Monday, October 02, 2023

Skills Youth Need

One of the groups I follow on LinkedIn and host in my library is the World Economic Forum (WEF).  Today I saw this video showing "what skills will be key in years to come".   I encourage you to look at it.

You can dig deeper by going to this page on the WEF website.

Ideally these would be skills that are being taught in every single school in Chicago and across the world. In reality, kids in more affluent areas, with better resourced schools, and more people modeling these skills in their family, and community, have greater access.

That's why I am so passionate about volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs that operate in non-school hours, reaching K-12 kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places.

Below is a graphic I've used often to show how volunteers from different work/career backgrounds can bring creative learning opportunities to youth, even if they are not being taught in their local school.

I used this in a visual essay titled "Virtual Corporate Office" which you can view here.  

Why non-school programs?  No bureaucracy.  No one who says "You can't do that."  If a non-school program has a space where youth and volunteers can meet regularly, that space can be places where volunteers share their own skills and offer learning opportunities that may not be available in the local school.

In the tutor/mentor program I led at the Montgomery Ward Headquarters in Chicago, in the 1980s, volunteers set up a computer lab and each week helped students use computers in learning.

That continued in the 1990s when volunteers from Microsoft set up a computer lab at our new Cabrini Connections space on Huron Street.

These volunteers held full-time jobs. They would  not be available to the local school, during he school day, on a weekly basis. Yet, because we operated after 5pm, they and many others, were able and willing to volunteer.  

Unfortunately, as a small non-profit, we constantly struggled to find the money needed to operate, which made it more difficult to sustain our volunteer-based projects.  Furthermore, while we might have had a computer lab, a video creation club, a writing club and an art club for our students (in addition to one-on-one tutor/mentoring), there are too few youth programs in Chicago who do the same.  

That's just based on my looking at websites of more than 100 youth tutor/mentor programs over the past 25 years.  While we did surveys to determine if an organization offered on-going, volunteer-based tutoring and mentoring, and shared that information via printed directories and a searchable database (from 2004 to 2018), we never were able to add questions about other types of learning available at each program.

That's still a need.  So is a campaign, led by corporate CEOs of big and small companies, to encourage employees to volunteer and to provide annual operating dollars.  

Which is what I've campaigned for since launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011.

I've aggregated a huge library of ideas and resources over the past 30 years. I've found creative ways to share these, but too few people have ever seen them since I never had advertising dollars or high profile advocates. 

So, now as I share information like the WEF video I'm also seeking institutions and leaders who want to adopt the work I've been doing and carry it forward into the next 20 years.  

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Mastodon. (see links here). Please connect. Please share my posts. Please help me find new leaders.

As you do this, please consider a contribution to help me continue this work in 2024 and beyond. Click here if you want to help. 

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