collaboration (18)

 In the early 1990s I became aware of something called Group Systems, which was a meeting facilitation aid, where everyone used computers to brainstorm ideas, then to organize and vote on them.  In this Feb 2020 blog article I include a quote from a 2000 article about group systems. 

Much has changed since the 1990s. Today I participated in a webinar focused on technology and broadband access,  hosted by the Arizona Future of Tech Commission. They pointed people to a Jam Board where ideas were collected.   

Imagine if we'd had this available to us in the middle 2000s as we were bringing people together for face-to-face Tutor/Mentor Conferences in Chicago and building participation on this forum.  


Read more…

Think of idea sharing as exploding fireworks

12637706258?profile=originalI started this forum in 2007 when platforms like Ning were a new way to meet, connect and share ideas.  While a few people still join every year the forum has not been very active for a few years.

However, I still use it to archive work done in the past and to maintain connections for those who did join.

I created this graphic recently to show how an idea I or others launch with a post, like this one, explodes into a network of people who we know, or who are also part of the forum.

What you do to share this post in your own networks is similar to how new explosions of fire works emerge from the initial bomb bust, one after another.  In network building these represent an idea being blasted into larger and larger networks of people.  

I used this graphic in this article. Take a look and share it with others.

Read more…


This is one of many concept maps I've created to visualize the commitment I and other leaders need to make to help youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city get the support systems they need to more successfully move through school and into careers.  While you can click through the nodes on this map, to other maps, I created this library of concept maps, to show the wide variety that are available.

The primary value of this Ning community has been to support interns who are looking at my maps and visualizations, then creating their own videos and graphics to communicate the ideas in different ways.  Visit this group and you can see work done since 2007. 


  This is one of many visualizations that have been done. At this page you can see a collection of many projects done in the past. 

The only way these ideas will reach more people is for members of this group to enlist youth in their own community, and teach them to create their own interpretations of these ideas. If you're not in Chicago, just change the maps and focus the ideas on the needs of youth where you live. 

If you're already doing this, please share links to your projects and maps.

Read more…

A few months ago I read this Civic Enterprises report, titled  Untapped Potential: Filling the Promise of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Bigs and Littles they Represent.  If you're a current or former BIG, or have experienced the feelings outlined in this report from your involvement in a different mentoring program, I encourage you to read this report (PDF), and add your talent to our efforts.</p>

According to this report, "Youth who are part of the mentoring provided by Big Brothers, Big Sisters do benefit in a variety of ways, but many face "challenges of ruptured families and unsafe neighborhoods, bad influences from adults and peers in their lives, and schools marked by low expectations and insufficient student supports". These challenges are greater obstacles to successful youth development and movement to college and jobs than what a single mentor alone is able to overcome."

Many of the BIGs feel that their experience has motivated them to do more to mitigate these challenges. This report summarizes those feelings and suggests strategies that Biggs could take.  Many of our volunteers at Cabrini Connections experience the same feelings. I'm sure this is true in many other programs, too.

<b>As your read this, I encourage you to read the collaboration strategies on the site.</b> If you're one of those
BIGs who wants to do more to help these kids, join with us in events aimed at building greater public awareness, better understanding of tutoring/mentoring strategies, and a greater flow of operating dollars and volunteers to all of the neighborhoods, and programs, where kids and volunteers can connect.

Here are some highlights of focus group discussions with more than 557 adult volunteers (Bigs) and 400 youth (Littles) :

Overall the "Big" experience profoundly changes the volunteer's perspectives on the lives of at-risk youth. More than four out of five
BIGs (84%) said their experience has changed the way they look at
the challenges that at-risk youth face a great deal, or a fair amount.

Over half of the
BIGss surveyed (56%) said they worry that their Littles are not getting the education they will need to support themselves as adults.

More than one out of three (37%) of
BIGs said that not having enough to do after school was a barrier to their Littles' future success.

