Now that weekly tutoring, mentoring sessions are taking place, how do you support your volunteers. Are you thinking about next year yet?


October 2015                                                                                       Issue: #145
Ideas and On-line Resources To Support Growth of Volunteer-Based Tutor & Mentor Programs.
The ideas shared in this monthly newsletter can be used by resource providers, political leaders, non profit leaders, volunteers and youth to help mentor-rich programs thrive in all of the neighborhoods where they are most needed. There's a lot of information. Spend a little time each week reading the articles and following the links. Use in group discussions with people who are concerned about the same issues.
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You're In Your First Month of the School Year. Congratulations!
Now that youth and volunteers are meeting, how do you support them?

In the September newsletter I focused on the weekly "What do I do?" questions that will be raised by volunteers every week during the coming school year, in programs across the country.

I included a link to a Homework Help map and I'm pleased to see that Cluster Tutoring Program in Chicago picked up on this suggestion. See their Tutoring Tips page.

The graphics above are intended to stimulate thinking about year-to-year planning. I included the one on the left in this blog article, with links to a planning calendar I used when leading tutor/mentor programs in the past.  The work you do over the next few months can take you into next year with more ideas, and with volunteers willing to help you make those ideas a reality.

The graphic on the right is a vision I've pursued for over 20 years. I  think kids in high poverty neighborhoods need consistent support from first grade until they are working. That could come from a single program that keeps them involved for many years, or from several different programs who work with the same kids at different times during this journey. 

I think a weakness of past (and current) leadership efforts are that they focus on pieces of the problem, rather than an entire ecosystem of related problems. Furthermore few last long enough to have significant impact, and few reach all of the high poverty areas where they are most needed.  This article illustrates what I'm talking about. I'd love to find articles showing either strategy.

Does anyone have a silver bullet? A perfect solution?
All kids are different, and constantly changing, thus we're constantly looking for new ways to help them move through school...and beyond.

The cycle programs go through each year starts with volunteer and student recruitment and continues as we try to support them with ideas that keep them engaged and create a greater impact. At the end of this school year the kids we work with are only one year older, so programs not only need to find ways to be in business next year, but they also need to find ways to respond to the changes that take place in kids as they age.

I created the graphic in the middle to compare the constant learning we do to the experiments Thomas Edison did to perfect the light bulb. In order for tutoring/mentoring programs to engage in this constant learning they need to be able to attract talented staff and volunteers, find time for reading, networking and learning, and brainstorm ways to respond to constantly changing needs of youth and volunteers.

The graphic at the left is part of this article, illustrating a systems approach to this strategy. The graphic at the right illustrates this long-term commitment of mentoring kids from first grade to first job.

To me that means we need to find ways to increase the dollars available for programs and to stimulate an on-going distribution of flexible operating dollars to programs in every neighborhood where they are needed. This Tipping Points pdf shows actions I think would help programs grow. Do you have a similar essay that you are willing to share?

Talking about increasing funding in a tight economy seems useless. Yet, if we find ways to retain staff and turn volunteers and alumni into leaders, we have an army of resources to draw from. Read more about this idea.
I've been sharing these ideas for a long time. 
Maps show where poverty is concentrated and where programs are needed.

During the 1990s I shared ideas, maps and visualizations through a printed newsletter that was sent to more than 12,000 people three times a year in the late 1990s and early 2000s before the financial disasters of the 2000s caused me to switch to email only.

Over the years I've often had to stop and remind myself of why I was doing this and what I am trying to accomplish.  I did that again this week with this blog article.

The graphic above shows two pages from the Fall 1999 Tutor/Mentor Report. I've put links to this and several other printed newsletters in this section of my web site.

My ideas are inspired by the 17 years I spent in retail advertising with Montgomery Ward & Company. We spent nearly $250 million a year on advertising to draw customers to over 400 stores around the country.  Imagine how much more support we could draw to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities if just a fraction of the money being spent of political campaigns were spent on newsletters like this, drawing needed support to youth serving programs in poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

Many of the people who were receiving the printed newsletter never have received this email newsletter. If you know of people who would be interested, encourage them to subscribe (see above). Be sure to send the confirmation email to lock in your subscription.

Imagine if this had been happening every year since I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.   Now imagine you're in the year 2030. Will poverty, inequality and the distribution of needed, long-term, tutoring, mentoring and learning programs be any different? 

If you embrace and take ownership of these strategies you can change the future .

No Tutor/Mentor Leadership & Networking Conference in Nov. 2015
Let's connect on-line, or in one-on-one and small group meetings.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) lauched a survey in January 1994 to determine who was offering volunteer-based, non-school, tutoring and/or mentoring programs in Chicago. 120 organizations responded. One question asked how much contact programs have with peers, and 54% said "little or none".  Over 70% said they'd like more contact, and 90% said they'd come to a conference if it was of low, or no, cost and fit their schedule.

So we hosted a first Tutor/Mentor Leadership & Networking Conference in May 1994, with workshops presented by program leaders. 70 people attended and felt it was a success. So we did another in November 1994 and 200 people attended. I've hosted these conferences every six months since then.

From 1993 through 1999 an event strategy was developed, which is described in this video and this animation. From 2002 to 2011 the T/MC suffered from a loss of donors and inconsistent funding, yet continued to support this event strategy and share the idea with others via presentations, like this Collaboration Goals PDF.

Much has changed since 1994, especially the way we communicate and share ideas via the Internet. Many new organizations have entered the space as intermediaries, supported by high level donors and civic leaders. At the same time my own ability to raise funds has been severely reduced, especially since 2011. Attendance in May 2015 was 60 enthusiastic people, but I was not able to find sponsors so again had to pay for some of the costs from my own savings.

Thus, I've decided not to host the conference this November, and to try to bring it back in May/June 2016...if I can find sponsors and partners.. 

In the meantime, I'll continue to share ideas via blogs, this newsletter, and on-line forums with a goal of inspiring more people throughout the "village" to adopt some of these ideas in their own strategies. 

If you'd like to meet on-line, or face-to-face, for a tour of the on-line resources of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, please reach out to me via social media or one of the links shown below.

#ILGIVE, December Fund Raising, January Mentoring Month
Make sure your organization is taking advantage of events intended to help you.

If you're in Illinois, I hope you're planning to take part in the Tuesday, December 1 #ILGIVE fund raising campaign coordinated by the DonorsForum of Chicago. See details.

Still looking for volunteers?  Visit the Illinois Mentoring Partnership site and learn about the Chicago Mayor's Mentoring Challenge and the Illinois Coaches Mentoring Challenge.  

January will again be National Mentoring Month.  Visit this page to find details and events that you can use to draw support to your own organization and others during January 2016. 

In the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library I host a section with listings for conferences held around the country. Send me information and I'll add your conference to the list.  

View this video for a tour of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

View this video and follow the "Learning Path" intended to help you understand and adopt the strategies shared in this newsletter.
Celebrating 50 Years
Congratulations Tutoring Chicago, Midtown and Chicago Lights Tutoring Program

I had the honor of attending the 50 year celebrations of Tutoring Chicago and Chicago Lights Tutoring and I've been reading of Midtown Education Foundation's 50 Year Anniversary. Each of these organizations have alumni who share how important the program was to them in their lives.  I wrote about the Chicago Lights celebration here

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