Thursday, July 13, 2023

Communicating long-term strategies

We created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and launched a survey in January 1994 to determine who was offering various forms of organized volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs in the city of Chicago.  We published that in a printed Directory in May 1994 as we hosted our first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.

Our goal was to help programs attract greater public attention and a greater flow of resources to support their efforts.  Our goal also was to enable programs to learn from each other, so every program was constantly improving their impact on kids and volunteers.

I'm still doing that in 2023.

Below are two Tweets that I posted over the past few days.

The first points to the Chicago Scholars website.

 The second points to the Chicago Youth Programs, Inc. website.
In each I'm highlighting how the organization is sharing a multi-year youth support strategy.  They each do it differently, and they each start their support at different ages in a child's life. But, their websites provide plenty of reasons for a parent to want to get their child enrolled, for a volunteer to join, and for a donor to provide the operating dollars each program needs annually to continue these services.

While we did the planning to start the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we launched our own Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in January 1993. We communicated our Success Steps strategy via printed material in the 1990s then via websites until I left the organization in 2011. This PDF shows that strategy.

I have not published a printed Directory since 2003. Instead we built an on-line search page in 2004 and a map-based directory in 2008 (both now only available as archives) and supported these with this list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs.   

Chicago Scholars and Chicago Youth Programs are both on these lists, along with more than 200 other youth serving programs operating in the Chicago region and many more operating around the USA and abroad.

I keep sharing this information with the goal that schools and youth serving organizations will use it as a resource to build and sustain k-12 tutor/mentor and learning programs in more high poverty areas.

Furthermore, it's my goal that teams from these same school and non-school programs spend time looking at websites of these organizations to find others who are doing a good job of communicating their strategies and who have developed long-term support programs. 

As they discover these examples they can then share them with social media posts and blog articles, just as I am doing.  

That will result in drawing greater attention to every program, encouraging constant improvement, and influencing what donors do to provide the operating dollars necessary for programs to become great, then stay great, over a period of many years. 

Young people (and adults) who take this role are learning to be the YOU in this graphic.  They will learn that it takes a constant effort to mobilize attention and draw people together to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in all the places where they are most needed. 

These lessons apply to any problem solving, not just to building youth-serving programs.

I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mastodon, Instagram (not yet Threads).  See links on this page.  Let's connect.

Thanks for reading. I hope you'll share this article.

That's me in this picture, with Leo, who I was matched with in 1973.  Leo called me a few days ago to ask what I knew about ChatGPT!  That's an example of long-term connections made possible by a multi-year, volunteer-based tutor/mentor program.  

Chicago and other place need more programs like Chicago Scholars, Chicago Youth Programs, etc. and the ones I led for 35 years.  

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