Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My Dreams Keep Taking Me Back

How many of you rehash what happens at your workplace in your dreams? Do you have those dreams almost every night?  I do.  

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 1990 as a volunteer, while holding a full time advertising job. We had 100 pairs of 2nd to 6th grade kids attending weekly in 1975 and we grew each year until we had 300 pairs in 1990. I led the conversion of that program to a non-profit in 1990 when I left my job with Montgomery Ward, so I could lead the program full time, and earn a living while doing it.  By June 1992 we were up to 440 kids and 550 volunteers and had began a successful fund raising strategy. 

Every week for 17 years, from 1975 to 1992, I spent time thinking of how to recruit, retain and support the kids and volunteers in that program, and how to get a few volunteers to help me.

In the fall of 1992 I left the first program and with the help of six volunteers, formed a new program to help kids who aged out of the first program after 6th grade move from 7th grade through high school, and hopefully college or vocational school, and then a job.  We started with 5 teens and 7 volunteers in January 1993 and grew each year. By 1998 we were averaging 80 pairs of kids and volunteers weekly, with another 20+ volunteers helping.  

We also built the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

As we started the second program in late 1992 we also decided to fill a void, and build a strategy that would draw attention and needed resources more consistently to every tutor/mentor program in Chicago. During 1993 we developed a 10 part strategy, which we launched in January 1994 with our first survey to identify as many other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago as we could find. Using that information we organized the first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1994, published the first printed Directory of programs, and organized a citywide volunteer recruitment campaign in spring 1995.  

We raised $50,000 the first year and $114,000 the second and by 1998 we were raising over $300,000.  Can you imagine how many fund raising letters and requests were involved in raising that money. Most came from donations of less than $5,000.

The 10 point strategy was condensed to 4 steps by 1996 and I've spent the past 25 years finding ways to share that strategy with others and recruiting help to operate our own single program, which I led until 2011.  View this 2010 PDF showing impact of our work. 

We used the walls at the donated space in the Montgomery Ward complex to show the strategies we were following so they were visible to our volunteers when they came to work with our teens, and to potential donors when they visited.

After a while I began to notice that I was overwhelming people when I walked them through the strategy, so I started creating visualizations using PowerPoint and desk-top publishing.  We shared these in printed newsletters that went to 300 people in 1993, and 12,000 by 2003. We put them on websites starting in 1998 and on this blog starring in 2005. I've shared them regularly on social media since 2009.

By 1998 some of our teens were finishing high school and by 2003 some were finishing college. Today I'm connected to many on Facebook and seeing them tell stories of their own kids finishing high school and college. Many offer thanks for the support the tutoring programs provided.

Every day for more than 45 years I've been trying to answer one big question. "What are all the things we need to know and do to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty are entering careers by age 25?"

I wake up many times in the night with these conversations taking place in my dreams.  

I have probably led a single tutor/mentor program for more years than most other people in the world.  There are probably others who have been continuously involved for 20 or more years and they may have the same dreams I have.

However, there are even fewer people who've tried to help mentor-rich programs like I led reach kids in every high poverty area of a big city like Chicago,  by building an information library and communications strategy and trying to motivate leaders from every sector to use it to support their own actions to help kids to careers. 

Many of my dreams are nightmares, rehashing all the things that did not work, or that I did wrong, or that did not do what I hoped they would do.  Many just seem like live reality TV, with me watching scenes from various program activities, or me trying to explain the four part strategy to another person.

I chronicled these activities, like our trips to Great America, in yearbooks I created every spring from 1975 to 1999.  You can find links to these on this page

Here's what kept driving me to do this work. This was a front page story in 1992 after a 7 year old boy in Cabrini Green was shot and killed. The editorial said "it's everyone's responsibility."  

However, another far greater motivation was the love and caring shared by the kids and volunteers I had the honor to get to know over all of these years.  Look at the pictures in the yearbooks from past years (see links here).

Another has been the thank you's I've received from parents, program leaders and others for how the Tutor/Mentor Connection has helped them. 

I keep repeating a phrase Merri Dee of WGN TV told me in the early 1990s.

"If it is to be it is up to me."   and YOU.

I can't do this by myself. Never could. I have tried to enlist  universities for many years. Here's a page on my planning wiki outlining steps for a university to get to know the strategies I've developed and take ownership.  This is not a new invitation. I've been sharing it since the late 1990s.

Imagine if there were a PhD program someplace where students spent 4-6 years learning from my archives, and from hands-on work in different youth serving organizations.  |

Such a program would create leaders for youth programs everywhere, who had the same learning and sharing strategies that I've modeled.  However, it also would create thousands of leaders in business, politics, media, etc. who were proactive in seeking out tutor/mentor and learning programs and helping them grow, using their own time, talent and dollars.

You can see this visualization and how I described it in this article

Would that lead to more people having the same dreams I have?  I hope so.

Thanks for reading my articles. Please share them.  Have a Happy New Year with freedom from Covid19 and with more hope and opportunity for all.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 As the last few hours before Christmas Day arrives, I offer wishes of good health, happiness and safety to all.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Connecting like #CLMOOC

Here's a post that I saw today on Twitter. What I liked about this is that Simon Ensor (who teaches in France) points to 2014 and 2018 articles to show how the educators in the Connected Learning cMOOC (#clmooc) have influenced his current work. 

I've used this graphic in the past to show major networks that I'm part of. This includes extended family, Illinois Wesleyan Acacia Fraternity current and alumni members, youth and volunteers from the Chicago tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011, people in other programs, foundations, universities I've met via the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, social entrepreneurs from the USA, Europe, Asia, Africa, and others.

This PDF from 2012 shows my networks and my goal of growing the network and nudging it to encourage more people to duplicate my actions in trying to help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places. 

While I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, I've not succeeded in drawing people from my network together in on-going interactions where they help each other the way the educators in the #clmooc do.  

Between May of 1994 and May of 2015 I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago, which brought together people from the tutor/mentor program ecosystem.  You can read conference goals, on this page

And you can view participation maps on this page

However, these did not attract people from my college or family network, nor many current and former students and volunteers from the tutor/mentor programs I led. Furthermore, I've not been able to host a conference since 2015.

And, they did not draw together leaders from business, politics, philanthropy and other sectors, visualized in this concept map.  All of these people need to be interacting on an on-going basis in order to innovate solutions that help bring hope and opportunity to people in high poverty, and reduce racial injustice, segregation, violence and inequality.

So social media is the only place where people from different places can connect in on-going relationship building the ways the #clmooc educators are doing. 

I encourage you to browse some of the articles on this blog, tagged #clmooc, which show my growing participation in their network since first meeting them in 2013.   Then browse the Twitter feed for the #clmooc group and see live interactions. You can scroll back as far as you wish. 

My goal is that people from different parts of my network get to know and support each other, in many of the same ways as the people in the #clmooc network have done.  

I point to Twitter because while the #clmooc group is on Facebook (it started on Google+) I find the most interaction on Twitter.   

I'm there @tutormentorteam.  Join me.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Vertical and Horizontal Social Capital

I participated in a webinar today hosted by the Social Capital Research Group. The featured speaker was Joseph D. Lewandowski, an expert on social capital and social poverty.

In his presentation Dr. Lewandowski introduced the following terms:

- Horizontal social capital is resources (networks of social trust and connections) that are accessible and appropriable within a specific socioeconomic or cultural stratum. 

- Vertical social capital is resources (networks of social trust and connections) that are accessible and appropriable between and among various socioeconomic and cultural strata

I've been interested in social capital for many years and on this blog you can find 31 articles (now 32) tagged #socialcapital.  You can also find a section on my website devoted to this idea.   

I've supported volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs for more than 40 years because of how they expand the "who you know" network of kids living in areas of highly concentrated poverty.  They also expand the network for volunteers who get involved.  The graphic I show above is a picture of my Facebook network which has grown as a result of the work I have done with inner city kids and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

However, the articles I've been following talk about "bridging, bonding and linking" social capital.  Dr. Lewandowski introduces the ideas of "horizontal and vertical" social capital within the context of "social poverty".  I finished reading this article today. 

