Friday, February 13, 2009

Legal Community Collaborates to Fund Tutoring and Mentoring

On Wednesday, December 17, 2008, the Sun-Times Judge Marovitz Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth Program (LAH) awarded $217,000 in grants to 27 "exemplary" tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago area. These programs qualified for these grants by maintaining a high ratio of volunteer-to-student one-on-one mentoring.

LAH points out on their website that "the money will benefit over 2,500 Chicago-area young people." On his blog, Dan Bassill explains the importance of this funding to the operations of non profits that won the awards... programs like his Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Connection organizations.

I've mapped the locations of the programs that received these grants, in relation to poverty, and "failing schools":

If you recall, I built a similar map last summer that showed last year's LAH grant recipients. If you take a peek again at that map (below, left... and please click on any of these maps to enlarge them)...

... and compare it to this year's map (the big one above), you see that many of the same programs met LAH qualifications both years, and received grants both years. This sort of collaboration, among professionals in the same industry, represents a solution to one of the greatest challenges to non profit tutor/mentor programs: Securing the continued, consistent, and reliable funding needed to provide the continued, consistent, and reliable tutoring/mentoring "high-risk" students need.

So this is a great story. However, that said...

27 programs is far fewer than the 200+ programs that exist in Tutor/Mentor Connection's searchable online program locator database.

The map below/right shows all known "tutor-only," "mentor-only," and "mixed tutor-mentor" programs in the program locator database. What does this mean?

Well, my first question is, are there more programs out there, in addition to all the ones we know about (plotted on this map)?

If so, they should "get the word out" about their program, and let the tutor/mentor community know what they are doing locally. I mean if a collaboration like LAH - one that is itching to give out donor money - doesn't know about the work a program is doing, that program would obviously not be receiving money from a potential income source.

A great place to start raising visibility would be the program locator. If you're out there doing tutor/mentor work, and not coming up in search, please add your program's information today.

My second question is, are there programs in the program locator whose data is currently incomplete or inaccurate?

This would be unfortunate for several reasons. Ignoring for a moment the fact that parents and students would be misguided by outdated or incomplete data when shopping at the program locator for a tutor/mentor service, there might be situations where programs are losing opportunities for funding as well. For instance, if a search of the program locator returns a record for a program, and shows it as "tutor-only"... but this program is actually doing mentoring work as well... this is another situation where failing to report and maintain program locator data could lead to missing a funding opportunity.

In short, I guess what I'm trying to say is that programs need to regularly visit and maintain their program locator data to ensure it is up to date.

Ok, but what about the programs that ARE in the program locator and ARE meeting the "exemplary" tutoring and mentoring standards a collaboration like LAH rewards? The map to the left shows that there are far more than 27 programs doing mixed tutor/mentor work. An alliance like LAH has only so much money to give.

Are there other networks (Lawyers LAH obviously represents the legal industry) that can forge alliances that help fund tutoring and mentoring programs?

Perhaps medical or spiritual groups (quick examples among dozens of possibilities)... or better yet, any professionally affiliated networks with common interest in the common good, can bond together as LAH has done, to raise awareness within their networks to the importance of mentoring disadvantaged youth... to help recruit volunteers to serve as mentors, to encourage members to serve on boards and donate management expertise to programs... and of course to generate funding for continued non profit tutor/mentor operations. Strength in numbers.

Lastly... as subscribers to this blog are aware, I always wonder:

How can we encourage community and political leadership to come together and work with the assets and resources in their neighborhoods to support existing high-quality programs, and to develop new ones where there is a need and none exist?

We can't forget, as we look at that last map above (the one that shows all programs known to be doing mixed tutor/mentor work), that there are huge pockets in Chicago that are packed with poverty and "failing" schools... areas "in need" that have limited or no tutoring/mentoring support for its students during non-school hours.

This blog continues to encourage community leadership to use my maps and the strategies at the Tutor/Mentor Institute, as starting points to generate logistical and financial support for programs in their community.

Please use the quick links at the right side of this website to find blogs I have written that focus on your industry, interest, or area of professional expertise. And then please got involved!

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