Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shining Spotlight on Tutor/Mentor Programs in Chicago

From July 2007 through April 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was fortunate to have four graduates from Northwestern University serve one-year fellowships supporting the two-part strategy of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Each of these students were asked to build an understanding of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and share that in blog articles they wrote while also writing stories to support the youth and volunteers of Cabrini Connections. This concept map was created by Chris Warren at the close of his 2008-09 year of service. He diagramed the stories he wrote and divides them into "local" Cabrini Connections and "global" Tutor/Mentor Connection. Click this link and go to the live map and read stories Chris wrote.

The four part strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection was 1) to collect information about tutor/mentor programs and why they are needed; and 2) increase the number of media stories and public attention focusing on these programs.

We've organized conferences, volunteer-recruitment events and a number of other activities to do this. This Chicago Tribune article from 1994 illustrates this goal.

One way we've generated media attention is by organizing an annual volunteer recruitment campaign each August since 1995. At its peak 150 organizations were participating in volunteer fairs all over the city. Mrs. George Ryan was the honorary chair for the campaign in 2000 and 2001 and Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallis was a speaker at the press conference kicking off the campaign.

Another way we've tried to draw attention to programs is by doing site visits and then writing articles about the programs on blogs. This list has links to stories about many different programs.

If you forward this list of stories to friends, family and co-workers some may choose to send holiday donations to one or more of these programs. That's our purpose in doing this.

However as you look at this we also want you to look at the Talent Needs of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. We have not had the money to keep our NU fellowship in place or to keep a full-time staff person supporting research needed to maintain a directory of Chicago programs and to do site visits and write stories. Hopefully some of our readers will become investors and help us rebuild this capacity.

However, this role could be shared by journalism students from different high schools and colleges and by volunteers from PR and advertising firms. Using the Program Locator maps groups could divide up the city and spend time getting to know each program in their area and writing regular stories that would help educate the broader public so more people provide the dollars and talent each program requires.

It takes a Village to Raise a Child. It also takes a Village to make sure high quality mentor-rich programs are available to K-12 youth in every poverty neighborhood.

No comments: