Monday, November 30, 2009

Tutor/Mentor Connection. What is it?

I've led a volunteer based tutor/mentor program since 1975. I've learned that the lives of both youth and volunteers are enriched in different ways because of involvement in these programs. I've received messages from alumni telling me how important the tutor/mentor program was in their lives.

I know how hard this is. I know that there are more than 200,000 school age children in Chicago who would benefit if they could participate in a well-organized, mentor-rich program like Cabrini Connections.

Thus, I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help existing tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago area get the resources each one needs to constantly improve what they do.

I cannot do that by myself. I did not start this by myself.

Volunteers from the Montgomery Ward Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, which I led from 1975 to 1992, helped me start Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This timeline shows our growth since then.

Many other individuals and organizations have helped grow the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with short term, and long-term efforts. For instance, Montgomery Ward provided free space from 1993 to 1999. Public Communications, Inc helped us get media attention from 1993 to 2001. More than 40 volunteers, representing different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, have volunteered as speakers and workshop presenters at each of the 32 Leadership and Networking Conferences we've organized since May 1994. Volunteers in the legal community created a Lend A Hand Program, which now makes grants totaling more than $200,000 to different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

This list of who has helped is extensive. If you visit the T/MC OHATS documentation system, you can read more than 1400 actions we've documented since 2000. Many of these show that other people have taken roles to help us. (You can log in with USERNAME: GUEST and PASSWORD: VISITOR. This works best in Internet Explorer.)

Yet, we're still a small voice in a big city, constantly looking for money and talent to help us help others.

Thus, I encourage you to consider some of the ideas posted in this presentation.

This graphic emphasizes the role of YOU, the individual, the business leader, the faith leader, the student. You know people who have the skills, and the relationships, who could help the Tutor/Mentor Connection have greater impact, if they added their time and talent.

This map shows different talents/skills that are needed in any organization, including the Tutor/Mentor Connection. When we can put names of people in these boxes, knowing they share the same passion and vision as I do, we will have the small group of people that Margaret Mead wrote "can change the world".

Having the right skills is a great start. Having relationships with people in philanthropy, media, business, faith groups, colleges, etc. means that we will be better able to enlist these sectors and their resources to support the growth of tutor/mentor programs, helping more kids in more places.

Can you introduce people you know to the Tutor/Mentor Connection? Can you help find donors during this holiday season to fund the T/MC in 2010?

If you can support our holiday fund, you can help us build this network in 2010.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicago Schools Chief Seeks Help. Hello! We're Here.

In the Business section of today's, 11/29/09, Chicago Tribune, is an article listing help Chicago Schools Chief Ron Huberman seeks to support his strategy to help about 10,000 at risk youth. (This number keeps growing. When the program was first announced it was targeting about 200 youth).

If you read the article, he's calling for the same types of business involvement that I've been calling for since I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. The only difference is that he's pointing to a new program that has not yet been created, and I'm pointing to the existing volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs that already exist in Chicago and who can't build the infrastructure needed to support effective tutoring/mentoring if leaders like Huberman and the Mayor don't try to draw resources to every program, every day.

I'm just a small voice in Chicago. But I write these blog articles so other people, with larger voices, can read them, and integrate them into their own leadership. If you know Mr. Huberman, or if you're thinking of devoting some business resources to helping the program he is launching, I encourage you to read some of the strategy articles on this blog.

I also encourage you to read some of the research, like this Critique of Youth Mentoring in the UK.

If our leaders don't build an infrastructure and supply system that helps great tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty, high risk neighborhoods, they will spend millions of dollars and still not get the results they, and the business community, are seeking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving... or Else

This is another graphic created by students in the Cabrini Connections tech club. Working with volunteers they are learning uses of technology to communicate ideas. This idea makes the Turkey the boss on this holiday!

I encourage all of the staff and as many volunteers as possible to write blogs about what our purpose is, and what we do each week to help kids connect with tutors/mentors and extra learning. As each person writes, they build their own understanding of the mission and goals, and their own leadership role. They also attract visitors from their own networks.

Thus, you can read the blogs of our past three Northwestern University Public Interest Fellowship staffers here, here and here. You can read El DaSheon Nix's sports concepts here.

You can follow the arts and writing clubs, video club and tech clob.

You can read Mikes Mapping for Justice blogs. You can also meet some of our Interns from IIT, Michigan and Indiana.