One of the conclusions is "it is the task of civil society-based mediating groups to self consciously create vertical social capital where it does not exist, and to use this resource to influence legislation and policy when appropriate."

This is a message I've delivered regularly since becoming a leader of a volunteer based tutor/mentor program in 1975 and forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  Leaders from ever sector need to be involved in creating places where people from different social, racial and economic, groups, both  horizontal and vertical, can connect in build relationships over a period of months, and  years.

I feel that volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs like the ones I led and like many others that operating in Chicago are ideal places to build such connections.  However, leaders of these programs need to do much more to educate volunteers about issues facing children and families in high poverty, and to motivate them to take actions beyond their weekly commitment as a tutor and/or mentor.  This has to be intentional.

As I read Dr. Lewandowski's article I was thinking of this pdf presentation where I talk about "vertical and horizontal networks.  

I invite you to read this an other articles that I've tagged #socialcapital, then offer your thoughts. Let's connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and try to draw more people into this conversation and into actions that build and sustain mentor-rich youth programs reaching k-12 kids in all high poverty areas of Chicago and Ameria. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Cabrini-Green - Broken Promises

This story about Cabrini-Green was published today by the Better Government Association (BGA).  It tells of the re-development of the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago and the broken promises that government leaders made to residents who lived there before the development began.  Click here to read.

4/20/2022 update: Alejandra Cancino, the author of the BGA report spoke at the 4/19 ChiHackNight event. The video will be found here in a week or two. 

I came to the Cabrini-Green area in 1973 to be a retail advertising copywriter with the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters, bordering  Cabrini-Green's West border.

I joined the company sponsored tutoring program that fall and was matched with a 4th grade boy named Leo Hall. A year later I became part of the volunteer leadership team, and in 1975 I became the program's volunteer director. I led this program until 1992 then formed a new version, called Cabrini Connections, which I led from 1993 to 2011.  

The map of Cabrini-Green, shown at the right, was part of a story I wrote in 2010 about the re-development of the area.   I talked about the promises that were being made and the prospect of them not being kept.

Below I show the front page of the Chicago SunTimes, from October 1992, following the shooting of a 7-year old boy in Cabrini Green.  The headline reads "7-year old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".

I've kept a copy of this story for the past 32 years as a reminder of the commitment I and others need to make to kids born or living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other parts of the country.

I've used it in many blog articles, such as this from 2008,  encouraging others to get involved. 

Today's BGA story reminds me to repeat this call to involvement.

As we formed Cabrini Connections to help a small group of teens, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help a city full of kids living in high poverty areas. I've used maps since 1993 to emphasize the need for investment in every high poverty area, not just the Cabrini-Green area.

Thus, the broken promises that affect kids and families who once lived in Cabrini Green, are broken promises affecting thousands of people.

Look at the photo of me standing in front of a map, with a microphone in my hand.   Then look at this article with a map in the background. 

If you read my blog articles or some of the printed newsletters from the 1990s, you'll see a constant invitation for others to take a lead, sharing the same call to involvement, using their own media, talent and visibility.

As we head toward Christmas, remember how Jesus recruited 12 disciples and told them to go forth and multiply.   I've been trying to have the same influence for many, many years.  

Today's story is just another reminder that we've a long way to go. 

I'm not the only one working to help kids and families in poverty areas, not the only one calling for others to be involved.  But I'm one of the few using a map of Chicago and calling on people to support tutor/mentor and youth development programs in every high poverty area, not just the program I led in one small part of Chicago.

We need more leaders using maps like this, to draw people they know to places where those people can help. 

Use my articles as a template. Then create your own.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

What you don't see when you visit a Tutor/Mentor Program

Every year about this time between 1990 and 2010 I was writing grant requests, hosting site visits, and writing final reports to gain the operating dollars needed to support the annual activities of the site based tutor/mentor program I led in Chicago called, Cabrini Connections, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I now lead through Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. 

It’s amazing how many people assume that getting teens and volunteers to Cabrini Connections each week was a simple process, and wanted to focus on how many kids are now college graduates because of the $5,000 to $25,000 they have provided in the past year. 

