Nadia Lopez is the founder of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, which raised more than $1 million after a blog post featuring a student praising Lopez went viral. With simple strategies like telling students they matter, talking with them rather than suspending them, and steering them away from gangs and into careers, Lopez has a big impact.

“Say my mentee starts a retail job right after high school,” Lopez says in this interview with The Atlantic. “I’ll say to him, ‘Let’s try to be the manager at this job.’ If you’re a manager, that could lead to a job as a district manager. Success is relative to a person and their circumstances.”

To learn more about how Lopez is a champion for her students—and who was a champion for her when she was growing up—check out the article, “What It Takes to Mentor Poor Kids.”