Friday, July 18, 2008

Supporting volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs as public health strategy

"If medical researchers were to discover an elixir that could increase life expectancy, reduce the burden of illness, delay the consequences of aging, decrease risky health behavior, and shrink disparities in health, we would celebrate such a remarkable discovery. Robust epidemiological evidence suggests that education is such an elixir. Yet, health professionals rarely identified improving school graduation rates as a major public health objective, nor have they systematically examined their role in achieving this objective."

This is a quote from an article by Nicholas Freudenberg and Jessica Ruglis which is posted at . I wrote about this in a previous blog article here and here.

If there is such a benefit, how can we encourage hospitals and teaching universities around the Chicago area to set up leadership and learning circles, with a goal of building youth development, tutoring and/or mentoring programs in the area around each hospital, and throughout the region?

This Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) map shows locations of hospitals in the Chicago region. If you search the T/MC zip code map for the area around each hospital, you can learn what, if any, organizations are offering volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring within one or two miles of each hospital. You can also use this interactive map.

As schools gets ready to start in August, we encourage each hospital to invite leaders of local tutor/mentor programs, area businesses and faith groups, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, to meet and discuss ways the hospital and the university can become an intermediary to help bring volunteers and donors to the existing tutor/mentor programs, or help new programs form where they are needed.

We created a strategic plan for hospital leadership, and encourage hospitals to use this as a starting point in developing their own tutor/mentor program support strategy, as part of their drop out prevention and workforce development goals, not just as a random act of kindness.

We've also created an information library, with links to web sites that show what other hospitals and health centers are doing, and with links to articles that help learners better understand the drop out and education issues that affect the operating budgets of inner city hospitals.

This does not need to be a collaboration where everyone marches together. There are dozens of hospitals on this map. Each one can take the lead, in its own part of the city, to develop strategies that help kids make healthier decisions, and which have a positive impact on the hospitals at the same time.


tracy said...

Are you at all familiar with the AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination, It is a way to get mentors/tutors into classrooms (they are actually paid a bit hourly) of students who have the desire and ability to go to college, but not the at-home resources to get them there. I teach in a middle school utilizing AVID and I myself use many of the methodologies in my English as a Second Language classroom.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

I think the web site is

This looks like one of many on-line learning resources that youth would benefit from if they had access at school or home, and if there were someone to mentor and motiate them to use it.

That's the real challenge to me. Without access, and without some form or adult encouragement, the kids who need this the most will be least likely to use it.

However, there's another element of what we do that is not addressed by these on-line programs. We're creating a network of adults who don't live in poverty, and who work in a vareity of business sectors, who can help inspire student aspirations, tutor, mentor or coach kids to reach goals, and be there to open doors as they finish school and are looking for college or jobs.

I don't know of many of the school based tutoring services who have this as part of their goal. Do you?