In October 2008 I thought I’d write and article to reflect on this. That article is posted below, with some updates.  

I called it “Below the Ice” because when you see an Iceberg, all you see is what’s above water. Most of it is below water and out of site. When you see a student and volunteer meeting at Cabrini Connections on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, you'd you see what was happening for these two hours. You wouldn't see the infrastructure and program support it takes for the student and volunteer, or Cabrini Connections, to simply be here to make this connection.

So, what are we not seeing, or taking for granted?  This is a long article. In the first section I write about the thinking that goes on to make a program like this available to kids and volunteers.  

In the second section is a list of elements that must be in place to support this process. 

a) Someone had to make a commitment to start this organization, and keep it going. Cabrini Connections was not created by some government initiative, with a bundle of up-front dollars. It was started in October 1992 by seven volunteers who saw a need. They created Cabrini Connections to provide a 7th grade through high school support system for kids who were aging out of the 2nd to 6th grade Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program. They had no money. They had no space to operate. During the spring of 1993 there was no paid staff, and volunteers and kids met each week in the day-room of St. Joseph’s Church on Orleans Street in Chicago, and once a week at Wells high school.

b) Space is needed. We operated from the dayroom of a church for the first six months of 1993. Then the Montgomery Ward Corporation donated an entire floor of their corporate tower (almost 20,000 sq. ft. of space), along with desks, cabinets, parking and security. We operated from there from August 1993 until June 1999. Then we moved to rented space as Wards went out of business. We actually spit into two buildings, 8 blocks apart. The Cabrini Connections program operated at Holy Family Church on Larrabee, while the T/MC, and Fund Raising, operated from a room at 1111 N. Wells. In 2001 we moved into our current 4,000 sq ft location at 800 W. Huron, just a few blocks from Cabrini Green. 

While we had donated space we could devote all funds raised to our programs. And we had a $40,000 annual grant from Wards. This really helped us get off the ground because in 1993 we only raised $50,000 and in 1994 we only raised $114,000. Without the help from Wards the program would never have built any kind of following. However, since 1999 space, utilities, and insurance expenses were over $70,000 per year. This was a fixed expense that was necessary for us to continue to offer the program to kids in Cabrini Green. Without funds for the space, insurance, equipment and utilities there is no program.

c) If you want good results, you involved talented people. Volunteers can do tremendous things. I led the tutor/mentor program at Montgomery Ward for 15 years while holding a full time retail advertising job. We had more than 300 kids and 300 volunteers participating by 1990. We had nearly 50 volunteers involved in various leadership roles. Many of these volunteers came from companies beyond Wards. However, to support this type of volunteer involvement I spent my lunch, evening and weekend hours, plus at least one week of vacation each year, doing the work of leading this organization. I had tremendous freedom to take phone calls and work on this during the day, as long as my own work was being done to an outstanding level.

And while we did a great job of keeping kids and volunteers connected, I think we could have done much more if I or another leader had been able to devote 40 to 50 hours a week on this. At Cabrini Connections the glue that keeps the kids and volunteers coming is the lead coordinator, who is a paid staff person. In 2008 we had 70 kids and more than 90 volunteers participating weekly and a more than 400 alumni. We had two full time staff people, one full time e-learning coordinator, and myself. To keep the lead coordinators in place we needed to reward them with decent compensation and benefits, and try to surround them with extra help (staff and volunteers) so they don’t burn out and leave after a couple of years.

d) Volunteers are critical to success of this organization; but they need support, too. We have volunteers in a variety of leadership and organizing roles, not just on the board of directors. Many of them have been involved for five or more years. They represent the organizational knowledge, in addition to my own. However, these lead volunteers need to be recruited, supported and mentored by our lead staff.

