I’ve been writing a blog since 2005, that focuses on actions that leaders need to take to build and sustain mentor-rich youth programs in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.  I’ve hosted a second blog that shows uses of GIS Map and concept maps to focus attention on all high poverty neighborhoods in a city, or to help leaders in smaller sections, at the blog, zip code, or community areas level, build collaborations that include business, philanthropy, faith groups, hospitals and universities, and focus on helping needed youth serving programs grow throughout the focus area.

A third blog shares stories of how interns have been helping me since 2006.

Too often people contact me and ask “can you help me build a tutor/mentor program” or can you help me “find volunteers” or “donors”.  I can do that, but my goal is to collect and share information that others in the community use to support the growth of a wide range of programs needed to help youth move through school and into jobs…which to me is the best way to reduce poverty, inequality and urban violence.

Since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 I’ve considered creating a new blog, with a different title, hoping to focus on this intermediary role that is my passion.  What prompted me to finally do this is that I’ve joined a connected learning MOOC, called Collaborative Curiosity

Participants in this course are encouraged to blog, preferably using WordPress, and interact on Twitter, using the hashtag #CuriousCoLab.  Other forms of communications will be explored and shared by leaders and members of the course.  

As I see ideas that I think others in my network will value, I will retweet them, as I’ve done with the Tweet below.

This is what I’ve been doing for almost 40 years. As I’ve collected information and ideas that I was using to build a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago, I began to invite leaders from other programs together once a month to share their own ideas, while I shared mine.  This helped me. It helped them, too.

In 1993 I formalized this invitation to gather by creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with a mission to

gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region.

The first goal of the T/MC was to do an inventory of Chicago to learn who was already offering some time of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring, then to build an on-going public education campaign intended to draw those organizations together to learn from each other, or from the library I was building, and to education and motivate volunteers and donors to reach out consistently to support the on-going operations and improvement of programs in every poverty neighborhood of Chicago, not just the most visible programs.

Using the Directory of programs I was able to invite people to gather for a networking and learning conference, which I held every six months from May 1994 to May 2015.  I was able to invite programs to work together in an August/September Back-to-School volunteer recruitment campaign which launched in 1995 and at it’s peak in 2002, involved over 150 organizations. I still support that effort by hosting this list of more than 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations and by calling on volunteers and donors to shop and choose programs to support through blog articles I write regularly, and hopefully through articles others write, borrowing from my example.

Initially I shared what I was learning in printed newsletters, then in 1998 I started sharing this information through web sites and email newsletters. In 2005 I started sharing via blogs and then social media.

I started mapping program locations and indicators of need in 1994 and have continued to do this, with the help of volunteers and an inconsistent flow of dollars, through 2011. I still host an interactive map platform, but it’s out of date and needs tech support to be updated. It’s a model for what is possible.

Since this is a first blog, and an introduction, I’ll stop here. Hopefully in coming articles I’ll apply some of the ideas from the #consciouscolab event in helping others understand what a Tutor/Mentor Connection is, how it can be applied in their own city, and how I can help them with ideas and resources.

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