Monday, June 08, 2015

One Good Deed Chicago only part of needed leadership support

An article in today's Chicago SunTimes announces Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's support for mentoring through the One Good Deed Chicago portal.

This represents just one of the four resources that the Mayor should be supporting, if he wants youth in all high poverty neighborhoods to connect with volunteer tutors, mentors, coaches and others who will help kids move through school and into jobs....over what could be a 10 to 15 year period of support. See this map here.

A resource that enables mentoring programs to post volunteer opportunities would fit into the green box on this chart.

If you click on the node at the bottom of the green box, you'll get a new map, shown here. You'll see there already are a number of ways programs can post volunteer opportunities and volunteers can search for places where they can be involved. Spending city money to build a Chicago specific site is money that could be spent better focusing on the other three sections of the map shown above.

Since 1994 I've been piloting the use of maps to show WHERE tutoring/mentoring programs are most needed, and where existing programs are located. I've shared this information with the Mayor's office, and many other leaders, over and over, with the goal that they form teams that work to help every existing program get the talent, ideas, technology, dollars, etc. to constantly improve how they connect youth and volunteers and how that leads more kids through school and into careers.

Here's a photo from 1997 where I was hosting the Mayor and General John Borland, who was then head of the Chicago United Way, at the May 1997 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. My message then, and now, was use your bulley pulpit to motivate the business and university community to support the growth of mentor-rich tutor/mentor programs in more places.

What's mentor-rich?

View this PDF to see what I mean by "mentor rich" or "Total Quality" mentoring.

What's "constantly improving" mean"

Organizations that are constantly innovating ways to improve, by learning from their own work, from what competitors are doing, and from what the market and internet offer them, are what I call "constantly improving" organizations. Nonprofits cannot do this if they don't have the dollars or work environment to hire and retain people who will spend time looking at what others do, and gathering information that helps them look at what they are doing, with an eye toward constant improvement. That's why One Good Deed Chicago and the Mayor's strategy is flawed.

While the site encourages people to volunteer, it should also be encouraging people to provide dollars and talent to support individual tutoring/mentoring organizations in every neighborhood. Don't just point to the well-organized, well-supported programs. Yes, they need support to stay great. However, all other organizations need constant support, and encouragement, to become great.

A site that depends on organizations to voluntarily post their volunteer opportunities will never be able to create a map showing most, if not all, of the existing volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring organizations in the city or region. Nor will it be able to break down existing programs into type of program, age group served, or location, like the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator has been trying to do since 2004.

The city needs neighborhoods full of great youth serving, tutoring, mentoring, and learning programs. So do the suburbs.

The links in the other three sections of the Tutor/Mentor Library include research showing where and why tutor/mentor programs are most needed, how to build and sustain a volunteer-based programs, challenges of philanthropic support, roles business can play, and ideas for collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, etc.

The Mayor does not need to recreate these resources. He needs to encourage people to use them daily to innovate more and better ways to make mentor-rich learning programs available to youth in all high poverty areas of Chicago, and in other neighborhoods where kids need help growing up. He could even encourage investors, business and others to provide support to me and others who collect and share this type of information.

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