High school is an important decision point for all children, but it is also a critical trajectory marker for children exiting shelters. For children in shelters, the period is often made worse by the absence of a mentor such as an elder sibling or parent who can guide them. Faced with deficits in life-skills, academic support, career guidance and funding support, children in shelters often make poor career and life choices. This point at which a child leaves the shelter, usually around high-school, is thus a crucial intervention period. Propel evolved from our identification of the need to provide strong reinforcement of life skills, increased exposure to career choices and overall transition support to older children at this stage.
Propel is a one-to-one Mentoring Programme focused on 16 to 18 year olds, that equips and supports young people exiting out of shelters at 18 to successfully make the transition into broader society. A "Wingman" is assigned to each child in the programme to provide career support, mentoring and guidance. Skill building modules ensure that the children are better equipped to face the world outside the shelter home. Funding support is provided for those who have the passion and motivation but lack financial resources to pursue their goals. Shelter leavers are also supported to access a network of colleges, vocational training and job opportunities through our tie-ups and networks. So far, several Propel students have been successfully placed into degree courses in law and engineering at prestigious institutions like Bangalore Institute of Legal Studies (BILS) and Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT).
Going forward, we intend to merge and restructure our existing programs to make them more impactful, scalable and synchronised as a collective suite of interventions that are designed to be more age transitional. Our primary goal for 2016 is to grow impact and improve the way we track and monitor it in the long term. We have extended Propel into a pilot after-care programme to create a more systematic platform that supports young people after they leave shelters. We also plan to improve our life-skills curriculum, transition readiness, and stakeholder engagement to build a more stable ecosystem post-shelter. Finally we will invest further improving the Propel App to enhance Wingman effectiveness.