While not everyone will read every blog, every week, we hope a growing number of people will find one of the blogs and start reading, and that they will invite others in their own network to join in.

This is a strategy for building a network of purpose. As you read this, I encourage you to start your own blog and add your own thoughts.

There is one more blog I hope you'll read. It's our fund raising blog. Please help us find the dollars it takes to do this work, so this Turkey won't be coming to your home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish you all a safe and happy holiday and thank you for letting us be part of your lives. As you reflect on your blessings I hope you'll browse some of the articles and links on this blog and start conversations with friends and family about how you and those you know can turn acts of kindness into strategies that enable kids and communities to share more of the American dream.

Thank you to those who have made financial donations to help us do this work. Without your generous support we would not be able to be part of the lives of so many other people.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Voices of DePaul students

One workshop at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference was hosted by students from a first-year class at DePaul University. A group of about 30 freshmen was divided into teams, and each team researched a different section of Chicago using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and other resources at their disposal.

As they did their research they wrote blog articles to show what they were learning. The final assignment was to draw conclusions and provide recommendations for how another group of students could continue the project.

I read the blog articles and conclusions this morning. I've been posting comments and coaching the group since September 09 when the project started. The cartoon above was posted on one of the blogs.

I encourage followers of the Tutor/Mentor blog to visit and read these stories yourself. They are calling on others to be involved, to help tutor/mentor programs serve inner city youth in more places. Post your own comments and feedback to the group, on their blogs, and you can add to this understanding.

They are demonstrating a form of leadership that could be coming from youth groups in high schools and colleges all over the country. If you have a project like this going on right now, or in the future, please share your link with us, and come to a future conference to share your story.

Two Days of Network Building

Here are links to two of the keynote presentations from the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, held at Northwestern University last Thursday and Friday.

Thrivable Networks
- building networks of purpose, by Valdis Krebs and Jean Russell.

How Business and Non Profits Can Work Together, by Timothy Hogan, Partner, Creative Director, The Royal Order of Experience Design.

These were just two of more than 30 presentations that connected more than 145 people who want to help inner city youth have brighter futures with ideas and each other. You can see the list of speakers, and attendees, at the Conference web site. Because we keep this list published, the networking started at the conference can continue on Monday, and for the next six months and following decade.

When Arne, Duncan, Secretary of Education, says "This is the time to look in our collective mirror and ask whether we like what we see or whether we can do better together." .. this is what the conference is enabling.

Now it's time for those who want to help inner city kids, but cannot be directly involved as tutors/mentors, to look for other ways to help, such as making financial contributions to one of the organizations who attended the conference, or to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, who organizes this conference, and maintains a list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs so that volunteers, parents, and donors can shop and choose which program, in what neighborhood, they will support.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Networking Conference - Starts Thursday

I created this graphic when designing the program for the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. It illustrates how each tutor/mentor program is drawing from a network of volunteers, donors, ideas, and peers to support the youth who participate in their own programs.

Bradley Troast, our Public Interest Program Fellow from Northwestern, has posted a list of speakers on his blog. These are some of the people we are connecting to us, and each other. By writing this story on his blog, Bradly is encouraging people in his network to get involved with tutoring/mentoring.

Eric Davis sent an email blast to people in his network today. I posted it here. This is another example of how one of our peers is using his own media to draw people he knows into this network.

Imagine if thousands of people were doing this?

You can follow the conference on Twitter, and connect your own network to the people who will be attending. We're using hash tag #TMC09

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leadership and Networking Conference - Thursday and Friday

Every six months since May 1994 I've hosted a leadership and networking conference. The next one starts Thursday. We already have pre-registration of close to 150 people so this is the best turnout for a November conference in almost 10 years.

Take a look at the agenda and the attendee list. Maybe there are some people you'd like to meet.

It's tough organizing these events without much money. We'll be providing about 50 scholarships and reduced rate entrance fees. We could not do it without people volunteering their time as speakers and workshop presenters.

Thus if you'd like to help with a donation, you can send it to us at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642, or use our on-line donation form.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Free the Non Profits - read more

Dan Pallotta is a leading expert on innovation in the nonprofit sector and a pioneering social entrepreneur. I encourage you to take a look at some of his ideas.

Ben Wilson memorial in Trib. Sports Section. Why so little change after 25 years?

