Friday, October 10, 2008

S.O.N. Foundation - Working with the T/MC and the Roseland Community

I would like to introduce the S.O.N. Foundation, a mentor program started by Mr. Robert M. Douglas, and his wife Jacqueline - both business owners who grew up in, and live in the Roseland Community. Mr. and Mrs. Douglas are taking on a much-needed leadership role, in creating a new mentoring program in Chicago. They are actively trying to "build relationships with Churches, Schools, Parks, Business Owners, Police, and Government Officials in and around the Roseland Community. " (This "relationship building" thing sound familiar?)

Just starting out, the S.O.N. Foundation has 20 kids involved and 10 mentors. They explain that they created the program in response to their recognition that someone needs to be "working with youth, developing their skills and turning them away from gangs and drugs" ... "because with out some help our youth will continue suffer." The solution again? Mentorship. Their philosophy is that "if a boy sees a man he can become a man" and through the efforts of adult volunteer mentors, children can become responsible and successful adults, "saving our neighborhoods one block at a time."

But where do you start if YOU want to start a tutoring and/or mentoring program? Well, Mr. Douglas came to visit Dan Bassill at Tutor/Mentor Connection to pick his brain. As Dan says in a recent blog, "The Tutor/Mentor Connection would be happy to meet with your group to help you understand how to use [our] maps, and to coach you on building support for tutor/mentor programs. We'll host a conference on November 21 at The Chicago Field Museum. We hope you'll attend, and begin this learning process."

Next, Mr. Douglas sat down with Nicole here, and the two of them collaborated to create the S.O.N. Foundation blog. This blogging/communicating process is essential. It is crucial that organizations active in tutoring and mentoring are sharing ideas, and broadcasting their messages/services. How else can we learn to better serve the kids? How else can kids and parents learn about us? How else can volunteers and donors have "Wow! I had no idea these programs even existed! I want to help!" moments?

And of course, through an active web presence, awareness of the work others are doing, and potential partnerships can develop. And, well... as in any war, there is strength in numbers, right?

By the way, maybe "Roseland Community" sounds familiar? Maybe you read my blog yesterday about how Illinois Senator Rev. Meeks and his congregation at Salem Baptist Church of Chicago - in Roseland - might use my maps and the T/MC resources at the Tutor/Mentor Institute to increase support for tutoring and mentoring in his district and within the area surrounding the church.

So here we have a grassroots mentoring movement in Roseland, a high profile political and church leader (with a history of investing in mentoring) in Roseland, and resources available through the T/MC to help both of them team up and help develop strategies to build programs, and improve existing programs, for their community's kids (perhaps even implementing a tutoring element to their mentor programs)...

This is a case study in how this should all come together and work.

And a great story on which to end the week.

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