Mentortogether is a registered not-for-profit organisation (No. 372/09-10), based in Bangalore, India, recognized under Sec 80G of the Income Tax Act.Our Mission
Our mission is to provide children and youth facing risk and adversity - enduring, fun and empowering one-on-one relationships with mentors, that help them achieve their goals & dreams.Our Vision
All children realize the future they design for themselves.Our Story
The idea germinated from experiences our founding team (Dr.Rajeev Gowda and Arundhuti Gupta) had in the summer of 2007, organizing career exploration events for college students in Bangalore. The broad motivation was the fact that formal education in itself didn’t seem to help young people understand where they potential was, how they should choose a career and how they could standout. In the event we had sessions where professionals made speeches and sessions where the youth had one-to-one interactions with individuals from their field of interest. The quality of interaction was higher and much more personally meaningful to the youth in the second case. We realized that most young people didn’t have deep mentorship where someone was a steadfast presence in their life. It was clear that if we could facilitate such meaningful one-to-one relationships over a long period of time, we could make tremendous impact on young people who were trying to navigate through critical periods in their life. Building on these experiences, Arundhuti started working on the blueprint of a youth-mentoring NGO during her study as a Commonwealth Scholar in the UK in 2008-2009. After she completed her Master’s degree, she came back to Bangalore and formally started the organization in November 2009.The Problem
By one estimate , in a Government report, 40% of our entire population of youth and children, i.e. 176 million youth and children, can be considered in need of some form of care and protection Being born into certain conditions can lead to a large inequality of opportunity. Differences in parental education alone can account for up to 17% of inequality in future wages, according to one research (Singh, 2010). This is considered the lower bound for the overall inequality of opportunity, with factors like gender, caste, place of living expected to impact as well. In addition, 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).Mentor Together's Model
Mentor Together has made over 1000 mentorship matches, across 4 cities - Bangalore, Pune, Mysore and Chennai. In 2015, we're aiming to make 1000 new matches across 7 cities. In a program review in 2011 published here, we found that through the mentoring, the mentees recorded a change of attitude in learning English. The life skill exercises helped mentees plan for their future, and in some cases thwart early-marriage pressures. Mentoring functions like providing emotional regulation and collaborative skill-building were demonstrated in mentors helping mentees overcome fear in public speaking, examinations, speech defects, etc. Mentees recorded a change in their identity—they saw themselves as more capable. The relationship offered avenues for authentic companionship and several mentees saw their mentors as role models.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 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.
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.