OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Youth Mentor Challenge: Tips For Refinement

Photo of OpenIDEO
1 0

Written by

We’ve just wrapped up our Youth Mentor Challenge Ideas phase and what an inspiring and thoughtful ride it’s been – from rich discussions and questioning about intergenerational connections, to virtual brainstorms and collaborations from community members around the globe.

This week, the OpenIDEO team joined our challenge sponsor AARP Foundation to review the community’s exciting efforts and talk about next steps for our challenge. By the end of our discussion,  20 shortlisted ideas emerged as the ones that felt best poised for additional development and that most energised our community and our sponsor.

During our conversation, four main priority areas also rose to the top as criteria for successful ideas in this challenge. As each of us collaborates to help our shortlisted ideas get stronger, we hope you’ll keep these four areas in mind. And, if your idea made it into the shortlist, be on the lookout for a few new questions related to these areas in your submission form:


Sometimes it’s ok for an idea to be so locally-rooted that it just doesn’t translate on a larger scale and to a larger audience. Not every idea needs to have a plan for national or international adoption. Yet, if we want to create widespread impact, we know that scalability – the potential for an idea to be replicated and adopted across communities, cultures or countries – can be key. How might we ‘think big’ for our ideas and outline milestones for scale?


It’s clear that technology and digital platforms are important enablers for cross-generation sharing and mentorship. Yet the question remains: how might we ensure that the users of our ideas – both young and old – are able to create secure online identities for themselves and participate in these online platforms in safe ways? 

And speaking of technology – we’ve been excited to see so many great ideas involving digital or web-based tools to enable connections and learning. To push these tech-savvy ideas to the next level, let’s think about the ecosystem that surrounds the tools we’re designing. How does your tech idea address the human needs of the people using it? What will users' interactions and experiences with it look like? And how will it enhance or enrich the in-person, offline interactions that make up our lives?


One key community learning so far has been that we need to steer clear of making assumptions about ‘young people’ and ‘older adults.’ Rather, it’s important to remember the diversity of life stage, perspective, experience and priorities that exists for youth age 15-24 and for adults over 50. While it might feel challenging to choose the exact user audience that our idea speaks to, let’s turn this design constraint into an opportunity: how might we push ourselves in Refinement to really hone in on the specific life stages, skill sets and user needs we’re addressing?

As we shift gears into Refinement, here are a few more general tips for developing our ideas further:


Visuals create clarity around an idea and engage the community in dynamic ways. Whether you're sharing photos of an idea in action or diagramming a complex scenario to simplify elements, using visuals will connect the dots and add dimension to your submission.

There are lots of great tools out there to help you get started. Make a Vine or Spark video to activate an idea in its environment. Try out Canva to create simple graphic design elements. There’s also nothing like good old pen and paper. You don’t have to be a master artist to jot down some basic sketches and bring your idea to life. For more tips, check out this post on adding visual goodness to your ideas.



By exploring an idea through a user’s eyes, we can create a product or service that solves a real need. Let’s gather useful insight by conducting user interviews and sketching out user journeys, which explore user interaction with an idea from start to finish. Check out this great User Experience Map tool by and +Acumen. This storytelling process often generates a lot of ‘aha’ moments as you discover scenarios between the user and the idea that you never before considered.



The OpenIDEO community is rich with creative thinkers and there’s no better portal to seek feedback on your idea. As you continue to build and refine your concept, tap into our community of experts by asking for input and insight. Ask clarifying questions in your post – what can the community specifically help answer for you? Also consider bringing your idea back around to your users. Consistent feedback from those who would be interacting with it in the real world is a great way to test its usability.



What skills do you have that might benefit an idea’s ability to move forward? What introductions and connections might you be able to initiate that could make a difference to a team? Let’s support each other’s ideas by offering feedback and insight whenever we can. Because we design better, together.

In addition to cheering on our efforts for the Refinement phase, we want to take a moment to recognise our Honourable Mentions for this challenge:

Credit for Mentoring 
Design Tools for Connection 
Fitness Mentoring 
Great Minds Think Alike 
Internship Co-op Program
Local Barter Market 
Share the Spare Capacity
The Best Mentor - National Competition
The T Team
With Me v2.0: Generations of Shared Humanity

As we jump into another collaborative and fun phase, we hope everyone will join our effort to refine ideas that inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship. Head over to the Refinement phase and check out our shortlist to get started.

Looking for even more tips for Refinement? Check out this Lowdown.

2.9k 1
Youth Mentor Challenge

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Eliyah man

These tips for refinement are going to help me out massively as a mentor and that makes me quite happy. Can someone write my assignment for me while I share these tips with my friends. It would make my job much easier.