Ask just about any architect or designer and chances are there was a mentor somewhere along the way—someone to inspire, someone to lean on, someone just to be there. It might have been formal or more ad hoc, but however it worked, the support was critical. Over the years, the AIA|LA has sponsored a variety of formal mentorship programs. There was one that paired college students with noted local architects and designers and another geared toward elementary school students. At the same time, the organization has partnered with other groups to create even more mentorship opportunities for members.
The most recent mentorship program will team AIA|LA members with middle school students from Spark (an organization that joins working professionals with kids from underserved communities). It’s an outgrowth of friendship between the AIA|LA’s associate director, Carlo Caccavale, and Yoon Choi, who happens to be the new executive director of Spark.
“Spark runs a very tight and proven mentorship program,” explains Caccavale. The program is set up so that the professional and child meet once a week for two hours at the mentor’s office for an eight to 10 week stretch. “What I hope for is for many AIA|LA members to get involved with program as a simple way to give back. This is a chance for them to become a role model and inspire young these young kids to develop an interest that will lead to their professional future.”
Caccavale believes that a range of members will participate, and the group itself is taking on a Spark student interested in non-profit management and architecture and design. “Sometimes people mystify mentorship programs thinking they require too much time, commitment and effort,” says Caccavale. That’s far from the case with the new Spark partnership. “This is a great proposition with a great reward.”