Mentors often play a crucial role in helping people achieve their goals. Now, Facebook wants to help foster those relationships all in one place.
The social media giant launched a new product Wednesday called Mentorship and Support, which will connect users with mentors to get the advice and support they need. The aim is to bring together people who have shared experiences and goals but don't already know each other.
Facebook is partnering with nonprofit organizations that already pair mentors and mentees, but they'll use Facebook to work through a step-by-step program tailored to the mentee's goals. It will begin as a pilot program starting with just two nonprofits and focus areas: iMentor, for education mentorship, and the International Rescue Committee, for mentorship in crisis recovery.
iMentor connects high school students with college-educated mentors to help guide them through the journey to college. The International Rescue Committee Oakland is launching a new mentor program between staff case workers and community organizers to help support refugees resettled in the U.S.
The new Facebook tool will bring these programs online, helping to facilitate the relationships through a dedicated page and program developed by the nonprofit. The tool prompts communication, easy access to resources, and a curriculum. iMentor, for example, has adapted a 24-week program geared toward helping someone through their first year of college. IRC staff will be able to use the product to train volunteers in a scalable forum, rather than in-person workshops.
To ensure privacy and security, the Mentorship and Support tool will only be available to users who are 18 years old or older.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the new product Wednesday at the company's second-annual Social Good Forum in New York City.
"One of the big lessons that I took away from my travel challenge this year is that our relationships really shape our lives more than I think we realize," he said. "And if our relationships helped us set our sights higher, we'd all be better off."
"We could imagine this rolling out to addiction, finding jobs, or passions."
Zuckerberg cited a statistic that the average American has fewer than three close friends they feel they can turn to for support or call in a time of need.
"So, that led me to sit down with our team and ask: What could we do here so that, in addition to helping you connect with people you may know, we could also work on connecting you with people you should know?" he said.
The ultimate goal of the Mentorship and Support tool, he added, is to make it easy for anyone to either volunteer to be a mentor or ask for one.
Naomi Gleit, VP of Social Good at Facebook, said there's room for this tool to reach almost any issue or industry. Much like Facebook's charitable giving products, which aim to let you raise money for any cause you care about, the Mentorship and Support product has the potential to reach any industry.
"We're starting with education and crisis recovery, but we could imagine this rolling out to addiction, finding jobs, or passions," Gleit said.