Monday, July 07, 2008

Not one good program in one place. Good programs in all places.

The way the non profit world works, many non profits compete with each other for limited resources. The result is that some programs are well funded, many are not. This leads to an uneven distribution of needed services throughout a geographic area, such as the City of Chicago.

Since 1993 the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been piloting the use of maps to show all of the high poverty areas of Chicago, and to support the growth and constant improvement of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in all of these areas.

While we host conferences, and training sessions and a vast library of information on our web sites, it's difficult to put this information to work without consistent funding. It's also difficult to build experienced leadership, or human capital, in an organization, without consistent funding, and organizational support for individuals who might make this work a lifetime career.

Thus, we post these maps to enlist the involvement of leaders from faith groups, businesses and professional groups, hospitals, alumni, civic and social networks.... everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, or an increase in the number of young people who have the skills and networks needed to succeed in 21st century jobs and careers.

One of the best examples of this type of leadership has been growing in the Chicago legal community since 1994. This map shows locations of 31 volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs who received 2007 grants, totaling $240,000 from the Lawyers Lend A Hand Program which was created within the Chicago Bar Foundation in 1993.

Note: The Tutor/Mentor Connection was a recipient of a two-year grant to fund it's role, while our Cabrini Connections program was a recipient of a single year grant. This illustrates the self-interest any tutor/mentor program should have in helping such a strategy grow. It helps raise money for your own operations when you create a pool of funds aimed at supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs throughout the entire city.
This map shows high poverty areas of the city of Chicago and near suburbs. It also shows locations of poorly performing schools within the city.

We created this map as a tool that the Lend A Hand program, and others, can use to plan future giving. Good tutor/mentor programs take consistent year to year operating dollars to attract youth and volunteers and keep them connected for many years. Thus, we hope the Lend A Hand program keeps funding these groups in 2008 and for the next decade.

However, as they raise more money from within the legal community, we hope to help them identify programs in areas such as the Southwest part of the city, where no programs are currently funded (partially because of a very limited number of volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs in this area).

Since Lend A Hand Grants only make up a small percent of the operating budget of any tutor/mentor program, we hope leaders in other industries will use the same map and list of programs to guide their own donation strategies. Our aim is to help programs get 100% of the funding they need, not 5, 10 or 15%.

If you're funding tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and would like us to create a map showing the distribution of your funding in the city, just contact the Tutor/Mentor Connection. If you're in another city and would like to develop this capacity, we'd love to talk to you.

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