Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Building Great Tutor/Mentor Teams

I created the graphic shown below in December 2016 for this article.  In today's article I'm going to re-emphasize the need to teams with a mix of talents and networks at every tutor/mentor program in Chicago and other places to help build and sustain long-term birth-to-work mentoring programs in high poverty areas.

Below is another graphic that I've used often.

I've been a football fan since the early 1960s and know that for a team to have a winning record, or be the champion of their league, they must have talented, highly motivated, players, with specific skills and experience, at every position on the offence, defense and special teams. Even the coaching staff needs special skills. 

It's the fans, owners, media and city leaders who provide the resources to build and sustain great teams.  As a long-suffering Chicago Bears fan, I recognize that this is not easy.

So let's look at another graphic.  In the upper left is a photo from the mid 1990s, showing teens and a staff member from the tutor/mentor program that I led from 1993 to 2011. At the lower right is one of those teens, in 2010 when she spoke at the program's year-end dinner.

I'm still connected to most of these teens, and many others who were part of tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011 (I left the first program in 1992 and we formed the second program, which we named Cabrini Connections).  Visit this conversation on my Facebook page and you can see many student and volunteer alumni (and Claudia Bellucci, the staff member in the top left photo) posting "Happy Birthday" greetings to help me celebrate my December 19th birthday. 

If you rotate the graphic so that it is vertical, you'd see the message shown in the graphic below:

At every school and non-school program a range of age-level learning and enrichment opportunities are needed to help kids move from one grade to the next, then the next, until they graduate, more through college or vocational school, then into the workforce. Along the way volunteer tutors and mentors can provide support and open doors.

I was supported by many volunteers with many skills during the years I led a tutor/mentor program. That prompted me to create the two concept maps shown below:

Talent needed. Click here to open the concept map.

Network needed. Click here to open the concept map.   

These two concept maps show the different skills and networks that need to be involved at EVERY tutor/mentor program in the Chicago area.  They are also needed at the larger community area level, and citywide level, so that great programs grow in EVERY high poverty area.

If an organization can draw talent from a broader network they can accomplish much more than if all of their talent comes from one sector.

One of the challenges is that not every youth serving organization has the resources to hire this mix of talent, or the network needed to recruit volunteers to fill all of these roles.

That's why cities need a "Virtual Corporate Office" strategy that recruits volunteers with functional skills, from every industry, to support individual tutor/mentor programs.  

Between 1973 and 1990 I held various roles in the retail advertising department of the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago.  I learned how functional teams worked daily to support more than 400 retail stores in 40 states, while my advertising team worked to draw customers to those stores.  All of these roles were needed.

In the ROLE OF LEADERS essay shown below I encourage CEOs from every industry to take roles that encourage employees to take on roles that support tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods, with the goal that every program, in EVERY neighborhood, would have the mix of talent needed to do constantly improving work.

Role of Leaders - How CEOs ... by Daniel F. Bassill

There are dozens of other articles on this blog that relate to this article. I encourage you to spend a little time, over many years, reading and understanding them.  I urge donors to endow programs at universities where students study these articles over a period of years, so they  leave college knowing what it's taken me 50 years to learn.

That's because great teams require great leaders, with broad visions.  This country needs a disciplined, sustained effort to develop and support such leaders.  

If you understand this, then please share it with your network, via your own blog posts, videos, GIFs, podcasts, etc.  Help recruit the talent needed in Chicago and other cities with high concentrations of poverty to fuel a broad network of constantly improving, mentor-rich, youth serving programs.

Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday greetings and to those who also sent contributions to support my work.

Over the next two weeks and throughout 2024 I hope many readers will visit this page and make contributions to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  

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