When you start pro bono coaching work, you will quickly realize that enthusiasm and high spirits are not enough to make an impact on your clients.  In my case, this is the story of how ICF Mexico overcame challenges and built a pro bono coaching structure that became able to generate critical mass by providing consistent, clear services to their clients.

In 2012, the consolidated ICF Mexico chapter began looking for a voluntary project, with the objective of professionalization of coaching.  The chapter president at the time, Mirna Perez Piris,  contacted several NGOs until she identified a great education-focused organization to partner with. The organization was INROADS de Mexico A.C., which was founded in 1996 to detect and develop talent among students with low economic income.  INROADS had, on one side, built a platform with renowned companies to ensure fair opportunities for these students and, on the other side, developed and trained the students in leadership and other soft skills. During  the course of one year the students have the opportunity to benefit from this platform and get several opportunities for interviewing to and participate in internships.

Although this project predicated the ICF Foundation IGNITE Initiative, we were already finding ways to engage humanity through education! Back in 2013, we had found the perfect partner to ensure job opportunities were equal for students coming from lower income environments.

The project began in the beginning of 2013. The plan was that college students in the INROADS de Mexico AC program could opt to go through a coaching process with a ICF certified coach.  The process included 6 individual sessions and a group kick-off session.  We felt ready to start; the response from ICF Mexico members had been very positive.

Throughout the coaching program, we learned that coaches found themselves using their first 3 sessions to explain what coaching was and how it should work. We discovered it is critical to make sure that your coachee understands how the coaching process works. It is interesting how this is often overlooked – even in processes that are not pro-bono. My overall recommendation is once you have found your own path to start pro-bono coaching, do not let your own enthusiasm carry you to immediately beginning coaching; make sure educating your client on coaching becomes a part of your coaching process.

Given the fact that sessions could be remote or in person, we found that coaching virtually is the best way to connect with younger people.  This way, we can help our coachees exactly where they are.  Another benefit of remote sessions is that we use our time and fuels in the most efficient way.  Trying to leverage technology to diminish traffic and/or commuting volume is also part of transforming to a sustainable world.

After 6 years, the alliance between the ICF Mexico Chapter and INROADS continues to work with over 100 students.  I would like to thank the leadership team of the ICF Mexico Chapter because this has been possible thanks to their continual effort towards an initiative that preceded them.  This is beautiful teamwork in the most difficult form: teamwork over time.

The work of the Foundation is about being participative, and this can be done in many ways.  Actively providing the gift of pro bono coaching, supervising, or mentoring voluntary coaches is not the only way. You can also work proactively to identify communities and schools where ICF can connect and then open these opportunities to other coaches.

Where is the best place for you in the ICF Foundation movement?


PCC, Master in Psychotherapy. Ingela has more than 25 years of business experience and 15 years working in human development, training, and coaching. Based in Mexico, she has partnered with clients in various countries in Latin America, and also the US and Canada.  She is an expert in coaching systems and individuals across all levels of an organization.  Most importantly, she embraces and prioritizes sustainable projects as the key solution to reconcile human civilization with nature.

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