Monday, December 27, 2010

Expanding the Network - A Decade-long Effort

Last week I wrote about the number of students who had been part of Cabrini Connections each year since 2000.

Then in follow up articles I showed how the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) has been collecting information, sharing that with maps and graphics, and organizing conferences and other network-building to encourage people to look at the information and use it to support their efforts to make more programs like Cabrini Connections available.

Think of it, if one program can provide mentoring/tutoring support to 60-70 teens a year, then 100 programs in a huge city could reach 6,000 or more.

The cost savings to society would be huge if youth in those programs avoided lives of crime or poverty because of more success in moving through school and into work. Then why not invest in the infrastructure needed to make this happen?

This graphic shows the process the T/MC supports. While we all want more kids to stay in school and be prepared for jobs and careers, someone needs to be building a knowledge base that includes information about all of the tutor/mentor programs in the city, if we’re going to learn what works, and help each of the programs get the resources to put what we learn to work in building great programs in every poverty neighborhood.

Collecting information about tutor/mentor programs is a huge challenge. Helping people come together and learn from this information is another challenge.

Because we’ve embraced the potential of the internet we’re drawing people to our web sites who are already interested in what we have to offer. The chart below shows the growth in web visits to to CC, T/MC sites since 2000.

In the T/MC links library we share the experience of others. For instance, this site on web evangelism provides useful information that any non profit could use to attract volunteers and donors.

These blog articles provide even more ideas that any non-profit, including Cabrini Connections, can use for fund raising, volunteer-recruitment and information networking. The links in this section show ways to collaborate, innovate, manage knowledge, and solve problems.

On the T/MC Ning site we’re coaching volunteers and interns to help us communicate our ideas via blogs and visualizations.

While we seek to support tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, the people we are connecting with come from all over the world. Here are some links that illustrate this. (editor note: as of 2016 many of these sites no longer exist)

Social Edge discussion of T/MC maps – Maps and What’s Possible, 2010

UK volunteer video showing how to use T/MC OHATS

How connecting people increases power, by Paul Mondeshire (NYC),

Oprah’s Angel Network article 2009

Crowdsourcing the MacArthur Awards, Phil Shapiro, Sep. 2009

Raising the Buzz: At the table with Dan Bassill, Feb. 09

MapTogether interview, 2009

High Quality Complementary Learning Programs, Learning Point Associates.

We have been connecting with others via blog exchanges since we started this blog in 2005.

While we've had less money for traditional print media and advertising, we’ve embraced the Internet, and share our ideas on-line. We’re reaching far more people each year than we were in 2000. The articles posted above show that the network building and relationship building of the early and mid 2000’s is now leading to work by others that shares T/MC ideas in their own networks.

This is still just a whisper in the internet world. We not only need to find funds to invest in greater advertising and social networking, but we need to find ways to help people understand and use this information. We need to find ways to expand the number of people who understand and share this information like I do and we need to find funding so that I can spend more time in meeting with people in face-to-face events that are held in other cities. While I know that what we do on the Internet has power, it is not a total substitute for face-to-face networking and relationship building.

The 4-part strategy shows that step one is collecting and organizing information. Step two is increasing attention and the number of people who look at the information. Step 3 focuses on helping people understand and use the information so that in step 4 more people are taking actions that support high quality tutor/mentor programs in more places.

View at this link

Tomorrow we’ll post an article about accountability and actions we and others need to take daily to help constantly improving tutor/mentor programs reach youth in more places.

Then we’ll conclude with an analysis of funds available to do this work and opportunities that would result from more funds becoming available.

See the Tutor/Mentor Connection library of ideas.

Learn ways to become a sponsor, donor or beneficiary.

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