Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Connecting the Network

I read a report produced by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and McKinsey and Company on a web site titled The NonProfit Marketplace: Bridging the Information Gap

In the introduction the authors write "Our hypothesis is that access to high-quality information will lead donors to allocate funds more strategically to organizations doing the best work. We also believe that having better performance information will help nonprofit organizations operate more effectively and better fulfill their missions."

In another section they propose to

"Aggregate and synthesize programmatic and performance information on nonprofit organizations... Segmentation of nonprofits by issue, geography, size, life stage, and goals will be essential both to enable meaningful performance comparisons and to create a level playing field for large and small as well as older and newer nonprofits.


Push this information to places where donors are already seeking information and managing their money."

That's what the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been doing on a smaller scale for the past 16 years. We believe that until a city has a master database showing all of the organizations providing the same type service in different places, it won't have the knowledge needed of who is doing the work to be able to go to the next step of understanding what works, and innovating support systems to help existing programs improve and sustain their improvement for many years, while helping new programs form in areas where programs are needed (based on poverty, poorly performing schools, high drop out rates, youth violence, etc.) where our database show that few or no programs now exist.

This map was created by the T/MC's map make, Mike Trakan. He'll show it tomorrow at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference at Loyola. Hopefully many of the tutor/mentor programs on the map will attend, and use the information provided by their network of peers, to learn ways to help their own programs become good, then great, then stay great.

Making the map is not enough. We need the ability to quantify the number of programs in each neighborhood, and the number of programs serving youth at each age level, in each neighborhood, We have that ability. You can use the Interactive Tutor/Mentor map to zoom into a community area, or section of the map. You can count the number of programs, just as we can. However, with a few more dollars, and the right talent, we can automate this, so it's easier to make sense of the information the map is showing.

Unfortunately, we don't expect anyone from the major consulting firms like McKinsey & Co or from the foundations, or businesses in Chicago who are demanding better outcomes from the public education system to meet the expected workforce shortages of the coming decades.

It's not that we don't want them to come. We just don't seem to be on their radar yet. And we don't have the advertising/PR dollars to get their attention.

However, if you're reading this, and you have browsed some of the other articles I've written, feel free to forward the invitation.

We accept walk in registrations to the conferee, and the real work is what happens in the weeks and months between each conference.

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