Saturday, April 23, 2011

eChicago2011 Network-Building

Last Thursday evening I attended an event at the Boeing Corporation HQ in Chicago hosted by NetImpact Chicago. The focus was Corporate Social Responsibility.

Friday I attended the eChicago2011 event held at UIC. This continued today and streaming video and #echicago2011 tweets can be seen at

There was no overlap in participants in these meetings. Thus the ideas shared in one group and the second group are not least on the surface. However, since I point to both groups in this article, and with the links on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site, and via invitations to the May 19 and 20 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, they and others like them do have the potential to connect through the work I do.

I have developed graphics in the past to illustrate how my goal is to build connections between different groups who focus on issues important to the mission of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. By sharing links and organizing networking events, we not only invite people to connect with T/MC, but to connect with each other. The chart below is an example.

The ideas shared by the NetImpact speaker were important to me and should be important to anyone working to help create social justice in America and the world. The Business Community needs to be strategically and morally involved.

Yet to me, the talent and time of the NetImpact volunteers who attended the event is even more important. In 2007 a Net Impact fellow started this Business School Connection wiki. In 2010 a team of Net Impact volunteers started this comparison of the T/MC to mentoring partnerships around the country. If just one person volunteers to help T/MC as a result of my attending, that would be a great success. If they just visit our web sites and start learning what we're doing it would be a success.

I attended four workshops yesterday at the eChicago event.

I was impressed with Matthew Guilford's vision for what the City Of Chicago seeks to do to create public computer centers and a digital youth network. I think T/MC could help in this area.

I also found the discussion of eBooks to be valuable. One statement saying that "1/3 of kids read more with eBooks" suggested that this would be a great tool in non-school tutor/mentor programs if volunteers learned to mentor kids to use ebooks, and helped raise the money to make the eBook Readers more available in high poverty areas. I encouraged speakers to present information about ebooks at the May 19 and 20 conference.

The discussions of "libraries as places for community learning and collaboration" is something I've been interested in for a long time. Chicago libraries were using the printed T/MC program directories in the late 1990s. I attended a session on libraries at the 2008 eChicago event. I think T/MC ideas would be a valuable resource for area libraries. I would love to be able to provide training for them to use the Program Locator and to help them build T/MC support strategies from each library.

Another workshop was Joel Rubin's description of technology changes at the National Association of Social Workers Illinois Chapter. It parallels the movement to a web-based strategy by the T/MC over the past 12 years. This is another group I'd like to connect to tutor/mentor programs via the May and November conferences and on-line forums.

The last workshop of Friday was one talking about Technology and Revolution. Speakers talked about how social media has been used to spark and sustain revolution in the Middle East and North Africa, and in Wisconsin. Some of the speakers were fervent in the belief that a greater social revolution is coming.

I resonate with part of this because my own goals are to revolutionize how non profits are supported so better k-16 tutor/mentor programs are in more places for more years of consistent growth and improvement.

You can connect with eChicago on Twitter @eChicago2011 and with NetImpact on Linked in. You can find links to each of these and many more in this blog and in the Tutor/Mentor Connection library. My hope is that the people from these forums and many others will find ways to continue to meet in on-line forums and face to face events, and that I can find time to join with them.

We can all use these new technologies to map out collective actions that lead to revolutionary change...and to a better world once the revolution is over.

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