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30 year reflection

I created this Ning forum in 2007 to support the growth of intermediaries who would help volunteer-based youth tutor/mentor programs reach more kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places with long-term support that helped those kids through school and into adult lives.

The site shares a strategy that I started in 1993, and named, Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC).   In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue the T/MC in Chicago and help it grow in other places.

Ning changed its hosting structure nearly 10 years ago and it became less valuable as a networking and idea sharing forum.  I kept using the site through 2015 to host interns who worked with me in Chicago and to share photos from conferences and other actions of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

It still offers potential for people from around the world to connect and share ideas for duplicating the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy in other places.

Every January I write a reflection.  You can see my 2024 article at this link.

If you're creating an intermediary with similar goals and you share ideas via a blog and visual essays, share links to your work in this forum and on social media sites.  

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Help Spread the Word

This is the first page of this PDF volunteer recruitment presentation. If you're trying to draw volunteers and donors to your non-profit, it will help if people in business, media, religious groups, etc. are using their own media to encourage volunteers and donors to find you.

You can save this image to your computer, and then put it in your own blog, with your own message. If enough people do this in August we can increase the number of volunteers and donors who are supporting us in September and beyond.

I created a set of "blog exchange" links on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site. If you use this image in a blog story, why not add a link to the story in the T/MC site. As we aggregate these we can learn from each other, and build more attention for each other's work.

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On this Ning site many are writing blog articles focusing on goals of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. On the Cabrini Blog, you can see how our staff are writing blog articles every week. Be sure to look at the links on that site, because each is another blog written by one of our staff, or volunteers, or interns. On my own Tutor/Mentor blog, I link to the blog of Mike Trakan, who creates the maps we use. I also link to a list of bloggers that I follow.

I hope that each of our writters are reading blogs written by other people, especially those who provide ideas for how to increase the number of people who read your blog, and who respond to what we are all writing about.

That's the goal. We want more people thinking about tutoring/mentoring, where programs are needed, and ways they can use their own time, talent and dollars to help these programs constantly improve. We want to reach people with only a little time and a few dollars. We also want to reach people with immense wealth and huge celebrity. Anyone can read what we write and follow our ideas.

If what we write is interesting and well written.

Thus, I'd like to point to one blogger who I feel has a good strategy.

This is a discussion on Social Edge, talking about "theory of change". If you scroll through it you'll see that I've posted comments. You'll also find this comment by Pamela Hawley. .

Now visit Pamela's blog. You'll see that she points to the discussions on Social Edge, then shows here own comments, and goes on to explain them in further detail. If you scroll through the past articles you'll see that she does this often.

You'll also see that I've posted comments to Pamela.

I hope you'll each work to develop your own strategy, and share ideas you've learned by reading blogs written by others who have good ideas to share. Together we will attract the attention needed to sustain Cabrini Connections and other tutor/mentor programs, and to help each of us build the leadership, and program activities, that have a greater long-term impact on our volunteers, kids and communities.
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Out of more than 200 members in this Ning group, a small percent are staff, volunteers and interns working directly with Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. Our purpose, as shown by this strategy map, is to help comprehensive, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty areas of the Chicago region.

This is not something that will happen in one year, or even a decade. Furthermore, building a great program is just the first step toward recruiting a youth, and keeping him/her and volunteers engaged and connected for five to 20 years, so the long term outcome is that the youth has a network of adults and a range of experiences that are helping him with jobs and career growth as he becomes an adult.

The chart above illustrates the way we use events at different parts of each year, to draw people together, to draw attention to tutoring/mentoring and to draw resources to the various tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. Since many people may not understand the ideas behind this chart, I'm constantly looking for different ways to communicate these ideas. Thus, many of the interns who are on this ning site are either converting ideas like this into interactive and animated formats, or writing blogs to help other people understand and adopt these ideas.

This graphic is the first slide of an animated project, just completed by Eunsoo Lee, and Intern from IIT, who is from Korea. If you browse the groups section you can follow work that was done in the past, or is being done right now.

This presentation, and a second one done by Jawon Koo, are important, because they illustrate how people and organizations can act today, and at the same time be thinking of the impact they might have three, six, nine and 12 months into the future.

You can review more of the essays that were used to create these animations, in the Tutor/Mentor Institute web site and you can see how I write about these ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Blog. If you're a student or volunteer who would like to volunteer time creating visualizations of these ideas, just join in. There is no limit to how many people can be involved, or to how many ways these ideas can be communicated.

Those of you who are in Chicago or the Illinois, are encouraged to share these ideas with people you know, and use them in building support for your own tutor/mentor program. There are many colleges, and many interns. Any non profit can reach out and recruit interns, and business partners, to help in the same way we are doing.

If you're in another city, you can follow this process, and duplicate it. The maps and charts that we share are just as useful in other places. Use the ideas to build greater and on-going business, donor and volunteer involvement in the different programs in your own region, so you create a movement of people toward a long-term goal.

I encourage you to form your own groups within this forum. For instance, there is a Los Angeles Group, a South Suburbs Group, and an Acacia Fraternity group. If these attract people from those places, who focus on the strategies that we are outlining with these presentations, the network of people how are connecting, and sharing ideas, and working together to gain greater public attention, will grow.

With the Social Network Analysis tools that we're discussing in this group, we hope to be able to map the growth of these networks, and help each one grow stronger through the process.

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I encourage bloggers who are writing for the T/MC to read the 2009 president's essay and others that are posted on this Foundation page.

We need to encourage people to connect on-line and at face to face events such as the Tutor/Mentor Conference, to discuss the ideas raised in these reports and other research.

We need to focus attention on

a) strategies that make constantly-improving youth-serving programs available in every high poverty zip code

b) strategies that provide operating resources and leadership support, so people stay involved for decades, not one or two years

c) strategies that help kids move from first grade to first job, with the support of the community around them, which includes schools, businesses, non profits, faith groups, etc.

d) strategies that weave all of this information into life-long learning, starting when kids are young, so it becomes a habit to visit sites like this and learn what's making life so difficult for so many in the world

e) strategies that turn people into actors rather than spectators. At the end of each day, look in the mirror and say how did I use my gifts, my time and my talent to help one or more places where youth are being giving more help to reach their full potential. How do we ingrain this into the daily habit of millions of people?

If you write about these ideas, and other people read and write about them, we are like a pebble that is thrown into a lake which becomes a boulder thrown into the ocean. We create ripples and waves that represent a growing number of people reading and responding to what we write.

Do this to help shape the world you want to have in the future and to enlist others to help you.

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