Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Working With Banks to Build a Tutor/Mentor Program Investment Strategy

Now that the election is over it's time to do some creative thinking so that HOPE becomes REALITY for millions of kids and families living in high poverty neighborhoods of big cities. We need strategies that bridge the gap between rich and poor. I think tutor/mentor programs should be part of such a strategy because of the personal connection that is created when an adult becomes a one-on-one tutor/mentor to a youth. Here's an outline of that thinking.

If you agree, then why not join with me in brainstorming ways to help constantly improving tutor/mentor programs become available to more k-12 kids in more high poverty neighborhoods. Why not take the role shown on the chart above to draw people together to learn more about tutoring/mentoring and ways to make great programs available in every high poverty neighborhood.

One of the biggest challenges to such a strategy, is lack of funds for general operations of such programs. I know from my own leadership of Cabrini Connections, that this is the most significant challenge I face every day. Second is finding talented, dedicated staff and volunteers who will make long-term commitments to being part of such programs. Third is sustaining programs for many years, so that relationships can form, and volunteers and business partners can influence student aspirations and career choices.

I feel such obstacles can be overcome if businesses look at tutor/mentor programs as part of their own human capital development. We know that volunteers who engage in non profit service have many benefits, and so do the companies who encourage volunteerism. If we can help more kids from poor neighborhoods move to jobs and careers, we diversify the workforce, and help find new workers to replace retirees who will be leaving the workforce over the next 15 years.

I use maps to help businesses, churches, hospitals, and universities do their planning. You can see many examples on this blog, and in the Mapping For Justice blog, also hosted by the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Today, I'm showing how some of the major banks in Chicago might build "adopt a neighborhood" strategies, supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs in neighborhoods where they have branch banks, and recruiting volunteers who travel to and from work via the major expressways, as volunteers, leaders and donors.

Chase Bank Chase branches are throughout the city, but there is a strong concentration along the Kennedy, and stretching through the North side of the city. You can click on the map image and see an enlarged version. As you look at each map, our goal is that volunteer teams form, who lead an on-going learning and leadership process, using the branch bank as a meeting place, an advocate for local programs, and even a potential site where kids and volunteers can meet once a week during non-school hours.

Bank of America While there a dozens of locations throughout the city, notice the concentration in the area between the Eisenhower and Stevenson Expressways, as well as the Northwest part of the city. If teams form at one, or more branches of a bank with many locations, each team may take a different role in supporting neighborhood tutor/mentor programs. If these teams connect and share ideas via the Internet, and company-organized events, they learn from each other and build relationships that help in the workplace, as well as in developing and sustaining tutor/mentor programs.

Banco Popular
Notice how branch banks are along the Kennedy Expressway, and near Ogden Avenue.

MB Financial Branches in the North and Northwest part of the city could support tutor/mentor programs in this area, and help encourage volunteers from the suburbs who work at other businesses, to become part of tutor/mentor programs in areas where it has branch banks. MB Financial has been a sponsor of the annual Cabrini Connections Golf Benefit since 1995. I local businesses in a Chicago community area banded together, they could host workplace fund raising, and other benefits, that support the operations of tutor/mentor programs in areas where they do business, while also supporting the role the Tutor/Mentor Connection takes in creating these maps and encouraging networking and information sharing.

Park National Branches in the West and South parts of the city could be meeting places for community and business partners working together to help create new tutor/mentor programs in under-served areas. Park National has also been a sponsor of the Cabrini Connections golf benefit. It's branch in Roseland is near Salem Baptist Church which is led by State Senator James Meeks. That branch of Park National Bank could be a catalyst in the Roseland/Pullman area, for the growth of tutor/mentor programs.

Citibank Locations throughout the city, with branches in areas where there is a need for more volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

CharterOne CharterOne's locations in the Southwest and South part of Chicago could help increase the number of tutor/mentor programs in this area, working with churches and other banks in this area.

These maps will constantly change as each business adds or deletes branches, but we hope they also change as businesses take a lead in investing time, talent and dollars to help support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

If you'd like to work with the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help develop a strategy for your business, church, college, please contact us, or send a representative to the next Tutor/Mentor Conference, which will be held at the Chicago Field Museum on Nov. 21, 2008.

No comments: