Doncel is established on the premise that young people possess basic skills in handiwork that are useful and employable in the formal labor market. Doncel is an independent citizen organization (CO) that receives funding from international foundations and some public agencies. So far, Mariana has executed her central strategy among the most ostracized youth leaving state institutions. She focuses more generally on youth unemployment to inform her holistic program; integrating vulnerable youth over the past few years.
As young people begin to transition out of institutions, they come into contact with Doncel’s job training program. Over two years, they participate in an intense, face-to-face experience with trained psychologists, social workers, and human resources specialists. These professionals identify personal interests, employable skills or family ties that the young people already have and prepare them to look for work in industries that demand such skills. For instance, they might determine that a young person who has spent substantial time washing dishes and sweeping floors could find an entry-level job in hotels or the hospitality field. While teaching young people to adapt these skills to commercial work, they also help them to prepare resumes, search for job opportunities, and successfully complete interviews. The youth can opt to go to special training centers where they can take technical classes, such as in computer literacy. With their coaches they also develop values of stronger self-esteem and confidence. Because many of the young people lacked positive adult role models as children, these adults become mentors and champions leaving a lasting mark. These mentors train other new psychologists. The employers also receive special attention from Doncel. They learn how to create a motivating environment for young people that will encourage positive job performance and the pursuit of permanent positions.
Mariana engages working groups and other client organizations in its methodology to prepare young people during this stage of transition. Clients tend to have an institutional relationship with the local public agencies that operate the homes, which allows for an easier transition for youth between organizations. So far, Doncel has equipped the CO País Joven in Rosario, the SION Civil Association in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Social Development in Tucumán, and Project Via in the Province of Buenos Aires. In the capital, Doncel has worked with the Council for the Rights of Boys, Girls and Adolescents and the Adolescents Program. By training external organizations in their methodology, Doncel can further its impact across the country. Furthermore, these organizations have their own resources that complement Mariana’s programs.
Doncel alumni benefit from a large network of allies. Businesses are attracted to Doncel because of its excellent track record in presenting job candidates who are capable and productive. Most importantly, Doncel has fostered a relationship with Manpower, an online platform to hire temporary workers, to receive and showcase its young people. This opens an incredible resource for them that would otherwise not be available to others transitioning from state homes. Manpower gains a demonstrated source of prepared and well-equipped young job seekers. Mariana has also established alliances with thirty companies to employ Doncel youth. They range from small- and medium-sized businesses, the key driver of the local economies, to the massive international hotel chain, Sheraton, which places graduates in cooking and housekeeping positions. The renewal of Manpower’s and Sheraton’s commitments with Doncel and their expansion of the partnership elsewhere has given confidence to other small- and medium-sized businesses (Mariana’s target audience) the confidence to try her program. These valuable resources enable young people to access temporary jobs that can convert to permanent employment.
Doncel participants are not merely beneficiaries of the program; they are an integral part of its expansion. Alumni may engage their peers through the E Guide (Guía E), an online portal developed with the aid of graduates which connects transitioned youth from homes with those in transition. This community is sustained through virtual and personal communication. The portal serves to create a community among youth who often experience feelings of isolation, anxiety, and fear in anticipation of leaving their institution. Doncel contributors imbue the dialogue with a sense of personal agency and self-determination that they developed through their efforts in the program.
After the two-year Doncel program, Mariana expects its participants will have obtained at least a temporary job. During this position, they can rely on their Doncel mentors and contacts to support them in what is often their first formal job. Almost 40 percent of participants’ employers offer them permanent positions at the same workplace. For those who do not continue after their position ends, they normally find other work or continue their education. This emphasizes the impact of Doncel’s work. Mariana does not necessarily hope that the young people’s first job converts into employment, but rather that they have a positive and life-changing experience in the formal workforce and will continue their professional development and technical expertise.
Mariana is quite ambitious in believing that the program can and will supply meaningful impact for all unemployed youth. Additional alliances with businesses, mentors, and public agencies will not only diversify Doncel’s current activities but also lay the groundwork for her expansion. Mariana has received the confidence of the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and other foundations that have invested in her for seven years to grow Doncel throughout Argentina and Latin America. She is leveraging her contacts with Manpower, Sheraton and other key business allies to bring the program to other places. These new institutes learn her methodology and rapidly spread it to others. Also, partners within several provincial Ministries of Youth have taken on Doncel. Mariana has also ensured a new means to attract psychologists, coaches, and students as those involved with Doncel engage others as ambassadors for the program.