Thursday, December 10, 2020

Want to Duplicate Tutor/Mentor Connection?

This story was in the Chicago Tribune in 1995, talking about the "Master Plan" the Tutor/Mentor Connection (which I created in 1993) had for saving kids in Chicago.

I've spent 27 years developing this strategy and trying to educate others so they would support it in Chicago and adopt it in other cities. Below is a presentation I created for the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, which was held in Philadelphia. 

 While there are many articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website, that describe what I've been trying to do, here are two concept maps to view.

The concept map at the right visualizes a 4-part strategy that I've piloted since 1993. Step 1 involves collecting and organizing information, or creating the knowledge base. Step 2 and Step 3 involve motivating a growing number of people to visit the library regularly and helping them find what they are looking for and understand how to apply the information in Step 4, different places where youth and families would benefit from organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. Here's one article where I explain the four steps. 

b) layers of information on a program locator map.  

This concept map shows the 4-part strategy steps a different way, as layers of information on a map. 

View this concept map from left to right. The first step is creating a base map of the geographic region, like Chicago area, that you want to focus on.  Then add data layers showing indicators of need, like poverty levels, segregation, health disparities, school performance, etc.  Then add a layer showing organizations who are working to reduce those problems. In my case that would be non-school, volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs. The next layer would show assets, like banks, insurance companies, hospitals, faith groups, universities, etc. who could be helping youth programs grow in parts of the city where they have facilities.  This article explains this in more detail and points to a platform we built in 2008.

To duplicate what I've been doing for the past 27 years, you'd do the following:

a) start collecting research articles about poverty, inequality, education, etc. including those with maps that show the entire Chicago region (or your community) and where poverty is most concentrated

b) start building a list of services you feel are important to help kids and families grow out of poverty.  In my case, I focus on volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs, most of which operate in the community and in the non-school hours. You could choose a different type of service to support.

Note: I focus on services that need to be located near where families live, thus many would be needed in a big city like Chicago.  A Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy would be less needed to support services where only one, or two, organizations might be needed for the entire city. 

c) start a media and public awareness campaign to draw attention to this information, and to draw volunteers and donors to existing programs. With your list of programs you can invite them to come together for collaborative efforts, like networking conferences, which I hosted every six months from May 1994 to May 2015, or Back-to-School Volunteer Recruitment Campaigns which I started organizing in 1995.  If you can enlist a public relations firm, or communications volunteers, to help you, you'll be much more successful.  This campaign needs to be on-going and sustained for many years.

Note: while I operated a single program myself the goal of the T/MC was to draw needed attention and resources to every program in the city, recognizing that good programs are needed in many places, not just one or two. 

d) motivate people to spend time learning what's in the library, and how to use it to help tutor/mentor programs grow, and help kids move through school and into adult lives and jobs, then helping others find and use the information.

Without finding ways to draw growing numbers of people to the library, and helping them understand how to apply the information, it has little value. 

The first two steps steps above are part of Step 1 of the 4-part strategy.  The third point is Step 2. The fourth is Step 3. 

As you collect this information you are building a database of stakeholders. You can share what you're collecting with this group via newsletters, blog articles and websites and you can draw viewers to those resources via your posts on various social media channels, or via YouTube videos, etc.  

I've done all of this over and over for 27 years, using different tools as the technology has changed and as my resources have gone up and down.

You need a team to help you.

When I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I was also starting a new site-based tutor/mentor program. I had led a program serving 2nd to 6th grade kids since 1975, which had 440 kids and 550 volunteers participating weekly by spring 1992, so I had a wide pool of talent to draw on to help me launch the new program, and launch the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

I created the concept map at the right to visualize the range of talent needed to operate any non-profit, and to operate a Tutor/Mentor Connection.  If you already have a network and philanthropic and civic support when you launch your own version of this, you have much greater talent available to help you.  

If you're like me, a single person with a vision, but no source of consistent funding, you build from scratch and add to it from year-to-year based on what you are learning and the talent and resources you can find.  

Note: I don't think I would have succeeded in getting the Tutor/Mentor Connection started if I were not also leading a single program.  By operating a program I understood the benefits and the challenges. I also had a source of volunteers to help me do the work. The downside of this was that I was never able to give full attention to the T/MC and many donors could not see past our single program to appreciate the systems thinking of the T/MC.   

I was fortunate to have support from the Montgomery Ward Corporation who provide generous space for our program to operate and a $40,000 a year grant from 1993 to 2000 when they went out of business.  That $40k was 80% of our funding in 1993 and 30% in 1994 when we were just getting started.  Losing the donated space and funding in 2000 as the economy was declining was a huge negative impact. 

Thinking ahead to 2021 the reasons I had for starting the T/MC in 1993 are still with us. Thus, the work I've been doing still needs to be done by someone. Many do parts of what I do but almost no one does all four steps of the 4-part strategy, especially trying to help programs all over the city get needed resources. 

Since I already have a model in place, I encourage you to consider joining me. Help me upgrade it and make it work better in Chicago, then apply it in your own city.  The concept map below shows help needed at each step of the 4-part strategy. That help could come from any place in the world.

I had many people helping me build this strategy over the past 27 years. While I have far fewer helping now, I'm still supported by one person hosting the web library and others sharing my posts on social media and via their own blog articles. 

However, it's too little.  In a big city like Chicago this should have a budget of $300 to $500k annually. Between 1995 and 2011 I was able to raise $100 to $150k each year for the T/MC and a similar amount for our own tutor/mentor program. 

The inconsistencies of funding due to negative economic cycles what one of the big challenges that I've faced, and that you'd need to overcome.

The graphic at the right asks "What will it take to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty are entering careers by age 25?"

The information in the Tutor/Mentor web library, on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, and on this and the MappingforJustice blogs are intended to help people find answers to that question.  

As people begin to find their own answers I encourage them to put them on websites and add them to libraries like mine. Over time, this means we can learn from what others are doing rather than constantly starting over.  I encourage you to use concept maps, like blueprints, to show all that needs to be part of the birth-to-work journey, then call on your network to help figure how to find the money and talent to make those things available in every high poverty zip code.

A Tutor/Mentor Connection-type organization does all that I've described and creates strategy presentations and blog articles that share what it is learning with others.  

I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram. This page has links to those sites.  Please connect with me if you'd like to learn more and have me help you create a new Tutor/Mentor Connection in your city and/or in Chicago.  

In the meantime, if you have read this far, please consider a contribution to support my work.  There are two ways each December for you to help.

a)  support my 74th birthday campaign - click here
b)  contribute to the Fund T/MI campaign - click here

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