Sunday, August 03, 2008

Connecting Tutor/Mentor Networks. Making a Bigger Impact.

As we enter the month of August, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities will be trying to gain public attention that helps recruit volunteers and donors so that as school starts more inner-city kids have the hope and opportunity that well organized tutor/mentor programs can provide.

However, we're competing against the National Election, the Olympics, local sports teams, and negative news coverage of the violence that is destroying hope in inner city neighborhoods.

Most of us have no dollars to advertise and we don't have celebrity leaders pointing their friends at us.

I lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and point to more than 200 different Chicago area organizations who offer various forms of tutoring/mentoring. You can search our database and Program Links on the T/MC web site.

However, I'm a small organization in a huge city.

Chicago's not the only city where there are areas of concentrated poverty, poor schools, high drop out rates. New York City is larger. So is Los Angeles. Houston, Miami, Detroit, San Diego, Boston, Philadelphia and most other major cities have the same problems.

Some also have networks similar to the Tutor/Mentor Connection, working to support the actions of local programs. You can find a list of links to some of these citywide networks, as well as to national support groups, in the T/MC Library. This section even points to mentoring organizations in the UK and India where big cities face similar problems.

I am trying to connect with these network, and build an on-line connection in places like our connection. If we can share what we're doing, and work together to encourage multi city corporations, alumni from Harvard, Notre Dame and other major universities, and people of faith groups that have branches in every city, we can find leaders in different places who will help us mobilize resources that don't just support one, or two programs, or programs in the headquarters city, but who search the links and support multiple networks, and multiple programs with the same type of advertising they use to draw customers to multiple locations all over the country.

One person trying to make this happen is a grain of sand on the ocean floor. Many people represent a powerful force, like a sandstorm.

Let's try to find a way to connect these networks, not just through national networks, but directly to each other, in on-line networks that draw resources directly to each city, and to each program in each city.

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