e) Volunteers are customers. The need to be recruited. They are not standing in line waiting to be your tutors and mentors. The best way to recruit new volunteers is to provide a great experience for your current volunteers. We started with seven volunteers in October 1992 and added new volunteers each school year from 1993 till I wrote this in 2008. We grew Cabrini Connections, and before that the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, by converting volunteers into ambassadors who go out and recruit other volunteers. Many of these people are also recruiting the dollars we need. However, this is not something that happens by accident. It takes lots of time, and a consistent effort to provide a well-organized experience, and to mentor volunteers as they attempt to build relationships with kids. It takes a constant external communications (see below) to attract new volunteers to replace those who leave the program during every year.

f) Kids are volunteers, too. This is not a court mandated program, or a program for failing kids who are sent here by schools. We focus on kids who can succeed in school and life if they just get the support the need to overcome the obstacles poverty put in their lives. These kids did not start Cabrini Connections. Our founders saw a need and invited kids to participate. Each year our customer service intends to provide an experience that motivates kids to come back each week, and each year. Each year our outreach aims to recruit new students who don’t know about our program, but might participate if given the chance.

g) Our volunteers are the CEOs of this effort, not the staff. Each volunteer is different and each youth is different. The strength of a one-on-one program is the ability of a volunteer to tailor his/her mentoring and tutoring to the needs of the student and the talents and time available from the volunteer. The longer someone stays involved, the more experienced and effective they become. And while 25% of our volunteers will stay 3 or more years, many only stay one year, and some do not complete their first year. This means the volunteer work force is in constant need of mentoring and coaching from other volunteers and from experienced staff.

h) Finding space, finding staff, setting up a structure and a recruitment campaign to get kids and volunteers to participate is just the beginning. Each week during the school year there is constant follow up and coaching of each student/mentor pair. There is constant planning to develop activities to support the weekly tutor/mentor sessions. There are mountains of details required to track attendance, keep information current in databases and on email lists, and to stay in touch with parents, teachers, social workers, as well as volunteers. There are new volunteers to be interviewed. There are 70 kids, and 70 different sets of personal and family issues to deal with each week.

i) Communications is hard work and takes time. Creating the training materials, writing the weekly email newsletter, maintaining the web site and on-line documentation systems, and creating brochures to recruit new students and volunteers requires time and talent. The less talent you have at writing, the longer it takes to write a letter, or a brochure. We are required to multi-task because we only have 3 people. Yet, if we do not provide these communications, we cannot mentor and guild the process of our kids and volunteers.

j) Does it work? We say kids and volunteers vote with their feet. Thus, if they come most of the time (80% is our goal), and most return from one year to the next (kids goal: 80% return; volunteer goal: 65% return) then we feel they are telling us that they like what we are doing. However, donors want to know more. What impact does this have on grades, test scores, social and emotional behavior. We can say from observation and feedback that it benefits some kids more than others and that some volunteers have had life changing experiences because of their involvement. That’s enough to keep me working on this every day.

However, we can’t quantify this via traditional research and evaluation. Why? We barely have the manpower to do what we’re doing. That’s why.  Furthermore, the impacts of this type of mentoring are long term. The benefits accumulate over time. An evaluation would need to cover many years and extend into the years after kids have finished high school to paint a true picture of our impact. Such research is not being done in very many places because most programs have the same problem we have of not being able to stay connected to kids or volunteers once they no longer attend the program.

(visit my page on Facebook and look at my friends list. Many are alumni. If you look at the posts on their own timelines you'll see stories of their success, and the success of their own children who are now finishing high school and entering college.)

k) The money does not come out of thin air. It took six months to find donated space at Montgomery Ward, along with a $40,000 grant, that enabled the program to hire part time staff, and purchase needed office equipment. Every year since then, the organization has started the new fiscal year (Jan. 1) needing to raise all of the money for the program’s operations (rent, utilities, insurance, staff, etc.) as they also provided coaching to kids and volunteers. During the 10/7/08 Presidential campaign debate one question asked was “what level of sacrifice will you ask from Americans”. I don’t think either candidate answered that question. If you read my blog I think that for there to be programs like Cabrini Connections in hundreds of places, lots of people are going to need to go beyond 2% annual donations, and a few hours of volunteering. Our men and women in the armed forces give 100% for our freedoms. Each person needs their own personal barometer, but hopefully our leaders can light a fire so some people will go beyond the call of duty for citizen service.

l) And we cannot attract donors without good communications and consistent outreach and evidence of impact. Many larger non profits have full time development directors and staffs with many people. They can farm out creative work to ad agencies and creative services because they have the money to do that. One potential donor, who was worth about $500 million, once asked me why I needed to spend $70,000 a year on fund raising. He said his charity did not need to do that. He could just call someone and get the money they need. He gave me $1,000 one year and nothing after that. My budget for Cabrini Connections was about $200,000 in 2008. How did he think we were finding the other $199,000? If we’re spending all of our time coaching kids and volunteers, where do we find time to market and do fund raising?

m) The answer would be to have people with high net worth adopt Cabrini Connections. Then they could call themselves up each year and say how much good work we are doing, and ask for a donation to cover the budget. A CEO of a real estate company once said “that’s a tax deduction” when talking about the $4 million it would take to purchase a building for our operations.

n) Another answer would be to build a network of 1000 people with modest means who would each provide $250 per year to support the program. That has more potential. $250 is really just $5 a week, or, maybe the cost of one latte at Starbucks each week.  Is the potential future of an at-risk child worth a cup of java to you?

What Basic Conditions need to be met, to attract students and volunteers to a site based tutor/mentor program?

Listed in order of priority are the organizational needs that had to be met each week for CABRINI CONNECTIONS to maintain the high quality level for which it has earned a reputation of excellence.

1) Create positive environment for tutors and students to spend time together. 

    • Clean, orderly area (70 desks, 100 chairs)
    • Pencils, paper, calculators, scissors, attendance lists, and other needed supplies stocked in cabinets
    • Learning resources, such as library, worksheet binders, and geography materials in place and orderly.
    • Coffee and snacks in stock and prepared for distribution. 

2) Provide a structure and support that offers an opportunity for a satisfactory experience. Focus primarily on tutors because if volunteers were to stop coming, the program would not survive.

    • Annual evaluation, review and plan which incrementally builds on previous year accomplishments
    • Regular communications program (newsletters, email, blogs, web sites, bulletin boards, etc.)
    • Informational and historical record (Annual Report, brochures, etc.)
    • Information on community resources, field trip activities, etc.
    • Motivation activities such as parties, field trips, and writing contests

 3) Provide a broad base of resources from which individual children and tutors can build activities.

    • Library, with reference materials and motivational activity worksheets 
    • Internet Library with home work help, suggested activities, tips for tutors/mentors, networking opportunities.
    • Student history file with report cards
    • Teacher referral forms from local schools
    • School supplies, learning resources, library
    • Computers, with dedicated work area
    • Speaker/Role Model Program
    • Field Trips to business and college sites
    • Parties and informal social gatherings for kids and volunteers 

 4) Ensure frequency and consistency of participation. Focus on student attendance because if students come inconsistently tutors will eventually stop coming. Focus on tutor attendance to improve relationships and quality of tutoring/mentoring children receive.

    • Preparation of weekly attendance record, with volunteers to do check in
    • Maintenance of tutor and student address data-base with up-to-date info
    • Tutor contact network with weekly follow-up
    • Weekly calls and letters to children with 2+ absences
    • Perfect attendance recognition and reward for 10 weeks without absence
    • Recognition for volunteers with 90% or better attendance
    • Marketing and maintenance of Point Bank system

5) Provide training and other motivational resources to enable tutors to have more satisfying and effective experience.

    • Written Handbook, plus regular handouts
    • Organized training sessions (Orientation, Fall Workshop, Jan. Workshop)
    • First Year tutor orientations every 6 weeks
    • Encourage participation in program committees and after-tutor activities
    • Files full of math and language-skills worksheets, to be used as individual lessons
    • SVHAT20 on-line support system for students and volunteers

 6) Provide direct service benefits to children.

    • Safe environment in which to interact with caring adult.
    • Role models to spend time with
    • Extra learning activities such as arts, technology, writing clubs
    • Computer and Internet access for homework  help, networking, communications with volunteer
    • Learning materials (books, pencils, reference books, dictionaries, etc.)
    • Books to check out and take home to read.
    • Snacks at sessions
    • Experience and enrichment activities (field trips, etc.)
    • Parties, with gifts and treats 

 7) Involve parents in tutoring activities and children’s education.

    • Parent Orientation at start of year
    • Involvement of parents in weekly sessions
    • Informational literature provided through program
    • Auxiliary parent-education programs on subjects such as nutrition, or reading to children at home

8) Involve teachers and social workers in tutoring activities and children’s education.

    • Teacher and Social Worker  Orientation or Introduction at start of year
    • Involvement of teachers and social workers in developing mentoring and tutoring strategies
    • Informational literature provided through program
    • Report Card permission from parent so school can release information directly to program
    • Coach volunteer to contact teacher or social worker directly

 9) Involve business in tutoring and mentoring activities and children’s education.

    • Through the Success Steps engage business in providing training programs to prepare students for work
    • Create a pool of part-time and summer jobs for qualified students, at companies which commit to also “mentor” students while on the job
    • Create scholarship pools from Success Steps companies which help student obtain advanced education.
    • Invite businesses to Career Day activities
    • Teach volunteers to be ambassadors for tutor/mentor within their company or industry

The leaders of Cabrini Connections needed to be thinking about all of the things listed above, every day, every year. Finding people who understand this, and can recruit volunteers and donors to help do some of the work, and who can relate to kids and families, and who will stay with this five or ten years, is the biggest challenge we faced. 

We can overcome part of this challenge if we can find donors who understand what's under the surface and who will help us have the operating dollars to try to make this type of program available to teens in this part of Chicago.

If you've read this far, thank you.  I led this process every year from 1975 until mid 2011 (as a volunteer from 1975 till 1990).  

The original program I led is now Tutoring Chicago.  Cabrini Connections became Chicago Tutoring Connection around 2013. Sadly, they stopped operating around 2023.  They and each other youth tutor/mentor program in the Chicago area need your contributions this year, and every year. 

If you lead a non-school youth program, what are the elements that make your volunteer-based tutor/mentor program a success. Do you share this on your web site so others can learn from you?

What I described above only showed work we did weekly to operate our youth-serving tutor/mentor program.  At the same time we were working to make our program successful, we were trying to help more than 100 similar programs located in different parts of Chicago get the ideas and resources each of them also needed. And we were trying to build and share a library of information that our volunteers and leaders could use, as well as leaders from other programs.

We were doing that with no more than 2 full time staff. 

I only am responsible for the Tutor/Mentor Connection now, via Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. This blog is one of the resources I use to share information others can use.    While I no longer lead a direct service program I share my 35 years of experience in posts like this to help other programs grow throughout Chicago and in other cities and states.

Feel free to borrow and share the ideas.  

If you'd like to connect I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  

If you'd like to help, see my FundTMI page, or my 75th Birthday page. 

Friday, December 03, 2021

Building long-term mentoring support

 Former President Obama is in Chicago today.  I saw a Tweet showing that he made a surprise visit at a South Side YMCA.  It prompted me to create the graphic shown below.

The former President's visit gets a lot of attention, but it is just one small dot on the 12 year timeline from 1st grade through high school, or the even longer timeline of birth-to-work.  

If kids live in areas of highly concentrated, segregated poverty, there are too few people in their lives daily modeling all the careers they might have when they are adults, and helping them do the work every day to reach those careers.

I'd love to see a blog by President Obama where he talks about his visit, and then shows a map like the one on the left, and says, organized non-school programs that connect kids and volunteers from many industries and professions need to be in every high poverty area of Chicago, for many years.

Maybe more people would listen and begin to figure out how to make such programs available and keep them in place for 10 to 20 consecutive years.

He could borrow ideas I've been sharing on this blog since 2005.

Heck, he could even adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection and make it a program of the Obama Foundation and the new Obama Library in Chicago.  

I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam if he wants to reach out to me.

I share ideas I've developed over the past 40 years on the website.  

If you visit, take a look at my "FundTMI" page and my "75th Birthday" page.  

Help me keep sharing this information in 2022 and beyond, or until someone like President Obama decides to take ownership.