Tutor/Mentor Connection

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One of the goals of our Social Network Analysis is to find a way to show how the networks of kids living in highly segregated, high poverty, inner city neighborhood changes over many years as a result of being part of a tutor/mentor program like Cabrini Connections.  In this web site, Bob Pearlman shows that "who you know" is more important than what you know. He points to a Silicon Valley study by AT Kearney, which shows how kids living in poverty don't have people in their lives modeling college and technology careers, thus they are less likely to pursue those careers.

Thus, if we can create a SNA survey that shows how frequently kids are in contact with people who went to college, hold jobs in Science, Math, Technology, Engineering, health care, law, etc., we can ask our teens to take this at the beginning of each year. Comparison maps from year to year, should show an expanding network created as a result of being part of a tutor/mentor program.

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In another discussion, Katie wrote:

On another note (I know this is getting long), I know we talked about mapping the students involved in Cabrini Connections. I think this could be a really neat exhibit for the conference and for explaining social networking and how social networks develop. The following is more brainstorming than a concrete idea, please feel free to respond to it!

As I understand, we have 7th-12th graders at Cabrini Connections. While we will be unable to map the progressive network growth for a single class at this point, simply because the data doesn't exist, I think that it would be useful to compare the networks of say the seventh graders and the 12th graders to show the difference in the networks and how CC helped the network around the students to grow. Therefore, we would need to survey those two classes.

I guess the difference is that what I'm envisioning places a single student at the center, then shows the people that have influence on their life. I'm not quite sure how to do this for a whole class, or if 1 student as an example works.

The survey might look something like rank 0-4 the interactions you have had with the following people:

__Religious Leader
__People outside your neighborhood
etc. (it would be a longer list)

The number that the students place be our scale.

I'm also thinking, and this just popped into my head, that we could so a map of the relationships between the students, to show the interior relationships that they have built.

This would look more like the maps that we have created for ourselves. I would really like to run a survey especially on the newest students, then repeat it once a year as they go through the program. This (obviously a long term project) would enable us to analyze when different types of relationships form, and also see if there is some sort of 'pop' moment, where the kids really embrace the opportunities open to them, or if it's more of a steady growth.
Take a look at the chart below. This is from a PDF on the T/MC site.

Many of the social capital articles and drop out/education research emphasis the lack of people in the lives of kids living in highly segregated, high poverty areas, who model opportunities and aspirations beyond what kids see in poverty. For the first 5 to 10 years, the most common role model for many kids might be the local drug dealer driving a fancy car. Why should he aspire to anything beyond that? A tutor/mentor program could expand the network, if it is in the neighborhood, and bring a diverse base of volunteer work experiences.

On this chart the green boxes represent people in the lives of kids, who model negative paths, while the pink boxes show people less visible in the child's neighborhood. Some of these pink boxes, like "industry" and "college" could be broken into sub categories, such as type of college, or type of career. It makes a difference if the people around a youth model top 100 colleges, vs colleges that might not expand the learning and networking opportunities as much. It makes a difference if kids are surrounded by science, math, engineer type people, if that's what we're trying to influence them to aspire to.

Thus, the survey might be to 0-4 interactions with some of the categories on this chart.
After attending (part) of the conference and participating in the SNA discussion, I am really interested in using the InFlow maps for the students. I also just read the most recent article that Dan posted about the positive correlation between diverse networks and socio-economic status/opportunity.

I believe that creating maps for the students and teaching them what they mean will help the students to understand the broader network they are creating. The visualization can help spell out what is not always clear for students, and then they might see how the network has helped them, and how continuing to try to grow their network can continue to help them. I think for this to be effective, there needs to be a time-lapsed map comparison from where they were when they came in to who they have in their lives in the present.

I would really like to start working on this. If anyone is interested in helping, please let me know.

Also, summers tend to be really busy for me, so if I take a while to respond, it is not for lack of interest or participation!

This article is titled "A Social Capital Framework for the Study of Institutional Agents & Their Role in the Empowerment of Low-status Students & Youth". It provides many reasons to support the growth of mentor-rich non-school tutor/mentor programs saying "To alter the destinies of low-status students and youth, is not only to empower them with institutional support, but also to empower them with a critical consciousness and the means by which to transform themselves, their communities, and society as a whole."

If we can connect with people doing this type of research and with people who are working to build a universe of mentor rich programs that are full of "empowerment agents" we can find people to help develop tools that demonstrate the growth of a youth and volunteer network as a result of on-going and multi-year participation in a tutor/mentor program. That would be a step toward finding the funding to staff such programs with leaders who are "empowerment agents themselves" and who can teach volunteers to take the same role.

I posted this discussion in April 2010 and point to it frequently in my network building. I've still not found a partner/volunteer and/or investor tho help build a tool that  youth organizations could use to map changes in the network of youth and volunteers as a result of on-going participation in an organized non-school program. I've also not found any web sites showing others doing this.  If any of you want to help on this project, or know of other examples, please share by posting on this site.


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