Seven out of 10
BIGs said that kids having more access to positive role models like coaches and teachers (73 percent) and role models like BIGs (69%) would improve childrens' chances for success a lot.

Four out of five
BIGs *82%) said their experience as a BIG leaves them feeling like they wish they could do more to h elp their Littles and children like them.

Seven of 10
BIGs (69%) said that they would definitely or consider helping encourage more adults to help disadvantaged children in some way

Four out of five *82%) believe that
BIGs working together can make a very significant or significant impact.

BIG said, "Why go to the government.? This country isn't designed for that. It's about all of us volunteering and making it a better place."

More than 78% said that encouraging other individuals to become more involved in directly helping children was more important than working to change public policy.

<b>there were more than 245,000 active mentors involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2009. </b> Think of how many have been involved over the past 30 years!

Imagine if just a small portion of these volunteers took on some of the leadership and organizing roles suggested in this report, or suggested in the Leadership and Collaboration strategies suggested by the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

It does not matter what city you live in. You can connect with each other, and with us, on this forum, or on forums you create. Let's put the potential of this report into action. Let's start now.

Visit and support the Chicago volunteer recruitment efforts of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Visit and take a lead at bringing Bigs and BBBS programs from all over the Midwest to the May or November Tutor/Mentor Conferences held in Chicago.

Visit http;// and see how you can map locations of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, or your own community, and use the maps as part of an outreach campaign intended to help more volunteers connect with kids in well-organized programs in Chicago and
throughout the country.

<b>Finaly, read the leadership ideas on the and enlist your business, college, faith group, professional group and/or hospital network as leaders and resource providers to this mobilization.</b>


Together mentors from many mentoring programs can do more to help inner-city kids have the support network they need to overcome the challenges of poverty. Let's connect in 2011 for the benefit of these kids.

Read more…

In my Tutor/Mentor Blog I use graphics like the one below to illustrate our goal of helping inner city youth grow up over a period of 10 to 20 years. We all start at birth and it takes 20 years to get through the first formal stages of education and into the college, vocational or job stage of our lives. Yet, if you live in high poverty areas, you face more challenges.


Thus, tutor/mentor programs, if they are available, and well supported for many years, can provide extra adult support to help kids in these areas. 12637695478?profile=original


So how can non profit organizations build the support needed to fuel this year to year grow.  I've been following a set of blog articles written by Sean Stannard-Stockton, CEO of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors and I encourage you to read them  yourself.

These articles have helped me understand the difference between donors who give us small grants to support the "transactions" of tutoring/mentoring that we do each week and donor/investors --- who Sean names "Philanthropic Investors".  


"Philanthropic Investors"   invest in the organization, and its leaders, and provide the flexible, long-term support that organizations need to grow from good to great.

Below I've posted some excerpts I took from these Tactical Philanthropy articles. I've added some of my own commentary. Sean's articles were posted over several days, so I  have linked to each article where you can fund the full text that I pulled my comments from.


March 3, 2011

…The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the naive imposition of the “language of business” on the social sector, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness.”

…before you become good, there are many stages of growth. Many businesses and non profits never reach the stage of being good because of poor ideas, poor leadership and lack of access to capital to develop their ideas.


Business-like investing means focusing in on the likelihood that an investment in a company will be rewarded by financial profits out of the company that are attractive relative to the investment made. If we simply replace “financial profits” with “social impact” we have a recipe for a successful approach to philanthropy.


I think philanthropy is most intelligent when grantmaking decisions are driven primarily by the questions "In what enterprise?” and “On what terms is the commitment proposed?”


In what enterprise?” means that you don’t make a grant “to support education” but instead focus your attention at the nonprofit enterprise level.

On what terms is the commitment proposed?” means that you make a grant if, and only if, you believe that the social impact generated by the nonprofit enterprise will be attractive relative to the grant that you’ve made.

The investment approach to philanthropy is wholly different from the problem solving approach to philanthropy. This recognition is critical because the two approaches require entirely different methods of implementation.



