Sunday, August 01, 2010

Mobilizing Volunteers for Tutor/Mentor Programs

Every year for the past 35 years I've started August by sending letters and advertising out to recruit people to be volunteers at the tutor/mentor programs I've led in Chicago. The goal is to build awareness in August, motivate decision-making and sign-ups during the first weeks of September and hold orientations, volunteer-matching and first connections with kids by the last week of September.

If we can do that, kids just starting school in late August or early September, will have mentors and tutors to support them early in the first grading period of each school year.

In 1993 we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection with a goal of helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs like ours grow in all parts of the city. First we had to build a master database, which we started doing in 1993 and 1994. Then we had to find ways to create a communications campaign, that would reach more potential volunteers, more often, so we could get their attention, and motivate them to be involved.

In many ways, this has been like pushing a rock up a mountain. We've never had much money, and Chicago is the third largest city in the country. In order for us to be successful,other people need to help.

And many people have helped. This list shows many of those who contributed time, talent and dollars in the years since 1994. This link shows slides that Chicago Access TV has been posting on their Channel 21 station every August and January for nearly 10 years.

On August 29 of this year, we're hosting a Tutor/Mentor Jam Concert. All of the bands are donating their time and the Darkroom is donating the space. Now we need others to help us promote the event, and help us raise some money.

One way that tutor/mentor programs can help is to "buy a square" on this VOLUNTEER page. For $50 we put your logo and web link in one of the squares. This helps you attract potential volunteers and raises some money that we use to help you.

One way business, faith groups and others can help is to add a BE A VOLUNTEER page to your web site, and on that page point to the Tutor/Mentor Jam and the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. If you can make a financial contribution, that would be even better.

August is only the beginning of what we need to do throughout each year. Recruiting a volunteer is just the start. Throughout the year we need to continue to raise visibility, recruit more volunteers, coach those volunteers so they become effective tutors/mentors, and help programs find operating dollars to support this process at each location.

This collaboration strategy link shows events we'll organize. We hope you'll help us by pointing people you know to these links and by encouraging people to give time, talent and dollars to help inner city kids connect with volunteers in tutor/mentor programs throughout the region.

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