Wednesday, January 21, 2015

R&D for Business Support of Tutor/Mentor Programs

Many companies spend billions of dollars on research and development (R&D) so they stay competitive in their markets or capitalize on new opportunities. How many spend even a few thousand dollars a year researching reasons for being strategically involved in youth tutoring/mentoring programs? Think about that as you read the rest of this article.

This is National Mentoring Month, and the final event will be the National Mentoring Summit being held in Washington, DC. I've attended in the past and there are great speakers and many valuable workshops. However, I've felt that the ROI (return on investment) has not been as great as it could be. No matter how many people attend a conference, each person can only meet a few. No matter how many workshops are offered, each person can only attend one in each time slot. Unless the conference is building public awareness that draws support (dollars, volunteers, etc.) to my own organization in Chicago or another city, the money I spend for room, travel and conference fee may not be worth the investment.

Does this mean don't go? No. Does this mean I'm no longer hosting Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago. No.

What it means is that I feel we need to find ways to bring people to on-line spaces where each person can spend time digging into the information a conference might offer, or that each participant brings, based on their own experience. That means each person needs to be sharing their ideas more completely in on-line space. I hope my example serves as a model.

During October-Dec 2014 I posted a series of concept maps outlining the vision and strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, now led by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. In order for me to host this information, or be more effective communicating my ideas, I require consistent funding and talent. So do leaders of any tutor/mentor program operating in Chicago or any other city. Since government and philanthropic support are inconsistent, and don't reach all programs consistently, I've always focused on business as the prime supporter of youth tutor/mentor programs.

Why? Because it benefits their own workers while developing a future work force. This article focus on the untapped potential of business investment.

Following are some concept maps that I've created to illustrate this point.

This map shows reasons a business might support the growth of volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in cities where it does business, for strategic and workforce development reasons.

This map focuses on ways volunteer involvement in organized tutor/mentor programs might support workforce development within companies that encourage employee involvement and provide infrastructure support to places where employees do get involved.

This final map is a guide to "recommended reading" that company leaders might browse to build support for their own strategic, long-term involvement with volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in communities where they have facilities or do business.

Browse other articles on this blog to see how companies might use maps to support a growth of their involvement, or to serve as hubs for involvement of multiple businesses within the same geographic part of a city. Browse these leadership and workforce development articles on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC blog, and this section on the T/MI web site, for more resources to support business investment in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

I hope these ideas are being discussed at the Mentoring Conference in DC, but I also hope we can attract R&D people from thousands of companies in Chicago and other cities to on-line conversations where we dig deeper into the ideas represented by these maps. Perhaps we can even find a few companies to sponsor and lead this discussion.