Impacting 1,000,000 People in 2 Days

Say Alessia is finishing up high school and she is ready to conquer the world. Alessia has desire to do great things with her creativity but she grew up in an impoverish neighbourhood so she lacks the direction and role models whom she could look up to. She is lost.

Visiting a community youth centre prior to the hackathon

For the past 2 days, as part of the UnitedWay #Create4Community Hackathon, my team have been working on a solution to engage youth from impoverished upbringings to maximize their economic success.

The Problem

Through talking with UnitedWay, we identified some key challenges young people face today while trying to break into the workforce:

  • At-risk youth often feel as though no one would ever hire them for the jobs that they’d be qualified for
  • Unfamiliar what the corporate world is even like
  • Unaware of how to properly sell themselves, often focusing on the negative aspects rather than the positive ones
  • Afraid to reach out for one on one conversations
  • Lacks the connection and role models who had a similar path

We know these are real issues because we reached out to the mentoring program and heard stories from the youth. Stories that revealed more challenges that are faced by mentors that we didn’t realize.

  • Qualified mentors don’t always know how to get involved
  • Feel they lack the resource to become a mentor
  • Lack of time to commit on being a mentor

Hasn’t this been done?

The UnitedWay recognizes the important of mentorship, there is a platform already in place that allow young people to make professional connections through agencies. While it establishes a community of mentors and mentees, it does not effectively address the pain points we have identified above. Furthermore, once the connection is made, there is no support for continuing engagement, and additionally, the platform is one dimensional; there’s no metric in place to provide feedback on what is working and what areas to focus on.

Ideation

Having spent a morning validating our problem, we got to work. Having people with a variety of expertise is fantastic because we compliment each other’s skill sets. We asked ourselves who we are solving the problem for. This kept us on track while figuring out what features this product could have, and how scalable it could be. And the fun begins!

Diverge — Spitting out ideas, endless sticky notes, imagining the impossible.

At the end of the ideation process, we came up with a good list of ideas, features, and use cases to start prototyping.

In the mist of ideation

Prototype

After mapping out several user flows and personas, I felt comfortable enough to start making some wire frames.

As always, design with the end user in mind. The two main stakeholders we’ve come to identify are:

  • Youth in priority communities
  • Professionals who can provide time and guidance

And our goal is to create a platform for meaningful connections between youth and professionals. At this point, we truly felt like we’ve got the winning idea, and something each one of us can see ourselves using for self improvement and career development reasons.

Solution

We called our solution Pathway. It delivers value in 4 key areas:

  • PEOPLE — Pathway expands the inclusion of priority youth to include younger students who have skills and interests, but aren’t sure what that means for the future, and those who know what they want to do, but don’t quite know how to get there.
  • EXPERIENCES — It goes beyond the initial introduction and creates an opportunity for deeper interactions, where both youth and mentors can gain tangible, hands on experience.
  • ACCESS — We heard from stakeholders that mentors struggle to create meaningful impact in a limited time. And that mentees hesitate to make the first contact, and to continue the relationship after meeting. What was once an administrative, intimidating and manual process, is now a simplified entry point for everyone.
  • METRICS — Measuring and tracking the impact of interactions can be difficult to quantify. On Pathway, Relationships can be managed and measured from one centralized platform.

Along with a online presence, we’ve created a mobile app experience aimed at youth to break down the barrier of entry. To gain interests from possible mentors, Pathway can be presented during the annual employee giving campaign as an alternative way to give. Because often, giving time is more valuable than giving money.

This is an screen I created for a mentor’s profile.

Drake in an alternate universe

We put ourselves into the shoes of a youth in need. It takes a great deal of courage to approach someone you look up to, even more so in a professional setting. By having mentors not only share their journey of how they got to where they are, but more importantly, how they failed. We focus on these stories because it makes mentors more relatable and approachable.

Impact

While community building is a passion of mine, I haven’t really looked beyond my campus community. Through listening to stories from individuals that have been impacted by UnitedWay, I’m only starting to grasp the amount of work that goes into shaping our community. We all know technology can create exponential impact in our lives, so I dare you to imagine the possibilities. I cannot impact 1,000,000 people in 2 days. But technology will.

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