Sunday, January 28, 2018

Mentoring Month Ending. Work of Building Strong Programs Continues

The annual #NationalMentoringMonth focus on mentoring is now ending. However, the long-term work of building strong volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs that help economically disadvantaged youth move through school and into adult roles, responsibilities and jobs, is continuing.

"How can we do this better?" has been the focus of my work since I started leading a tutoring program in Chicago in 1975, and of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in 1993.

To get better we need to find time to look at what others are doing, look at the research, and look at ideas people share that you can use to improve your own skills, and the youth support strategies you lead. 

When I created the T/MC in 1993 the goal was to help all programs in the Chicago region get more consistent attention, which would lead to a better flow of volunteers and operating dollars to each program in the city. Better funding would enable programs to keep talented people and give those people time to spend learning ways to be better at helping kids and volunteers connect, and helping those connections lead kids through school.  Below is a 1994 article focusing on the public awareness part of this strategy.

Chicago Tribune - 1994 - read story
I keep focusing on the flow of resources and the talent needed to build and sustain long-term programs. In many of my articles and all of my web sites and blogs I point to this list of Chicago programs and this concept map showing other Chicago-based intermediaries focusing on well-being of youth.

In 1993 I was also starting a new non profit tutor/mentor program to serve teens in Cabrini-Green in, yet the T/MC has always encouraged donors and volunteers to shop our list of programs and find one or more to support. While this helped us attract support for our own program, it was also intended to help others.

I don't find many intermediaries or individual programs who consistently do the same, which means we're all still competing with each other for a shrinking pool of resources.

I've written this blog since 2005. I don't find many who have written the same type of articles for so long, or who  have been building and sharing a web library since the late 1990s.

And that means, for many, it's difficult to constantly improve. Form some, it's difficult to survive.

That needs to change.

If you value what I've been doing, send a contribution to help me continue in 2018. 

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