Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Reasons to Support Tutor/Mentor Programs

Today the Chicago Tribune featured a story about a program in Baltimore that is working with high risk youth. This is the program Chicago Public Schools is bringing to Chicago.

This week Time Magazine featured an article about the decline of jobs for teens in America.

These represent two parts of the same problem, but are they connected in the media, or in public policy? Youth without jobs living in high poverty areas represent a breeding ground for negative behavior and illegal commerce. Youth without mentors, extra learning, or role models to show paths through school and into careers, are more vulnerable to be recruited by the negative forces in their lives.

What are leaders doing to help all youth move through school to jobs and careers? Do you see any of these ideas from the people who want to be elected to be Governor, Senator, local representatives in Illinois?

Our maps show that there are already too few volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, and they are poorly distributed around the city. Unless volunteers and donors step forward in January and this spring, some of the existing programs may run out of the money needed to continue. Unless other leaders step forward, we'll never increase the number of good programs. Unless businesses connect these programs to their workforce development strategies, we won't have jobs/vocational training to help kids stay in school and move to legitimate careers.

Who is writing about this? Who is advocating for this?

In other cities and states there are "mentoring partnerships" which are funded by state, government, business and foundation donations. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, these operate with budgets ranging from $300,000 to $1 million per year.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection operates with less than $225,000 in the third largest city in the country. Yet we do much with our money to draw volunteers and donors to individual programs, and to help programs grow in areas where none now exist.

If we want to address the issues of poverty, gangs, violence, poor schools, future workforce, we need leaders who will support the growth of individual tutor/mentor programs throughout the region, and we need leaders who will provide funding to the Tutor/Mentor Connection at a level that is near what other partnerships receive.

If you can help, use the resources on the T/MC site to connect directly with individual programs, or call the T/MC at 312-492-9614.

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