March 4, 2011

One of the reasons it is so important for us to recognize distinct approaches to philanthropy is because doing so allows us to avoid “debates” that are really only a function of lack of awareness of the different styles. For instance, there has long been a debate about the value of general operating support grants vs restricted grants. But this debate falls away when we recognize the distinction between problem solving strategic philanthropy and an investment approach to philanthropy. The investment style seeks at its core to support the nonprofit enterprise. General operating support is the default choice because it is most useful in supporting the enterprise. But strategic philanthropy seeks to create a solution to a problem on the philanthropist’s own terms. The general operating support grant is only preferred if it best advances the strategic philanthropist’s solution.


Charitable Giving seeks to buy nonprofit program execution that will accrue to beneficiaries. It is classic “buyer” behavior as defined by George Overholser is Building is Not Buying. The Charitable Giver is concerned primarily with the value of the programmatic execution relative to grant size and cares little about the nonprofit enterprise for its own sake.

Philanthropic Investment seeks to invest resources into nonprofit enterprises in order to increase their ability to deliver programmatic execution. It is classic “builder” behavior as defined in Building is Not Buying. The Philanthropic Investor, like a for-profit investor, is primarily focused on the longer term increase and improvement in programmatic execution relative to grant size.

Strategic Philanthropy seeks to buy nonprofit goods and services in a way that aligns with a theory of change defined by the strategic philanthropist. It too is “buyer” behavior, but the funder is primarily concerned with the degree to which the net result of the programmatic execution across their grantees advances the solution that they believe is most likely to solve the problem they seek to address.

Social Entrepreneurism seeks to directly execute programs that align with a theory of change, defined by themselves. They are the enterprise with which the other approaches engage. They are primarily concerned with the net social impact that is a result of their programs.

In the comments section for this article, George Overholser  posted the following comments:

March 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm

We might boil it down even further by asking: (1) Who pays for the work?, (2) Who shapes the work? and (3) Who does the work?

“Buyers” pay for the work. They merely exchange money for program execution without asking the nonprofit to change what it does.

“Builders” shape the work. In effect, they say: “You are not equipped to enact our strategy, so we are unwilling to pay for what you already are capable of doing. Instead, we would like you to change what you do. Of course, it is entirely up to you. But unless you make changes, you won’t get the money.”

Organizations are the one’s that do the work. Sometimes they are entrepreneurial. Sometimes they are mature. Sometimes they are their own funders — as in an operating foundation.

Payers/Shapers/Doers = Buyers/Builders/Organizations

All three types are needed. And all three types need to be strategic.

The problem comes when multiple shapers converge upon a single organization. Everyone is being strategic… but unfortunately they don’t necessarily share the same strategy. So the result can be an organization that is shaped, and re-shaped and re-shaped again.

If the organization were well-capitalized, it might be in a position to say no to the chronic re-shaping. (“Sorry, that’s not our strategy, and we won’t go bankrupt by turning you down.”)

If our capital markets were more mature, they would aggregate the capital of like-minded shapers. Through syndicated capital campaigns, an organization’s shapers would be aligned for long periods of time with a single strategic plan.

This captures the goals of the Tutor/Mentor Connection!

But our nonprofit capital markets are not mature. Shapers tend to take turns, rather than pool their resources. For this reason, the organizations fail to stay focused long enough to build the capacities and track records they need to attract type of simple payers (buyers) that won’t try to re-shape them.

If you think about it, “strategic” shapers are actually not being strategic if they allow the organizations they support to be whipped around by other “strategic” funders.

I posted a comment myself .....Dan Bassill says:

March 11, 2011 at 8:10 am

George, thank you for your comments. Sean, thanks again for hosting this discussion.

This sounds like the Abilene Paradox. We all agree that lack of consistent revenue flow keeps organizations from building the strength and capacity to impact problems that are long term, yet aggregating resources and connecting donors around common goals seems to be an unreachable goal.

