Thursday, December 30, 2010

The past. The future. The Money.

I received this message from Courtland Madock a former Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor volunteer this week, showing that the student she had worked with recently graduated from college.

Just wanted to share with all of you that a couple of weeks before Christmas I had the distinct honor of watching Diara Fleming graduate from Northern Illinois University. It was one of the most amazing things I have witnessed. In just over 4 years, Diara has worked her way through NIU to graduate with a GPA of over 3.0. She plans to go on to graduate school as soon as possible.

For those of you who don't know Diara, she was a bright student at both Cabrini Green Tutoring and the Cabrini Connections. She graduated from Walter Peyten High School and went straight to NIU. Although the road was not easy for her- Diara has done tremendously through her career at NIU and I am confident she will accomplish amazing things. Diara will tell you that she could not have graduated without the support of many others outside of her family which simply did not provide the support she needed.

I tell you this not to be boastful in any way of my involvement- but to stress how critical it is for programs like Cabrini to continuing pairing up tutors/mentors so they have the support network they need to be successful.

This message shows two goals of Cabrini Connections. One is that students finish high school and go on to college and graduate. The second is that volunteers who join the program and connect with teens stay involved for many years, even beyond the time when the teens finish high school and the formal 7th to 12th grade program. Courtland has been organizing the annual year-end dinner for Cabrini Connections for the past four years while she has continued to mentor Diara. Thus, her volunteer roles have changed and expanded.

That's what we hope happens with many volunteers because if adults who don't live in poverty growth their own personal commitment and involvement we will be able to do much more over many years to help kids who do live in poverty. View this presentation at this link to see how volunteers can grow into leaders if well supported by tutor/mentor programs.

If this is happening in one small program in Chicago, what can we do to help make programs like this available in hundreds of locations in Chicago and in other cities? I encourage you to take a look at this Tutor/Mentor Connection logic model.

a) if you believe that connecting a youth and mentor/tutor volunteer is important (and the story above shows that it is), then

b) you should accept that for these connections to be made linking inner city youth with workplace volunteers, structured organizations like Cabrini Connections need to be in place close enough to where kids can participate regularly, and safe enough that volunteers and kids both will be willing to attend on a consistent basis, supported with staff who mentor youth and volunteers over the years that they are connected.

c) if you accept that organized programs are needed, you should be willing to support efforts that make such programs more available to youth in all poverty neighborhoods of big cities like Chicago.

Over the past two weeks I’ve shown what Cabrini Connections has done over the past decade and since starting in 1993. I’ve shown what the Tutor/Mentor Connection has done to support programs like Cabrini Connections in all parts of Chicago and in other parts of the USA and the world.

In many articles, like this one written by Mike Trakan of the T/MC we show the high costs of poverty and demonstrate way maps could be used by leaders to build a distribution of high-quality tutor/mentor programs and volunteer-based learning centers.

In one study, Marc Cohen of Vanderbilt University writes, “We estimate the present value of saving a 14-year-old high risk juvenile from a life of crime to range from $2.6 to $5.3 million. Similarly, saving a high risk youth at birth would save society between $2.6 and $4.4 million.”

Now let’s talk about the resources we have to do this work.

This chart shows that T/MC has spent less than $200,000 to achieve its goals each year since 2000. It spent less than $125,000 from 2003 to 2007. Note, this number does not include the costs of rented space, utilities and insurance.

In spring 2010 a team of Net Impact Chicago volunteers compared the T/MC to mentoring partnerships operating in 10 different cities and states. This chart shows that the T/MC is serving the largest regional population.

This chart shows that while T/MC serves the largest regional population, it has the lowest amount of revenue per year.

The Net Impact report is available in the Tutor/Mentor Institute Library along with other ideas that we share. As with all T/MC projects this is still a work in progress due to lack of funding and inconsistent availability of volunteers and/or research interns. With additional funding and manpower T/MC could expand this research project, engage the leaders of mentoring partnerships and similar support networks in other cities, and create a source of information that every city could use to compare its own actions with peers, with a goal that each city and state is constantly innovating ways to improve what it does to help high quality, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach young people who need such programs the most.

This is just one example of opportunities for researchers to help T/MC help others.

A grant writer visited the T/MC recently. As I walked her through the mapping, the social network analysis project, the Business School Connection Project and the OHATS sections she said over, and over, “that looks like a project a university would love to take on”.

We agree. However without a funding partner to help get the attention of researchers who are already focused on their own projects, T/MC has not found any who are willing to find their own money to become a T/MC partner.

As we enter the new decade the reports I’ve posted in the past two weeks show that Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection has had a tremendous impact on the teens who have participated in the program we operate near the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago. We’ve also built a system of support that is being used by thousands of people in Chicago and throughout the world.

We’ve done this with limited money, which is also inconsistent in when it comes, and who is giving. We’ve engaged volunteers and interns. We’ve drawn from the talent and ideas of people throughout the world.

Imagine what we might do if a benefactor decided to support CC, T/MC efforts in the way Leonardo da Vinci was supported by the Medici family during the Renaissance period.

As we enter the new decade, we offer the opportunity for one, or many benefactors to share in the joy of helping others, of not only mentoring youth, but of mentoring volunteers, leaders of tutor/mentor programs all over the world, and mentoring leaders in business, government, religion and philanthropy so that there is a better operating system in place to support youth as they move from a birth in poverty, through formal school and learning, and into jobs and adult responsibilities.

Help us turn my 35 years of experience leading a tutor/mentor program, along with the knowledge we’ve collected from others working throughout the world, into a Tutor/Mentor Institute that can continue to collect and share information, and expand the number of leaders who use this information, for many decades to come.

See pdf review of past decade.

Update 5/11/2018 - In 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was discontinued as a strategy of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC was created by Dan Bassill, founder of CC and the T/MC, to keep this work going in Chicago. 

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