David Carey's Mentors Playlist: Scaling Career Readiness for Underserved Communities

By Advancing Diversity Archives
Cover image for  article: David Carey's Mentors Playlist: Scaling Career Readiness for Underserved Communities

Mentor's Playlist is a beneficiary of the Advancing Diversity Education Fund, underwritten by AdvancingDiversity.org, MediaVillage and the media community.

There is something magical that occurs when personal history and ambitious collaboration coincide. It is called innovation with heart. David Carey (pictured below) has been innovating and being resourceful his entire life, hailing from a very humble background and knowing full well the significant disadvantages that come from not being connected to valuable powerbrokers in the competitive media industry. Carey felt "a need to pay it forward" as he successfully progressed as an accomplished leader in the industry, remembering how much he valued the advice of mentors and coaches early in his career. A 30-year magazine industry veteran, today he heads public affairs and communications at Hearst, after serving as president of Hearst Magazines and publisher of several properties at Condé Nast, including The New Yorker.

A magical moment occurred for Carey during his Fellowship program at Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative, a one-year immersive program for industry leaders who are charged with addressing the world's most urgent social issues. The Initiative's ongoing mission is "to provide world-class education, skill building and collaboration opportunities to a diverse, global community of experienced and committed leaders, enabling sustainable social impact at scale." This fertile ground for disruptive thinking, among like-minded change-agents, provided the right resources and motivation for Carey to develop an idea that had been brewing in his mind for a long time. For years, Carey had been actively involved in non-profit groups, donating his time and wisdom to counsel young students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. He observed that there was no scalable media-driven solution that prepared young students for "entering the workforce and understanding the unwritten rules." He acknowledges there are currently 2,100 mentoring organizations, but their impact is on a one-to-one level that cannot be scaled fast enough to fix the widening income and economic gulf that plagues our society.

Carey's solution was to merge the power of media, technology and data to create something completely new -- The Mentors Playlist. Carey premiered the concept at the Advancing Diversity Hall of Honors Council meeting this past January at CES. The more than forty senior industry leaders heard presentations from nearly two-dozen programs and organizations and voted Mentors Playlist among the most promising. Industry support for the Advancing Diversity Education Fund will provide Carey with launch support to help pilot and expand his vision.

The immersive media platform will enable "valuable, inspirational business and life lessons to flow more easily across socioeconomic levels and geographies." Carey describes it as "TikTok meets Masterclass" or "TED Talks for opportunity youth," or "Khan Academy for career preparation.". The platform will showcase dozens of preset playlists, featuring five or six first-person video segments (each about 10–12 minutes in length) around specific themes, for example: "How to make a positive first impression" or "How to avoid social media mistakes that could torpedo your job search."

The Mentors Playlist will feature hundreds of diverse accomplished leaders, with a commitment to showcase at least 70% people of color, to share their personal stories of overcoming adversity and challenges to achieve success. This will not be your typical "talking head" inspirational video, but instead, viewers will be invited in to join the highly personal conversations and hear the perspective of the mentors and their guests as if they were in the room with them.

Carey says the primary audience for the Mentors Playlist includes those "already involved in official mentoring programs, 11th and 12th graders in public high schools, community college students, and low income/first-generation-to-attend-college students at four-year universities." He highlights the ability to add personalization to the playlists, enabling mentors and guidance counselors to cater to the differing needs of their students -- based on their ethnicity, language, life journey and other specific situations.

The Mentors Playlist is slated to launch a pilot version in first quarter of 2021 but will need a "barn raising" coalition of media leaders to work closely together to make it a reality. So far, Carey has garnered the support of Hearst and other companies, in addition to AdvancingDiversity.org and MediaVillage – and is open to more partners. He emphasizes that what is most critically needed at this point is in-kind support (video production, editing and distribution services) versus a simple financial handout. He believes ensuring corporations have "skin in the game in terms of time, resources and ideas is a much more powerful ignitor of ongoing commitment than a check (although that will be welcome in future stages of the project)."

Distribution will occur through partnerships with vital mentoring communities —such as mentoring and social service organizations (Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girl and Boy Scouts, etc.) and high school guidance and community college career counselors. Carey passionately believes that there is a synergistic and multiplier impact when the platform is used in combination with "in-person, high-touch mentoring and guidance counseling," strengthening the impact of the mentor's efforts by creating a virtual cycle of personal empowerment.

The Mentors Playlist is more than a philanthropic effort; it has very tangible economic benefits. According to Carey, the estimated total addressable market (TAM) is 12.6 million young people, and by year five, "the goal is for the Mentors Playlist to engage 500,000 students per year, or four percent penetration of the TAM." By levelling the playing field and reducing economic inequality, companies will be both a "force for good and a force for growth", in the words of Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble – something consumers are demanding per the Edelman Trust Barometer study. Research provides evidence of this, with a Gartner study predicting that through 2022, 75% of companies with diverse and inclusive decision-making teams will exceed their financial targets.

Mentors Playlist and the Advancing Diversity Education Fund are among multiple MediaVillage programs and tools that offer very tangible and measurable ways to quantify, track and continually focus on and generate industry growth by advancing diversity and education from advocacy to activism.

As you consider how you and your company can be part of this important "barn raising" effort, consider the words of a woman who was disadvantaged due to poverty, but has risen to find her calling with the help of life-changing mentors. Oprah Winfrey reminds us "A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself." The Mentors Playlist has the potential to ignite not just hope but bring purpose and financial stability to many deserving and ambitious young people -- what part will you play?

To support the Mentor's Playlist, Support MediaVillage, AdvancingDiversity.org and the Advancing Diversity Education Fund.

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The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet.


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