Our Mission, Model and Secret Sauce

Infinite Family’s Mission is to promote self-reliance—to augment what’s taught in the classroom and the home to help develop resilient, responsible, and resourceful students as they prepare for their lives as young adults and beyond.

Infinite Family’s theory of life change is based on motivating teens to think ahead on a daily and weekly basis and to intentionally make many small positive actions in secondary school that over time create new life-long opportunities. By taking charge of components of their daily lives and learning how they affect their long-term circumstances teens learn critical life skills and, over time, begin to act with future forward focus. Eventually they understand how it is their responsibility to obtain the education and skills that result in a job that delivers self-reliance and economic stability.

Video mentoring builds on the transformation that teens are naturally experiencing as they evolve from children to adults, motivating and inspiring them to invest in themselves at this critical time in ways that will pay off to build better futures. We acknowledge that teens act increasingly independent and many will only perform successfully – in school or work – if self-motivated to do so. Video mentoring provides a supportive voice of experience, understanding, and suggestions at regular touch points along the way.

Using technology, we are able to bring this voice of experience from anywhere in the world into a South African teen’s life in the township where they live and help them improve their English skills at the same time. South African teens attend video mentoring sessions in Infinite Family LaunchPad computer labs that resemble the real world work place where they aspire to work. There are privacy booths for video mentoring sessions and open workstations for teens to do research and homework.

LaunchPads are only established in townships where we have close relationships with South African nonprofit organizations or schools that can run the day-to-day operations and manage the program. Infinite Family creates positions for, trains and supports a minimum of three part-time computer lab managers at each LaunchPad. These lab managers are called Net Fundis and are chosen from our NGO or school partners’ staff or local community residents.

Video mentoring through Infinite Family’s unique cloud-based platform allows the teen to see, hear, speak and write English simultaneously, which makes the learning a full-sensory experience and offers and unlimited options for subjects to be explored and sources of information with their Video Mentor leading the way in a safe, secure and curated manner. As English forms the basis of most successful advanced educational and formal sector work interactions today, strengthening this skill early is a fundamental asset for school and life success.

Our volunteer Video Mentors are trained to work with their Net Buddy mentees to work toward the ultimate goal of self-reliant economic stability for each and every teen. In the process of learning to overcome toxic stress in their daily lives and creating future opportunities for themselves, they develop resilience, resourcefulness and responsibility. Video mentoring combined with our additional activities, workshops and curricula, supports teens to build core skills in five areas: education, technology literacy, career preparation, and communication and life skills.

One of the most liberating realizations for black South African teens is that successful adults aren’t born knowing how to succeed or given the secrets along the way – that to be successful, most adults have to work very hard for a very long time, that most stumble repeatedly and sometimes fail more than once.

It is liberating for many black South African teens to realize that they are not unique in their early life challenges and to see others who have overcome adversity not in a glamorous stroke of lucky success but in step-by-step, day after day, year after year planning, goal setting, and hard work. When they hear stories of how their Video Mentors overcame hardships or bounced back from mistakes, they realize that they too can do the same.

This is the moment that changes the rest of their lives: after achieving a Bachelor’s or Diploma qualification on their matric exam, after being told countless times they could not do so, they now know that if they work hard and with persistence, they can achieve or obtain what others say they cannot. This earned success is what sticks with them through the trials and challenges they will face as they fight for their tertiary qualifications and they are more likely to eventually succeed when so many other first generation college and university students do not finish their post-secondary studies. Theirs will not be a straight path. But our alumni already know this and they have the resilience, resourcefulness and responsibility to push through, because they know that is what it takes for most people, everywhere to succeed.

“She helped me to be self-reliant. Indeed, I believe because of my Infinite Family mentor I succeed beyond my expectations.”  – Net Buddy Anathi