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Our Model

Go ahead, steal this model. (Seriously.)

Journalism isn’t the only industry where there’s a need for mentorship, and women aren’t the only people looking for mentors. Similar mentorship projects could (and should!) be created for underrepresented groups in other industries, communities, and workplaces.  

This is an open-source project — you’re welcome to copy what you like and modify what you want. We’ve written a step-by-step process below explaining how this site was originally created, including time and cost required, along with other helpful tips. 

All we ask is that if you create your own mentor project based on this model, please let us know! We love seeing your successes and sharing them with our audience.

Here’s to improving the industries we love, making mentorship less elite, and giving everyone a fairer shot at career advancement.



Here are some tips:

Start With a Simple Platform Like Squarespace.

We've leveled-up as we've grown, but our original website was built on Squarespace using the Avenue template.

Pro tips:

  • Update the favicon. (See the speech bubble in this website tab?) It’s a small touch, but helps your site stand out. In Squarespace: Design > Logo & Title > Browser Icon.
  • Do a little customization, whether it’s changing up the color scheme, or making a custom footer. If you’re trying to get people excited about a coaching initiative — especially at work — a little style can help your substance.
  • Add a social sharing image, so your site is optimized for Facebook, Twitter and all of the other places people will share it. In Squarespace: Design > Logo & Title > Social Sharing Logo.

Book Sessions With a Tool Like Calendly.

Booking sessions through a service like Calendly helps streamline things. Each mentor is responsible for setting up her own Calendly and figuring out her own availability. Most mentors only offer up one or two half-hour coaching slots a week.

Vet Your Mentors.

This project was initially launched with mentors who had participated in either ONA’s Women’s Leadership Accelerator or Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media. Since then, we have expanded the criteria for adding mentors to the site, but continue to look for people who have participated in professional development and have proven commitment to mentoring others.

Identify the Project Lead.

As with most passion projects, having at least one main champion/point person/evangelizer is key to success. That person will be responsible for fielding questions, giving tips to new mentors, and maintaining enthusiasm about the initiative.

Take Advantage of Strength in Numbers.

Be sure to ask mentors for help in spreading the word about your initiative. And don’t forget to thank mentors for blocking off their valuable time for mentoring, and listen when they have suggestions for how the process could be improved.

Expect pain points.

We’ve had some early problems with no-shows during calls, which is annoying and disrespectful to mentors. And while demand for coaching sessions is a good problem to have, it can be frustrating for women looking to book a session. Initially, we didn't have a good system in place yet to track how many women have been coached.

We strongly suggest creating a form for feedback/testimonials at your project’s launch, when interest is highest, and giving guidance on the best etiquette for mentor calls.

Remember: Helping others is the goal.

Because mentorship can be hard for journalists to find at the start of their careers, it made sense to keep this model free and available to as many people as possible. All of the DWL mentors volunteer their time for coaching.

That said, money matters. We get it! Donations can help support mentoring efforts, or you could create a freemium business model, where initial coaching sessions are free, but follow-ups cost a small fee. It's all up to you, but don't lose sight of the main goal: Helping as many people as possible.