Friday, January 29, 2010

Olympic Gold and UK Reading Resource

The Winter Olympics will be starting soon and millions of people will be focused on gold medals.

I started exchanging blogs almost five years ago, as part of a NonProfit Blog Exchange. Through this I've been introduced to many people and organizations which I had not known previously.

This time, I'm assigned to write about a blog titled Getting Reading: Tips and Ideas, which happens to be hosted by an organization titled Reading Matters, based in the UK.

I skimmed through their web site and blog and there are many tips that volunteers, educators and parents in Chicago might include in their own efforts to help young people read better. What I really liked was the map they used to show schools that are using the Reading Matters program.

As you know, I use maps, too. Our aim is to connect resource providers, volunteers, students and parents with existing tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. Such a map would enable organizations like Reading Matters to target all of the tutor/mentor programs in the city, in their effort to distribute their expertise to more of the places where they are needed.

I was in the UK in June 2008, to speak at a Conference hosted by Learning Mentors, which is primarily a school-based support service for at-risk students. My goal then, as it is now in connecting with Reading Matters, is to share ideas, and forge alliances. If they can use the information on my site to help build more supports for kids in the UK, that's good. If this results in people from Oxford and other universities in the UK, or companies like HSBC Holdings, helping us do what we do, that's even better.

So what does this have with the Winter Olympics?

In researching past blog exchange articles I found this one that I wrote titled Do They Give Gold Medals for Ending Poverty?

Right now nations throughout the world are earning Gold Medals for how well they are responding to the needs of the people in Haiti. However, what type of medals were they earning a month ago? What sort of medals will they be earning for help they give to people in Haiti a year from now?

And while worldwide attention is focused on Haiti, what happens to all of the other social benefit organizations in the world, such as tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and AIDS organizations in Africa, who depend on charity donations to provide a constant level of support to their own clients?

It would be ideal if donors would divide their charity dollars into three categories so some would be available for emergencies, some would be available to fund issues of importance to the donor and his/her personal family or community, and some would be consistent donations made over many years to help social benefit organizations do work that cannot be done with an inconsistent and undependable flow of dollars.

I created this chart to illustrate this idea. I'd like to see Gold Medals awarded for every giving category, supporting causes on every continent. That would really be the Olympic spirit and an outcome of blog exchanges like this.

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