Building Support for Youth. Attracting Resource Providers

I’ve been posting articles on this blog since 2005 and frequently use graphics and maps to help communicate ideas. Below is a new graphic that illustrates a fundamental goal of my work.

In an area as large as the Chicago region several hundred non-school tutoring/mentoring programs are needed. Each should be attracting a wide diversity of volunteers who help youth in the program, and who help build the program’s capacity to provide on going services that are constantly improving based on how programs learn from their own work, and from the work of peers.

In order for this to happen leaders and volunteers in every sector of business, philanthropy, religion, politics, entertainment, etc. need to be innovating new ways to provide a flow of needed operating resources and talent to programs in every area shown on the map as needing mentor-rich non-school programs to help youth through school and into jobs.

The graphic below shows the need for a year-round calendar of events intended to build visibility for youth serving organizations while drawing volunteers and dollars directly to every program, based on how well the donor/volunteer understands what programs are trying to do, and how well programs show on their web sites who they serve, why they are needed and what they are doing.

This graphic also shows how leaders such as the President, Mayor, Governor and other high profile celebrities can be supporting this flow with their own actions. Instead of launching new project based initiatives, such as MyBrother’s Keeper, the President should have been mobilizing volunteers and donors to support tutor/mentor programs in Chicago since he was a speaker at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1999. The past Mayor of Chicago should have been doing the same, since he first visited the tutor/mentor program I was leading at Montgomery Ward in 1990. The current Mayor should be motivating those who benefit from city contracts to be leading efforts to build support for tutor/mentor programs in all high poverty neighborhoods.

In this set of articles I you can build your own understanding of challenges facing non-profit organizations. If we can stabilize the flow of operating resources to the entire network of programs we can build the human capital and knowledge needed for programs to become great at what they do.

By hosting a library of information and map based directories showing service providers throughout the region, donors don’t need to collaborate with each other, they need to share the on-going responsibility of helping constantly improving programs in more places become great at what they do, which can take many years, then stay great so that the youth coming into programs have multiple year support from great programs full of well trained staff and volunteers.

Youth in high school and colleges could be creating maps like the one below, showing who the leaders are in their neighborhood, or the city, who should be using their own events and visibility to draw attention and operating resources to the youth serving organizations already operating in various parts of the city.

This concept map shows intermediary organizations serving Chicago and Illinois youth. Check their web sites and see if they have maps like this, and if their gatherings, such as the Chicago Community Trust’s May 12 OnTheTable event, are pointing participants to this network of information, and libraries of existing programs, so they can look for new ways to support youth serving organizations throughout the region.

Throughout the year most of these intermediary organizations are hosting events that draw people together to talk about violence, education, workforce development, democracy and other issues important to all of us. No one can attend every event, but every event can attract and retain more participants if they build an on-line community such as the cMOOCs which I’ve been following for the past few years.

I’m hosting a Tutor/Mentor Conference on May 19 in Chicago. I’ve hosted this event every six months since May 1994. I’m always hoping representatives from the other intermediaries that I point to will participate, and help use the event as part of their own efforts to build visibility and draw resources to youth serving organizations.

While I’ve used maps and graphics to communicate my ideas, the picture below is one that every long-term youth organizations should aspire to share on their web sites. It shows youth and volunteers who over many years have been connected to each other through tutor/mentor programs I led in Chicago from 1975 to 2011.

Visit this library for ideas you can implement in your own leadership, or your own tutor/mentor program.

I also hope that these organizations will continue to add me to their own events, so I can attend if my schedule allows, or so I can point to them via my social media, or participate in their on-line forums. Finally, I hope that technology innovators will reach out to invite me to work with them to build the mapping and analysis tools eneded to understand who is involved, how involvement is growing, and how resources distribution is leading to program growth in more of the neighborhoods where youth need extra help.