Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Students as Leaders; Learning to Lead

In the messages I've posted previously on this blog, and in the information you will find in the http://www.tutormentorconnection.org web site, I illustrate the use of knowledge to expand the ideas people have for solving problems.

The problem I focus on is helping kids born in inner-city neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty stay in school, graduate, and be starting jobs and careers by age 25.

This is a complex problem because it take 25 years for each youth to take this journey. It requires many different kinds of age-appropriate support in many neighborhood of many cities. This requires a leadership and revenue system that supports the operations of many contributors, just like the funding plan for building a skyscraper provides funding for each of the sub contractors and workers who will be involved in building this structure.

Thus, we not only need to visualize a multi dimension blueprint of the type of operating system that would support this mentoring-to-career process in many places, but we also need to create a learning network that enables people from many places to understand the obstacles and to innovate solutions that overcome these barriers.

While a web site enables us to collect and share information, it does little good if only a few people look at the information and try to understand it, then act on what they learn.

Thus, my role as leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection is to teach other people to take on this leadership, or network weaving, role. One way I do this is to work with interns from various colleges, teaching them to create blogs and discussion forums where they share what they are learning from me, in an effort to help others learn from them.

We have two interns with us this summer. One is Paul Wei, who is from Hong Kong Baptist University. Paul is the second intern I've had from HKBU. Michael Tam was our first intern, during the summer of 2006. At http://michaelcnt.blogspot.com/ you can read the blog that Michael created and which Paul is now contributing to.

While Paul will only be with us for two months, Nicole White will be with us for an entire year. Nicole is a 2007 graduate of Northwestern University and is just beginning a one year term of service at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, as part of the Northwestern Public Interest Program Fellowship. You can meet Nicole at http://nicolecabrini.blogspot.com/

While Michael and Nicole are working directly at my offices in Chicago, there are many other people and organizations around the world who are using the Tutor/Mentor Connection as learning resource, with me serving as a coach and mentor whenever they ask questions. In the discussion forums of the T/MC site you can meet some of these people and add yourself to this network. If you search Google for "tutormentor" you can find many other places where a network and share this information.

The challenges non profits face in building organizations that constantly improve, and maintain long-term contact between youth and adults are daunting. Unless we find ways to work together to overcome those challenges, few of us will stay in business long enough to succeed, and too few kids will reach their full potential for 21st century jobs and careers.

Nicole and Paul are both college age students. Imagine if students in high schools and colleges all over the world were using web sites to learn about problems and to meet with others to innovate solutions. This could be happening, leading to hundreds of blogs like those of Nicole and Paul, with thousands of youth learning to take on leadership roles that use knowledge to innovate solutions to complex problems.

If you're a service learning leader, or teaching a college marketing or journalism or problem solving class, consider this as an opportunity for serice, teaching and learning.

I hope you'll join us and that you and your students will take on a role similar to Nicole and Paul.


WorldsTouch said...

Hi, Daniel. Trish Perkins of Worlds Touch here. 'Fraid my WT blog has been sort of sparse these days as I'm working as a VISTA volunteer in a grassroots, neighborhood community center doing their technology stuff (and whatever other kitchen sinks land on my desk.) I've enjoyed checking in here from time to time, though, and also invite you to my personal blog at LiveJournal: http://travelertrish.livejournal.com. I got here as part of the Nonprofit Blog Exchange, in case you are wondering why this woman is giving you so much information!

WorldsTouch said...

Did the comment I left before make it to you? I love Blogger, but it was never a hundred per cent intuitive.

WorldsTouch said...

Ah. Apparently not, as I didn't get the yellow text box above before. So. I'm Trish Perkins of Worlds Touch, your Nonprofit Blog Exchange partner.

This entry especially touched me, as the youth program at the neighborhood organization where I work is threatened with drastic funding cuts, and a mentoring program might be a better bet than a bricks and mortar center for the kids.

My own blog at Worlds Touch has been sparse lately. Even my personal blog at travelertrish.livejournal.com hasn't had the attention I usually give it because of this new job of mine.

Bravo, though, on an interesting blog.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks for introducing yourself and introducing the Tutor/Mentor Connection via your own blog. I encourage you to write with me during August, talking more of the ways volunteers can help an organization, and the skills leaders must have to mesh the different personalities and abilities into an effective workforce.

The goal of such blogs during August will be to draw new volunteers, and new financial supporters, to programs that engage volunteers as tutors, mentors, coaches and leaders.

Just post a message on your blog during that time, and a comment here, and you'll be connected. If anyone else wants to participate, please do the same.