Monday, April 13, 2015

Be Part of the Tradition. Tutor/Mentor Conference First held in 1994

In January 1994 a survey identified 120 organizations in the Chicago area who offers various forms of non-school, volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring. The survey included two questions related to 'how much contact do you have with peers and do you want more' and 'would you come to a conference'. 80% of respondents said there is "some need or a great deal of need" for increased contact. When asked, "How likely is it that you would attend a city-wide conference with other Tutoring/Mentoring providers for minimal or no fee?", 68% said they were were "very likely to attend" and an additional 22% were "somewhat likely to attend" See survey responses.

So a first conference was held in May 1994. 70 people attended and the first printed Tutor/Mentor Chicago Programs Directory was distributed. Feedback was enthusiastic, so a second conference was held in November 1994. 200 people attended and the conference has been held every six months since then.

This video shows what past participants have said about the conference.

Conference Capacity from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

In 2011 a DePaul University graduate created network maps, showing participation of organizations in the 2008 and 2009 conferences. I'm part of a 2015 Information Visualization MOOC (#IVMOOC) being hosted by Indiana University, and a team of students is now looking at all 42 conferences to create similar participation maps. See more here.

I've been writing articles about network building for many years, showing how important this is, and seeking funders/investors who would support my own efforts.

The Tutor/Mentor Leadership & Networking Conferences are part of a 40-year effort at building networks of support for youth via non-school tutor/mentor programs operating in high poverty neighborhoods. The next is Friday, May 8, 2015 and I hope you'll attend, or encourage others to attend.

However, I hope you'll also check back to see the network maps that are created to show the past 42 Tutor/Mentor Conferences. My goal is that others who host events that gather dozens, or hundreds, of people and focus on poverty, inequality, education, violence, health, workforce development and democracy, will begin to build participant mapping into their own events and that they will share their maps in public space, showing who is participating, how participation grows and who still needs to be participating.

Such maps can become a link between people who are now working in separate silos, but toward the same goals. They can be an accountability tool, showing the year-to-year success event organizers have in attracting key participants, and keeping them involved. They can also be an accountability tool motivating those who need to be participating, but currently don't show up, to get more involved.

Here's an example:

Look at more conference maps to expand your understanding of what's possible using maps.

Then look at this Talent Map The conference maps show who attended, by category. You can quickly see that business, political groups, funders, media and many other sectors represented on my maps have not been attending the Tutor/Mentor Conferences. That's a problem for me, and for kids in Chicago.

However, it might not be a problem for Chicago if other organizers, were able to show participation maps for their events, indicating that the people not attending my conferences are attending their events.

So far, I don't know of anyone who is doing this. Thus, how do we know if the "village" is completely represented in efforts to help end poverty, provide greater opportunity, and solve other related, complex problems that we face in Chicago?

If you're interested in talking with me about these ideas, or inviting me to be part of your planning, let's find time to connect.

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