Monday, October 24, 2011

Tipping Points, Influence and more

I created this graphic over the weekend as another attempt to communicate visually what I have been trying to do for the past 18 years, in fact all the way back to 1975 when I first started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program.

I firmly believe that connecting a youth with a non-family adult in a structured, on-going tutor/mentor program is a good thing
. It has an influence on both the youth and the adult but in so many different ways that it is difficult to quantify. I'm not trying to recruit those who don't believe. I'm trying to connect with the thousands of people who have already been part of tutor/mentor programs at some point in their lives and already know how they have been enriched in big or small ways as a result.

In order for these programs to reach youth in high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago and to involve volunteers who work full-time jobs in many different industries the programs need to operate in non-school hours and in places where youth and volunteers feel safe participating. In such places the program/organization itself becomes part of the mentoring process. It sets a tradition that connects past, current and future participants of that program.

In a city like Chicago with close to 200,000 youth living in high poverty neighborhoods there needs to be hundreds of small tutor/mentor programs serving k-12 youth. For such programs to grow in more places teams of leaders need to step forward who act as a 'virtual corporate office'. They do things that people in the corporate offices at WalMart, Sears, McDonalds and other big companies do everyday to support multiple stores in many locations.

If we know who the existing programs are then we can lower their costs of operating and we can enhance the quality of their work if we can influence the flow of operating dollars directly to each program and if we can influence the flow of manpower and talent to each program. If programs have access to capital for innovation and if they have talented people learning ways to get better by learning from what other programs are already doing, then we can also enhance the quality of every program by collecting and sharing ideas that can be used by any program at any time.

Every big city in the world has areas with high poverty where the gaps between rich and poor are growing wider every year. That means there could be teams and leaders in every city trying to collect information about existing organizations and trying to influence the flow of dollars, talent and ideas to all of the programs in their cities.

I have hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months since 1994 to help stimulate the sharing of ideas among leaders of programs and to build greater visibility for tutoring/mentoring that would drive more donors and volunteers to each of the programs in the city. The next conference is Friday, November 4 and because of my own lack of dollars and the few leaders in Chicago who embrace this strategy, I'm still trying to build attendance for next week's event.

The map below shows the goals of the conference. If you can't join me in Chicago why not join me in this forum?

If you are someone who already believes in this logic and sees that you could take a role in influencing the flow of resources to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago or your own community, let's find a way to connect.

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