Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Updating List of Chicago Tutor and/or Mentor Programs - Again.

Below is the first part of an article I wrote last February, showing how I've been building a list of Chicago area volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs, then using it to draw attention to individual programs operating in different parts of the city and suburbs.

What Programs? Feb 2019 article
I'm getting ready to go through the list again (find it here, along with a map) so it is updated prior to people searching for youth programs to support with year-end donations.  I invite others to help me share this information, by browsing the web sites, then posting Tweets, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin post, just like the ones I have been doing.

Together we can help youth in every poverty area of the Chicago region connect with supportive adults and enriching learning, as part of an effort to help them move safely through school and into adult lives.

If you value my list, please support my efforts with a contribution. Click here to learn more. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Chicago Mayor launched #EveryKidConnected Youth Initiative

I was one of more than 200 invited to attend a meeting at the Chicago Cultural Center yesterday, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched her #EveryKidConnected initiative. (By the end of the 2 hour event this became #EveryYouthConnected).

Click the link above and you can find Tweets posted by myself and a few others during and following the event.

Here's a paragraph that sounds much like what the Mayor said in her welcoming remarks:

 Chicago can only succeed as a city if every part of Chicago succeeds.

Chicago won’t move forward unless we all work to move forward together. Success will be measured by asking whether all of our communities are thriving.

These plans are highly interdependent. For how can we even begin to think about the way our government should be structured and run without deep consideration of the supports that communities need and the best way to deliver those services? How can we grow without strong communities? How can we ponder what is best for our communities without thinking hard about the challenges our children face?

Was this Mayor Lightfoot? No it's from Mayor Emanuel's Plan of Chicago, launched in 2011. I posted it here

Here's another blog article that I posted in 2011.


Then, here's an earlier article, posted in 2009 when President Obama launched a mentoring initiative from the White House.  At the left side of this blog you can find a category for Obama and find other articles where I've tried to reach into his thinking and actions.


Then in 2013 when Thrive Chicago was launched by Mayor Emanuel, I posted this article.
There's a common thread in each of these articles. 

Since 1993 I've been building a library of ideas that would support the growth of well-organized non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs in every high poverty neighborhood. It's been available to anyone doing research related to this issue.  Yet, if any of the people organizing these initiatives were looking at this information, none have reached out to ask for my help...during the initial planning, not at an event where I'm part of 200 other people.

Here's a much earlier example. In 1993 and 1994 Mayor Richard Daley's office researched ways to build a network of youth serving organizations. This 1995 report announced their plan.

1995 Chicago For Youth

The link to the PDF report is here.  Even though I had led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago since 1975 and had just launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1994, I was not invited to contribute ideas to this planning process.

1998 article
It's not as though I was invisible in Chicago. Here's a 1998 article from Crain's Chicago Business. It's one of many you can view on this page.

While I share my ideas on blogs and via pdf white papers on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website, the library I've been building since the mid 1990s points to the ideas of thousands of other people and organizations, in Chicago and around the world.

Below is a Tweet I posted during yesterday's event, pointing to a report published by The American Institute of Architects Chicago (AIA Chicago).

Personal Learning Network

I have been trying to motivate volunteers, donors, leaders and youth to form personal learning networks (described in this article) for more than 40 years. The libraries I've been building have been intended to help volunteers do more to help youth, and donors and volunteers do more to help youth programs grow in more places.

The information has been on line since 1998.  Can't anyone find it?

Here's one more Tweet from yesterday, showing what I hope results from my own efforts on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

I'm available. I can meet via Skype of meet at your office. If you spend time in advance looking through my web sites and blog articles you'll know much more about what I'm trying to do before we meet. That way you won't be overwhelmed by what I share when we do meet.

I only wish I'd been able to have this influence 25 years ago.

Here's one more challenge. Visiting my web sites and borrowing my ideas is free. It just costs you time. However, since 2011 I've not been funded to do this, or to keep the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC resources on line. I've used my own savings and I depend on a small group of contributors. Will you help?  click here

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Enlisting College Fraternities - Doing Well. Doing Good.

