Friday, November 08, 2019

Can you help youth tutor, mentor programs grow?

View list of programs
I've maintained a list of nearly 200 Chicago area non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs since 1993 and use my blog and social media to try to draw attention, ideas, volunteers and donors directly to each program, based on information they show on their web sites.

I try go through the list at least twice a year, just to make sure the websites are working, and to update myself on how they tell their stories.  While I think some do a great job (see below) many don't provide enough information.

Having led a small program from 1975 to 2011, I know how difficult it is to find the talent and dollars to build a web site and keep it updated with great content. Thus, I keep looking for ways to influence others to provide this support.

First, let's look at a couple of examples of web sites providing great content and how I draw attention to them on Twitter.

Urban Initiatives uses its blog to show strategy and results

I Could Be - not a Chicago area program, but view web site to see how they show programs and impact

Here are a couple of others that I pulled from the list on the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) web site. (Note: T/MC was started in 1993. It now is operated as part of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, formed in 2011. The names are used interchangeably in this blog.)

Horizons for Youth
As I've looked at Chicago area program websites from year to year I see some providing great information to show what they do and the impact they have.

At the left is the "impact" page from the Horizons for Youth Program.  It's a combination of stories and numbers.

Tutoring Chicago Impact

At the right is a screenshot from an impact report that is in a PDF format on the Tutoring Chicago web site. (note: I led this program from 1975 to 1992)

In my last updating of Chicago area program web sites I saw several who presented their stories in interesting ways, but few showing a theory of change or participation data.  Websites are constantly being updated so as I look through them again over the next month I'll update this blog with a few more.

However, what I'm really hoping to inspire is a university to partner with me and do this website review annually. 

Intern review 2008
At the left is a screenshot from a page on the site, showing work interns did in 2008 to visit Chicago tutor/mentor program web sites, then post a brief review.

There are several pages of these. Click here for page 9, then look at others in reverse order.

Here's a different example. On this blog you can see a different set of stories about Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs, written by Nicole White, a Northwestern graduate, during here fellowship and employment with Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Universities in Chicago
I've not had the resources to have interns working for me this consistently since 2014.  My goal since forming the T/MC in 1993 has been that colleges and universities in different parts of the Chicago region would create on-going Tutor/Mentor Connection student teams who would build a library of knowledge about tutor/mentor programs in their sections of the city, then share it on blogs and social media like I do.

That would be much more effective than just me going through the list to pick out websites I feel do a great job of telling a program's story.

Interested?  Contact me.  This link shows social media sites where we can connect.

So, what should you be looking for on a tutor/mentor program's website?  Take a look at this presentation which shows what I think is important.

Few program websites provide this much information. That's why I suggested at the start of this blog that volunteers from industry, universities, social groups, etc. might adopt neighborhoods and build web site templates that could be updated easily by program staff and other volunteers or by students who are part of university Tutor/Mentor Connection teams.

If we can help programs tell their stories better, and attract more consistent resources, we can help them be more powerful in how they help kids and volunteers connect, and how that helps kids move through school and into adult lives.  It's a tipping point, which so far I've not been able to reach.

Is this possible? Do you think it's possible? If yes, share the idea and help make it happen.

Thanks for reading.

If you want to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and help me keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection operating in Chicago, and as a model for other cities, click here and send a contribution. 

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