After I read my Chicago Tribune today I intended to write a blog focusing on the lack of change in Chicago 25 years after the death of Ben Wilson in 1984. In previous articles I've created maps showing media stories. See one here, and here.

In writing these, I go to the Tribune web site to get links. When I opened the site there was a new headline, saying "Mayhem spreads throughout city overnight after meetings to end violence"

Why is this happening?

One reason is that we compartmentalize these stories. Yet they are part of a complex problem that needs many solutions, in many places, at the same time. The people controlling the main media don't use their stories to point people to "web hubs" where they can learn about the problems, and be part of the solutions. All of this is part of building public will to solve problems.

For instance, the sports section devoted a full page to the Ben Wilson story. But where are stories showing how athletes are leading tutor/mentor programs, or raising money to support one or more programs in the city? We provide examples in the articles El Da'Sheon Nix, former NU football player, is writing on his blogs. The media could find these and use the concepts in their own stories.

The Tribune devoted full page coverage two two related stories today. One was the Chicago Public Schools strategy to provide paid mentoring and other support to about 300 of the most at-risk youth.

Another was the CEASE Fire effort to get students at Finger to talk to each other.

None of these is posting to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference being held this Thursday and Friday, Nov. 19 and 20. None are pointing at the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, which enables readers to see where tutor/mentor programs are needed, and what existing programs are operating, who also need funding in order to connect youth with volunteers and safe places and learning, so they don't become new kids on the CPS list in the future.

I posted an article from the Youth Mentoring Network of Australia's email newsletter on the T/MC web site this morning. It was steps programs who have lost funding, and are going out of business, should take to inform mentors and mentees.

We are still having this conversation 25 years after the death of Ben Wilson because the writers of all of these articles don't focus on connecting their stories to each other and the leaders in Chicago and the US and Australia, don't focus on ways to build a consistent flow of operating dollars to help constantly improving youth serving programs be in all of the neighborhoods where kids need this help, for dozens of years, not just for one workshop to get kids talking to each other, or for one intensive intervention with kids who are already well on the way to killing each other.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

DePaul Class Learns about Chicago... update

Part of my reading this weekend will be a review of articles written by first year students at DePaul University who are learning about the demographics of Chicago and the need for tutor/mentor programs in different areas.

I wrote about this assignment here. You can read the current blog articles written by these students here.

Meet students from this class Friday morning at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Building Networks of Support for Inner City Youth

I encourage you to read this article on network building. It's titled "You may find yourself... living in a large network, and you may ask yourself... well, how did I get here?

Come to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference next Thursday and Friday, and you can meet Valdis Krebs, Jean Russell and myself, and more than 100 other people who are involved in some way or another with helping at-risk kids stay in school and move to jobs and careers. You can view the speaker list and attendee list on the conference web site.

Connecting youth and volunteers in a tutor/mentor program is all about building networks. These two photos show me with Leo Hall, who was the first student I was introduced to, back in 1973. The second photo is of me with Tangela Smith Marlow, who graduated from Cabrini Connections in 1998. Both are connected to me on Facebook, along with more than 100 other former students and volunteers. We're still trying to help each other.

I've led a tutor/mentor program since 1975, where my role has been to enlist people from different companies, colleges, faith networks, to be tutors/mentors so that more people would connect with more kids. I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help programs like Cabrini Connections grow and operate in all parts of the Chicago region, not just at our single location near Cabrini Green.

The graphic below shows how I reach out to people I know, point them to Cabrini Connections, and information that I've collected, and then to maps where they can choose what part of the Chicago area they want to help, what zip code, and then what tutor/mentor program in that area.

Teaching people to use this information, or just getting more people to find it and think about it, is a huge challenge. The chart below illustrates how I reach out to other people who then can reach out to people they know. These people can use information created by the T/MC, or hosted on our sites, to choose where, why, and how to get involved.

However, I need more people helping me at the front end, to get people involved, and mentor them so their involvement grows, and has a greater impact. And I need people at the back end, helping maintain data, organize conference, publish maps, raise money, and all sorts of other activities.

I've been doing this work for more than 30 years and the number of people I've touched is extensive. However, I've had no simple ways to communicate these ideas.

That's why I'm so excited to have Valdis Krebs and Jean Russell do a workshop at the November 19 and 20 conference. Valdis understands social network analysis, and tools to map networks, much better than I do. Valdis wrote this article to show how he, Jean and I connected as a result of work started by Pierre Omidyar, The Omidyar Network, several years ago.

If we can apply this thinking to map the Tutor/Mentor Connection's network, and share our network, and this process, with others in Chicago, and other cities, we can teach more people to take the "network building" role that I have taken.

This will result in more and better tutor/mentor programs helping more youth born in poverty move through school and into jobs, using their own networks of friends, family and mentors.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poverty, Poorly Performing Schools, High Drop Out Rates

This map is one that the Tutor/Mentor Connection has created to show where poverty is most concentrated in the Chicago area, and how this contributes to poorly performing schools (see more).

I encourage you to visit this PDF to see maps showing the distribution of high school drop outs in Illinois. These maps were created by the Midwest Education Laboratory of Learning Point Associates, and were distributed at the High School Drop Out Summit held on Nov. 4th, in Bloomington.

The maps show where the problem is most severe. Volunteer-based Tutor/Mentor Programs are one strategy that can enlist more people who don't live in poverty, and may not have kids in school, but who need to be involved in making schools in low income areas more effective at helping kids move to college and 21st century careers.

If you want to enlist your church, business, college, fraternity of civic/social group in making more volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs available in urban areas, then come to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference next week at Northwestern University in Evanston.

If you can't come to the conference, connect with the T/MC on Ning, or Facebook, or visit our web site and begin to use the material to support your own understanding and involvement.

We're giving scholarships to more than 40 people at next week's conference. Can you make a donation to help offset that expense?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Building a Non-School Strategy

Over the past few day's I've reviewed the handouts I received at the Nov. 4 Drop Out Prevention Summit in Illinois. Here are some articles about the "drop out crisis" that I've posted on this blog. You can see that this is not a new crisis to me.

Most of the material I've looked at calls for a "school centered" strategy. However, the paper titled, Ensuring Workforce Skills of the Future: The Birth to Work Pipeline, talks about the disconnect between education strategies and workforce development priorities.

One report Titled "Closing the Graduation Gap: Cities in Crisis" focuses on the 50 largest cities in America where the size of the school age population, and the size of the geography, makes the solutions more complex than what faces smaller communities. Here's a link to a article I wrote in January 2008 about "locating the drop out crisis".

In Chicago and these other cities we need business leadership strategies that focus on other channels than public schools for connecting kids with adults who help build aspirations, and motivations, that help keep them in school, and point them at 21st century jobs and careers.

These channels can be non-school tutor/mentor programs, or they can be the Internet, or both. However, without devoting a part of the funding pie to making these programs available, as "distribution centers" for business and career mentoring ideas, there won't be enough programs reaching kids in high poverty areas, and the programs won't have enough experienced, motivated leaders, able to facilitate the involvement of business volunteers, and the integration of eLearning, mentoring and tutoring at each location.

Using the Chicago Program Links and Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, business leaders can build giving strategies that support one or more programs on an ongoing basis, and assure that each program has multiple sources of volunteers, and of operating dollars.

If your business, faith group, social or alumni group would like to create a strategy to support tutor/mentor programs, contact the T/MC at 312-492-9614, or attend the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on Nov. 19 and 20.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Engaging students in learning

We'll be hosting another Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference at Northwestern University on November 19 and 20. It's goal is to connect people involved, or interested, in volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring with each other, and with ideas they can use in their own programs, or to strategically support such programs in different places, or different cities.

Nicole White of the T/MC is conference organizer, and is writing about speakers on her blob.

We have links to more than 200 Chicago area youth serving programs on the T/MC web site. The goal is that leaders, volunteers and donors browse these sites to build their own opinion of best practices, and to borrow ideas that can be implemented in more places if donors provide the resources of time, talent and dollars.

One of these is the Cabrini Connections program that I've led since 1993 (and before that the Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, that I led since 1975).

We're trying to engage our teens and volunteers in learning, through a variety of tactics. One is that we have blogs that focus on each of our special learning activities. The blogs have become much more active this fall, and I encourage you to read them to see how kids are becoming engaged.

