Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tutor/Mentor Conference is TOMORROW

Hello Everyone! TOMORROW, Thursday May 28th is the first day of the May Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. It's going to be held at Northwestern School of Law, 375 E. Chicago Ave. Registration is from 8-9am and there will be breakfast available in the lobby beforehand.

You can still register for the conference and get the early registration fee of $60 for one day, $100 for two days. If you come in tomorrow without registering, the price is $75, but we are giving scholarships to people in need because we want as many people as possible come to the conference. Even if you can come for a half-day, or just lunchtime, it's still worth it to come!

It's going to be a great time! Tomorrow, there will be workshops on volunteer recruitment, student recruitment, fundraising, grant-writing, and you will also hear from the owner of the Hyde Park Hair Salon, the Official Barbershop of President Barack Obama.

We hope to see you tomorrow at the conference.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chicago Youth Centers - Mentoring at Price School

In my travels throughout the city, in order to visit tutoring and mentoring programs, I have visited Evanston, the Near North Side, Avondale, the Loop, Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Rogers Park, Pilsen, North Lawndale, Wicker Park, West Town, Humboldt Park, and the Near West Side. These neighborhoods compromise parts of the North, Northwest, and West Side neighborhoods. In evaluating where I had visited, I realized I had seriously been neglecting visiting programs on the South Side. This was a thing that needed to be remedied - not just because it would expand the scope of my visits, but also because it would shift my focus to an area that has high levels of poverty and is in great need of more tutoring and mentoring programs.

Fortunately, in my efforts to reach out to other tutoring and mentoring programs to come to the May Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, I heard back from Christy Beigh-Byrne, the Director of Mentor and Volunteer Services at Chicago Youth Centers-Elliott Donnelly Center. She invited me to visit their school-based mentoring program at Price Elementary School in Bronzeville.

Chicago Youth Centers operates a variety of programs throughout the city. Chris Warren and I had already visited ABC Polk Brothers Center in North Lawndale, where they have a variety of programs. Elliott Donnelly Center, which is located in Bronzeville as well, has a variety of programs that operate out of their center on South Michigan Ave., but also has a mentoring program run out of Price Elementary School.

Chicago Youth Centers teams up with CPS high schools and Chicago-area universities in order to find mentors, who are able to come in during the after-school hours of 3-4:15 in order to mentor the students. I spoke to mentors who went to UIC and Northesastern Illinois, and both of them were very enthusiastic about working with their students. For this program, mentors means more tutor-mentors in a similar model to the one we use here at Cabrini Connections. Fourth-Sixth Grade students go around to different stations with their tutor/mentors: spelling, reflection, homework help, and math. At the end of the session, students gather in a circle and discuss what went well in the session and what needs to be worked on. I was really impressed with how self-reflective all the students were, knowing what their weaknesses were but also knowing to celebrate their strengths.

While both the students and mentors told Chris and me that they were having an "off day," Chris and I were very impressed with the level of dedication of the mentors and the students. Our only thought would be to extend the mentoring session for another hour simply so the students and tutors have more time together. Thanks to Christy for inviting us down to Bronzeville!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Community Building Tutors and Making the Career Change from the For-Profit Sector to the Non-Profit

This past Tuesday, I ventured out to Fosco Park, near the University of Illiniois at Chicago campus, in the Near-West Side neighborhood, to visit the new Community Building Tutors program there. Community Building Tutors is a non-profit founded and run by young professionals that trains high schoolers to be tutors to the elementary schoolers in their community. The hope is that these high schoolers, in taking an interest in helping those younger than themselves, will begin to see themselves as leaders in their communities and to take pride in where they come from.

There are three sites currently offering tutoring through Community Building Tutors: Fosco Park, Chase Park up in Ravenswood, and Willye White Park up in Rogers Park. Holstein Park in Bucktown, has also been a site in the past, and will be a site for the 2009-2010 school year as well. Fosco Park is the newest site, having just started three weeks ago. Even though the students in the program are relatively new to a structured tutoring program, they already seemed very enthusiastic, eager to learn, and excited to work with their tutors. As mentioned before, at the other programs, high schoolers tutor the elementary school students. However, the program at Fosco Park is still trying to recruit high school students to be tutors. For now, the program has had to rely on friends of Bart Phillips, the founder and President of the Board of Community Building Tutors and UIC students.

Which brings me to the next topic - talking about one of the workshops that we are going to offer at the May Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. Bart Phillips, and other Community Building Tutors board members spoke at the last May conference (shown in the photos) about their program. This year, on Thursday May 28th, from 1:45-3:00pm, Bart Phillips is going to talk about the topic of transitioning from working in the for-profit world, in the field of medical research, to running his own tutoring program. This is a very timely topic, with the tough economic climate, as many professionals have had to re-evaluate their career choices. Hopefully, Bart's story and wisdom will be of help and inspiration to everyone who comes to the conference.

Thanks to Bart, his dedicated tutors, his enthusiastic students for making me feel welcome at Fosco Park and letting me win in a very heated game of Uno at the end!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference is in four weeks!

Hello Everyone! My apologies for not having updated the blog last week. What I was doing last week was trying to reach out to my networks to increase attendance for the May Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference - which is in less than FOUR WEEKS.

Just to remind everybody - the conference will be held Thursday and Friday May 28th and 29th at Northwestern School of Law, 375 E. Chicago Ave. Registration will be from 8-9am on Thursday and 8-8:45am on Friday. Breakfast will also be provided during that time. Admission to the conference is $60 for one day, $100 for both days, and $75 for walk-ins. You can register for the conference here.

If you would like to present a workshop, you can submit a workshop presenter's form here.

We already have some great workshops planned. Over the next couple of weeks I will highlight the different workshops that we have planned and let you know a little about the presenters and their organization. Stay tuned for that and get excited about the conference!