Home 2023 Tutor/Mentor Newsletters Sept 2023 Tutor/Mentor eNews
Sept 2023 TM eNews
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Now that volunteers and students have been recruited the challenge is to keep them involved.

Every year from 1975 to 2010 I spent September doing volunteer and student orientations, then matching, so our first tutor/mentor sessions could start by the first week of October. From that point on the work focused on providing on-going support to help each match grow, and to keep participants involved throughout the school year.


This month's newsletter shares resources and tips from my own experiences and focuses on planning to help new programs grow where 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!

Visit Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Website

Chicago area Tutor, Mentor Programs Still Seek Volunteers, students and donors. Use my list to find websites of many programs.

While much of this month's newsletter focuses on program planning and volunteer and student support, most programs are still seeking volunteers and will continue to do this throughout the year. Most area also constantly seeking financial support.


Help draw attention and resources to youth programs in Chicago and other cities. Look at this Tutor/Mentor blog article to see ways to share website addresses of local programs.


Use my lists at this link to find websites and contact information for more than 125 organizations.


I depend on your help to keep this list up-to-date. If I include programs that no longer operate, or have broken links to their websites, please let me know. If there are other programs that should be included, send me the website. You can email this to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

What resources do you use to support students and volunteers?

In the August newsletter I provided links to on-line learning resources that your volunteers can draw from to support their weekly tutor/mentor activities. I also point to homework help resources. Rather than repeat those in this issue, I encourage you to visit the August newsletter and draw from those links.

Volunteer-based means "volunteers help you". Build a Team.

I started my journey in 1973 as a volunteer tutor/mentor at a program hosted at the Montgomery Ward Corporate headquarters in Chicago, where I had just started a retail advertising career. I was matched with a 4th grade boy who I met with each Tuesday after work. At the end of the first year his mother said "He talks about you all the time. You need to be his tutor again next year."


So I was. At the same time I was recruited to be part of a small group of employee volunteers who helped organize and operate the program. At the beginning of the next year I was chosen to be the program's leader, after the incumbent announced he was going to Europe and would not return for two years.


I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program for the next 35 years.


The secret was that I continued to recruit more and more volunteers to take roles in leading the program as it grew from 100 pairs of elementary school kids and volunteers in 1975 to 300 pairs by 1990. In this graphic I show the tutoring program committee from 1976-77. In this blog article you can see the committee in 1987 and in 1990.


My recruitment of volunteer leaders was aided by the database of volunteers that I kept from year-to-year. I used this to track weekly attendance using an Excel spreadsheet, so I could follow-up on volunteers or students who were absent more than 2 weeks in a row. However, on the spreadsheet I also showed how many years the volunteer had been involved, what company they worked for and what role they had in their company. Thus when I was looking for someone to help with a specific role, such as volunteer recruitment, I could look for motivated, experienced, volunteers in different companies (who could recruit from their employee base) and who held jobs in advertising, public relations or marketing (which are skills needed to do volunteer recruitment).


By sorting the list using these criteria I narrowed down who I would ask to volunteer to a small group of probable "yes" people, from the entire list that by the mid 1980s was over 200 volunteers.


Without a good database I could not do this.


Read "What you don't see when you look at a tutor/mentor program" - click here


How do you manage and support volunteers? Are you sharing this information in your own blog?


Looking back over 45 years

Every May or June from 1976 to 2010 I stood at a podium addressing students, volunteers, parents alumni and supporter who had gathered for a year-end celebration of another year of tutor/mentor activities at the programs I led in Chicago.


While offering praise and encouragement I always asked people to look to the future, and think of ways they could help the kids and the program in the coming school year. That was part of a year-round process that I describe in this PDF essay.


One secret of my success was that I worked from a written plan, that I was encouraged to start in 1977 by volunteers from the National Right-to-Read Program. Each year after that I just updated the plan (since I had it on my computer). I never had to start from scratch.


I've used several blog posts to describe the tutor/mentor programs I led, and to show some of the work that needed to be done each week of each year to support kids and volunteers (and after 1990 when we converted to a non-profit organization, to raise awareness and dollars).


I wrote this in May 2020 - click here


This article talks about my annual written tutor/mentor program plan - click here


Does your youth program have a written plan? Do you share it with others?


How many tutor/mentor programs are needed in Chicago?

This week I read an article about how the demographics of Chicago were changing, with fewer low income people and more White and affluent. This motivated me to search for Chicago Public School data showing how many "economically disadvantaged kids" were in the system. It looks like there are still over 200,000 kids who could benefit from a well-organized, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning program, if one were close enough where they could attend and located where volunteers would come regularly.


I shared the CPS data and the article about changing demographics in this Tutor/Mentor blog article.


Chicago's one of many cities in the US with areas of concentrated poverty. See map and article in this link.


Want to start a new program? I wrote about starting tutor/mentor programs in this article


Read this National League of Cities article showing what would motivate teens to participate in afterschool and summer learning programs. click here

Does your program design intentionally expand networks for youth and volunteers enrolled?

The programs I led from 1975 to 2011 recruited volunteers from many departments in the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago during the late 70s, then from many different companies in Chicago from 1980 through 2011. In late 1990s I heard Dr. Robert Putnam talk about "social capital" and how the connections people have to other people can help open opportunities. The "who you know" feature is one that is often taken for granted, but kids in high poverty areas are surrounded by far fewer people who can model opportunities and open doors as kids grow up.


I realized after hearing Dr. Putnam speak that the tutor/mentor programs I had been leading were expanding social capital for both the kids AND the volunteers.


The graphic above is one I found last week, showing an intentional effort to expand the mentoring network for adults. I shared this and another network map in this blog article, along with links to many articles about social capital and De. Putnam's work that I've written over the past 10 years.


Does your program design focus on social capital? How do you show it? Read this article about program design.


Read this article about "building and sustaining" a tutor/mentor program and view the "shoppers guide" essay.


See latest additions to the Tutor/Mentor Library at this link. Below are just a few examples.


  • Embed systems thinking into education - click here
  • How do states measure up on Child's Rights - click here
  • Nonprofit law blog shares resources every week - click here
  • Mapping wicked problems - click here

Recent Tutor/Mentor Blog articles:



This is what I was doing in 2001 - click here


What am I doing? Why do I keep trying - click here


Think globally. Act locally. click here


Support long-term mentoring - click here


Building a Segmented Understanding of Youth Serving Programs - click here


Invitation to universities - click here


Hospitals as a hub for urban development and reducing inequality - 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.


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


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


* Chicago Mentoring Collaborative - click here


* National Mentoring Resource Center - click here


* AfterSchool Alliance - resource center - click here


* Proven Tutoring - click here


* Chicago Learning Exchange - click here


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


* STEMM Opportunity Alliance - click here


* University of Chicago Civic Engagement news - click here


* Connect Illinois Digital Equity Coalition - click here


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


* Center for Effective Philanthropy - 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


* 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.

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Tutor/Mentor Connection, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC
Serving Chicago area since 1993

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Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, c/o Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303, Chicago, Il. 60654 Phone. Skype #dbassill; FAX 312-787-7713; email: tutormentor2@earthlink.net | Powered by OpenSource!