Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mentoring Kids Through School and Into Adult Lives

This montage shows youth and adults from a tutor/mentor program I launched in January 1992 and led through mid 2011. Some of those kids were in 7th grade when they joined us, and had been part of the 2nd to 6th grade program I led from 1975-1992 before joining us. Many now are out of college, in jobs and raising their own kids and some of us are connected on social media. Many of the volunteers stayed with the program 3 to 10 years with one serving more than 20. One of those alumni posted this message on Facebook today:
"those times spent at tutoring made me the woman I am today"
So when I talk about "mentoring kids through school and into adult lives" I'm talking about the commitment a few people make to helping kids from the time they join a program until they are out of school and in adult lives.

In leading a single program I was constantly looking for ideas, thinking "what are all the things I need to know and do?"  Those things extended to running an effective organization and raising needed funds every year, not just recruiting kids and volunteers and providing a safe space for them to meet.

As we created the single tutor/mentor program in 1993 we also responded to a larger need. No one had a master data base of non-school tutor/mentor programs serving Chicago, thus, no one was leading a business-type marketing campaign intended to help every program in the city get the resources and ideas each program needs to constantly improve what they do while staying connected to kids and volunteers.

Furthermore, no one was mapping this information to identify neighborhoods with no programs, or without programs serving specific age groups.  Thus, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to fill this void. We launched a first Chicago programs survey in January 1994 and started producing maps showing locations of programs at the same time.

As we built a database of programs, we also began to expand the library of research and ideas that I had started collecting in 1975 when I first started leading a tutor/mentor program in Chicago.  That library went on the internet in 1998 and has constantly expanded since then.

It contains answers to "what are all the things we need to know and do" and it's free and available to people from anywhere in the world.

I've been sharing what the Tutor/Mentor Connection is and what it offers, in many ways, for many years, in an effort to recruit leaders, partners and a few benefactors to support this work in Chicago and grow it in other cities.  In 2011 I created a space on Debategraph for this message.  Last week I used Thinglink to highlight the information on the Debategraph site.

Take a look.  Click on each circle and a pop-up opens with information related to that spoke of the wheel, with a link directly to that page on the Debategraph site.

I learned about Thinglink from educators I've met over the past five years on Twitter, Google-Plus and Facebook, who are part of a Connected Learning #clmooc community.  The type of on-going interaction and idea sharing that this group models is something I've tried to create for the non-school community, including donors, researchers, policy makers, volunteers and students.

It's one of many mountains I've tried to climb over the past 24 years with too few resources and too little help.  However, by sharing this information, I hope it inspires others to try to build a support system like the T/MC in their own community.  

Since mid 2011 I've continued to support the T/MC through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  It's the same mission, just a different tax structure. Still has the same lack of resources to do all that needs to be done.  Click here if you'd like to offer some help.

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