Sunday, November 23, 2014

Involve Youth: Thanksgiving Message

Over the coming week millions of people throughout the USA will gather with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings of living in this country. However, a small percent of citizens don't share many of those blessings because they live in high poverty areas of big cities and rural parts of the country.

I've been blessed to be able to lead volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 where inner city youth and volunteers from many different backgroundsconnect on a weekly basis throughout the school year, with a goal of transforming the future for both groups of people involved. I've also been frustrated by how difficult it is to find the consistent operating dollars needed to sustain on-going, constantly improving programs.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC kin 2011 to help draw needed resources to every non-school tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region, based on the way corporate office teams at big companies like Montgomery Ward (where I worked from 1973-1990) help stores grow all over the country. At Wards I had an annual retail advertising budget of over $250 million to reach out to over 20 million people a week with invitations and motivation to shop at our stores.

As the leader of a single tutor/mentor program, and the leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I had almost no money for advertising, yet the need to attract attention and resources was the same. Thus, as I've created a list of Chicago youth organizations, I've also enlisted volunteers and interns to help build the public awareness of our work.

The Thanksgiving graphic above was created by one of our Cabrini Connections students in 2009. Visit this blog and you can see two graphics created as part of a technology club led by volunteers.

I've had interns from various colleges working with me since 2005, creating visualizations with the same goal. I think youth in many programs could be creating visualizations, videos, blog articles and other forms of "advertising" that could be drawing the attention of potential volunteers and donors on a daily basis, not just during Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays.

If you're doing this kind of work, and showing it on your web site, please send me the link so I can give you attention and help you attract needed resources to your organization, while inspiring others to duplicate your efforts. While you're thinking about this, and counting your blessings, I encourage you to visit this Illinois Gives Big event web site, and browse the list of organizations that you can support on December 2, 2014. Many of these are also listed in my list of Chicago youth orgs. They all can benefit from your help as we move into 2015.

While we don't have traditional advertising we have tremendouse talent within our youth and volunteer networks who could be helping attract support to tutor/mentor programs so that evbery year when we give Thanks, more people have something to be thankful for.



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