Jun 27, 2018

A new wave of Mentees

Mentor picking
Mentor picking

Dear supporter,

Our #StepforBulgaria team is excited to share with you the latest news with our ongoing mission to provide a Mentoring Program for Underprivileged Youth!

June 12th marked our first-in-a-long-time new meet and greet of future new mentors and mentees! The introduction went incredibly well, and we are happy to report that it was attended by almost double the students, 19, instead of the 10 we had planned for, and still, there were a few who could not attend. All the more reasons for organizing another round soon :) 

Here's the full story:

After a series of structured conversations with our more experienced volunteers, we gathered everyone's opinion that the youths we have the privilege to come to know by means of our Career Workshops - and who express an interest in being paired with an individual mentor - should be allowed to pick their own mentor instead of them being artificially paired to one (by us) according to our knowledge of their shared professional and personal interests. So, we decided to gather a team full of diverse professionals and, in a manner much like our Career Workshops, invite them to come meet the students. The difference came from the fact that the focus of the conversation this time was not "how to structure my CV", but rather "how to pick somemone whom I can learn the most from".

The pretext allowed the students to go around the classroom in an informal setting and "shop" for the best mentors around. The results: out of 8 volunteers, 5 were occupied by 1 or more students by the end of the 2-hour ordeal. The other 3, alongisde a group of new volunteers, are currently hosting an open day event at their company to meet a few more of the students :) We eager to find out and let you know, too, what happens next in our next report, so stay tuned!

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

Best regards,

Dancho and the Step for Bulgaria team

P.S. If you continuously like what we do, please consider becoming a recurrent donor! Check out and share our other projects, too, at Teaching Life Skills to Children without Parents and Fast-Track Career Development for At-Risk Youths!

Getting to know each other in depth
Getting to know each other in depth
Newly formed mentoring pair :)
Newly formed mentoring pair :)
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)?
 
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