Monday, June 28, 2010

National Conference on Volunteering and Service This Week

This week leaders from business, philanthropy, media and the non-profit sector are gathering in New York City to share ideas on volunteering and community service.

I attended the conference twice in the past, so I'd like to share some thoughts while this event is gaining national attention.

First, if we want to help more kids from high poverty and minority neighborhoods succeed in school and move to jobs and careers, we need to connect them with volunteers who can mentor different types of jobs and careers, because they are already holding these jobs.

Second, we need to visualize this as a long-term strategy, that will take the involvement of many people, organizations, and leaders, over many years.

Thus, while leaders are talking about volunteering and service, we need them to think of the infrastructure of a non profit, that supports the involvement of volunteers as tutors/mentors, leaders, tech support, innovators, accountants, and every other role that any business needs to be successful.

How do we make this happen, not just in a few places, but in all of the high poverty places in every big city, where the high school drop out rates, and the crime/violence rates, are the highest?

After I attended the June 2008 national conference, I wrote some articles that share my thinking.

June 7, 2008 - Maximizing Value from Civic Engagement

June 9, 2008 - "Our greatest challenge is the gaps between rich and poor." Jimmy Carter

June 10, 2008 - War on Poverty Requires Sophisticated Battle Plan

June 11, 2008 - Expanding the volunteer workforce - capacity building

June 13, 2008 - Marketing Civic Responsibility

Note. Some of the links in these articles may be broken due to changing web sites. All of the essays that we've written can be found in the Tutor/Mentor Institute library.

If this year's conference results in a surge of reinforcements to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs strengthen their infrastructure, pay the rent, and keep staff employed, we'll start the 2010-11 school year with stronger organizations working to keep kids and volunteers connected for another school year.

If we don't ramp up the reinforcements, it will be like saying to your kids, "I gave you birth and have raised you to this level. Now you need to go out and find new parents because I've run out of money to keep helping you grow up."

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