The Mentoring Partnership
How might we reach the untapped resource of potential mentors, to help them act more intentionally towards young people every day?
Formal mentoring relationships are a proven benefit for the youth who take part in them. However, The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania sees over 800 young people who want a mentor stuck on waitlists every year due to a shortage of mentors. Mentoring is seen by many as a time-consuming endeavor of personal sacrifice. Meanwhile, many adults who work with youth on a daily basis are already acting as allies and role models, but do not see themselves as mentors.
The Mentoring Journey
We created a 4 phase framework for how to tap into the pool of potential Everyday Mentors - people who interact with young people everyday. This framework, which we call EM2025, can manifest in many different ways.
1) Raise awareness through displaying the data and benefits of mentoring
2) Help high-potential adults recognize the opportunities to mentor in their daily lives
3) Train potential mentors according to best practices in an engaging way
4) Gather data on those adults' mentoring activities to feed personal reflection and cycle back into the awareness campaign.
Magnify is one tangible implementation of the journey above, which could be implemented within the next two years by our client, The Mentoring Partnership. Magnify is a mobile app that helps people who work with youth foster a habit of mentoring by teaching them skills that strengthen their bonds with the young people around them.
As part of the on-boarding process, users can specify which skills they would like to improve and what their comfort level is working with young people now. By gathering this information, Magnify can offer up the right modules for their skill level and personal goals. This helps the user immediately see what benefit they will get from using Magnify.
At the end of each lesson, the user is given a challenge to complete during their day. This can range from writing a letter to a former mentor and giving a young person a high-five, to noticing and responding to the body language of a youth they speak with that day. These activities help ground the mentor's new skills in the context of their daily lives, which builds confidence and the ability to spot future opportunities to act.
Generating Data on Mentoring
The mentoring stories users share as a part of their learning experience can be shared with their community of similar users. These stories help share knowledge between mentors with similar backgrounds.
The stories and demographic data of users can also be shared with The Mentoring Partnership, to be used in aggregate to better understand mentoring relationships and interactions. This data could be mined for awareness campaigns, fundraising, sentiment analysis, and many other uses.
Magnify in Action
Grounded in Iterative Prototyping
In our initial exploration of the problem space, we conducted 31 interviews, 6 observations of mentoring programs, read over 40 articles about the theory and impact of mentoring, and worked closely with our client The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania. From this research, we identified opportunity areas to explore further with design, prototyping, and testing. Over 3 months we conducted 4 design sprints to create high fidelity prototypes to garner feedback from real users.