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Mentor Role in Larger Strategy

of Community Involvement
Volunteer involvement in a well-organized
tutor/mentor program can transform what the
mentor does to help the youth and the community.

This is a Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC concept paper. More ideas like this
found at and

Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)

I’ve often been asked “What type of tutoring or
mentoring do you do?” and have had difficulty
communicating the idea that volunteer tutors/mentors
represent “extra adults” helping kids living in high poverty
neighborhoods of big cities who have too few people in
their lives who model diverse jobs and career
opportunities, and who are working to help these kids
This is me, in 1973 when I first became a
mentor. Leo was in 4th grade.
move through school and into adult lives and careers.

Over the past 25 years I’ve created a variety of visualizations to illustrate my ideas and
strategies showing actions leaders need to take consistently, for many years, to reach K-
12 youth in every high poverty area in cities like Chicago, with well-organized, long-term,
tutor, mentor and learning programs. Some of my PDF essays originated as blog posts

In the following pages I share my belief that volunteers who become involved initially as
tutors or mentors, can learn to take much larger roles that get more people involved, and
help more kids, than just the single youth they mentor, or the single youth program
where they and a youth are connecting.

I hope you’ll read the rest of this article and follow the links to additional information and
ideas. If you agree, please form a group and begin to share this information regularly.

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
This graphic can be found
in this PDF essay
-Shared-Purpose . It is
intended to illustrate the
influences in the lives of
youth living in high poverty
areas that are not as
common to youth in more
affluent areas. It also
emphasizes the supports
that are less frequently

Kids aren’t “widgets” or “robots” where a certain dose of tutoring or

mentoring can overcome the personal and environmental challenges
facing them. All kids need extra forms of support. Kids in poverty have extra
challenges, and less community support.

View 2023 MENTOR research -
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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
This graphic is from a “Defining
Terms” essay (
TMI-Defining-Terms) that
illustrates the role of different
types of tutoring/mentoring roles,
in different types of programs.

Throughout the country the terms “tutoring” and

“mentoring” are used in a variety of different ways, with
different meaning, based on the experience and perspective
of the person using the terms. We need to create sub-
categories, focusing on kids in urban poverty, kids in rural
poverty, immigrant kids who often don’t speak English, and
kids who have social/emotional needs, but may live in
communities with tremendous resources. Doing this will
enable a shared understanding of problems facing each sub
group of kids. We can use this to build and sustain long-
term strategies to help youth in each sub-group overcome
the challenges they face.

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
I’ve created a variety of
graphics, like this concept
map, to illustrate the different
needs of youth as they move
from one grade to another,
over the 12 years most kids
to move from first grade to
high school graduation.

At different times kids need

mentors to help build
aspirations, and overcome
problems facing them. They
often need tutors to help
with concepts, study skills
and locating needed

In areas of high poverty,

volunteer tutors and mentors
are extra adults who help
young people and
communities access these

I’ve written numerous articles on the blog showing impact of poverty on
inner city youth. I integrate maps into many, to illustrate the need for comprehensive programs in many different
neighborhoods. This section of links in my web library ( ) contains
links to many other web sites that focus on concentrated, segregated poverty as a root cause of many social and
economic ills. On the Mapping For Justice blog ( I provide numerous maps
that further illustrate this point.
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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
I point to a variety of
articles about “social
capital” (
putnam-social-capital) which
show how youth in
segregated, high poverty
neighborhoods benefit from
volunteers and organized
tutor/mentor programs that
connect them to ideas,
experiences and
opportunities beyond what
are modeled in the family or
community. This is a form of
“bridging social capital”.

Thus, if non-school tutor/mentor programs are able to recruit volunteers from diverse workplace
backgrounds youth would be exposed to a diverse range of career and education models, as well as
many different racial, age and religious backgrounds.

Graphics like this intend to communicate this concept, showing that volunteers from many industries
can connect with youth in three different time frames, through organized, on-going tutoring and/or
mentoring programs..
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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
A program with a mix of volunteers from different business backgrounds can
offer a wide range of extra learning and mentoring activities beyond one-on-one
tutoring or mentoring. Site based programs with space in the neighborhood close
enough for youth to participate weekly are more likely to offer such extra learning
opportunities on an on-going basis than community based mentoring.
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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
I use the term “mentor-rich” to describe site based programs with a mix of volunteers
and learning experiences represented by volunteers from different workplace
backgrounds. Teams from different industries could be working to distribute their
skills to programs in all poverty areas of big cities like Chicago.

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
Programs that have a diverse base of volunteers are
“mentor rich”. I used to use the term Total Quality Mentoring
(TQM) to show a constant process of innovation and
improvement made possible by the participation of such a
diverse base of volunteers.