Art Club
Writing Club
Tech Club
Video Club
PIP Blog - Student/Volunteer Profiles
Cabrini Blog

Together these show a wide range of volunteers mentoring kids in a wide variety of learning and enrichment activities. I hope you'll visit these at least monthly and follow the growth of our students and the Cabrini Connections program. If you see ideas you'd like to adopt for your own tutor/mentor program, feel free to borrow and improve upon them.

If you are blogging your own work, why not share the link with us, so we can point people to your blog, as well as the Cabrini Connections blog.

Birth to Work Pipeline - White Paper

One of the papers I found as a result of attending the Nov. 4 Drop Out Prevention Summit was one titled Ensuring Workforce Skills of the Future: The Birth to Work Pipeline, written by Rick Stephens, Senior Executive Vice-President of The Boeing Company and Elane V. Scott, Leadership Strategist for Developing a Capable Workforce.

The call to action says "It is vital that business, media, government,health, community and education leaders come together and align their visions as never before. No one sector has the responsibility, capability or capacity to operate alone."

This is what I've been writing about, and trying to achieve for the past 15 years. My voice is just a whisper in the wilderness. Hopefully some of these business leaders will read the articles on leadership and strategy that I've written, and adopt some of these ideas in their own messages, for their own self interests.

They don't use graphics in this paper, but here is a T/MC graphic that I feel expresses the goal of this paper.

You can see the strategy map, and follow the links, on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site.

I urge readers of this blog to read the white paper, and respond to the call to action. Share this with leaders in your own business, faith group, college, alumni network. Then contact me to help you understand what you're looking at, or come to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on Nov. 19 and 20 and begin to connect your network and your ideas to the T/MC and the people in our network.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Network Building - Expanding the Choir

Below is a map I made of people who were in a Chicago area breakout session at the Illinois Drop Out Prevention Summit who I already knew. This map also shows others in the session with me who I did not know. There's a link to an attendee list showing that more than 200 people were signed up to attend the summit from the Chicago region. There were less than 70 in the breakout room I was in, so maybe the rest were in some of the other breakout rooms.

This map also shows the potential of expanding the number of people who look at th is information if we each share this information in our networks. Since my mission is to help tutor/mentor programs grow, and be in every high poverty neighborhood, this means I need the business, media, faith group and philanthropy people to use their own communications to point their networks to the Tutor/Mentor Connection library and list of more than 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations.

See map here.

Kicking off the Summit on Wednesday morning, Ed Rust, Chairman of State Farm Insurance Company make the following statements:

"This is an economic issue for all of us. But most of all, I'd say it is a moral imperative."

"We all must leave (this meeting) with an understanding that we all have a critical role to play to assure that all children leave school ready for careers."

"Assuming that someone else will fix this problem is negligence."

When Alma Powell, Chairman of the Board of America's Promise spoke she said about being a mentor, "don't start unless you plan to be there for the long term"

She ended by saying, "I know I'm preaching to the choir. You need to go out and tell the rest of the congregation what we need to do."

This chart illustrates this role. However, unless America's Promise and the others who organized and participated in this conference point to the Tutor/Mentor Institute, and this essay, too few people will see this and think of ways they can connect people in their network to this information, and to places where they can use time, talent, dollars, technology, jobs and facilities, to help kids move through school safely, and then enter 21st century jobs and careers.

Mrs. Powell said, "Children don't vote" ....

To me this means that the adults we connect to them via tutor/mentor programs need to be advocates and resource providers who vote for them.

Lowering the HS Drop Out Rate - Heavy Lifting to Do

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, I attended a High School Dropout Prevention Summit in Bloomington, Ill. I was one of several hundred people from around the state. You can see the complete list of attendees here.

Ed Rust, CEO of State Farm Insurance Company, was the host of the event. Alma Powell, Chairman of America's Promise was the keynote speaker.

Mr. Rust led off the meeting with statistics that showed the negative economic impact of high drop out rates, and the cost-benefit to Illinois if we could reduce this by even a small percent. You an see the statistics here. Many employees of State Farm, and of Boeing, helped facilitate the sessions of this event. It shows how volunteers can do more to support tutoring/mentoring than just being tutors/mentors.

He led off the meeting saying, "we have some heavy-lifting to do" to reduce the drop out rate in Illinois, and prepare more youth for 21st century jobs and careers.I agree and look forward to working with people who attended, and who organized, this event, to make that happen.

