One Million Mentors (1MM) is a unique community-based mentoring programme, quickly growing roots around the UK. The aim is to transform young lives by connecting one million young people with one million mentors. This ambitious programme backs the talents of young people to improve their career chances while at the same time strengthening local communities. 1MM was founded on the belief that through personal, one-to-one mentoring, more young people can grow the knowledge, networks, skills and confidence they need to succeed.
At the heart of their service is a digital platform where young people, potential mentors, and mentoring coordinators such as schools can register and connect.
The existing platform had been built with limited funds, and the Co founders of One Million Mentors knew that the platform had to become easier to use, mobile friendly, and secure.
In early 2018, the Co founders met with Thoughtworks in Manchester, England, for a discovery session where they talked about what needed to be done to improve their existing platform. As the One Million Mentors beliefs were so aligned with those of Thoughtworks, the latter offered to support the project for an initial period of six months, which was further extended to a year.
During a kickoff workshop with all stakeholders, data security was identified as high risk, given the level of personal information that was being gathered, stored and shared. Safeguarding young people was paramount, so vulnerability testing was a core part of the team’s agile delivery cycle as they developed the new platform. An expert security tester from Thoughtworks India was deployed to check the system, and the team hosted several “hacknights” where other Thoughtworkers were invited to try to “break” the system.
Given the scope of this project, all security activities had to be aligned with ‘normal’ development work, so they were integrated into user journeys from day one.
Over the course of the year, the Thoughtworks team assigned to the project in London was bolstered by over 100 additional Thoughtworkers who regularly gave up their evenings to help out with coding, user design, and testing.
The One Million Mentors project was a great introduction to Thoughtworks for dozens of graduates and more experienced hires; to our sense of community, and our passion for social and economic justice.
It was important that One Million Mentors, as a not-for-profit organization, was not left with a platform that was expensive to maintain, so the Thoughtworks team selected free or low cost, out of the box solutions that didn’t require ongoing subscriptions, and would be quick for developers to pick up. One example of this was the choice of Kotlin as a programming language: it ticked all of these boxes yet is fully interoperable with Java, and straightforward for Java developers to learn.
One Million Mentors’ existing platform was already live in Manchester and the West Midlands, England. Their goal was to launch the new platform for users in Cardiff, Wales, and to facilitate over 100 “matches” of mentor and mentee by June 2019. This was achieved within the year, and feedback was sought from those users so any usability issues could be fixed before migrating users from the other region onto the new platform.
It was inspirational to see the passion and drive that Thoughtworks had for One Million Mentors; there was a real connection to what we’re trying to achieve. They became my adopted team and vice versa – it was so refreshing to not be treated as just a client.
One Million Mentors is now launching in London, with many Thoughtworkers already registered as mentors.
Want to get involved? Register here