Sunday, February 24, 2008

What Keeps You Up at Night?

I've been participating in a discussion on the Social Edge site, which asks what keeps social entrepreneurs awake at night.

We all have personal challenges that cause sleepless nights. However, people who run businesses, or non profits like Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Connection, have additional challenges.

Such as how do we pay the rent, the payroll, or "how do we make a difference in the world". In a tutor/mentor program these challenges are how do we attract and keep key staff and talented volunteers, and how do we inspire kids as young as 4th and 5th grade to take more responsibility for their lives and their futures.

Social Edge is one of many on-line forums where I network, learn, share ideas, and find volunteers to help in the work I do.

In the Links Library on the T/MC site, I've more than 1400 links, pointing to forums like Social Edge, or other web sites where someone is working to help connect kids and adult volunteers, or where someone has information that might help others understand why and where tutor/mentor programs are needed, or why business, hospitals and universities should be strategically involved.

By hosting this library I enable the people I connect with to meet and network with each other and I enable others working with youth and poverty to find information they could use to support their own innovation and decision making.

I stay awake some night just thinking of new ways to try to attract people to this information.

Every six months I host a conference in Chicago, intended to draw some of the people in my network, and links library, together on a face-to-face basis. Some people do workshops to share their expertise. Some people just participate to expand their network.

The next conference is May 29 and 30, 2008 and will be held at the Northwestern University School of Law. The web site is I am now recruiting workshop presenters and I hope you'll either consider doing a workshop, or you'll make an effort this week to tell people in your own network about this event, so they can participate.

The conference is just part of a sequence of events intended to help more and better tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods of big cities like Chicago. It's intended to draw volunteers and donors directly to more than 200 different organizations in Chicago alone. You can find links to these in the T/MC Find A Program section.

I'll sleep better once we have the roster of speakers in place. We'll all sleep better when we can surround kids with a greater range of adult supports and learning opportunities that create the type of hope, and opportunity, that is being promised in the current election cycle.

I hope you'll help.

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