The T/MC has created maps showing where there are concentrations of high poverty, and poorly performing schools. These are areas with some of the highest drop out rates. We overlay business locations on these maps, to encourage companies to develop communications strategies that get volunteers involved from all of the places where they do business. These volunteers can support technology, be board members, help with human resources and planning, in addition to being tutors/mentors. They just need to be coached to take these roles.

I hope that some of the people attending the summit will follow up on the challenges of the Drop Out Summit, and will attend the Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago on Nov. 19 and 20, where they can move a step forward to engagement with the different programs already in this battle and who need reinforcements to continue doing their work.

You can read more about the drop out crisis in this section of the T/MC library.

I'll post more articles about this DropOut summit over the next few days.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

DePaul Student Killed. Lost Opportunity.

The Chicago Tribune has an article today, titled "DePaul mourns a slain student". Every shooting is a tragedy. This one is even greater because the student killed was one who showed so much promise and leadership. Read the story. Morn with me. Then read The Rest of this Story.

This map shows where the shooting took place. It was created using the Tutor/Mentor Interactive Program Locator.

We post these stories following negative news, because we want readers to go beyond the angst cause by how media report, to become researchers and social activists, who take actions that reduce this type of tragedy in the future.

We've tried to encourage the formation of "learning circles" at colleges, hospitals, faith groups, high schools, etc. and it's been a slow process. Thus, I was excited this fall when a professor at DePaul asked how she and her first year students could work with the T/MC. I encouraged them to divide into teams and learn about the different neighborhoods of Chicago, and about how different levels of poverty and non-school tutor/mentor programs, give some youth more hope and opportunities than others.

They have been doing that. You can find the class blog here.

Some of these students grew up in inner city neighborhoods, so they understand what's going on in the city. Most did not, so they only understand the impact of poverty through what they see in the papers. This story hits home for this group. Now as they write about poverty, and look at our maps and tutor/mentor program info, it becomes more real.

What if this neighborhood had a wide range of mentor-rich programs, with arts, technology, career development and leadership opportunities, with people from many business background personally involved in helping youth make positive choices that might lead them to futures out of poverty? What does it make for such programs to be available in this neighborhood, or other neighborhoods?

As teams learn the answers to these questions, and propose their own solutions, and share what they are thinking and learning on their blogs, they become part of the solution. They can tell The Rest of The Story and try to get adults, businesses and elected leaders more consistently involved.

If they continue doing this learning and network building for the next four years, many will leave DePaul prepared to be leaders of tutor/mentor programs, or of business and philanthropy strategies that make consistent resources more available to operate these programs. They can change the future.

If you would like to duplicate this project, at your school, faith group, or company, here's the outline of goals set for the class. You can also meet some of the students at the Tutor/Mentor Conference on Nov. 19 and 20.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Students as Leaders - Treats for Cabrini

While there are many negative stories about young people and violence in Chicago neighborhoods, this photo illustrates the way some teens are trying to have an influence in what their futures will be.

As we started the 2009-10 school year at Cabrini Connections, we were uncertain we'd have the money to operate all year. Many of our volunteers and staff have responded with various fund raising campaigns, and one of our student leaders, Melissa Young, suggested that a bake sale be held on Saturday, October 30. She and her mentor, Elena Lugo, (shown with Ashaunti Roby and other volunteers) organized the event, recruited other students and volunteers, and then stood out on the street in 40 degree cold to lure customers to come in and buy some baked goods. More than $300 was raised, and a new sense of teamwork emerged.

You can see from this photo, that I'm getting old. I'll be 63 in December. It is critically important that young people, who are in Cabrini Connections now, or were involved in past years, and our volunteers, take ownership of the ideas in this blog, and the vision of Cabrini Connections, so that they will be willing to spend many Saturdays and Sundays for many years, to assure that programs like this are in their lives, and in the lives of many other youth living in high poverty, inner city neighborhoods.

We have more than 100 former students, volunteers and staff in our group on Facebook, plus another 600 friends. This can be an "army of good" if during the next 8 weeks, and in the coming year, each person makes just one personal donation, and makes one effort each week, to introduce one more person to the work we are doing and the information we share on our web sites.

This is "network building". We all have networks. We need to learn to map them, and use them to do good, and to help each of us overcome the challenges we face in life. On November 20 the Tutor/Mentor Conference will host Valdas Krebs and Jean Russell, who will talk about how to map your network and engage it in purpose driven activities.