Apply to Join
Mar 29, 2018

Imagining your dreams and delivering others'

Paying it forward presents
Paying it forward presents

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to Teach life skills to children without parents! 

Since December, we continued working individuallyand in group with many of our youths. To be precise, we organized 4 different workshops and events, and we engaged directly with a total of 25 parentless youths, new and old to our program. The events were aimed at, in this order, 1) helping the youths demonstrate their talents and learn more about their applications at a career-concert-charity event; 2) teaching them to visualize their dreams so as to plan their individual routes to achieving them; 3) learning to recognize and be mindful of their achievements, and 4) integrating a pay-it-forward mindset in all they do for higher motivation.

To avoid taking up your day with a lengthy post (and to use our "better" photos!), we've decided to tell you in more detail about 2 of all stories in particular. If you'd like to learn about the others, too, we'd love to share, please, just drop us a line at info@stepforbulgaria.org :)

 

1) Learning to recognize one's own achievements can lay the groundwork for taking the next step in your personal development. To help our youths make many steps forward, we decided to boost our group's morale by throwing an event aimed at demonstrating the impact of their own achievements to themselves and helping them learn to recognize it. We made the best use of our fortunate timing and combined the event with the celebration of the consequtive birthdays of two of the most experienced youths in our program, Stelian and Andrey. In the photos, you can see us preparing their birthday cakes with Ivan, our accomplished pastry-chef-youth, and Stelian and Andrey about to blow the candles, thinking of their next accomplishment :)

The birthday party pretext allowed us to pool a large crowd of almost all current and some new members of our program. Unbeknownst to them, by coming to celebrate Stelian and Andrey's birthdays, they came to celebrate themselves as well. Over many smiles and laughs and an entire evening, we all huddled together to discuss what each had achieved during the year, and what they planned to do in the next one.

 

2) One of our internal goals as an organization is to motivate and empower an active community of volunteers to help youths in underprivileged circumstances, with and without our help. For Christmas, we wanted to support the first-time initiative of one of our own active volunteers, Velina, who had the idea to collect and package gifts for youths whose parents were in prison. So, we gathered a group of 5 youths and 5 volunteers, and right before Christmas we headed to Velina's church's basement, where she had been gathering the gifts over the past month. In the photos, you can see us working together to wrap the gifts and, of course, the final product that went out delivered as presents. More importantly than the presents though, in the process of making them, our youths learned about teamwork (we had a production line!) and about the motivation that comes for achieving by learning how to pay forward the products of your achievement.

 

Finally, a teaser of what's to come: earlier in the year we invested significant time and effort do develop the program's strategy in a way that's more focused and results-oriented than ever before. Do be excited to hear about our next report!

Thank you for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team

Preparing to celebrate
Preparing to celebrate
Celebrating x 2
Celebrating x 2
Paying it forward workshop
Paying it forward workshop
Mar 29, 2018

24? Try 50!

Our most recent workshop
Our most recent workshop

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to Give lasting 1:1 career advice to 24 at-risk teens!

First of all, thank you for making this project real. Your help allowed us to fully fund the project by February 23rd and begin making an impact with it. You'd be happy to learn: your contribution allowed a total of 50 at-risk teens to receive lasting, individual career advice! Compared to our original target of 24, that means your donation had more than double the impact!

 

Here's how that happened:

As the project approached full funding around the middle of February, our team got in touch with one of the high schools we had held a career workshop at earlier in the year. 170th High school in the town of Novi Iskar was happy to host us again, and we were happy to oblige. So, we began planning for how to introduce 24 at-risk students with their individual career volunteers. We settled to introduce them to each other exactly 1 month after, on the 15th of March.

Luckily, we already knew more or less who we had to look for to prepare. Our previous workshop at the school had allowed us to collect valuable feedback from the students and their teachers, and build a class profile with a ranking of the most desired professional sectors therein. The top 5 sectors were: 1) HR, 2) Journalism, 3) IT, 4) Marketing, and 5) Finance. 