Acacia on Ning - click here

I attended Homecoming at Illinois Wesleyan University on October 5, 2019 and spent the day with Acacia Fraternity brothers ranging from Pin Number 3, one of the founders of the IWU chapter in 1957, to new pledges who have just joined in 2019.

During the alumni/active chapter meeting held at 10:am rush (recruiting new members) was discussed, as well as the negative image of fraternities in public media.

I took the opportunity to call the group's attention to a discussion started on the Tutor/Mentor Connection Ning.com forum in 2009, and my efforts since the early 2000s to motivate the IWU chapter and the national fraternities, to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, for the following reasons.

1 - student learning - between 2006 and 2015 interns from various colleges, including many from South Korea, spent time looking at ideas on my web sites, then creating their own interpretations. View these here. In many cases interns used this opportunity to teach themselves new communications tools. If you visit this section of the T/MC Ning forum you can see who they were and see their reflections.

If Acacia undergrads started doing this work as freshmen and continued through graduation they would learn a wide range of tools to share their understanding of complex ideas with many other people. They would learn leadership roles and the cyclical process of action research.

2) Public visibility and public image - if service-learning teams grew within each chapter, and if chapters were connected and learning from each other,  duplicating the Tutor/Mentor Connection 4-part strategy, to build greater understanding of issues, and greater involvement in solving that problem, focusing on the local community where that chapter is located, or where undergrads and alumni live, tremendous positive visibility can be generated. 

Build collection of media stories
Visit this link and view the list of media stories that I've been able to generate over many years. Then imagine a place on each chapter's web site where a similar list grows as a result of their consistent work in this focus area.  View this list of awards, with the same goal in mind.

3) Connections between alumni and undergrads, and between chapters across the country. Imagine being able to go to the web site of any chapter and finding a page with the graphic at the top of this article. In each node would be links to a sub-page, showing a group of people studying a particular issue.

Then imagine finding network analysis maps using tools like NodeXL, showing Twitter, Facebook and/or Linked in discussions of this strategy, or of any of the sub-issues on the concept map above. The nodes on the NodeXL should show numerous undergrads and alumni from different chapters talking about that issue during a specific time frame.

Over time participation in these discussions would grow as the social media strategies described at this link are learned and applied.

Many can fill leadership role.
4- Impact on Rush and Fund Raising - This graphic shows that an on-going campaign can raise visibility and draw volunteers and dollars to all youth serving organizations in the city where a fraternity is located.  This also draws attention to the Fraternity.

A strategy that focuses on issues important to a community, and that focuses on helping kids from high poverty areas come through school and into college, which generates growing public and social media awareness, has to build awareness among incoming students (and parents) and potential donors, as well as university administrators. That awareness leads to new pledges and new dollars to fund scholarships, operations at the local and national fraternity level.

It also influences what other fraternities do.

5 - Impact on careers. A network analysis map shows connections between people. In each map the growing number of undergrad and alumni nodes represents constantly expanding social capital, that can open doors to jobs and business opportunities and strengthen the ties of brotherhood, within each chapter and across the national fraternity.

6 - One Acacia in a divided America - If there are groups of undergrads and alumni in each node focusing on important issues, the on-going work builds stronger ties and reduces the social and political divides that are tearing America apart.

All of these are leadership roles that are available to Acacia. Just by sharing your interpretation of this article from the National Chapter, at Conclave, and from local chapters, you are inviting members to take time to understand it, and to take the lead in launching it.

I've created two Slideshare presentations to help communicate these ideas.



Creating a Tutor/Mentor Connection on a university campus:



If this strategy were in place, there might be a dozen versions of these presentations, embedded in blogs on each chapter's web site, and even on the company web site of alumni participants!

That's the goal. The Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC pages are intended to simulate and influence thinking and actions of others.   Feel free to create your own versions. Use as thought starters. Share them with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Linkedin.

If this article has value, please consider a contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. Click here to learn more.



Wednesday, October 02, 2019

What's Next for Volunteers and Youth in Tutor Mentor Programs?

