Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tutoring and Mentoring Programs around Mt. Sinai Hospital

In addition to highlighting the speakers at our November Conference, I also hope to highlight the different programs that our GIS Mapping Coordinator, Mike Trakan maps for various reasons to highlight the need for more tutoring and mentoring programs in poverty-stricken areas. Mike's maps are an essential tool to what we at Tutor/Mentor Connection do because they provide a striking visual to the information that we are telling people.

Recently, Mike mapped the tutoring and mentoring programs, as well as the schools, parks, and businesses surrounding Mt. Sinai Hospital, which is on the West Side of Chicago in North Lawndale. Mt. Sinai has recently started the process of restarting a tutoring and mentoring program and the Tutor/Mentor Connection had extended its services and support towards that. Mike writes about this effort in his blog, Mapping for Justice.

North Lawndale is a neighborhood known for its crime and poverty, but efforts are being made to improve it. Last Fall, through the Public Interest Program Fellowship, I had the privilege of visiting North Lawndale College Prep, which is a charter high school dedicated to college preparation. I was struck by the poverty surrounding this vibrant and inspiring school and the joy and enthusiasm of the students on the inside. I was also struck by how only so many students can be helped and how beneficial tutoring and mentoring programs would be to improving the neighborhood.

There are several excellent tutoring and mentoring programs surrounding Mt. Sinai, that Mike lists in his blog piece. The first I would like to highlight is Saint Agatha Family Empowerment, which is supported through Saint Agatha's Catholic Church. Saint Agatha Family Empowerment, or S.A.F.E. is dedicated to keeping kids off of the street, by running an afterschool program from 3:00-6:00pm, which is statistically the most dangerous time for kids to be out on the street. This time is dedicated to 90 minutes of a positive activity and 90 minutes of study time and tutoring. According to its listing on Idealist, job training and placement is especially a priority at S.A.F.E.

Another excellent program is the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, which is dedicated to helping every young person find their strengths and talents. There is an emphasis on service learning and job training and placement. The Tutoring and Mentoring Program at the Carole Robertson Center is just one of many programs dedicated to helping families and children in need.

The Union League Boys and Girls Club has one of its sites in Pilsen/North Lawndale as well. Like S.A.F.E. and the Carole Robertson Center, ULBGC is dedicated to being a safe haven for boys and girls in the neighborhood. Their tutoring and mentoring program uses peer mentors to help the children there with their homework and other school-related activities.

Finally, there's Gads Hill Club Learn, which is another community center in the Pilsen/North Lawndale area. Its Club Learn Program is dedicated to helping children learn in a safe environment and also helping empower kids to do positive things and steer them away from negative activities, such as joining gangs.

These four programs do wonderful things for the young people in their communities, but they can only do so much. There are many more children who are not being served and we're hoping that other people take the lead of Mt. Sinai Hospital and start tutoring and mentoring programs of their own.

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