Glencore has announced a significant investment in the futures of secondary students in the Phola community with the launch of the first Infinite Family LaunchPad video mentoring facility in Mpumalanga Province.
The LaunchPad, managed by Infinite Family, is the first double-decker mentoring facility created from professionally renovated shipping containers into a 21st century high technology environment.

Glencore funded the project to the tune of R 2,76-million and the facility will cater for a minimum of 200 pupils each year.

Fitted with a 2Mb dedicated Internet connection and battery back-up system, the students from Mehlwana Secondary School and other schools in the area will have access to a wealth of information including homework help, health and medical resources, career planning and tertiary education opportunities and be able to connect for weekly face-to-face video mentoring sessions via the Internet.

Together, Glencore and Infinite Family are helping to bridge the technological, geographic and cultural gap between where many of Phola’s teens are growing up, and the 21st century community where they want to live and work as adults.

Located at Mehlwana Secondary School, the region’s first designated “indigent school,” the first class of 30 “Net Buddy” mentees were connected with their global video mentors, who are based in the United States of America and Canada, in February.

Additional Net Buddy classes will be added during 2015 and every year so that hundreds of teens are able to benefit from their own global video mentor who will share their vast wealth of insight, knowledge, and skills with the learners.

Working one-on-one with their video mentors, the Net Buddies will focus on developing their technological literacy, career preparation, communications and life skills.

Net Buddies may be mentored as long as they wish with mentorships usually ranging from one to five years.

The ground floor classroom is set up with 15 open work stations for students to do homework and Internet research, practice writing blogs and emails, attend video workshops, and access other approved online resources. The second storey is complete with seven booths for personalized video mentoring sessions.

Glencore Coal South Africa CEO, Clinton Ephron describes this initiative as a breakthrough in education, giving pupils from previously disadvantaged communities an opportunity to be mentored by experts from across a wide range of disciplines.

“Glencore is proud to participate in this initiative. We believe that education can make a significant contribution in improving the lives of our children and prepare them for the future. We believe that Glencore’s global presence and economic strength have a predominantly positive impact on the communities in which we operate. We seek out, undertake and contribute to activities and programmes designed to improve the quality of life for the people in these communities,” he says.

“Infinite Family is proud to be partnering with Glencore and Mehlwana High School to send a signal to the students in the Phola community that their decisions and actions matter, for the opportunities they need to create for themselves, and also for the role models they will become,” says Infinite Family’s Founder and CEO Amy Stokes.

“In addition to working with their video mentors, we see Mehlwana students every day doing research, exploring careers and learning about university requirements. Armed with a global understanding of how to be self-reliant adults, these students are building new futures and a stronger community.”