Saturday, August 13, 2011

Help Build Understanding of Tutor/Mentor Programs in Chicago Area

Since 1993 I've been trying to build a master DIRECTORY of all of the non-school volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago region. I've been plotting this information on maps, and have created an Interactive Map-Based Program Locator that anyone can use to see the distribution of existing programs and to find contact information for specific programs.

This information needs to be updated each year and we need to build a much deeper understanding of what each program does and the differences between different programs. With this we also need to create communications and public education programs that draw volunteers, donors and other types of support directly to each program the way corporate advertising draws customers to retail stores every day.

I've never had the money to do this. Instead, my goal is to create shared ownership and a network of volunteers and partners who each have knowledge of the entire system, but expertise in local areas.

For the past two years a class at DePaul University has divided the city into sections and worked to build and share an understanding of what tutor/mentor programs are in different sections and where they are most needed.

In our Tutor/Mentor Connection forum we've created a list of "things to look for" when visiting, or building, a tutor/mentor program web site. In you can read how interns working with us are trying to communicate what they are learning about the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Building this type of knowledge and understanding could be the role of a service-learning team in a high school or college. It could be the volunteer project of a corporate or faith based team. It could be the role of a local intermediary organization.

If you want to take this role I can add you to one of our network maps, showing who is taking ownership of the DIRECTORY in different parts of the Chicago region. If we can build ownership in different sections the quality of information will be greater and it will be used by more people to help make tutor/mentor programs available to youth in different sections of the Chicago region.

No one can do all of this on their own. Yet the value of what a few of us create can benefit everyone in the entire Chicago region.

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