Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Super Heroes for Mentoring

This graphic is one I use to illustrate the role many people need to take every day to draw attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs operating in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

Advertisers do this every day. They create messages that draw customers to places where they can buy products and services. Non profits don't have the millions of dollars that corporate, political and faith-based advertisers have. Thus, we need to motivate others who have a place in the spotlight to point to us.

The Waiting For Superman movie is in the spotlight right now. On the Take Action/Get-Local page, they list 26 cities with a link to each citie. If you click on Chicago you will find nine (9) organizations listed as "top resources".

The Tutor/Mentor Connection is one of these, meaning people can go through our web site and find links to more than 200 youth serving organizations that offer various forms of tutoring and/or mentoring.

Thus, the Superman Movie is encouraging people in the Chicago region to learn where and how they can become involved in tutor/mentor programs.

In fourteen other cities (Boston, Detroit, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle) there is a link to a mentoring partnership, or an organization that focuses on mentoring.

In the other 12 cities (Atlanta*, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles,, Nashville, New Orleans, San Francisco, Santa Fe, St. Louis, Washington D.C.**) there may be mentoring partnerships, but they are not listed, so the movie is not directly helping youth and volunteers connect in tutor/mentor programs.

*Atlanta does have the Boys and Girls Clubs listed and Washington, D.C. has MENTOR listed, which is the National Mentoring Partnership, and the lead organization that made sure Tutor/Mentor Connection and other mentoring partnerships were added to the Superman site.

What I'm pointing out is a) it's great that while the movie is gaining public attention, it is pointing to resources in 14 cities that are working to build strong mentoring programs. In Chicago we expand that focus to tutoring and/or mentoring.

However, when this movie dies down, who will be pointing to these programs? How many of the people running for Congress or Senate or local Governors have a link on their web site, saying "volunteer or donate to a tutor/mentor program in my district" pointing to one of the intermediary organizations that aggregate information and point to more of the local programs in the state?

This is a state of mind. It did not cost a lot for the Waiting for Superman people to add mentoring partnerships and the Tutor/Mentor Connection to a page on their web site.

This is a form of leadership that can be embraced by school children, college students, businesses, political and faith leaders. Every time we think of poverty, poorly performing schools, violence, racism, democracy, etc. someone should point to web sites with lists of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and encourage followers to get involved.

If enough people do this every day, we can be super heroes to kids who live in neighborhoods that put extra challenges on them as they grow up.

I've written other articles about leadership, complex problems, collaboration, etc. over the past few years. Look at some of the past articles and use these as discussion starters in your own community, business and social network.

1 comment:

Brent Lane said...

It is surprising to me the vast number of people would are willing to volunteer but not willing to take the steps to find a good valid organization out of fear of over committing.

I myself have seen both the good and bad of volunteering and in my area, Sacramento, being a mentor to kids helping them with tutoring and sports programs I have seen kids who have avoided trouble in other areas of their lives as a direct result of what I do everyday. If all I ever do is keep one kid out of trouble then I feel I have done my job.

Thanks for posting and I hope people actually take the necessary steps to mentor someone.