THE START OF MENTOR TOGETHER IS A STORY THAT REAFFIRMS THE POWER OF MENTORSHIP

THE START OF MENTOR TOGETHER IS A STORY THAT REAFFIRMS THE POWER OF MENTORSHIP



The start of Mentor Together is a story that reaffirms the power of mentorship. As a soon-to-be college graduate in 2007, Arundhuti Gupta had several ideas about how she could make a difference in her city, but needed an initial push and a safe space to explore her abilities. Dr.Rajeev Gowda was a Professor of Economics and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore, striving to create a rich ecosystem in the city for young people to realize their true potentials. After a chance meeting at an educational conference, Dr.Gowda invited Arundhuti to join him in the start-up activities of a youth empowerment organization.

From their initial experiences organizing career fairs in 2007, sprang ideas on the importance of trusted support figures for young people, during critical periods in their lives. Parallely, experiencing the power of Dr.Gowda’s own mentorship in her life, Arundhuti realized how empowered she felt helping young people. In 2009, she worked on the blueprint of a youth-mentoring NGO, while finishing her Master’s at the University of Manchester. Arundhuti and Rajeev formally registered Mentor Together as a Public Charitable Trust in November 2009, to pay forward their chance mentorship into a movement to help young people at-risk find caring and committed mentors.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The government estimates that up to 176 million young people in India are in need of care and protection. What is the impact of disadvantage on the life outcomes of young people?

A study in 2010 estimated that up to 17% of inequality in wages can be explained by a single factor of family background.

Combined together, the factors that make up the entire 'lottery of birth' - caste, gender, religion, location of birth, determine the majority of economic and social outcomes of people.

Solution

How do we solve this complex and entrenched inequality of opportunity? No single intervention can be a silver bullet. However there are two aspects central to mentorship, that make us believe in the profound impact it can have on the lives of young people.

The power of life skills or non-cognitive skills

Researchers have found that life skills like time management, motivation and perseverance are highly predictive of social behaviours and economic outcomes of young people. How do young people build these life skills?Adolescents especially learn such skills through observation and inference from adults can who demonstrate such skills and who provide them opportunities to build such skills in themselves. This is where mentorship is a vital intervention in the lives of adolescents.

The power of social networks

A sociologist in 1976 posited that any person looking to mobilize resources, move upwards and gain social mobility, needs to be present in a rich and diverse network, where she/he is connected to multiple nodes of information and opportunity. For many young people, their natural networks are small and limited in scope. Mentorship provides a gateway to connect to the world at large, through the networks of accomplished mentors.

timeline

Our Team

Arundhuti Gupta Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Deric T Jose Program Coordinator
Sunitha Viswanathan Trustee; Investment Professional
Namrata Barauh Chief Operating Officer
Praphulla Salve Program Manager
Srikrishna Ramamoorthy Managing Trustee; Partner, Unitus Seed Fund
Kalika Moniz Program Coordinator
Pranoti Edke Junior Program Manager
Madhushree L Program Manager
Tahera Lokhandwala Curriculum & Content Manager
Dattatraya Naik Program Manager
Sushma Nagraj Program Coordinator
Guruprasad C Junior Program Manager
Sheela H Junior Program Manager
Ashwini BT Junior Program Manager
Ashwini Kambar Mentee Coordinator
Deepak Halladamani Mentee Coordinator
Sowmya B Field Assistant
Mayuri Khunjare Mentee Coordinator
Roshni Pawar Field Assistant
Deepak Sarode Mentee Coordinator
Shital Nakti Field Assistant
Rahul Sable Program Coordinator
Falak Sajid Program Coordinator

"Mentor Together's programmes are designed to create impact. Mentor and mentee screening and matching are carefully done. We have a matching algorithm, which was developed in partnership with Thoughtworks Bangalore, where we look at 13 different aspects where mentors and mentees may match like common hobbies, career interests, personality traits and languages."

"The density and increasing popularity of mentoring organizations is indeed heartening, helping to push this niche field forward," says Arundhuti Gupta, who started India's first mentoring program, Mentor Together (MT) in 2010. Everybody is focusing on different pieces of the puzzle, working with different age groups, geographies and lessons."

“The hand-holding goes far beyond studies as well: "I tell Kavya about my traumas, troubles and doubts and she listens patiently to everything and never judges me on the basis of such information. Instead she asks me questions and in the process of answering her questions about my feelings I find my answers on my own. I am ever so grateful for her in my life. Whatever happens, whoever leaves me, I know she'll always be there," added Valli.”

"Altering the choices of India's disadvantaged youth also requires an expansion of their social networks. Their communities have few role models who can guide the next generation with professional advice. Mentorship has been a part of urban youth community programmes around the world for nearly a century, but is a fairly new intervention with children and youth in India. When Arundhuti Gupta launched Mentor Together in 2009, there were only a couple similar programmes in the country."