However, not every program has the leadership, marketing, or

connections to business, that are needed to draw volunteers
from diverse backgrounds. This set of articles in the web library
show challenges facing non profit organizations

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
Share these concepts with people in your workplace and social networks.

This article focuses on “tipping points” or actions and strategies that might help stronger, mentor-
rich youth programs be available in more places.

This 2010 Civic Enterprises report -- titled, “Untapped Potential: Filling the Promise of Big Brothers
Big Sisters and the Bigs and Littles they Represent”, shows that many volunteers are concerned
that they alone cannot do enough to help their mentees overcome the poverty where they live.
Many are willing to do more.

The Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web library has more than 2000 links to information supporting the
growth of mentor-rich programs in more places. Here is a concept map with links to articles
showing benefit to companies resulting from support of volunteer involvement in mentor-rich

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
Multi-year volunteer involvement Volunteer involvement is a form of
leads to growing leadership. service learning. See animation in this video:

Both of these visualizations show how on-going volunteer involvement transforms

some volunteers into leaders who give extra time and talent to help services be
available to youth. These were created by interns, demonstrating how young people
can be building skills, while communicating ideas.

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
Thus, while using spring and fall Tutor/Mentor
conferences, technical assistance and training to
help each program in the Chicago region improve
their ability to recruit and retain volunteers, I have
also been advocating for leaders in business, faith
groups, hospitals, etc. to become more proactive in
building support for mentor-rich programs in every
neighborhood, borrowing from strategies they use
to support multiple business locations.

Note: these conferences were held every six

months between May 1994 and May 2015.

This “Recruiting Talent Volunteers” pdf illustrates that there are many roles
beyond “one-on-one” tutor/mentor that business volunteers can take.

The “Virtual Corporate Office” pdf at

illustrate roles companies and their employee-volunteers can take to support
the growth of mentor-rich programs in locations throughout a metropolitan
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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
This last graphic is a “reality
check”. While I spend many
hours every day reaching out to
build a network of people and
resources to support youth
programs in inner city
neighborhoods, I realize that the
world has many complex
problems, and most people are
more focused on their own jobs,
family, entertainment and health
than they are on the well-being of
people who they don’t see and
relate to every day.

Thus, I’m not trying to get the attention of everyone, or even most of “everyone”. I’m just trying to
get the attention of a very small percent of “everyone” which really represents a large number of
people in a world with more than 7 billion humans.

Or, to put this another way, I’m trying to inspire people to devote a regular slice of the time, talent and
dollars they devote to helping others, to helping well-organized, volunteer based tutor/mentor
programs reach youth in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

One way to do this is to help business volunteers become involved in any tutor/mentor
program in the Chicago region. I do this by providing this list of programs in many of my blog
articles and my social media.
Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present) Pg 13
If what I do is copied and
adopted by others, we'd have
much more daily attention
focused on helping people
engage with this information, and
become involved in different
programs and the lives of kids in
many places. This ROLE OF
LEADERS essay -
RoleOfLeaders -illustrates
strategies that could be adopted
in many organizations.

I also do this by sharing ideas that help programs attract and retain volunteers. Workshops at the Tutor/Mentor
Conferences always focused on volunteer recruitment strategies. See workshops and speakers from past

However, another way to do this is to create a “Great Mentoring Reunion” with a goal of reaching people who
have been involved in tutor/mentor programs over the past 40 years. There are thousands of inactive mentors
and former mentees who already have some personal experience with mentoring and tutoring. Many have
benefited from such involvement. Connecting people from the past, and the present, can lead to greater support
of tutor/mentor strategies and mentor rich programs in the future.

Increasing the number of programs and volunteers expands the army of people who are looking beyond
‘mentoring and tutoring’ to all of the actions needed to help youth move through school and into jobs
and careers.

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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
The Chicago Tribune is now
(October 2013) seeking ideas for
a New Plan of Chicago. I
encourage anyone who has been
reading the
blog and articles like this one to
submit your own ideas for how
we engage people, and keep
them engaged and learning from
their service, for multiple years.

Without engaging more people who don’t live in poverty, in personal involvement
with any strategy that is developed, new strategies are not likely to reach youth in
all the places where kids need help, or for all the years help is needed.

If you share your strategy on a blog and send me the address, I’ll be happy to
take a look at it. If you join the site you
can share your strategy in your own blog within that web site.

Are you a writer, editor, video maker? Can you communicate the ideas in this
PDF better than I have? Give it a try! Send me your version. Join the
visualization project at
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Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)
Visit the websites below and learn more:
Let’s find ways to connect and talk about this.
At the following Tutor/Mentor Institute and Tutor/Mentor Connection web sites you
can see how we put these ideas to practice every day in our effort to support our
Help fund Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Learn more at:

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC,

Tutor/Mentor Connection

Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present), Tutor/Mentor Institute (2011-present)

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