Today more than 130 million people will watch the Super Bowl. 30 second TV ads will cost over $2 million each.

Over the past few days, the annual National Mentoring Summit was held in Washington. I attended this in past two years, but most years I follow on-line and try to build connections with participants via my Twitter feed. It’s less expensive, and potentially, I can connect with more people and ideas.

A couple of weeks ago America received a new President and my social media feed has gone crazy with resistance to some of his actions, as well as those of others in the dominant political party.

In the next few weeks millions will tune into watch NCAA and NBA basketball, then the opening of the new baseball season.  Go Cubs! Win number 2.

Millions of dollars in advertising are being spent to attract fans to these events. Who is spending that kind of money to attract supporters to youth tutoring and/or mentoring programs?

While all of these sports events may make us feel better, and feed the economy, and make the rich richer, my goal is that by posting messages on Twitter and other social media today and every day, I can attract volunteers, donors, partners and/or investors to the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, web site so more people will become involved in on-going learning, idea sharing and brainstorming that improves the distribution of talent, dollars, technology and ideas and leads to more and better k-12 tutoring, mentoring programs in more of the places where they are needed.

What would it take for millions of people to be tuning into the Mentor Summit, or reading articles on blogs like mine on a monthly basis? What leadership is required?

This photo illustrates why it’s important to attract some donors to support our work. This was taken more than 30 years ago when these kids were participating in the tutoring program hosted at the Montgomery Ward complex in Chicago. Today, many are connected to me on Facebook. With enough resources, we could be advertising a “Mentor Reunion” event and and connecting more and more of our alumni with programs and each other via a variety of social media platforms.

What this illustrates is that “connecting a youth and volunteer in a tutor/mentor program is only the beginning. Keeping them connected to each other, and the program, is an on-going process” that must be continuously funded if the youth will experience the real benefit of an expanded social network consisting of people who don’t live in poverty, and who hold jobs in many different industries, when they are adults. This animation created by one of our interns that illustrates this concept.

I use maps all the time to illustrate that constantly improving, mentor-rich programs are needed in hundreds of neighborhoods. Every program needs the same resources to connect youth and volunteers and keep them connected and growing.  I point to examples of how maps can be used in stories on the MappingforJustice blog.

I don’t have the dollars to have an ad on TV today, or any day of the year. Yet, unless we can attract the same number of fans to our web sites and events, we’ll never achieve the goals the President set out in his State of the Union address.

There are nearly 200 Chicago youth serving programs on this list. They all need consistent support, and challenges to learn from each other and constantly improve.

Note that throughout this article and most of my blog articles I include graphics to illustrate ideas. I encourage other leaders in the youth development, mentoring, tutoring and workforce development fields to develop similar graphics and include them in their own web sites. Many of these were created by interns, demonstrating that youth in schools and non-school programs could be building skills while also learning leadership and communications strategies that are needed to build strong, on-going organizations.

If this interests you let’s connect on Twitter, or Facebook, or the Tutor/Mentor Conference Help build teams of volunteers, donors, political leaders, etc. who help build great tutor/mentor programs in every neighborhood where they are needed.

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