As a result the Good to Great theme might be summarized to say “they don’t get good, they don’t get great, and the don’t stay great long enough to do good.”

With that said, where can we find forums where different investors are connecting with social entrepreneurs focused on specific social issues? In one of Sean’s post “tutoring” was brought up as a transaction a donor pays for. If this were framed as “helping to raise kids living in high poverty areas” would more investors be interested in helping build the organizational strength needed for many organizations to provide the long-term support kids in many places need to grow up? There are thousands of tutor/mentor programs in the country, each spending scarce resources looking for scarce investors. Where is a forum where investors and program leaders who want to help kids living in poverty can be sharing ideas and working to “aggregate the large pools of capital” needed to support the entire universe of these programs over a quarter century or more?

Who want so help build such a meeting place?



March 7, 2011

The Charitable Giver seeks to buy nonprofit program execution that will accrue to beneficiaries. It is classic “buyer” behavior as defined by George Overholser is Building is Not Buying. The Charitable Giver is concerned primarily with the value of the programmatic execution relative to grant size and cares little about the nonprofit enterprise for its own sake.

There is a sense in professional philanthropy that “philanthropy” is a superior form of “charity”. Philanthropy is often positioned as getting at the root cause while plain old charitable giving only addresses symptoms. I think this is both incorrect and confuses the purpose of charitable giving and strategic philanthropy.

Let’s take the case of a nonprofit afterschool tutoring program that provides services to inner city school children (a case study that George Overholser has often used). A Charitable Giver is a donor who wishes to purchase tutoring services on behalf of the children who will benefit. We call this “buyer” behavior, because the transaction is similar to a consumer who buys afterschool tutoring services for their own child from a for-profit tutoring service. The fact that the service is being bought on behalf of someone else makes the transaction a charitable one, but does not change the nature of the transaction. Both are a purchase of tutoring services.

Now the effective Charitable Giver, like a savvy shopper purchasing things on their own behalf, wants the best value for their expenditures. If nonprofit tutoring organization A provides more hours of tutoring or higher quality tutoring per dollar spent than tutoring organization B, the effective Charitable Giver should seek out organization A.

So the effective Charitable Giver needs to first decide what category of social value they are interested in purchasing (education, environment, arts appreciation, etc) and then comparison shop for the best value for their grant dollars.

This means that the effectiveness of charitable giving is dependent on the success of comparison shopping for the most/best program execution per dollar. For the most part, organizational analysis is not part of the equation, the issue is programmatic analysis. The Charitable Giver should seek the services of a theoretical Consumer Reports of nonprofits, not a Morningstar (investment advice) of nonprofits.

My (Dan Bassill) comment on this.  What this does not account for is the lack of needed services (tutoring) in many areas where they are most needed.  Or, the existing service is not as good as others in different parts of a city, or does not have the capacity to handle more kids than it already serves. A donor who want to buy services in this zip code would be limited to a) supporting a poorly run/small program; or b) not donating at all. The third choice is to help build the capacity of the existing programs in the zip code, or to help start new programs to offer the service. 

Unfortunately, a consumer report of non profit tutor/mentor programs does not yet exist. T/MC has been trying to find funding to do this for 18 years.

Without someone aggregating information showing where the need for a service is, and what providers are in that area, Charitable Givers may gravitate to brand name programs based on reputation, not based on their actual record of delivering the service the donor wants to buy. It also means that good programs go unnoticed, and under funded, so they never become great, or they cannot stay good or great for very long.



March 8, 2011-

When an equity investor in a for-profit or a nonprofit provides equity, their expectation is that the organization can use those funds to grow their organization in such a way that future earnings or social impact will be enhanced.

Whereas the Charitable Giver’s relevant metric is the relative value of program execution compared to grant size, the metric of importance to the Philanthropic Investor is social return on equity. The social return on equity is dependent on the degree to which the nonprofit is able to use the equity invested to expand and/or improve their program execution.

For instance, in the case of the nonprofit tutoring program I mentioned yesterday, the Philanthropic Investor is interested in the degree to which the organization can expand the availability of their tutoring program and/or improve the value of their tutoring services in relationship to the equity provided.

I believe the lack of understanding around the role of equity in the growth of nonprofits is a primary reason why since 1970 only 144 nonprofits have launched and grown to annual revenues of at least $50 million while in the for-profit field, 46,136 organization have crossed the $50 million revenue hurdle during the same time frame.

Philanthropic Investors provide the equity capital needed to create/build the organizations which can offer the best value propositions to Charitable Givers.


In the comment section of this article, George Overholser says:

March 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm

The philanthropic investor (Builder) assumes that current capacities aren’t able to solve the problem. And so, their strategy is to become a partner in re-shaping what organizations can do. They partner with the management team, the board, and with co-investors around a single coherent re-shaping plan. In the end, their strategy succeeds or fails depending on whether the organization eventually becomes so compelling that other (charitable giver) funders flock to pay for years and years of high-quality program execution.

Stepping back, you might call this the OPM strategy (Other People’s Money). “If my philanthropic investment works, it will attract other people’s money towards the program I like.” This is analogous to a venture capitalist that helps to build a company that other people (customers) then use to turn money into products and services.

I feel that our greatest opportunity may be for more philanthropic investors to realize that they must work together, and not one after the other, when they support the re-shaping of an organization. This is because it can take years to re-shape an organization. During these years, the organization must stay focused and not be jumping from one funder’s re-shaping agenda to another’s. By being willing to aggregate their capital around a single multi-year strategic plan, the philanthropic investors raise the probability that their investment will be successful.



Sean says in this final article, "Philanthropic Investor is interested in the degree to which the organization can expand the availability of their tutoring program and/or improve the value of their tutoring services in relationship to the equity provided."   


After reading the Tactical Philanthropy ariticles, I received the most recent copy of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. One article is titled "Increasing Civic Reach" and shows how non profits need to recruit board members who have influence, access to power and can help build high level support for the non profit. I think this is an obvious aspiration for any non profit, but most of us don't have the connections to recruit this type of leader, at least not in the context of our single, small non profit organization.


This is exactly what the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been trying to do for 18 years, yet we've not been able to find philanthropic investors in Chicago to support this vision.   I've not yet been able to build the network of leaders, the civic reach, needed to fully implement these ideas.


However, if we were to think of ourselves as a "connection of non profits who share the same vision" of helping kids living in poverty, we are a much larger enterprise and we work to help kids all over the world.  This Ning forum and other T/MC web sites are intended to be a meeting space and work space where we can work together to create a better operating system of support that helps each of us have the philanthropic capital needed to build strong organizations that grow to be good, then great, and can stay great for the 20 years it takes for kids to go from birth to work.


I hope you'll read this, and add your own time and talent to helping us shape this new operating system.

Read more…

Process maps - apply to your work

These I-Open process maps provided by Betsey Merkel are very good. I'd like to hear from any members of this forum who are finding ways to integrate them in their efforts to build and sustain high quality tutor/mentor programs in one, or more locations.


Here is the process of ...culture building, one aspect of the I-Open Civic Forum Process os/iopen/4788169291/in/set -72157624482024386#/photos /iopen/4788169291/in/set-72157624482024386/lightbox/


Here is the timeline and repeating activities


Where are the philanthropic investors who would provide the money/manpower/talent for us to integrate some of these ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Connection?

Read more…


In every high poverty neighborhood there are one or two anchor institutions, like a hospital, university, bank, etc. that could provide leadership and strategic support to strategies that support the growth of youth mentoring programs.

If those same institutions also focus on community wealth building then they may be more likely to build the types of leadership support needed to take a long term approach to youth mentoring program growth. 

This graphic is included in this blog post that I wrote today on this topic. I encourage you all to review t his and use the ideas in reaching out to anchor institutions in your own communities.

Read more…

Social Desgin Blog - great reading

In the groups and blogs on this forum you can see how interns working with me in Chicago are creating visualizations that communicate our ideas in new ways.

In this blog titled Design for Social Change the writer provides tips and reasons to use design to communicate ideas.

I hope members of the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum, not just my interns, will take a look and begin to find ways to communicate their vision, strategies, needs and ideas visually.

Read more…

As we enter 2011 the economy is still a mess and the competition for resources to fund non profits continues to grow. Thus, we need to be more creative, think smarter, and keep learning from the wisdom of others.

This article is one that I encourage you all to read. It talks about how your Twitter, email, or Facebook post can generate more response if it can connect emotionally with the reader.

I'm not smart enough to figure out all the different ways to make our messages appeal in this way to all of the various people we're trying to reach, but the collective talent of the people who are members of this Ning group, and the people they know, could innovate messages and delivery systems that over the course of a year might dramatically increase the number of people who visit this site, then become a volunteer or donor at one of the organizations represented by members.

Thanks the goal. We all win with each victory that one of use is able to achieve.12637697083?profile=original

Read more…

A different kind of Philanthropy

I encourage you to read Sean Stannard-Stockton's article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review. He leads off with "What if foundations mostly gave unrestricted funding instead of dictating how grantees could spend their grants? What if foundations kept supporting grantees who performed instead of ending funding because the “grant cycle” had ended? What if foundations ditched the whole system of soliciting grant proposals and focused on proactively searching for great grantees? What if foundations expected grant reports to mostly consist of information the nonprofit was collecting anyway rather than specialized requests that sap the grantees resources?"

Then he points to the "Mulago Foundation may very well be a case study of an emergent model of how to run a foundation."

I go a step further. What if someone built a "blueprint" that showed the infrastructure needed in a tutor/mentor program, and provide a vision, like the birth to work chart shown below, indicating the long-term goal of youth who are part of a tutor/mentor program having age appropriate supports each year from when they join till when they graduate and are headed to college and careers.

They could also provided something like the "success steps" model that Cabrini Connections uses to illustrate the types of supports that should be provided each year for many years.

Then they could also provide poverty maps showing where tutor/mentor programs are most needed in Chicago or other cities, such as the one below.

These maps show where they are needed and the blueprints provide a vision that many programs could aspire to. If the program can show on its web site that it is providing the services that are needed each year, then donors and volunteers could look at the type of infrastructure that is needed, and provide the dollars, time or talent to programs in these neighborhoods to help them stay connected to kids and volunteers through all of the years it takes for kids to go from first grade through 12th grade, and even beyond that to when they are looking for jobs and volunteers could be helping open doors.

If the theoretical model is created by a collaboration of programs offering tutoring/mentoring and the people who want such programs to exist and succeed, then donors who believe in the theoretical model should be able to look at a programs web site and decide if they are in an area where the program is needed, doing the type of work that would lead to the outcome they want the program to impact, and then provide the resources needed based on what they have to offer. Visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute for more articles related to this idea.

This chart illustrates the role that intermediaries could take in buiding a theoretical model, or blueprint, that could be a common vision used by those who can help and those who need help. If such a model were created it would relieve all non profits who share the vision with the burden of providing their own theoretical model and would provide a common tool that resource providers and service providers could use to lobby for expanded resources to flow on an on-going and long-term basis.

Does this exist anywhere for the tutor/mentor field?.

Read more…

12637695674?profile=originalThis photo shows Mike Trakan with one of the maps he has created for Tutor/Mentor Connection since he joined us in Jan 2008. View the maps and read the articles he writes on the mappingforjustice blog

The T/MC received a $50,000 donation from an anonymous donor in Nov. 2007 which enabled us to hire Mike and rebuild our mapping capacity. We used this money to also create aninteractive program locator where you can create your own map.

We depleted all of the funds from this grant in early 2009 and have been organizing events like theTutor/Mentor Jamconcert to raise money and encourage more people to use the maps. 


