Our mission is to facilitate democratic and empowering mentoring relationships between disadvantaged youth populations and committed volunteer mentors, which further the capabilities of such youth to pursue their valued goals and dreams.
The philosophy of equality of opportunity (Roemer, 1998) states that individuals should not have differential access to opportunities attributable to circumstances beyond their control (like parental education, parental occupation, gender, caste, religion etc). In India, inequality of opportunity is pronounced. Differences in family background alone can account for up to 17% of inequality in wages (Singh, 2010). Reducing such inequality in opportunity is essential if India is to reap the hypothesized gains from having a ‘demographic dividend’ of a youthful population in an ageing world. Disadvantaged youth will need not only education and skills, but also networks to ensure they do not remain at the fringes of society. Rapid socio-economic change in our urban areas in the last 2-3 decades has changed the structures of our historically collectivist culture. Traditional networks of support are no longer available to many youth, alienating them further. It has become essential to supplement naturally occurring relationships between young people and adults with more programmatic efforts, to help youth realize their full potential (Chadha and Malik, 2004; Kaplan and Chadha, 2004).
Mentoring as a Positive Youth Development Strategy
Mentoring is typically understood as a process through which an older experienced guide eases a younger person’s transition to adulthood through a relationship which provides support and challenge. Its origins come from the Greek play Odyssey, where a young Telemakhos is educated by Odysseus’ wise friend Mentor. Mentoring has become one of the most prominent components of the Positive Youth Development model (PYD), especially in the United States in the last 3 decades (Larson, 2006). PYD focuses on identifying areas of youth motivation and ways by which youth can explore their potential, often with the support of non-parental adults. Mentoring has been found to provide most benefits to youth in significant conditions of environmental disadvantage (e.g. low socio-economic status) and individual risk (e.g. destitute, urban-poor, differently abled). A landmark study on the impact of the nationwide community mentoring program – Big Brother Big Sister, America in 1994 showed that youth who were matched in the program were less likely to use drugs and alcohol, less likely to get violent with other youth and less likely to skip classes, than youth placed in a control group.
Our Mentoring Program
Mentortogether operates formal youth mentoring programmes, aimed at providing disadvantaged youth groups support through a volunteer mentor when they have no opportunities to find natural mentors.
As a pair, mentor and mentee work through a curriculum designed and structured by the Mentortogether team. Mentors work on improving mentees’ language skills, developing mentees’ life skills, and helping them pursue their academic and career goals.
Mentors come from varied professional backgrounds and are selected through an application pool according to personal and professional aspects that match them to specific mentees.
Mentoring takes place through both online and face-to-face mediums. Mentortogether operates an online platform, where mentees and mentors communicate via regular emails. Mentortogether also organises twice monthly face to face meetings between the mentors and the mentees so that they form a bond and get to know each other in the flesh.
In addition, Mentortogether organises special workshops for the mentees, to supplement the work covered with mentors, in English communication, Health Education, Career and Academic choices, thus adding a holistic dimension to their overall academic and career knowledge.
Our model for the impact of a mentor
Our model for the impact of a mentor draws from two theories:
a) Granovetter’s ‘Social Network Theory’ (1973). In that he posits that resource mobilization, upward mobility, and social adaptation are correlated with social networks that are large and diverse as opposed to small and intimate. For disadvantaged youth, non-kin mentors can serve as ‘bridging ties’, offering information and social contacts in areas like education and employment, which cannot be found in the existing social networks mentees possess (Zippay, 1995).
b) More recently, scholars have drawn out conceptual models for the process by which mentoring can influence development outcomes, drawing from theory and research on child and adolescent development and close relationships.
Rhodes et al (2006) have proposed 3 interrelated processes through which quality mentoring relationships can impact developmental outcomes: a) by enhancing youth’s social relationships and emotional well-being, (b) by improving their cognitive skills through instruction and conversation, and (c) by promoting positive identity development through serving as role models and advocates.
The mentoring process involves:
Our current programs and partners:
Current Mentor Together donors include IBM India, Starbucks and Mahindra & Mahindra. Our programs currently run in the cities of Bangalore and Mysore and reach out to 130 youth mentees. If you want to partner with Mentor Together contact us at email@example.comReferences
1. Chadha, N.K. and N. Malik. (2004). Intergenerational Relationships: A Futuristic Framework. Indian Journal of Gerontology 18(3/4)
2. Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 1360-1380.
3. Kaplan, M. and N. Chadha. (2004). Intergenerational Programs and Practices: A Conceptual Framework and an Indian Context. Indian Journal of Gerontology 18(3/4): 301–17.
4. Larson, R. (2006). Positive Youth Development, Willful Adolescents, and Mentoring. Journal of Community Psychology, 34(6), 677–89.
5. Rhodes,J., Spencer,R., Keller,T.,Liang,B.,Noam,G. (2006). A model for the influence of mentoring relationships on youth development. Journal of Community Psychology, 34, 691–707.
6. Roemer, John E. (1998). Equality of Opportunity, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
7. Singh, A. (2010). The Effect of Family Background on Individual Wages and an Examination of Inequality of Opportunity in India. Journal of Labour Research, 31(3), 230-246
8. Zippay,A. (1995). Expanding employment skills and social networks among teen mothers: case study of a mentor program. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 12(1), 51-69.