Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

Tutor/Mentor Collaboration and Brainstorming Meeting

Yesterday, Bradley Troast and I led a meeting for leaders of tutor/mentor programs to share updates about their programs while also brainstorming ways programs might work together in the coming months. I was excited that we had ten program leaders attend. I think this alone--the fact that these busy people took the time to come into our office for an hour and a half--shows how much leaders value the opportunity to collaborate with other programs and share best practices.

In addition to giving me an opportunity to meet many program leaders, the meeting revealed various avenues where programs might learn from one another. For example, as one person discussed questions she had about program policies, others jumped in with how their programs handle legal matters. As another leader grappled with how to best use social media, another stepped up and offered insights about her use of Facebook to connect to mentors and donors.

These are just a few of the many conversations that were started yesterday. I am looking forward to watching as these conversations blossom into collaborations this coming year.

Here are the complete meeting minutes:

Tutor/Mentor Connection

Brainstorming and Collaboration Meeting

August 30, 2010

  • Introductions
    • Organizations present:

Becoming We The People

Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection

Camp of Dreams

Chicago Lights Tutoring and Summer Day

Howard Area Community Center—Youth Division Programs

Lake County Regional Office of Education

Life Directions—Chicago

New Horizons Mentoring Program at Gads Hill Center

Wicker Park Learning Center

  • Discuss purposes of meeting:
    • Check in with programs—updates, current challenges, current strengths
    • Network between program leaders and brainstorm potential collaborations
    • Check-in before CPS regular school year begins on September 7th
    • November conference planning

  • Priorities/Feedback Forum
    • Reviewed results from 2009 survey of program needs and how the current challenges
      of programs might be similar/differ
      • Fundraising
        • Programs that have depended on federal dollars now leaning more on private
        • Given the economy, grants and money from foundations even more
          competitive—programs finding innovative ways to evaluate programs and
          show results-oriented data for grants
        • Smaller fundraiser events—board members leading small-scale fundraisers
        • Tough to quantify mentoring side of relationships which is more anecdotal
      • Volunteer recruitment
        • Need volunteers willing to commit for a longer time period; programs not
          taking “just anyone” so can be hard to find the right people
        • Some of the best recruitment comes from word of mouth; focus on keeping
          current mentors/volunteer happy and helping them have the best
          experience so they will refer friends (support/check in meetings,
          monthly social events, “open door” policy)
        • Pair with civic organizations that do volunteering as a group
      • Engaging university students and interns as volunteers
        • DePaul University Steans Center for
          Service Learning
        • Partnerships with Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Job Fair this
          Wednesday—check their website for details)
        • Loyola—upcoming internship fair
        • Recruiting quality interns—best luck when post a job description and then
          interview the candidates
      • Social Networking
        • Facebook vs. Twitter: Twitter can reach a more general network of people with
          more content specific information (ie: “Read this article and pass it
          along” or “Attend this meeting today!”)
        • Important to have a presence within all social networking platforms (Facebook, Linked-in,
          Twitter, etc.) in order to connect with those who use each account
        • Facebook groups: can be helpful to have separate groups designated for mentors,
          parents, and students
        • Get creative. Camp of Dreams posts inspirational quotes to Twitter and
          ‘words of the day’ to Facebook and kids get rewarded for using that
          word in their statuses
      • Program policies
        • Questions regarding how different programs handle legal/logistical policy issues
          (ex: Can students attend sporting events where there is alcohol served?
          Are permission slips needed for every type of event?)
        • Can be best to have generalized policies (re: Mentors must not drink in the
          presence of a student and may not take students to a venue where
          consumption of alcohol is the primary activity)
        • What are the Illinois
          laws for youth programs? Do you have an attorney who can advise you on
          these matters?
        • Best practices in this area—potential workshop topic!
      • Background Checks
        • State of Oregon
          provides free background checks to mentors—could something like this be
          duplicated in IL?
        • Potentially valuable to form a consortium of programs to do background checks
          together and bring down the costs
        • Adam Walsh Act—background check that Cabrini Connections uses
        • Having mentors pay or partially pay for the background checks as an upfront”
          buy-in” to the program

  • Ideas for T/MC to Best Serve Program Needs
    • Hold meetings throughout the year based around specific topics (ex: marketing,
      program evaluation, fundraising) so programs with particular interests
      can share best practices and collaborate

  • November 2010 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference
    • Tentative dates: November 11th-12th OR November 18th-19th
    • Location: Tentatively DePaul University, Lincoln Park
      Campus (Nov 11/12)—will be spread amongst several buildings, so if we
      find a more convenient location in the next few weeks, we are open to

  • Conference Brainstorm
    • Workshops ideas
      • Social Networking
      • Program Policies
      • Background checks
      • How mentor programs decrease drop-out rates (overview of statistics and data)
      • Coalition Building around issues such as substance abuse prevention

  • Ideas for format and schedule
    • Networking 101: Before/after/instead of keynote, teach people how to use conference
      to network and meet people
    • Ice-breakers/activities in groups of 8-10 people
    • Keep attendee list on the website. Good for contacting people you meet.

  • Wrap-up and Upcoming Events
    • Life Directions: Parties for Peacemakers Retreat—contact Van Bensett
    • Becoming We the People: September 11th Scavenger hunt and community
      building event—contact Jordan Hestermann
    • New Horizons Mentoring Program at Gad’s Hill: in process of hiring ten full-time
      mentors as part of Culture of Calm Initiative; looking for good
      candidates—contact Katie Cusack or Sandy Reyes
    • Camp of Dreams: Community Days open house on September 25th, need volunteers to teach
      high school seminars on leadership and community service
      contact Jacquita Smith or Michaela Pease

** Conference Planning Meeting: Tuesday, September 21st at 12:00pm**

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