Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Creating a Service-Learning Organization that Mentors Kids to Careers

I started writing this blog in May 2005. I'd already led the Tutor/Mentor Connection and a site-based tutor/mentor program called Cabrini Connections for 12 years.

If you've read some of the messages I've posted to this blog you'll see that I seek to connect workplace volunteers with children and youth living in neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty.

When we launched our programs in 1993 they were based on my experiences leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago since 1975.  Its goal, and the goals we adopted in 1993,  and which I still support today in 2021, is to create an organized framework that encourages volunteers to serve as tutors, mentors, coaches, advocates, friends, leaders in on-going efforts that make a life-changing difference for these kids. By life-changing, I mean that the kids will not be living in poverty when they are adults because they will have the academic, social/emotional and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs, plus a network of adults who can and will open doors to jobs and mentor them in careers.

I have spent time almost every day for more than 45  years trying to figure out better, more efficient, and lower cost ways to accomplish this goal.

I have learned to mine the knowledge and experiences of others to innovate strategies for tutoring/mentoring, rather than trying to develop my own solutions to problems. Using T/MC web sites, on-line networking and regular face-to-face training and mentoring, I am trying to share what I know, and the process of learning and service that I apply in my own daily routine, so that there are more people in more places accepting this role and responsibility.

So how do we make this vision a reality? We create a "learning organization", which is also the ideal of many of the best businesses in the world. We also create a "service culture" modeled after the work of heroes like Cesar Chavez, whose core values included sacrifice and perseverance, commitment to the most disadvantaged as well as life-long learning and innovation.

In a learning organization, everyone is engaged.
In the world of Cesar Chavez, everyone is willing to make huge commitments, and sacrifices of time, talent and treasure to help disadvantaged people move to greater health, and greater hope and opportunity.

Our goal is to find ways to draw a growing number of our stakeholders into this learning process and to build an on-going commitment to service (as opposed to random acts of kindness). This process is intended to include our students and volunteers, our staff, donors and leaders, and members of the business, education, faith and media in the communities where our kids live. It also aims to engage leaders and volunteers from other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and in other cities, plus people and organizations in the communities that don't have high poverty, but benefit from a world envisioned by Dr. M. L. King, Jr. as well as a 21st Century America where there are enough skilled workers to meet the future workforce needs of American industry.

In 2006 and intern from Hong Kong created a visualization showing what I call a "service learning loop". Then in 2011 one of my interns from South Korea created a new version. Since this was done in Flash Animation I've created the video below to show that presentation.

The Internet is our meeting place. It's a virtual library of constantly growing knowledge. On Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web sites we collect and host information that shows why kids in poverty need extra help, where such help is needed, who is providing help, and what volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs can do to connect adults, kids and learning in an on-going, constantly improving process of mentoring kids to careers.

If we can find ways to increase the percent of our kids, our volunteers, and our leaders and donors who are drawing information on a weekly basis, and reflecting on this information in small and large groups, the way people in churches reflect on passages from the Bible each week, we can grow the amount of understanding we all have about the challenges we face and the opportunities we have. We can innovate new and better ways to succeed in our efforts.

This process started nearly 45 years ago. I accelerated it's growth in 1993 when we formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection. I've kept it alive since 2011 via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Now it's time for others to take the lead and grow it beyond 2021.

Can you help?

Visit the various sections of this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website and start your own learning. I encourage you to read the Power Point Essay titled, Theory of Change . This illustrates our goal and the community that we seek to engage.

This and other PPT essays in the Tutor/Mentor Institute library illustrate the T/MC vision and the community of organizations that we seek to engage. Then share your own knowledge, time, talent and dollars to help us build this service and learning organization.

Thank you all for reading my messages. I hope you share them with others. 

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. See links on this page. Please connect with me and help me connect with others. 

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