The One Degree Initiative Foundation follows a unique mentorship model that provides its beneficiaries with hands-on training on practising active citizenship by engaging them with their communities. The model was designed through a 2-year long research and real time implementation process, and follows dynamic additions to ensure its ability to maximize on youth potential.
Recruitment occurs twice every year and fresh recruits, usually young people between the ages of 15 and 19 join as volunteers. On joining, he/she is assigned to a 1° mentor, who work with the volunteer in training and outreach projects. The mentor-mentee relationship develops over time and allows skills and experiences to transfer from one generation to another. Over a period of 12 to 15 months, mentees undergo several steps, climbing up the hierarchical ladder to finally become 1° mentors themselves. In the process, they volunteer at projects, co-run community outreach programs and are trained to design and implement their ideas.
The 1° mentors train the newer generations of volunteers, lead and design community projects, perform administrative responsibilities and most importantly, serve as role models for their peers, their volunteers and the younger generations. Through our evaluation, we have witnessed that by training a small group, a much larger group was benefited eventually. For example, if 10 volunteers were directly trained by our pool of mentors, they would, in turn as mentees, outreach to over 100 people in their communities – therefore, demonstrating the multiplier effect of our approach.
A group of select 1° mentors become the Executive Heads, who form the Operational Body and run the organization on a day-to-day basis. Executive Heads are selected through a competitive nomination and voting process, are usually aged between 19 and 21 and take a lead in managing the organization and all its concerns. The process promotes inter-generational leadership, where preceding generations of Heads train subsequent generations – and constantly adds dynamism and ownership to the spirit of the One Degree Initiative Foundation.
The 1° model is effective because it not only invites young people to join and take ownership of the organization, but in turn, ensures sustainability as one group of young people invest in the welfare of another – creating a cyclical and continuous process of learning, developing and impacting.