School has started and for the past few weeks non-school volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs have been going through the annual process of recruiting, interviewing, doing background checks, providing training and orientations, all leading up to matching a youth and a volunteer in what they hope will be at least a year-long journey.

Connecting a youth with an adult volunteer is just the beginning.
Each week volunteers will be looking for ideas and "what to do" when they meet with their mentee. As they get to know the kids they will also begin to have questions related to the social and emotional well-being and academic needs, of their mentees, as well as the level of support the community and local schools provide.

I've been building a Tutor/Mentor web library since the 1990s (based on a real library I started in the 1970s) which is intended to support volunteers and youth as the look for ideas and what to do.  Below is a concept map pointing to different homework help and learning resources in the library.
Homework Help/Learning Ideas - click here
Open the links at the bottom of each node then scan through the resources that I host on the site. One way to encourage youth and volunteers to do this is to create a "scavenger hunt" or "web quest" and encourage them to write about what they find on an organization blog. As they share what they learn, others are learning with them. The knowledge spreads.  Encourage this. Rewards help!

Once you are familiar with what's in the library it's easy to go back to find specific resources when they are needed.

Answering questions volunteers have will be more of a challenge, since each student is different.  Having an experienced staff who have knowledge of local issues and schools is critically important.  However, encouraging volunteers to network and learn from each other is equally important.

To support this learning I point to one sub-section of the Tutor/Mentor Library, with sections that include many articles about race, poverty and inequality.  This is another set of links that will require on-going reading. There's a lot there. 

Click here to open this section of the library

While the school year has just started, now's a good time to remind you to think of the year-round planning process that will help you build and sustain a strong program.

The presentation below focuses on year-round planning. It is one of four that are included in this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website. 

If you follow this planning cycle you'll be collecting ideas now that help you with volunteer recruitment and training when you start the next school year.  You'll be building organizational knowledge that helps you, your staff and your veteran volunteers and students create a culture of learning that focuses on what you need to know to attract students and volunteers, help them build strong relationships and help them do all they can to assure student growth, success in school, and movement toward graduation and adult lives.


I started reaching our to leaders of other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago in 1974 when I first became part of the leadership group of the program at Montgomery Ward.  I've continued this learning ever since.  When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 one reason for building a list of existing programs was to provide a resource that enabled everyone to learn from everyone else. 

I hosted conferences in Chicago every six months from May 1994 to May 2015 to encourage programs to connect and learn from each other.  Since going on line in 1998 I've tried to encourage tutor/mentor program leaders and volunteers to use on-line spaces to share ideas and help each other.

I now now maintain a list of program on three sites:

on Facebook - click here
on Twitter - click here
on the Tutor/Mentor Connection site - click here

These enable anyone to look at information other programs are posting or sharing on their web sites. Anyone can reach out with questions. It just takes time.

When I left the Cabrini Connections program in 2011 one of the Board Members said "We'll never know have as much as you've already forgotten."   

I've devoted the past 30 years to finding ways to aggregate knowledge, including experiences of people who have led tutor/mentor programs, in an effort to build a university curriculum that would train people to come into jobs or volunteer roles ALREADY KNOWING MUCH OF WHAT I'VE LEARNED. 

It's unrealistic to expect busy volunteers or transient paid staff to spend 10, 20 or 30 years in one or more programs, learning as much as I have along the way. A few will do that. Not enough.

We need to create a formal learning process, starting when kids are in K-12 school and continuing through college and career. 

read article - click here
That's what this graphic is describing. Read this article and join me in reaching out to one of the many billionaires who are making multi million dollar gifts to universities, so that one of them designates her gift to building a Tutor/Mentor Institute, based on these ideas.

I started this article providing homework help resources for volunteers and students.  Then I moved on to program planning and development.

Hopefully some volunteers, students, parents, staff and alumni from different programs will dig deeper and think with me about ways to build and sustain high quality programs in more places.

I look forward to connecting with you on one of these social media sites.

If you value these articles, please click here and send a contribution.