Home 2023 Tutor/Mentor Newsletters July 2023 T/M eNews
July 2023 Tutor/Mentor eNews

July 2023 - Issue 223

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Summer Planning Leads to Better Youth Programs

This month's newsletter focuses on planning that needs to be taking place during the summer months and leads to constant improvement in the quality and structure of existing youth tutor/mentor programs as well as to the launching of new programs more are needed.

The ideas and resources shared in this monthly newsletter point to a library of resources that can be used by anyone, in Chicago, or around the world, to help mentor-rich youth programs thrive in all of the neighborhoods where they are most needed.


Encourage others in your city to find and use these resources!

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Does your youth program, and community leadership, do year-round planning? What are you doing during the summer months?

This graphic shows events developed between 1994 and 1996 by the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago, and continued through 2015, which were intended to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in all high poverty areas of the city and suburbs.


Since many youth programs work on a school year calendar the time between May and August needs to be spent on planning that leads to stronger programs as school starts the following year. I've written about this planning process often on the Tutor/Mentor blog. This link points to a recent article.


In the late 2000s interns created an animation to show the year-round strategy. You can view it in this YouTube video. While I no longer host these events they represent a template that leaders in any city might use to build their own year-round campaigns to build and sustain mentor-rich, non-school, youth serving programs in all high poverty areas.


Find more ideas for planning, starting a program and on-going improvement in this section.

What ways do you visualize the long-term support kids in high poverty areas need to move safely from birth-to-work?

I've used graphics like this for more than 25 years to visualize the long-term support kids need to move more successfully from birth to work, recognizing that kids in high poverty areas don't have as many of these resources as do kids in more affluent areas. Thus, leaders need to be intentional in making these available.


Very few non-school tutor/mentor programs have a 12-16 year strategy of helping youth through school. If you know of any, please share links so I can add them to the Tutor/Mentor Library. However, without a long-term strategy a neighborhood might need multiple programs reaching different age groups, with different types of age-appropriate programs. If kids can move from program to program over their school years, this offers the same benefit as a single long-term program.


How many zip codes have such a network of programs?

This concept map shows support kids need.

View this concept map at this link.


This is a different way to visualize the various support kids need at each grade level as they move through school and into adult lives.


A planning process at the neighborhood and community level needs to build an understanding of what types of support already exists. A communications plan would draw these support providers together to learn from each other while drawing volunteers and donors to each program so they have the resources to constantly improve.


An analysis of the information would determine where gaps in service are and would lead to building new programs to fill those voids.


I've used free cMapTools since 2005 to create my concept maps. Other tools are available.


Here are some articles to stimulate your planning.

Does your planning process include these steps?

View this concept map at this link,


Step 1 involves collecting and organizing information, or creating the knowledge base. Step 2 and Step 3 involve motivating a growing number of people to visit the library regularly and helping them find what they are looking for and understand how to apply the information in Step 4, different places where youth and families would benefit from organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. Here's one article where I explain the four steps.


While different people and organizations in a city may be collecting some of this information and drawing some people together this needs to be an integrated, on-going strategy. If you can't find someone in your city who visualizes and leads a strategy like this, share it with business, university and philanthropic leaders with the goal that one, or many, will adopt it.


Who leads this process in your city? Is someone visualizing the planning steps? Share links if you have them.


Is there an intentional strategy to expand the network of adults supporting K-12 youth in high poverty areas or your city?

Total Quality Mentoring chart from 1990s is a hub and spokes design

I used this graphic in the 1990s and 2000s to visualize how the tutor/mentor program I led connected youth from high poverty areas of Chicago with volunteers from different background, different careers and different universities. Each youth had a primary one-on-one tutor/mentor who often stayed with the youth for several years and a network of other volunteers who they connected with in weekly activities. They were all supported by a paid staff (although in the original program that I led from 1975 to 1992 the leaders were all volunteers up until it became a non profit in 1990.)


I did not realize in the early years that we were helping expand social capital for these kids....and our volunteers ... by expanding the network of "who they know". I was first introduced to the concept in the late 1990s and I've written about it often on blog articles like this and in these.


