I'm Flying 200 U.S. College Students To Australia To Help Me Change The World

    My dream is that in 10 years time we've inspired a generation of university students to believe that mentoring is right: and made caring cool.

    I have designed one of the most cost effective, scalable solutions to ending inequality, by building bridges between different cultures and opening up a more inclusive, kind social channel for human relationships to evolve. And I want to tell you my story.

    In 2004, Facebook was founded with the intent to connect university students. In 2005, I founded an organisation with a very similar intent. The difference? Our connecting device was offline; it was physical; it was an age old device revamped; it was called mentoring.

    For 15 years I’ve been changing people’s lives. Since the age of 19. I became a CEO at the age of 22. At the age of 33 I now lead a global organisation and today we launch a campaign to light up change across the USA, with the hope of inspiring change across the world. Change can be ugly, slow, and when you are the spokesperson for the group you are standing up for, you can feel like a beggar constantly asking for a hand out.

    But, I’ve learned that to sustain change, you can’t sit on the sidelines. You have to get into the machine and work with those who have power. Protest helps get the issue onto the table, diplomacy or outright revolution sustains the change. Even in the case of outright revolution, as we’ve learned through the South African case study, that even after one of the most celebrated revolutions, led by a man who is my idol, the sustaining of the change comes down to the governing; to diplomacy; to building systems.

    And that’s why I’ve been open to working with CEO’s of banks, building companies, and am currently working with an advertising firm in New York, a few streets south of Times Square.

    "Because, if we want to change the world, we have to change the way it works."

    This morning as I rode the elevator up to level four at the office, the screen in the corner flickered an ad “Eat and Drink to End Hunger”… My god we have to work hard to get people to care.

    In 2005, sitting at the back of a lecture theatre in Sydney, Australia, I was scribbling madly, searching for a revolutionary idea to come to me. I felt the fire and anger inside of me that the world was unjust. I was studying journalism and believed that we should fight for truth. The truth for our country at the time was that our Indigenous people were continuously treated as a hopeless lost cause. My truth? My family is Indigenous, and so am I.

    I’m from a mixed heritage: black family, white skin. A shapeshifter. I could walk into rooms with Aboriginal people and feel at home, and walk into white environments and feel at ease.

    “With great power, comes great responsibility” said Uncle Ben to Peter Parker. I’ve felt a sense of responsibility that because of my life story, and the opportunities I’ve been afforded, that I owed it to those being left behind to do something that could lift them up.

    At 19, I decided to act. I gathered 25 of my college student friends, corralled them to give up their time, and started a mentoring program for 25 Indigenous high school students. We built a bridge of mentoring between university and high school; between the future powerful and powerless; between two groups that would have never had the chance to build a dialogue, without this mentoring relationship. It was called AIME.

    The impact? A 40% increase in school attendance and the university students said it was the most powerful development experience of their university life.

    From the first session together this just made sense. I could feel it in my bones. Young people volunteering their time to pass on their knowledge to kids a bit younger than them. Young people being given the chance on both sides of the fence to be great. We didn’t “sex” up the sell, this was a chance for these university students to change someone’s life. It was the chance to do something of real merit and worth for the world that week. And for the kids, we weren’t there because we felt sorry for them, this was their chance to work their arses off and have someone stay by their side and keep pushing them. Our commitment: “You meet us halfway, we’ll walk every step of the way with you, and together we’ll prove that a permanent shift in mindset can end disadvantage.”

    And it has.

    We’ve shattered 200 years of shame, and built a new narrative, one of Indigenous success. And a generation of university students have created a culture where caring and being kind is the most rockstar rebellious thing you can do on campus.

    "The headline? We made caring street and cool, and we didn’t have to sell sneakers to do it."

    15 years on, we’ve seen Indigenous kids going through our program close the educational gap. 40% of Indigenous kids between the age of 18-25 are in university, employment or further training. The non-Indigenous average is 75% for the same cohort. AIME kids have hit 75%, 78%, and 76% over the last three years, and have closed the gap for the last 6+ years running. KPMG in the last month released a cost benefit analysis declaring that for every dollar invested into AIME, eight are returned back to the economy.

    Today, AIME is operating out of Uganda, South Africa and working with 10,000 Indigenous kids across Australia. And this year, in the face of our Home Affairs Minister declaring that Victorians are “scared to go out to restaurants” because of “African gang violence”, we launched a program for African Australian kids out of Melbourne.

    Today we launch a campaign to give away the AIME model at a speed and scale we have never done before. After 15 years of refining and perfecting the tools at the bottom of the earth we are now willing to put it into university students hands across the planet to give them the practical tools to light up a revolution from the ground up.

    For the USA, we are launching “The Hooded Scholar” program. 200 scholarships for college students who have come out of struggle to have the chance to lead AIME out of their campus for 100 disadvantaged kids in their community. This will mean 20,000 kids overnight will have 20,000 university students standing by their side.

    And as a kicker, we are giving all of “The Hooded Scholars” the chance to fly to Australia on a chartered plane to be a part of the world’s first ever festival of mentoring.

    These college students will be learning from the AIME family and the oldest continuous surviving culture in the world, how to run a model of mentoring that can heal local communities, one by one, in the face of some of the greatest hardships and divisions we have seen

    In 2020, we will be bringing in planes in from South Africa, India, Hong Kong, and Europe.

    Meaning 100,000 kids across the world will have access to the AIME model.

    We won’t stop there, either. We want make our model and the AIME name more famous then NIKE, but then, we want to give it all away.

    "If we feel the fire inside, it’s not enough to talk about change."

    In fact, those that drink and espouse big dreams and hopes, or hold one off conferences often do more harm to those of us on the ground slogging away. There is a limited supply of hope, and we have to follow through on people’s good will, otherwise we end up getting more and more desperate to grab the limited supply of good allocated in everyone’s day.

    My dream is that in 10 years time, we declare that we’ve ended Indigenous educational inequality in Australia, inspired a generation of university students to believe that mentoring is right, that working with people of difference is right and that giving away your knowledge and time to those less fortunate for free, is right. My dream is to have inspired a generation to come together from the ground up. We’ve made caring cool. And then we can shut our doors and the next generation will fill the vacuum AIME has left, spinning off iterations of mentoring models across the earth’s surface.

    My dream is to make mentoring famous. That the same mentoring DNA that helped forged western democracy with Aristotle, Socrates and Plato, that same very DNA that allowed for Indigenous people in my country to survive for 60,000 years.

    I believe we rise to the challenges we set ourselves. I believe we should end hunger, because people are hungry. I believe we should rise up as mentors for kids, because at the moment, there are way too many kids across the globe that spend every day of their life feeling like nobody in the world even knows they exist.

    If it’s not going to be us, then who? And if it’s not going to be now then when?


    Jack Manning Bancroft is the founder and CEO of AIME.