pyramid-result2013I wrote an article on the Tutor/Mentor blog today where I took a deeper look into the steps on this pyramid.  I hope you’ll take a look.

In the middle of the pyramid, is a segment saying “actions that increase the flow of resources to each neighborhood“.   I want to focus on that in this article.



This graphic includes a map of Chicago, with high poverty areas highlighted. Youth tutoring, mentoring and learning programs operating in these areas all need the same resources to become great, and then stay great, at what they do to help kids and volunteers connect, and help kids move through school.

They each compete with everyone else for whatever resources are available.  Since grant makers use grant proposals and competitions to solicit proposals, then only fund a few winners, most programs are losers in this on-going funding competition.  Even if you get a  major gift (such as the $50k I received from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation in 2007) that gift usually does not repeat the following year. Thus, you need to find a new donor , or several new donors) to continue the work that the first gift enabled you to start doing.

With natural disasters, financial meltdowns, political extremism, wars, climate crisis and personal and family health disasters affecting more and more people it’s even more difficult to attract support for youth serving programs and keep that support flowing for many years.

Most smaller non profits don’t have marketing teams or development officers so it’s a struggle to find the resources each program needs. Thus, it’s hard to become great….and then stay great for many years. A few programs might succeed, but a city like Chicago needs several hundred great programs, not just a few.

4-pt-step3-3I worked in the corporate office for the Montgomery Ward Corporation from 1973-1990 in various retail advertising roles of growing responsibility. I know how people in different corporate teams worked to help each of our 400 stores, spread over 40 states, be great at attracting customers and selling merchandise (at least that was the goal).

Thus, when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the goal was to build a directory of all known volunteer based tutor and mentor programs in the Chicago region, then create more frequent media stories intended to draw needed resources to each program while also drawing the programs together to borrow ideas and learn from each other.


I never had much money to do this so always have been trying to draw volunteers from different industries into teams who would help innovate ways to draw greater on-going attention to programs in more places.

In this Role of Leaders pdf I show how corporate leaders could support the growth of employee involvement in youth tutor and mentor programs, by encouraging the growth of volunteer leadership teams.

When I was a Loaned Executive for the United Way Crusade of Mercy from 1990-93 I encourage campaign leaders from each of the major accounting firms to begin meeting and sharing ideas so that all of their campaigns could become more successful. In the same way, if company teams were supporting employee involvement in programs throughout the city, or in areas where the company does business, or where employees or customers live, representative from those teams could be meeting to innovate more and better ways to draw needed operating resources and volunteer talent to all of the tutor/mentor programs in the city.

Below is a graphic that illustrates this idea. Volunteer teams could be supporting individual programs. They could be supporting multiple programs in neighborhoods or single community areas. They could be helping needed programs grow in the entire Chicago region.  See article.



Such teams could even be connecting with similar teams in different cities to share ideas and encourage on-going efforts.

If this is happening, I would love to be invited into the conversations so I can share these and other ideas that I’ve developed over the past 40 years.  If it’s not happening, I hope you’ll start the conversation and invite me to join in.

If we want kids living in poverty to succeed in school, stay safe in non-school hours, graduate from high school and move on to adult roles free from poverty we need to innovate ways to generate the flow of talent and dollars needed to support non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs that help make these outcomes possible.

Teams of people need to be meeting, sharing ideas, looking at what others already do, and figuring new ways to do this in their own city.

Read also:
* Virtual Corporate Office – click here

* Building the Village. Youth as Leaders – click here

* Mentor Role in Larger Strategy – click here