Saturday, March 05, 2016

Planning Process for Building Great Career-Focused Tutor/Mentor Programs

When I started as a volunteer tutor/mentor in 1973, I had little understanding of the issues challenging inner city youth, schools and families or of what to do as a volunteer tutor/mentor.

So I started gathering information and learning from others.  When I became the leader of the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward in 1975,  I continued this process, but expanded my range of learning to ideas of how to recruit and retain youth and volunteers, and how to support, train and motivate volunteers to be part of the program I was leading.

In 1990 when we converted the program at Montgomery Ward to a non-profit, I had to expand my learning to  understand the business side of operating a non-profit as well as the marketing and outreach side of generating consistent operating dollars to fuel our efforts. I had to learn about fund raising, and understand the challenges I and others like me were facing.  Thus, I widened my search for ideas and peers to short-cut my learning.

In 1993 when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and made a commitment to help tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago I had to widen my learning even more and when we took all of this onto the Internet in 1998, I expanded what I was learning, and who I was learning from to include people and organizations from around the US and the rest of the world. I had to learn uses of technology, and geographic mapping, to focus attention on all neighborhoods where help was needed. 

Almost all of the articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 reflect on this process of learning, with the goal of building and sustaining mentor-rich programs in all poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

I created this graphic, and this series of articles, to illustrate my goal of influencing what resource providers do, not just what volunteers and leaders of non-profit organizations do.

Over the years, I've come to understand what I've been doing as part of a 4-part strategy that begins with collecting information that supports my learning, innovation and on-going efforts to improve the impact of the work I was a volunteer, as a program leader, and as the leader of an intermediary organization.

In the presentation below, I have outlined the four steps and I offer them to anyone who is building an organization, or a business.

This is  on of many illustrated strategy essays you can find in the web library I've created over the past 18 years.  We're in March now and headed toward the end of the 2015-16 school  year. As you read this  (and hopefully share it), you are either in the position of someone who can help an existing program end the year strong and start the 2016-17 school year even better prepared to impact the lives of youth and adults, or you're in a position of helping a new program grow in areas where there are too few programs or where specific additional services are needed.

If you're looking to start a single program, or improve an existing one, I encourage you to look at this presentation and follow the planning and team-building steps.

This is one of three presentations related to starting and operating a tutor/mentor program that I've put on line. 

The media have been reminding me and you for over 20 years that we have some complex problems that will take the involvement of everyone...the fix. 

While we want quick fixes to end the daily violence, we must put time into planning and building comprehensive solutions that reach youth when they are just entering school and stay connected till they have finished school and are starting jobs and careers.

That's a huge task that requires on-going efforts of thousands of leaders.  These presentations should offer some ideas to support your efforts. 

While I've been leading the Tutor/Mentor Connection for over 20 years, many other intermediary organizations have grown in Chicago, focused on similar goals.   I created the concept map at the right to show who some of these groups are, and to help connect them to me, and to each other.

I encourage you to look at their web sites and compare what they do and the information they point to on their web sites to what I do.  Few use a map to say "all of these neighborhoods need great programs". Few have a web library that is as extensive as the one I host, which they could have if they just pointed to my web library from their site.  Few have a similar map, showing who their competitors and partners are.  Many are now using maps, and on-line directories, which I started doing 12  years ago. 

If you value the work I do and the resources I share, make a contribution using the PayPal button here or reach out and start a conversation about how you can help me sustain the library and ideas I've collected over the past 40 years through a partnership that enables you and your organization to continue this work over the next 40 years.

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