Make connections, create opportunities

Photo of Mitchell Mondro

Written by

Date Started

November 13 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

Lewis and I went to high school together in Westford, MA at Westford Academy. Westford Academy has a graduation rate of about 98%. Pretty much everyone we knew graduated and went off to college or started their careers. We both decided to go to school in Worcester, MA and quickly learned that not all the kids in Worcester graduated high school like we did. We decided we want to help give students opportunities that they wouldn't normally have, especially students in coming from lower economic neighborhoods that may be struggling. We are stepping up to make a change because we want kids to have the same kind of opportunities and role models we had in our high school career. We believe everyone should have a mentor in their lives that can show them what it takes to be successful and act as a positive role model in their lives.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We are helping to solve the issue of low high school graduation rates in cities and lower economic areas. Our journey will begin in the city of Worcester, MA where the graduation rate is only about 72%. According to U.S Census only 27.7% of people in Worcester have a college degree and the medium income is about $45,000. Students in low income neighborhoods may have to drop out of high school to work and support their families creating a cycle.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our solution to this problem is to help kids break out of the cycle by providing them with their own network of mentors. Young adults who have a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college. A mentor can be a positive role model and provide guidance to students in tough situations. We have had a few mentors of our own and they have helped tremendously. If we could provide struggling students with a mentor/ mentors, it would give them a better chance to get into college or proceed down a career path that will set them up for a quality life. There are businesses that link students with their own mentors one by one. We want to connect as many students and mentors as possible and give students a chance to connect with mentors based on similar interests. We are developing a platform in the form of a website/ mobile phone, that students can visit and connect with mentors with similar interests. The mentors will be employees from local businesses looking to help the community and share their experience and knowledge. On the app students get to choose their mentors and begin communicating immediately. From there they can develop the relationship how they want.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

We haven't implemented the project yet because the platform is still in the works, but we can walk through a hypothetical situation. Imagine a high school girl living in one of the poorest sections of the city. Both of her parents work multiple shifts just to keep food on the table so she rarely gets to see them. Everyday when she comes home from school she has to pick her little brother up from daycare and then go to her own job and works until 9:00pm. She wants to become a doctor, but never does her homework and is always exhausted going to school. One day she goes on our app and connects with a women who works at one of the local hospitals. It turns out that women went through a similar situation when she was younger. She explains to the girl how to manager her time and things she can do to prepare to become a doctor. This is just one example of many opportunities our app can create.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Most of the other solutions out there are organizations that provide their own mentors and help a small amount of students at a time. While this is great, we haven't found any organizations that connect students with mentors from local business and focus on benefiting the entire community. All the advertisements and deals in the app are from local businesses looking to promote their product or service. We are able to connect students with mentors who came from a similar background or have similar interests to give them the best and most impactful experience possible.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We are currently still in the idea stage, but we started talking to high schools and business about implementing our idea. We have talked with the principles of a few of the worst schools in Worcester and they were very positive about our idea. They said if we could pull it off, it would help the school tremendously.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

After we successfully launch in Worcester and start to see positive results, we plan to move to the Boston community, with an even lower high school graduation rate, and help the students there. From there we hope to expand across the United States and help as many students as we can, but we are starting off small in Worcester because we know it well and we will be able to test our concept.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

To make our vision a reality we need funding to build a platform that can support the Worcester community and connect students with mentors. We need a team with experience in app and web development and security. My partner and I will handle the financials, marketing, and operations.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Family support

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We already have a few mentors who have helped us work through our idea. One of our mentors we met with every few weeks and he helped us develop a full business plan for our idea. Our other mentor coached us on how to pitch our idea and helped us develop our presentation. Our families are on board with the idea and have reached out to some of their own co-workers to gather interest in the idea.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 33.3%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 16.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 16.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kyla Guru

Super interesting!

I really appreciate your perspective of "breaking the cycle" of low high-school graduation rates. Thinking about how much Bits N' Bytes Cybersecurity Education: Preventing the next cyber-attack before it happens developed with the help of mentors, particularly on our Board of Advisors, I completely understand how important it is to connect willing, open mentors with ambitious students looking for more prestigious platforms. If a mentor is willing to share their wealth of knowledge, there is nothing more helpful/powerful. Thank you for your efforts in bringing this to underprivileged students! Best of luck and please keep me updated on your progress! Would love to bring this to the city of Chicago, especially the Chicago Public School District!


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