

David Dunbar

Lead Curriculum Designer

David Dunbar taught high school students for over four decades. Following over two decades of teaching at Deerfield Academy, Milton Academy and Albuquerque Academy, David  moved to New York, in 1996, to start CITYterm at The Masters School.  He was the Academic Dean and a member of the interdisciplinary Urban Core teaching team at CITYterm for twenty-one years.  While at The Masters School, David also served as the Coordinator for Teaching and Learning Initiatives and held the Joan Smith Hamill ‘34 Chair for Innovative Teaching.

For fifteen summers, David led the Teaching for Experience Workshop, a weeklong gathering for teachers interested in exploring and sharing how they can use the principles of experience-based learning to transform their own practice and their schools.David has consulted with the public schools in New York, Atlanta and Chicago as well as with various independent and international schools around the world. He is the author, with Kenneth T. Jackson of Columbia University, of the award-winning Empire City: New York through the Centuries (Columbia University Press). The New York Academy of History named David a Fellow, one of only two high school teachers given this distinction. David is a collaborator on the DKDK Project, an organization committed to transformational teacher development focused on deep learning. Recently, David was named a collaborator by one of the leading groups of college professors, The Best Teachers Institute.

David earned his B.A. from Amherst College, his M.A.R. from Yale University and has been the recipient of Woodrow Wilson, Klingenstein and Fulbright Fellowships. 

You can learn more about David on his LinkedIn Page.

Claire Sellers

Head of Coaching Program

Claire is a CoActive life and leadership coach who helps young people reconnect to themselves so they can lead more intentional and purposeful lives. She brings a decade of experience in international education at organizations such as Avenues: The World School and The American School in Switzerland. She has overseen more than 50 global programs across six continents, helping nearly 1,000 students discover new passions and see the world. She has designed and implemented programs both domestically and internationally ranging from study abroad, after school enrichment activities, summer programs, online learning, and continued education.  After taking an adult gap year, Claire has combined her passion for travel, education and coaching by supporting young people as they navigate gap years, college and the early stages of their career.

You can learn more about Claire on her LinkedIn page.

Ivan Cestero

Student Experience Director, Curriculum designer

Ivan Cestero is an educator and innovator committed to redesigning school at the intersection of individual passion and collective purpose. He has lived and taught in Spain, Hungary, France, New York, Brazil, and currently resides in London, where he is Senior Inventor at ?What If! Innovation. Recently he launched the Learning Missions workshop at European Forum Alpbach for global youth; a design camp with IDEO for London teens; and served as Head of Innovation at Youth Business International.

Ivan was a founding faculty member at Avenues: The World School where he taught Humanities, World Course, and built the Social Innovation Program. He has taught social entrepreneurship, design, and guided dozens of student-led projects from Futurist expositions to the Design 4 Impact startup, which has run workshops at SXSWedu. He was a comparative literature major at Dartmouth College and still manages to find literary theory at the heart of everything.

Steven Marder


Steven Marder is CEO of Mind The Gap, and brings his experience and background in business and digital media to the team. Most recently, Steve was COO of where he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the company, and participated in strategic transactions of its affiliates and sister companies, including the sale of to Fandango (NBC Universal) in 2017, the sale of industry-leading data company Baseline StudioSystem to Tribune’s Gracenote in 2014 (following its acquisition from the New York Times in 2012), and the sale of to Key Brand Entertainment (now known as John Gore Organization) in 2010. Prior to working with the group, Steve headed business development for search marketing firm, acquired by a full-service online marketing firm where it became the search marketing arm, and before that held roles in business development and online ad sales for a music marketing company representing 800+ music- and entertainment-related websites including 40 of the top official artists’ websites.

Steve is an active advisor in the technology and media space including for, as founding advisory board member to EliteSEM (known now as Tinuiti, winner of growth and culture awards from Crains, Ad Age, Mashable and Entrepreneur), and, a leading accessories curator and e-commerce platform. Steve is also a Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) council member providing insight on opportunities and risks to the media, technology and telecommunications market. Steve is a board member (and past honoree) of Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and is active in a number of areas of the pediatric medical research and care arena.

Steve grew up in Miami, FL and as a teenager launched two businesses in the technology and media space which he enjoyed operating through middle and high school. Steve earned a BSBA in Finance from the University of Florida. He lives in New York with his wife, Randi, and their two children Daniela, 11, and Brandon, 7. 

You can learn more about Steve at his LinkedIn Page.

News & Updates

Mind The Gap Launches Solution to Gap Year with LIFE READY Program

SOURCE: Yahoo! News

The Gap Year Option For Everyone

SOURCE: Arcadia Weekly

Fast Break: Gap Year Learning and Lessonbee's Sex Ed Classes

SOURCE: Fast Company