Saturday, February 20, 2016

Unleashing student talent -- ongoing effort

Yesterday I and three others, met with a group of students who are part of the DePaul University Center for Writing Based Learning. Representatives from Gads Hill Center and 826 Chi talked about their youth serving programs and ways volunteers can get involved.  A representative from Story Studio talked about writing classes for adults, and roles for volunteers and interns.

I shared this PDF, showing how students from DePaul and other colleges could be duplicating my work, helping make well-organized tutor/mentor programs available in more places, so that more volunteers could reach urban youth with tutoring, mentoring, writing and learning activities.

For those who are interested in investigating this, I encourage you to read the text below, which I first wrote in 2010 to support the work of a class of first year-students at DePaul.

This fall an Explore Chicago class at DePaul University is learning about the gaps between rich and poor in Chicago, and the availability of tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods. As they learn, they are sharing this information on blogs like this one, which talks about tutor/mentor programs in the Austin area on the far West Side.

Another group talks about the far South Side, and another talks about the South Shore area. You can also read about the Near North, the Northwest Side, and the Southwest Side of Chicago.

I've written about roles universities and their alumni could take in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in different parts of the city and suburbs. Imagine if the marketing, journalism and even one or two fraternities from each university duplicated this as an on-going project. Over a period of years their understanding of tutor/mentor program need and availability would become more sophisticated than that of most leaders in the city, and their ability to draw resources into the neighborhood to help each program grow would also surpass that of any current elected or business leader.

Even high school students could take on this role. Instead of being a victim in a poorly performing school, students could be leaders and advocates demanding that the adult world deliver the resources that are already available to kids in other neighborhoods.

If you take on a project like this, and use the Tutor/Mentor Connection as a resource, like the DePaul class is doing, just let us know so we can coach your progress the way we're doing with the DePaul group, and with other interns and volunteers who are writing about tutoring/mentoring and the T/MC on the T/MC Ning Site.

Once you've looked at the blog articles written by DePaul students in 2009 and 2010, consider doing similar work, but as an on-going project, that continues for many years and makes your web site a destination for yourself and other alumni and students in future years.

Then view this video of a Google Hangout held last Thursday morning, connecting me with Terry Elliott, who teaches at Western Kentucky University, and Simon Ensor, who is a teacher at a university in France.

My hope is that students from DePaul and other universities will dig into the information on my web sites, including work previous interns have done, then will begin to create stories of their own that duplicate what I've been doing for the past 20 years to raise greater visibility and draw more consistent resources to non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs operating in Chicago and other cities. Each story or video should end with a "call to action" pointing people to this list that I maintain, or to similar program directories maintained by others.

Furthermore, as students begin this work, I want to encourage them to connect with others, in Chicago and in universities throughout the world, to share ideas, provide reinforcement, and encourage duplication of this activity in more places. See article.

This is all part of a 4-part strategy created since 1994.  While some students will begin to write stories, others need to begin to build directories showing what tutor/mentor programs operate in the area they focus on.  Others will begin to build web libraries, pointing to resources programs and students can learn from.  Others will begin to track activity and create maps like the one above, that show who is doing this work, and connect them with each other.

Over time such work can expand to include students from all parts of a university, as well as alumni and faculty and community members, creating a true "village" of people working to help the youth in the neighborhood go more safely and successfully from birth to work.

I'll look forward to reading what others write about this.

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