Monday, September 07, 2020

Our Children Need Your Help

Between 1995 and 2003 the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I led, organized an annual Chicago area tutor/mentor volunteer recruitment campaign. This always kicked off on Labor Day weekend, since it was in the weeks after that many people made decisions to volunteer. Below is the 2001 Campaign Manifesto, with signatures of leaders who endorsed the campaign.

You can see that Lura Lynn Ryan, First Lady of Illinois, and Richard M. Daley were signers. As were Governor George Ryan, and Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago schools and future Secretary of Education.  Visit this page and read about the goals and history of the campaign.  Visit this page to see the campaign manifesto and see who else signed this call to action. 

We had support from CPS CEO Paul Vallas in the early years of the campaign and received a $25,000 annual grant from 1998-2002 from a single foundation to fund a part time campaign organizer.  However, that funding did not continue beyond the 9/11 tragedy and 2002. With fewer dollars we moved the campaign and conference organizing on-line, using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator to help people find tutor/mentor programs in different parts of the city, on a year-round basis, not just in September.

From 1993 through 2000 we also had pro bono support from Public Communications, Inc (PCI) a Chicago PR firm.  As a result we were able to get consistent attention from Chicago media, for the recruitment campaign and the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, which we held in May and November every year from 1994 till 2015.  Visit this page to see a long list of media stories resulting from T/MC and PCI efforts. 

These were part of a year-round strategy intended to draw attention, volunteers and flexible operating dollars to EVERY youth tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region. 

President Obama was not a signer of the Manifesto, but was a speaker at the 1999 Tutor/Mentor Conference.  Mayor Daley also appeared at a conference, as did Paul Vallas, CEO of CPS.

However, none of the people who signed the Campaign Manifesto between 1999 and 2002 actually embraced the vision and strategies of the T/MC, nor have any in the years before, or since then.

Thus, while my small organization continued to lead this effort as the Tutor/Mentor Connection through mid 2011 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since then (while also leading our own small tutor/mentor program), too few have been actively supporting the four strategies that we piloted in 1994.

These are described in the visual shown below and at this link

Step 1: collect information others can use, including list of Chicago area youth tutor, mentor and learning programs;

Step 2: create on-going public awareness intended to draw viewers to information in step 1; 

Step 3: facilitate understanding of information in the library, so more would use it to help great programs reach k-12 youth in more places

Step 4: Use attention generated in Step 2 to motivate people to use the program list to seek out places where they can offer time, talent and dollars to help great programs connect youth and volunteers in on-going efforts intended to help youth move safely through school.  Information collected from programs each year would update library in Step 1.

The timeline below shows some of the milestones of the T/MC's 1993-2020 efforts.  View at

While I still act on all four steps of the 4-part strategy, I've had almost no help, and no funding, to do this since 2015 when I hosted the last Tutor/Mentor Conference.  

Yet, media stories remind us daily of  how people in high poverty areas and people of color need extra help. Engaging volunteers through organized youth tutor/mentor programs is just one of many resources and investments needed in many places.

Now, with the Covid19 pandemic moving most students to virtual learning, there are even more challenges of sustaining non-school tutor and mentor programs, and their connections with kids. We need to connect people, ideas and resources, more than ever before.

I've written hundreds of articles on this blog showing roles anyone can take to duplicate the T/MC strategy in their own city or to rebuild it in Chicago.   Some of these talk about rebuilding the T/MC

Just reading my blog and sharing with your network is one step that anyone can take. However, in looking at all I was able to accomplish with a small organization, imagine what you or someone else with much larger resources and greater talent, could achieve, following the same strategies and building on what the T/MC started?

That's my goal. 

New leaders are needed to rebuild this strategy and take it forward for the next two decades, applying it in every major city in the world where a few people live in areas of concentrated poverty, surrounded by others who are blessed with greater opportunity and wealth, and fewer systemic obstacles. 

If you'd like to know more or help amplify my efforts, reach out to me on these social media platforms or introduce yourself with a comment on this blog. 

If you'd like to make a contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, click here

No comments: