Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Borrow from Lessons of Tutor/Mentor Connection

Does Chicago have a Master Plan for saving its kids?  Does your city? 

That was the headline of a Chicago Tribune column about the Tutor/Mentor Connection back in 1995. 

It's what I've been sharing in these blog articles since 2005.  See this "Master Plan" article and PDF in my December 2020 article

I offer this blog and my website as a library that anyone can use to build a strategy that helps k-12 youth move through school and into adult lives, with the help of volunteer tutors and mentors who they meet in organized youth serving programs. 

In April 1997 I was one of 10 people representing Chicago at the President's Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia.  The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 Teaching Examples invited to have displays and present information at the Summit.

Below is a video that we shared at the Summit. It was created with much help from Public Communications Inc, who helped form the T/MC strategy in 1993 and was our pro bono PR partner through the 1990s.  


In the video we share strategies developed in 1993 and launched in January 1994.  I've described these in many articles on this blog, but here are four collections that I urge you to spend time viewing.

From 2006 to 2015 I encouraged interns who spent from a week, to a year with my organization, to dig into the blog articles and visual essays that I had created, then build a new presentation that shared their understanding.

Browse articles on this blog to see work they did.   This is a form of learning that can be duplicated in schools across the world, where young people do the first investigation, then share what they learn with their family, friends, teacher networks, etc. If done consistently it's a strategy that engages a growing community, which is essential for any long-term, city-wide strategy to be effective.  Read more about engaging students and universities - click here.

I urge you to invite youth and volunteers in your community to do the same.  Just use maps of your city instead of Chicago.

As you do your research read the T/MC Case Statement from 1997.  

T/MC is introduced with this description

"T/MC is a network that is inventorying every community in Chicago to identify afterschool tutoring/mentoring programs. It is continuously promoting the need for tutoring and mentoring and volunteer involvement so that more programs become available in each coming year. It is providing a means of sharing successful strategies among new and existing programs and will identify and focus public attention — on a continuing basis — on the areas where tutoring services are most needed." 

Then view this Tutor/Mentor Learning Network Proposal from 1999.

In the introduction it states".....

"At this time, the biggest obstacle to involving children and caring adults in tutor/mentor programs is the need for more of the programs themselves, as well as the need for a more consistent flow of resources (dollars, volunteers, training, technology, etc.) to existing programs. While most people look to the government to provide funding for schools, non profits and all other social problems, the reality is that there is not enough public money, nor taxpayer will power, to fund all schools to the level they need, let alone fund a comprehensive network of nonschool tutor/mentor programs to the level of funding they require to be effective — and available in all of the places where they are needed.

This obstacle is compounded by an even greater challenge. The issues of big city poverty are complex.

“In an era of globalization, when knowledge and scholarship are becoming increasingly universal and universally accessible, problems, too, with all their complexity, no longer recognize borders of geography, language, time, culture, or a myriad of other factors and so they demand an integrated approach. They demand the best ideas from all of us and the wisdom to work together to see that ideas turn into actions and solutions.” … Carnegie Corporation of New York: Meeting Challenges of the 21st Century.

Most leaders, donors, corporate sponsors and potential volunteers are only superficially involved in discussions of poverty, workforce development, school reform, racism and related issues which comprehensive “total quality” tutor/mentor programs can address. Too many tutor/mentor programs are isolated. Too little infrastructure exists. There is not enough time to get all of the right people in the same room often enough to come to a deep enough understanding of the problems and the solutions that already exist.

This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to build common understanding, and a convergence on solutions which need to be sustained for the 25 years it takes for just one child to move from birth in poverty to a first step on a career.

There are about 15 million children in America who need such help. While the Internet has great potential to offer virtual meetings, and collaborative action, too few dollars are available to innovate ways to bring disconnected stakeholders to on-line meeting places (see Policy Link 2001 report titled, "Bridging the Organizational Divide").

The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) was created as a response to these needs. The T/MC is an innovative, visionary effort to build tutor/mentor programs. The T/MC is not an effort to develop a single tutor/mentor program, or even a few tutor/mentor programs, that will serve a limited number of children who are referred for services. Instead, the goal of the T/MC is to support the development of an entire universe of tutor/mentor programs that will serve low-income children BEFORE problems occur."

------ end of introduction ----- 

In the final segment of the 1997 video shared above, I summarize the work being done by the Tutor/Mentor Connection and invite others to duplicate the strategy in their community and help me build it in Chicago.

I repeat that invitation today, but with 25 years of further experience beyond what we had in 1997.  

Please read the articles I point to and others on this blog.

Share them with your own network. I'm on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Mastodon, and Instagram and I invite you to bring your network and connect with me.

If you value the ideas and resources I'm sharing, please consider a small contribution to help Fund T/MI. Visit this page to learn more. 

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