If you view websites of Chicago youth programs on these lists you'll find very few (if any) using graphics like mine to describe their programs, or using social capital in articles about their program design, yet you will see photos and stories of volunteers with kids. Thus, many are helping build social capital, even if they don't talk about it as part of their theory of change.


By sharing my program design graphic with program leaders, volunteers, parents, donors and policy makers my long-term goal has been to nudge the entire sector to grow programs that expand networks of support for kids living in high poverty areas.


Share links to websites that you think do this well.

Your planning should also aim to influence resource providers.

From 1990 to 2011 I led a non-profit youth tutor/mentor program in Chicago, after having led one of these as a volunteer for the previous 15 years. I was constantly networking with peers, reading research and looking for ways to improve how my program supported youth and volunteers. However, I was constantly frustrated by how difficult it was to find the money and talent needed. Thus, this final visualization focuses on INFLUENCE of resource providers (#9 on the graphic), not just program leaders and staff (#7 on the graphic).


I've posted several articles using this graphic. Here's one.


If leaders in Chicago and other cities champion this strategy, your volunteers and donors can be looking for your program, and looking for ways to help you help kids, in just as many ways as you are trying to find them.


Does your city have a strategy like this? Share links if you have them.

Use these additional resources in your planning and networking. See latest additions to the Tutor/Mentor Library at this link.

Recent Tutor/Mentor Blog articles:



Tutor/Mentor Programs need time and resources to become great - click here


Building and Sustaining Mentor-Rich support systems for K-12 youth - click here


Building Attention for Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs - click here


Birth-to-Work Goal and Use of Knowledge Base - click here


Building a Segmented Understanding of Youth Serving Programs - click here


Learn about Artificial Intelligence tools you can use in your school or non-school program. Follow the links in these #ETMOOC blog articles and in these ChatGPT articles.




Bookmark these Tutor/Mentor Resources


* Resource Library - click here


* Strategy PDFs by Tutor/Mentor - click here


* Concept Map library - click here


* Work done by interns - click here


* Political Action resources - click here


* Featured collections on Wakeletclick here


* Tutor/Mentor Institute Videos - click here


* About T/MI articles on blog - click here


* History of T/MC - T/MI articles - click here


* Chicago Youth Serving Organizations in Intermediary Roles - click here to view a concept map showing many organizations working to help improve the lives of Chicago area youth. Follow the links.

Resources & Announcements. These sites regularly update the information they share so visit them often.


* Chicago Mentoring Collaborative - click here


* National Mentoring Resource Center - click here


* Chicago Learning Exchange - click here


* Chicago STEM Pathways Cooperative - click here Learn about Landscape Surveys - click here


* University of Chicago Civic Engagement news - click here


* Connect Illinois Digital Equity Coalition - click here


* MyChiMyFuture - Chicago youth programs map and directory. click here; visit the website - click here


* To & Through Project website - click here: Follow on Twitter - @UChiToThrough


* Center for Effective Philanthropy - click here


* Forefront -Illinois' statewide association of nonprofits, foundations and advisors. click here


* Chicago Public Schools locator map - click here


* Chicago Health Atlas - click here


* Thrive Chicago collaboration - click here

* Incarceration Reform Resource Center - click here


* AfterSchool Alliance - resource center - click here


* ChiHackNight - remote civic technology meet-up; every Tuesday in Chicago - see weekly agenda

About this newsletter.
While I try to send this only once a month, I write blog articles weekly. Throughout the newsletter I post links to a few of the articles published in the past month or earlier. I encourage you to spend a little time each week reading these articles and following the links. Use the ideas and presentations in group discussions with other people who are concerned about the same issues.

View current and past newsletters at this link.

Encourage friends, family, co-workers to sign up to receive this newsletter. Click here.
(If you subscribe, don't forget to respond to the confirmation email).

Thank you for reading. Connect with me and share links to resources, on any of the social media platforms shown below.

Tutor/Mentor Connection, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC

Serving Chicago area since 1993

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