We need help finding another angel investor who will help us continue this mapping. Please forward this story to people in your network who might help us find such a donor.



Read more…

I've led Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993. That was well before the internet became such an important tool. I've used computers to organize and communicate my ideas since around 1980. Thus, much of what I've created in the past is stored on floppy disks that may never be opened again.

Most of our ideas show the role of an intermediary, or third-party leader, who brings together people and ideas in places that connect directly with youth living in high poverty, who would not have this help if someone did not make it a life-long priority to take on this T/MC type role.

In the past couple of weeks I've browsed back through some of my old files, just to remind myself of ideas that I had put on paper, letters I had written, and people I had tried to connect with. Some of these ideas had almost been forgotten as new ideas replaced them. Some were still relevant, and might become realities today if given some new attention.

Many of these focus on engaging the time, talent, and resources of universities, and their alumni.

In the Groups section on this forum we have many sub groups. One is a Northwestern University group. Another is a University of Michigan group. Another is an Acacia Fraternity group, which has chapters on more than 20 university campuses. All have the same goals of engaging people who have something in common, in team-based efforts that help us help inner city kids to careers.

In the Northwestern group I've posted an update showing how we have many alumni on our staff, who are writing blogs showing what they do, and how others are involved. I also added links to three documents that I had created almost 10 years ago, showing steps that might lead to university engagement.

We'd like to see groups from every university forming and using these ideas. We'd like to see more people from NU, Michigan and Acacia in the groups we have now, trying to make the ideas a reality, taking ownership of the T/MC vision so it's not depending on just myself, or a few other people.

You don't need to host your group on our Ning site. Deanna Wilkerson of Ohio State University has set up a group on this site.

What we do want to do is make sure there are connections between these groups, so people and ideas can be shared from place to place, enabling us all to constantly innovate new and better ways to use our assets and resources to make a positive difference in the world.

You can find more ideas to support university involvement in these links

* business school connection

* service learning ideas

* Tutor/Mentor Connection ideas/pdfs

Please join us, or share your own link. We can do more by working with each other than by working in silos, or even, against each other.

Read more…
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**

Read more…
This photo is one of many taken on Thursday and Friday, at the Tutor/Mentor Conference held at Loyola University in Chicago.

One of the speakers was Charles Cameron, who I first met on Social Edge many years ago. Below you can upload the handout Charles prepared. I hope you'll all read it. It shows how we can connect through the Internet, build strong relationships, then connect face to face. This is all part of a journey that each of us takes separately, but which enables each of us to mobilize support for projects that we are leading, or involved with.

There are several others in this Ning community who also were speakers at the conference. I encourage you all to post comments on your profiles. I'll upload some of the other presentations in the coming week.

Read more…

This graphic is one of many that I've posted on Ning, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute site, and in my blog. It was developed as the result of many years of leading a tutor/mentor program, and of spending solitary hours thinking of ways to make what I do more effective.

I found an article today titled "Solitude and Leadership: If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts", by William Deresiewicz

I encourage everyone to spend time reading this, thinking of how it applies to you in your role with the Tutor/Mentor Connection, or with your own organization. Then, make an effort to apply the recommendations in your own efforts to learn more about where volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed, the variations between these programs, and the ways you can adopt ideas from one place and apply it to many other places. Learn more about what it takes to operate a program, and turn it into a world-class program. Learn what it takes to sustain the involvement of volunteers, donors, youth, for many years, or till we reach the ultimate goal of more youth finishing school ready for 21st century jobs and adult responsibilities.

Part of your reading should be the articles we write, but most of it should be the books and articles that other people write, which we post in the Tutor/Mentor Library.

You can't learn this all in a day, and your reflections and ideas will only grow stronger if you apply this learning over a life time. If you're an adult, it's not too late to apply this thinking. It's not too late to try to teach young people who you mentor to build these habits.

This is the way we create the future we want.

Read more…

Blog Topics by Tags

Monthly Archives