Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Mouse that Roared like a Lion

I just posted a message on the blog of David Duchovny. I was one of several hundred who meet at his blog every week.

It looked like most of the discussion centered around his new movie. Wouldn't it be great if just a bit focused on helping people engage in community service?

A new Star Wars movie is coming out soon. A few years ago when the second set of movies was being created, I emailed George Lucas and said, "If Luke Skywalker can have a mentor, why cannot every other kid?" My goal was to encourage Lucas to add a trailer to the movie with this message, and with links to web sites where Star Wars fans could learn where and how they could support tutor/mentor programs in their communities. He did not do that, but I keep trying.

Now that many celebrities are creating blogs and connecting directly with fans, it is even easier for someone to show support for a cause and provide links that encourage fans to get informed and get involved.

The mission of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection is to engage a growing number of workplace adults in actions and strategies that help inner city children succeed in school and move successfully to jobs and careers.

This strategy intends to support an entire city of tutor/mentor programs, not just a few good programs in a few neighborhoods. As we gather volunteers and connect them with kids, we try to encourage thinking around one central question: What are all the things a community needs to do to assure that all kids born in poverty in one year are starting jobs/careers by age 25?" If we knew what all of these things were, what would it take to build the resources and commitment of business and government to support these actions?

Most people who receive our email newsletter or read our blog do not live in poverty neighborhoods and only understand the challenges inner city kids face through what is read in the newspapers on seen on TV.

Our goal is to connect people on a daily basis with information and with personal experiences that help them understand poverty and the challenges kids and families face, and then provide opportunities for reflection so that more comprehensive and sustained strategies can develop that lead kids to jobs and careers. While we host information on our web sites that several thousand people use each month, we also host May and November conferences and Internet forums that encourage people to come together for networking, idea sharing and collaboration. We have done this since 1994.

A major goal of these conferences is to increase public awareness so that more people in business, professions, media, philanthropy and government become involved in supporting the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs. As we end the school year our conference is intended to focus on actions that lead to better tutor/mentor programs as school starts in the fall, or that create new programs where now there are voids. As we do the November conference we're hoping to influence year-end charitable giving, so that every tutor/mentor program has the operating dollars they need to innovate constant improvement.

We recognize that face to face conferences can only be attended by a few people, so we've launched Internet based workshops and discussions. We hope these make it possible for business leaders and volunteers to participate and stimulate thinking, that leads to more and better programs in the places where they are needed.

Me writing this on my blog is like a mouse writing "give me cheese" in the middle of the Sahara Desert. No one is listening.

However, if actors, sports figures, politicians and other public leaders write the same message in their blog, there will be many people listening. If they do this frequently, and if they take the next step of participating in on-line conferences, many of those who are listening will get involved, and stay involved.

If any of you can deliver this message to public figures, via comments you place on their blogs, maybe you can help this mouse create a roar that is heard around the world.

If any of you would like to know more about how to become involved in the Tutor/Mentor Connection or our Cabrini Connections program, please call me at 312-492-9614 or email

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