Every year there are hundreds of children left on the waitlists of mentoring programs. In most cases these are kids who need the support of a caring adult the most.
Magnify aims to train adults who interact regularly with youths into Everyday Mentors; It helps them turn naturally occurring interactions into mentoring moments, and thereby magnify their impact.
Magnify was the main product we developed for The Mentoring Partnership (TMP). A nonprofit and an affiliate of national MENTOR, they have served Southwestern PA for more than two decades, increasing the reach and quality of mentoring in the region.
During this eight-month project, we created:
- An end-to-end framework to convert naturally occurring bonds into everyday mentoring.
- An app that provides training for potential everyday mentors ( teachers and coaches).
- A dashboard for TMP to collect everyday mentor inputs and support fundraising efforts.
- Marketing campaign concepts to bolster everyday mentoring.
Who is it for?
Based on our research, we narrowed our target audience to teachers and coaches, people with the most potential for becoming Everyday Mentors.
How is it structured?
The training is versatile, allowing TMP to grow the training through time.
B. Focused on activities
It has an emphasis on learning-by-doing. It gradually becomes more demanding as participants progress.
C. Manageable load
Lessons are broken down into bite-size pieces. Participants have the freedom to complete a lesson when it’s best for them. Here is an example of a lesson breakdown:
D. Careful messaging
In our research, we saw that adults are often intimidated by the word “Mentoring”. So, we appealed to our audience by emphasizing skills and outcomes that they would gain by the end of their training.
To tailor their training and connect them with their communities, we try to understand the participant’s goals and their context of interaction with youths during onboarding.
F. Tracking progress
Participants can look at their community for motivation and inspiration. They can also measure their own progress.
G. Feedback loop
Magnify gathers feedback at the end of every lesson. That together with information related to mentoring interactions are displayed to TMP in a dashboard.
To come up with Magnify, our team of five at Carnegie Mellon University, had to learn a great deal. We extensively researched the field of mentoring, and used our insights to inform our design and prototypes.
- Research Insight and target audience
The goal of our research was to reach actionable insights by getting a deeper understanding of mentoring through the eyes of mentors, mentees, and organizations that serve mentoring.
We made sure to look at the mentoring landscape as a whole without restricting ourselves to formal mentoring. We broke down all our interviews in an affinity diagram.
Research insight and target audience
We learned that the hardest part of mentoring youth is creating bonds.
We wanted to help adults become aware of their impact on youths, and know how to take action. We saw that during an adult’s lifetime, let’s say Sarah’s, she has different amounts of contact with youths:
- Sometimes regularly.
- Sometimes none at all.
Instead of pushing Sarah to seek out youths to mentor at a stage in her life when she naturally has little interactions with them, we saw the opportunity in supporting her at times when she organically comes in contact with youths.
We targeted coaches and teachers, because they already have the most important prerequisite for mentoring: Bonds with youths.
Drawing on our insight, we created an end-to-end framework we called EM2025. It is our blueprint of the necessary steps to foster the habit of mentoring in adults who are in contact with youths.
Adopting Google venture’s Sprint methodology for quick iteration cycles, we created 11 prototypes, and tested with 49 participants.
We settled on a mobile app to deliver the training because:
- It gives users quick access to the training.
- It would be within the technical capacity of our client to develop.
As we started working on the prototype and its visual elements, we kept a tentative visual flow of the app on the board.
We iterated on the layout of Magnify in Sketch, and coded the interactions in framer. We tested every version with teachers and coaches.
Lastly, we tested five different marketing campaign ideas spanning from physical to digital, and communicated what we learned to our client to incorporate in their marketing strategies.
During our final round of testing, we received encouragement from experienced coaches and teachers, who especially saw the value of deploying Magnify to new recruits at their schools. We hand all assets, and a detailed roadmap to TMP for developing Magnify. As TMP champions Everyday Mentoring, we hope to foresee a future, where every child will benefit from a seamless support structure of caring adults.