The gap between Millennials and Generation Z seems farther than ever.
With Gen Z mocking Millennials for their outdated sense of humour and passion for avocado toast, and Millennials ridiculing Gen Z in return for their tech-savvy, obsession with 2000s fashion, and ever-changing slang, the two age groups are caught in a generational divide.
But when Cecilia Reusch started Montage, she discovered that the two generations actually have a lot to learn from one another.
What is Montage?
Reusch says when she was a teenager she could always rely on people around her for support and guidance, whether it was close family, friends, or adults who could simply share some wisdom. Even entering adulthood she always had people she could go to for advice.
However, Reusch realized that not everyone has a supportive circle, especially the generations that need it the most, like Generation Z and Generation Alpha.
Reusch started Montage as a for-women-by-women mentorship program. Her goal is to bridge the gap between older and younger generations. "We're like a 'cool big sister' kind of program," she explains.
Mentorship and long-lasting friendship
The Vancouver-based organization hosts teen workshops and organizes mentor-matching.
Montage's goal is to facilitate long-lasting friendships and offer guidance to the younger generation on a variety of topics, from friendships and relationships to mental health and social media to career and finance.
Several times per year Montage hosts mentor-matching rounds, pairing 30 high school-aged youth with 30 young adult or adult mentors. The pairs are determined by the individuals' interests, hobbies, and topics that they are passionate about.
Having hosted several rounds already, Reusch shares that the response has been both fun and surprising. "Older generations understand mentorship a lot more but they don't feel like they're cool enough. And the younger generation thinks that the older generation doesn't want anything to do with them or doesn't want to hear them out," she says.
Overall, both youth and mentors are excited to "do life together" like friends and confidants outside of their family, friends, and even their own generation.
The next round is set to take place in the early spring, shortly after Montage wraps up recording its new podcast "Dear Next Gen."
'Dear Next Gen'
With mentorship rounds in the works and in-person events on pause, Montage has taken up a few other projects, including the podcast.
The podcast covers many Gen Z interests, including social media, mental health, finance, career, friendship, and romance. Each episode invites a new guest to chat about the advice they'd give to their high school selves.
Despite studies showing that podcasts aren't what most Gen Z is listening to, Reusch was shocked to learn the opposite was true. "With Gen Z feeling so exhausted with short-form content and non-stop scrolling, they realized that they want to be learning things and doing things that the generation before them has already been doing," she says.
In addition to a podcast, Montage is currently fundraising for an interactive video curriculum that will cover "navigating different relationships, friendships, oversight at work, romantic relationships, and relationships with family members," says Reusch. "We also really want to cover a healthy way to use social media."
The video series will feature influential teens, professionals, and young adults, and cover important topics in a "non-cheesy" way. The video curriculum will touch on social media, starting a business, body image, friendships and relationships, post-secondary, setting boundaries, and developing new skills, along with many more subjects.
"We want to be a video that schools are proud to share and that students are excited to talk about," Reusch shares. She hopes that eventually Montage can spread its message to classrooms across North America.