ABOUT TAKE CHARGE
It all began in 2014, when a group of Catholics in Mumbai came together to create a Centre of Excellence within the Archdiocese of Bombay. They felt that many Catholic youth needed mentors to shine a light on their potential and guide them to achieve more than what they believed was possible to be accomplished. They strongly believed that senior professionals could help bring about changes in the hearts and minds of these youngsters simply by providing them with windows of opportunities. Therefore, Take Charge was set-up as a project by the St. Joseph Educational & Technical Training Trust and the Archdiocese of Bombay, with two broad goals:
• To instil a passion for excellence in Catholic youth through a formal mentoring process.
• To encourage Catholic youth to look at non-traditional careers, including the armed forces and the civil services.
We have come a long way since those early days in 2014. Take Charge has conducted three mentoring batches so far, covering close to 300 mentoring relationships and the fourth cohort with approximately 150 mentoring relationships is currently mid-way through its tenure.
“A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.”
This true-life quote is not only philosophical but also inspirational. At Take Charge mentoring, we believe in doing the difficult things while they are easy and the great things while they are small. Take Charge mentoring is focussed on providing opportunities to youth of the Catholic community. We seek to motivate our youth to aspire for a life that is beyond their current dreams, to spark in every young mind a desire to succeed.
We truly believe that every young person is a genius in his or her own unique way and that a mentor can be an excellent catalyst and role-model for our mentees.
to achieve possibilities
way beyond their
A FEW HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR JOURNEY TILL DATE
The first cohort was launched as a pilot program for Catholic youth residing in Mumbai with 40 mentor-mentee pairs in mid-2015. The mentees’ ages ranged from 14 to 20 years. The formal mentoring tenure was 9 months and mentor-mentee pairs were expected to meet twice a month.
The success rates, feedback and learnings from the pilot program resulted in two major changes in the program contours – (a) the minimum age for mentees was raised from 14 to 16 years & maximum to 21 years and (b) the tenure was increased to 18 months with at least one mentoring session (instead of 2) per month.
The second cohort was launched in late 2016 with 100 mentor-mentee pairs. A few mentors took on the responsibility of mentoring a second mentee. We engaged an external agency to help us to manage the program and introduced an app for the pairs to schedule and log their sessions. The app also helped the Take Charge core team to monitor the progress of the relationships. We conducted baseline, midpoint and end-point surveys among the mentees to track their progress feedback across several criteria. The second cohort graduated in June 2018 with a memorable graduation event where mentors, mentees as well as their parents shared their positive feedback and experiences from the program.
The third cohort was launched in mid-2018 with a larger cohort of close to 150 mentor-mentee pairs. Many mentors continued their involvement with Take Charge for the second or third time and we enrolled new mentors to cater to the increased intake of mentees. We introduced a segment on mental health in the training for mentors – an important topic in today’s times. We also set-up Buddy Communities among the mentors, which were small groups of mentors based in the same vicinity. This enabled them to meet and support each other to enhance their mentoring relationships. The third cohort graduated in January 2020 and once again the feedback comments from mentees, their parents as well as mentors were very encouraging.
The fourth cohort was launched in 2020 with a similar size of 150 pairs. Many mentors were willing to mentor a second mentee resulting in our need to enrol just a few new mentors. In order to encourage more applicants from economically disadvantaged communities we increased the upper age limit from 21 to 24 years. The formal mentoring period was extended to 21 months so that new cohorts commence at the start of an academic year, every two years. All our mentors were trained in the aspect of mental health so that they could gain familiarity with different mental health categories. We made important changes in the mentee selection process since we wanted them to be fully familiar with the program and be enthusiastic to join. Every applicant and their parents attended a familiarisation webinar, followed by mentees being video interviewed by a mentor (in addition to the phone screening initial interview). Applicants were requested to make a token voluntary donation to the program. The program is now completely managed in-house with two former mentees being employed as fellows and an experienced mentor leading the program management team. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we re-engineered all the training and induction programs to online mode and launched the fourth cohort almost on schedule in July 2020. The current cohort is expected to graduate in March 2022.