Sunday, March 28, 2021

Non-Profits Face Same Old Problems - Inconsistent Funding

Last Thursday I posted a blog article with this graphic showing the need for consistent, on-going funding, to help tutor/mentor programs and schools support kids as they journey from 1st grade to first jobs.

This is not a new problem, nor a new theme on this blog.  Below I've reposted an article from March 2006.


Over the past couple of weeks I’ve written about the shootings in Englewood, and expressed my concern that nothing will happen because there is no plan for engaging people from beyond poverty in this discussion in a process that creates ownership, understanding of the issues, and a dramatic increase the resources needed to build and sustain comprehensive tutor/mentor programs in poverty neighborhoods. 

Yesterday, 3/21/2006, I participated in an audio conference titled “Integrating Mentoring and After-School”, which focused on the need for mentoring programs in more places (like Englewood) and the potential for these programs being hosted in traditional after-school programs, such as Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA’s, schools, etc. (publication no longer available)

Today, 3/22/06, I attended an event titled Non profit Leadership Challenges and Opportunities, which was hosted by the Donors Forum of Chicago (now Forefront). 

Representatives from Compass Point, presented findings from a web survey that was distributed in eight cities over the past year. It’s titled “Daring to Lead, 2006” and you can download the full report at

The Daring to Lead presentation highlighted three surprising findings: a) 30% of executives leave their jobs involuntarily (either fired or forced out); b) Executive directors plan to leave their jobs but will stay active in the nonprofit sector; and c) A key driver of executive burnout is frustration with funders.

While the focus of the Donor’s Forum meeting was on succession planning, which is essential to leadership stability and organizational growth, the research constantly pointed to a lack of ACCESS TO CAPITAL as the primary challenge facing small and mid size non profits. Their was a rousing cheer when the need for funding non-restricted, long-term general operations funding was raised as a pivotal issue. 

I agree. You cannot keep good leaders, or pay them well, or offer retirement, if you don’t have enough money to pay the rent on a regular basis. If you deal with this problem every day for 12 years, as I have, it tends to be a bit stressful.  (This is the primary reason I left Cabrini Connections in 2011).

How do these issues connect? If we want to reduce the violence in neighborhoods like Englewood, we must provide better education and career opportunities. To do this we must increase the range of non-school programs that help kids succeed in school, stay safe in non-school hours, and move successfully to jobs and careers. The only time when work place adults are consistently available to be involved in long-term mentoring is after 5pm, when most after-school programs are not open. 

Finally, it takes years to build good tutor/mentor programs and it takes a dozen years just to help a youth go from first grade through high school. It takes another 6-8 years before that youth is anchored on a career path. We can never support this process on a consistent basis in many locations if we cannot attract and keep key leaders for existing programs, let alone attract thousands more for the additional programs needed in Chicago and around the country. 

We cannot do this without changing the funding paradigm. 

So what do we do next? 

There must have been over 500 people at the Donors Forum event. I don’t know how many were in the audio conference on Tuesday. However, most will never be in the same room, or the same discussion, at the same time again, because there was no strategy in evidence that gave participants and opportunity to connect with each other, and the presenters, in a facilitated, and open, on-going dialogs. 

That’s why we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 (led since 2011 by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC) 

That’s why I invite anyone interested in tutoring/mentoring as a strategy for civic engagement and for increasing the understanding of poverty, to participate in the May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conferences held in Chicago (held from May 1994 to May 2015)  and on the Internet. 

These were a meeting place for people to come together to present, reinforce, advocate and discuss information such as was presented over the last two days, in the context of the urgency that is reinforced by the media coverage of events like the shootings in Englewood. (visit this page to see list of workshops and speakers for many past conferences)

You can read about the past conferences at

Over the past two year’s (2004-2006) we’ve also begun to develop a web conferencing process, so that people from distant locations can connect with people in Chicago, during the May and November conference periods, and so that people can stay connected on an on-going basis. As others host video and audio conferences, or face-to-face meetings such as today's event, my hope is that they will build web strategies that link the participants to each other, and to affinity groups such as the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

Our goal is to turn discussions into meetings, and meetings into a process of identifying tipping points, or ways to collaborate in activities, like leadership development, funding, volunteer recruitment, which effect all tutor/mentor programs in the country, not just our program in the Cabrini Green neighborhood of Chicago. (note: if you're an architect, or work with complex decision support, we'd like to recruit you to map this process, to create a blueprint that people could follow to understand the problems and to be strategically involved in the solutions) 

-----end 2006 article ----

If you read back through the blogs I’ve posted since 2006, you’ll see that there have been many forums where information of importance was presented to a gathering of interested people. 

However, I still don't see a consistent effort to bring people from face-to-face events, and now ZOOM events, into on-going discussions where all of those who are creating and presenting research on poverty, workforce development, tutoring/mentoring, violence prevention, youth development, service learning, etc. are using Internet space as additional times and places where anyone can present their information, help more people understand it, and contribute to a long-term process that leads to the development of more and better programs that keep kids safe, successful in school and moving toward jobs and careers. 

While I continue to lead the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC I no longer have the capacity to build this network of learners and problem solvers. Yet I have probably spent more time thinking of ways to connect people and ideas and support all places where help is needed than most others in America. Thus, I'd be a valuable contributor to anyone's brainstorming. 

You don't even need to invite me to meet with you. Start out by digging through my past articles and information I share on the site.  

Open this concept map and see how interns from different universities have spent time building an understanding of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, then creating blog articles, videos, animations and other media where they share their understanding.

Create a learning program in your high school or college, and duplicate this process.  Some day in a few years you'll be able to point people to a page where your students are sharing these ideas.

Want to connect with me? I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram (see links here). 

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