Saturday, February 21, 2009

Expanding the Network. Role of Interns

On Chris Warrens blog he has written about networking with a purpose. This graphic illustrates what this means. If you are the RED dot, then if you pass on this blog message to people you know who are in business, faith groups, hospitals, etc., you have expanded our network.

If you go beyond that to hosting "learning circles", like a Bible Study class, to help members of your network learn where tutor/mentor programs are needed, why they are needed, and what ways members of your group can provide time, talent, and dollars to help one or more programs grow, then you are building the network. This is an intentional, and active role.

I've been creating graphics like this for almost 10 years to try to convey these ideas. As they say, "a picture is worth a thousand words". In the past few years I've had interns join me from Korea, Hong Kong, the University of Michigan, Illinois Institute of Technology, Indiana University, etc. who have created animated graphics to communicate these ideas.

I encourage you to visit the Korea Group on our Ning site to see work that has been created in the past few weeks.

In the discussion forum on the T/MC site you can learn about other forms of service learning, and the work of other interns.

For example, this week we'll have three students from the University of Michigan Alternative Spring Break Program. One is from Korea and two are from India. Thus, the ideas they bring are from different parts of the world, and the ideas we share will go with them to different parts of the world.

The work that will be created will help us communicate complex ideas in ways that make it easy for leaders to read, and hopefully, adopt these in their own actions. This will bring more consistent support to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities, and hopefully to the Tutor/Mentor Connection as well.

In the end, the work we do is intended to help kids who are entering first grade today, be in a job or career by age 25. This is a long term project that needs to be happening at the same time in thousands of locations. This requires on-going support. Since non profits are not good at advertising, and not all are good at fund raising, we need to reverse the system, and educate donors and volunteers to shop maps to choose where to get involved.

One group of interns that we have not yet recruited are those in business schools around the country. These students are learning marketing, advertising and communications. Why not apply that learning to drawing resources to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the home city of the university? This is an idea we express in the Business School Connection. While we have this on a wiki, this is an idea that could be converted into a visualization by one of the interns with us next week, or by a student group in Europe, Asia or Australia.

The ideas expressed above are network-building ideas. They are seeds that I plant in order to mobilize resources and partners who will spread these seeds to more places where they take root in various forms of leadership aimed at helping kids move through school and into careers.

If you'd like to get involved with this just call 312-492-9614 or email tutormentor2 at

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