Tuesday, December 27, 2011

National Mentoring Month - Who Mentored You?

On December 26, 2006 I wrote this article. I've updated it as we head into the 2012 National Mentoring Month.

During January the attention of the nation will be focused on mentoring
through the 4th Annual National Mentoring Month campaign. During the month many celebrities will talk of how important a mentor has been in their lives.

A few months ago I heard a former US Attorney for Northern Illinois, Anton Valukas, talk about how his years as a mentor to 3 inner city boys was more important than the years he was the powerful US Attorney.

I've been a leader of a tutor/mentor program for more than 30 years, and I agree with how important mentoring is, to the youth we've connected with adults, and to the youth connected to mentors. I also know, that mentoring alone, is not enough to help kids living in high poverty, inner-city neighborhoods stay in school and move to jobs and careers. That's why I coined a term "Total Quality Mentoring, TQM", which describes the type of mentor-rich program we lead at Cabrini Connections in Chicago.

In a TQM program we surround youth with many adults, not just the primary one-on-one mentor, and we provide a range of learning, enrichment and skill building activities. This is a village of adults, all focused on helping raise the kids to reach jobs and careers by their mid 20s.

2011 note: Recent research based on social capital theory shows the value of expanding the network of adults and learning experiences surrounding inner city youth.

Good mentoring, regardless of the format, depends on an effective system of coaching and support for mentors. In a TQM program, that system of support requires funds to rent space, provide computers, and offer learning activities in addition to mentoring. Every tutor/mentor program in Chicago shares the same common needs. Leadership and innovative marketing strategies need to be developed to motivate donors and volunteers to support all of these programs, not just a few high profile groups.

That's why I hope that during the final days of 2006 (now 2012) you will think of who mentored you and look for ways to make a financial donation to support one or more of the programs included in the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Links list.

That's why I also hope investors, partners and donors will also support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC so we can keep Tutor/Mentor Connection available to Chicago and help similar intermediary organizations grow in other cities.

My hope is that some of the lawyers and stock brokers who are making multi-million dollar bonuses this year will think of how a mentor has helped them have their success, and they will make major gifts to tutor/mentor programs, rather than the IRS, as a way of celebrating their success.

With such help some of our teens can be successful business leaders in the future. Can you help make that happen?

Thanks to everyone who has helped us connect inner-city Chicago youth with volunteer tutors and/or mentors during the past year. Your donations will help us do that again in 2012.

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