Client: The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (TMP)
Team: Kate Carey_ Meghan Nadivar_ Adam Yee_ Maddie Borgmann_ Yousef Kazerooni
Duration: 7 months
Skills: Research Planning; Contextual Inquiry; Affinity Diagramming; Client Management; Running Meetings. .
In this project, we tackled ways to create a seamless support structure of caring adults to meet the shortage of youth mentors. Youth mentoring is correlated with many future benefits such as attending college or holding a leadership position. Every year in Southwestern Pennsylvania alone, there are 800 children who are left on the waitlists of mentoring programs.
Our client, The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (TMP), is a non-profit organization, an affiliate of Mentor (the national mentoring partnership), and a thought-leader in youth mentoring. As such, it supports programs that want to incorporate mentoring in their practice by providing them training, and access to funds.
In January 2017, The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (TMP) presented us with a challenge: How to expand the reach of youth mentoring to include all children in the United States.
During seven months of research and design, we developed a framework, we called EM2025, and we created an implementation of the framework in form of Magnify, a mobile platform with its accompanying desktop dashboard. We grounded our work in the concept of Everyday Mentoring.
Everyday Mentoring (EM) was coined by our client TMP, and refers to the potential of everyday interactions between youths and adults to serve as a vehicle for mentor-like behaviors. Through our research we were able to validate EM as an opportunity area to expand mentoring.
During our initial research phase, we explored the variety of practices in the mentoring landscape as a whole. We interviewed different kinds of people, from formal mentors at Big Brothers Big Sisters, to teachers and coaches.
Potential of Everyday Mentoring
Based on our research, here is how we define the potential of Everyday Mentoring.
During an individual’s lifetime, let’s call her Sarah, she may have more or less contact with youths at different stages of her life. There are times when Sarah has little interactions with youths, maybe because she is pursuing a degree or has moved to a new city.
Instead of pushing Sarah to seek out youths to mentor at a stage in her life when she naturally has little interactions with youths, we saw the opportunity in supporting her at times when she organically comes in contact with youths. The opportunity we discovered was in fostering the intentionality in these naturally occurring interactions between adults and youths. So that all adults may be aware of their impact on youths, and know how to take action.
EM2025 is our end-to-end roadmap to an ecosystem that will foster the habit of mentoring, while gathering input from everyday mentors to help our client TMP further research in this field. Based on our research, we defined the four phases as follows:
Awareness: Different people are enticed by different things, so a robust awareness campaign would tap into as many different communication channels as possible.
Buy-in: The platform must communicate its purpose and value clearly, and allow people to customize.
Learn-by-doing: Clearly indicate to opportunities for practice and help people scaffold their knowledge and skills in interacting with youths.
See Results: Create opportunities for people to share their experiences and reflect on their progress to help them realize their impact.
Magnify was our best effort to create an implementation of EM2025 framework that is within reach in the next two years, and in line with our client’s capacity. At its core, Magnify delivers curated training material in an interactive way and nudges users to apply the skills learned in their daily lives.
During our design process, we relied on Google venture’s Sprint methodology for quick iteration cycles. We completed four sprints, creating 11 prototypes and testing with 49 participants.
We restricted our target audience to people who have consistent contact with youths but little training on youth interactions, people like coaches, or summer camp volunteers. We opted for a mobile app because of its quick and easy access. For the content of each lesson, we adapted the material from Everyday Mentor Training that TMP currently uses.
Here is how Magnify fits into the life of a coach and adds value to her practice, all the while providing TMP with rich information about Everyday Mentor interactions.
Everyday mentoring is gaining increasingly more recognition nationally, because it has the promise of improving every child’s life. Magnify allows TMP with its limited resources, to shift its focus from training everday mentors in-person, to content creation and research.
The next step for EM2025 framework is to expand in order to include youth's’ perspectives, and actionable directives as to how to engage the youth.