Saturday, September 07, 2013

Start of New School Year for Tutor/Mentor Programs

If you're the leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program you're probably working on volunteer and student recruitment, screening, orientation and training, and matching or students and volunteers right now. Every year from 1974 to September 2010 that's what I was doing last week and will be doing for the next two weeks.

My involvement has been for so many years that it's difficult to communicate my ideas and experiences in short articles and one-on-one discussions. Thus, I've created a web site with a depth of information that any one can use as part of their own personal learning strategy. I created this time line a few years ago to show growth of the non-school tutor/mentor programs I've led since 1974, and to show the growth of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in 1993 to help every high poverty neighborhood in the Chicago region have mentor-rich programs like those I had been leading.

You can see from looking at the time line that the Tutor/Mentor Connection concept really began in 1976 when I started building a list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs and inviting leaders to gather monthly for "lunch and learn" where we shared ideas, training tips, handbooks, etc. and built supportive relationships and friendships. It was this social/emotional support that kept me involved for so many years because within your own organization very few people really understand everything a leader has to do to keep the lights on and the doors open. When you connect with people who hold a similar role in other organizations, you don't have to tell what you do. They know.

The graphic above shows the growth of the tutor/mentor program at Montgomery Ward Corporate headquarters in Chicago from 1965 to 1992. It was in late 1992 when I and six other volunteers created Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. The original tutoring program at Wards served youth from 2nd to 6th grade and included a few 7th and 8th graders. Parents kept asking us to extend the program further into high school years but since all leaders were volunteers who held full time jobs at Wards and other companies and we were serving 300 pairs of youth and volunteers by 1990, we had our hands full.

By creating a new organization starting teens at 7th grade we were able to create a new structure to help kids from the original program move through high school. At the same time, we realized that no one in Chicago had a master list of non-school tutor/mentor programs, and thus, no leader could lead any consistent advertising/marketing intended to help high quality programs reaching k-12 youth grow throughout the city. This was during the time when 7 year-old Dantrell Davis was killed in Chicago and the media were demanding "action and responsibility". We decided to split whatever resources we could generate and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

A second time line shows growth from 1993 through 2011 and includes milestones such as when we held the first Tutor/Mentor Conference in May 1994, when we formed a partnership with the Chicago Bar Foundation's Lend A Hand Program in 1994, and when we began to organize an Aug/Sept citywide tutor/mentor volunteer recruitment campaign in 1995. This also show when we published the first printed Tutor/Mentor Program Directory, when we launched our first web site, and when we put the Directory in an on-line Program Locator in 2004.

Visit this section on Pinterest to see other graphics showing significant events since the creation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.

I'm no longer leading the Cabrini Connections program (since mid 2011) and I miss that level of involvement with teens and volunteers. However, I'm still spending my time this week trying to attract the attention of volunteers, donors, media and others who will help tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities reach more kids and help transform their lives as a result of the services provided throughout the coming school year. You can find a list of Chicago youth organizations at this link and see the interactive Program Locator map here.

Read more articles in this blog to see how support for these programs needs to be on-going throughout the year and into coming years. If you're involved with this work, participate in the November 4 Tutor/Mentor Conference to be held at the Metcalfe Federal Building. If you're interested in supporting the infrastructure of programs and helping the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC do this work, contact me at tutormentor two at earthlink dot net. Or on Twitter, Facebook, or Linked in.

1 comment:

John Decker said...

This is a great article. I think it is great that they are starting new tutoring programs. I have always been a big supporter of tutor programs because they really do help children learn. For example, Los Angeles Tutoring does in-house tutoring when they actually travel to your home. My neighbor used them and they loved it. Their child got individual attention and was very comfortable.