By the numbers, we recruited volunteers from each sector and prepared them for the students the'd be meeting. We coordinated their training with yet another volunteer, an experienced career counselor, who helped us plan out how to use the volunteers' experience and support to help their assigned students lay a foot on the track of their professinal development. So came March 15th and we found ourselves with a group of 6 volunteers, each looking to devote half of their day to individually meet and begin to counsel up to 4 individual students from the school. And boy, were we wrong in our expectations!

More than 50 students ended up showing to the introduction, looking to get to know one of our volunteers. Even if the volunteers didn't represent everyone's interest (just the top 5), the workshop attracted the majority of students grades X through XII by merely giving them the opportunity to talk with a successful professional, individually, as a friend. To give you a better idea, we had students interested in Law come meet our HR specialists!

Of course, the interest also meant that it would be more difficult for our volunteers to meet with everyone individually, so in the end what ended up happening - for this workshop only - was small group work (with teams of up to 4 students). Still, we found a way to provide individual attention - with having the students rotate in between the groups and fill out a personal "Career Darts" (see the gallery bellow), a game we developed with our counselor volunteer to help determine their Interests, Strengths, and Values.

Currently, we are working on analyzing the career darts so as to give each student individual feedback and 2-3 options for career development they can pursue as of this moment, such as job shadowing, internship, scholarship and other opportunities. Next month, on April 26th, we'll return to the school with twice the volunteers to help each of them use the feedback to find and apply for their desired opportunity. And over the summer, we will look forward to their stories of success!

None of the above would have been possible with your support. If you like what we do, please consider donating again to our Fast-Track Career Development for At-Risk Youths project, which will provide the framework for supporting all 50 and more of the same students in the future.

Thanks once more for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team

Career Darts
Career Darts
What is Marketing?
What is Marketing?
What is Journalism?
What is Journalism?
What is HR (and does it involve laughing)?
What is HR (and does it involve laughing)?
Mar 29, 2018

Transitioning to Evidence-Based Individual Focus

Our most recent career workshop
Our most recent career workshop

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to Fast-Track Career Development for At-Risk Youths! 

A lot happened since you last heard fom us. We conducted more workshops, involving both more students and volunteers. We engaged key employers in and around Sofia to help bridge the gap between them and the students. We worked with career counselors to develop an evidence-based approach to work with the students and to prepare our volunteers for conducting that work. We also began making the first steps to share more and more knowledge with the teachers, and are now working on getting the parents involved as well. The work has grown so much so that, in fact, we are currently recruiting among a large pool of applicants for a Career Workshops Consultant to help us be prepared to manage all of it successfully :)

You'll be hearing more in detail about each of the above project-internal initiatives in our subsequent project reports. Before them, we want to tell you about how we have developed the workshops to make them more engaging, focused and effective.

In the gallery below you can see a series of photos illustrating the progression of our workshops from our first one through to our most recent. We've chosen the photos so as to demonstrate how, through time, we have been narrowing down the conversations we're having with the students from classes as big as 70 (1st workshop) to individual or small-group work (2-4 students).

Did narrowed focus mean that we engaged fewer students? No (or we wouldn't be bragging so much about it :)! In fact, in our last workshop, we had timeslots devoted for individual students to come speak with a total of 6 volunteers in HR, Finance, Marketing and Journalism (see photo above). Compared to the ~40 students who previously attended our Motivation workshop at the same school, this format of Orientation workshop attracted 1/4 more, bringing the number of attendees to over 50! Indeed, as we've pointed in our microproject report for that school, we had students interested in Law come speak to an HR professional just because of the "personal" factor (you can find more about our microproject here)

It goes without saying that we will use the evidence of this success to focus all of our future workshops on individual students. Moreover though, we plan to experiment with and find evidence for the success of other factors too, such as the diversity and consistency of volunteers working with the students, the type of interaction they have, short vs. long-term involvement and others. So do be excited to hear from us again!

Finally, none of the above would have been possible with your support. If you like what we do, please consider donating again to our new Give lasting 1:1 career advice to 50 at-risk teens project, which will provide the framework for supporting all 50 and more of the same students in the future.

Thanks once more for allowing us to do what we do.

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team 

 

https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/career-workshops-for-at-risk-youths/

Our very first workshop
Our very first workshop
Workshop progression
Workshop progression
Narrowing it down
Narrowing it down
The divide: bridged
The divide: bridged
 
WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.