Saturday, January 19, 2008

Shop for charity involvement based on where the NEED is, before who the organization is.

The strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection aims to focus volunteers, donors, leaders, etc. on where tutor/mentor programs are most needed in a city like Chicago, before we focus on who the programs are that offer tutoring/mentoring.

That's because good tutor/mentor programs are needed in every neighborhood. It's not enough to support a good program in one neighborhood, if a different neighborhood also has high poverty, violence and poorly performing schools.

Once a volunteer and donor are shopping based on location, then the Program Locator helps you determine what organizations in the neighborhood offer various forms of tutoring and/or mentoring, and what age group they serve.

This is no guarantee that these are great programs. They are programs that are already in the area and can become great if they are consistently supported by volunteers and donors and if their leadership strives to grow from good to great.

It's a strategy that anyone can own, and anyone can lead. Everyone who reads a newspaper story about violence, poverty or poor schools, or is concerned about global competitiveness, or workforce development, is a potential leader and owner and advocate for this strategy.

Form a group, learn about the issues, learn to differentiate one program from another, just as you compare one grocery store to another, and one telephone to another. Then use that information to help tutor/mentor programs in the neighborhood you adopt, to grow from good to great so they do more to help kids escape poverty through education and workforce mentoring.

If business, professional, hospital and university leaders adopt this strategy, we can create a Chicagoland system of excellent tutor/mentor programs, making more learning, enrichment and mentoring available in the non-school hours, in neighborhoods where kids need more help. Through this, we can help Arne Duncan and Chicago Public Schools do more to reach his vision of a system of excellent high schools throughout the city of Chicago.

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