Use the ideas and resources shared monthly to help youth in your zip code have opportunities to participate in well-organized, mentor-rich, non-school programs.

May - June 2017 - Issue 158
Celebrate Connections Between Youth and Volunteers. Plan for Next School Year. 
The ideas shared in this monthly newsletter can be used by youth organization leaders, resource providers, political leaders, universities, volunteers and youth to help mentor-rich programs thrive in all of the neighborhoods where they are most needed.
While I try to send this only once a month, I write blog articles weekly. In the sections below I post links to a few of the articles published in the past month or earlier.  I encourage you to spend a little time each week reading these articles and following the links. Use the ideas and presentations in group discussions with other people who are concerned about the same issues.
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As This School Year Ends, Celebrate, Reflect, Plan Ahead 
What are you doing to recruit volunteers and students to be involved in program development? How can we do this better?
See reflection in this blog article

The goal of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, started in 1993, has been to help every non-school tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region get the talent, ideas and resources needed to constantly improve, so they all become "great" and then stay "great" for many years. 

To support this goal I have been building a list of Chicago area non-school, volunteer-based tutoring and mentoring programs since 1993.  See list here. See list on Facebook, here.

For the past few weeks my Facebook feed has included pictures showing youth and volunteers celebrating year-end events.  In a few, programs are already inviting volunteers to sign up for the coming school year.
Have you ever heard the saying "I can't drain the swamp because I'm up to my neck in alligators"?

That saying applies to most non profits, and many tutoring and mentoring programs, who face on-going struggles of finding operating dollars, talent and volunteers to keep the doors open. Spending time networking and learning from others, as part of an ongoing process of quality improvement, just is not possible for most.

Collaborating, or working with others to increase the flow of resources to all programs, is not deemed possible, when finding enough resources for their own programs is so difficult.

That's why I focus continually on strategies that engage volunteers in program development. Such strategies should include students and alumni, too.

Below are a few links to articles that expand on this topic. I encourage you to read these and start a conversation within your organization about how to implement some of these.
* Building, connecting villages of hope and opportunity - click here

* What if billionaires were adopting Chicago neighborhood? - click here
* Innovating in the world wide coffee shop - click here
* Can't drain the swamp? Up to your neck in alligators? click here
* Resources in Tutor/Mentor web library that I point to frequently - click here
If you're writing articles like these and sharing them on a blog, please send your web address to so I can add you to the T/MC web library.
Think of Your Web Site as A "Shopper's Guide"
Does your web site provide enough information to convince a volunteer, donor, journalist, youth or parent to want to support you, or join you?   
Take a look at this "Shoppers Guide" PDF.
If youth organizations can recruit volunteers from different companies, with different skills, these volunteers can help recruit additional volunteers and financial support from their companies and industries, as well as their faith groups and college networks.

They can also model different careers that youth might aspire to, and can help organize extra learning opportunities that allow students to sample what different careers might offer, and to begin to build skills related to those careers.

A volunteer corps that is linked to different industries can even help open doors to part time jobs and internships.

That does not happen by accident, or if recruiting volunteers from multiple sources is not a program goal and part of program design.  You need to show this on your web site, and show what success you are having. Your best recruiter is a satisfied, motivated current volunteer. 

Not every program is as successful at this as others, which is why the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy has always been to reverse the process.  Instead of programs constantly seeking volunteers, what if there were teams within companies working to engage other volunteers in support of programs near work sites, or along transit routes that employees take as the come to and from work?

When the Tutor/Mentor Connection was being developed in 1993 many companies had a long history of supporting the annual United Way campaign. Many companies had campaign coordinators and teams of employee volunteers who organized company fund raising. Why don't companies have similar teams intended to support volunteer involvement in non-school tutor/mentor programs?
These articles relate to that goal.  Read:
* Birth-to-work requires new thinking about resource flow - click here

* Mentor Role in Larger Strategy - click  here

* Intentional Influence - click here
* Leadership strategies for resource providers - click here

Use these and other ideas shared in this newsletter, and on Tutor/Mentor web sites as a resource for your own planning and involvement. 

What Might You Offer Your Students?
Non-school programs, who can recruit volunteers with a wide range of talents, are unlimited in what types of learning they might offer to youth.
Read articles about program design - click here, and click here

When I write about learning, I'm often talking about the learning volunteers, youth program staff and leaders, donors and policy makers need to do so that mentor-rich learning opportunities might be available to youth in high poverty areas of every city and state. 

However,  the next couple of months, program staff, volunteers and students might look at the links below and consider expanding the range of learning opportunities offered in coming school years.

Sustainable Development Goals (feature image above) click here
While the poverty and inequality in Chicago neighborhoods is a focus of our attention, there are problems all over the world, that are just as severe, and maybe more. Students and volunteers could be reviewing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform and developing strategies to engage themselves and others in solving these problems.

What are the 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs? 
The graphic above focuses on three areas of learning described in this World Economic Forum article.

Are these included in your youth organization?  See article
Other resources to look at 
* Leaders needed to solve complex problems - click here
* Pope Francis' TED talk - click here
* Social media and civic engagement - click here

As you look at my blog articles, I hope many readers will think of how they could do these stories better than I do. Or maybe you already write articles like this?  I have written articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog every week for more than 10 years.

I encourage others to duplicate these, or re-do them, making them better and reaching more people. If many others do the same we might be able to capture more public and donor attention to support the work non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs do.

Visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Video Library
Videos created between 2006 and 2017 show strategy and share work done by Interns. 
Were you part of the May #onthetable2017 event hosted by the Chicago Community Trust, which drew together nearly 100,000 Chicago area residents?  Here's a video with my reflections.  I look forward to reading what others have to say about their participation, and their vision and strategies for fixing problems facing Chicago.
Videos, too.
While Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection web sites and blog articles share many ideas and strategies for those willing to read, videos share some of these strategies in a different format. Many were done by interns. Some are from past Tutor/Mentor Conferences. Some were done by Dan Bassill.

Some were done recently to show Flash animation work that can no longer be viewed on many browsers.  They all could be remixed, over and over, by youth and volunteers who seek to apply the ideas to their own cities.  See videos at this link.

There is a huge amount of information in this monthly newsletter, and on Tutor/Mentor blogs. It's not intended to be read and digested in a single sitting. It's intended to be part of on-going learning and process improvement.    

Additional resources to help Chicago area organizations and supporters connect, learn and work collectively to help build support systems for youth:
* Strengthening Chicago Youth  blog - click here
* Thrive Chicago events calendar - click here

* MENTOR Illinois - current newsletter
* May 30-31 #ILGive fundraising event - click here

* August 2017 Illinois Conference on Volunteer Administration - click here

* Chicago Organizations in Intermediary Roles - click here

* Tutor/Mentor Blog article with frequently used links - click here

Dan Bassill (that's me) is available to discuss any of these ideas with you, or others, via Skype, Google Hangouts or in person if you're in Chicago.

Tutor/Mentor Connection, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC
 Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303, Chicago, Il 60654 |

Read about a Tutor/Mentor Connection "do-over" - click here

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Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303,  Chicago, IL 60654