Thursday, June 25, 2009

How do we get funding? How do we track success?

As the summer begins and tutoring and mentoring programs begin summer programs to help kids stay safe and engaged, the need for funding becomes more and more apparent. Many programs at different organization are being cut, due to the Illinois State Budget Crisis, or to the stop in funding from a foundation or corporation. One of the first things that usually gets cut is summer programming since it only affects kids three months out of the year rather than nine months. But it's during the summer months that students need safe places to go more than ever. It's not a mere coincidence that summertime is the time where the crime rate skyrockets in urban areas. We can only see the recent tragedy of a third grader being gunned down while washing her dog and be reminded that their needs to be more places for her and those who killed her to go during the summer months. You can read Dan Basill's article here about how there are no tutoring and mentoring programs offered in her neighborhood.

Anyway, in an ongoing effort by the Tutor/Mentor Connection to support and promote tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago, we are currently in the process of contacting programs about what ways they track success in their programs. Since a lot of funding comes from the demonstration of numbers, both positive and negative, we thought it would be a good idea to touch base with programs, see how they are doing right now in this tough economy, and find out what ways they keep track of their program.

Of course, we also need to set an example ourselves in terms of evaluating our program. One of the ways we track what we do qualitatively is OHATS, which stands for Organization and History Tracking System. What it does is that anybody who works with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in any capacity can create a profile and record important meetings, events, and developments that they have participated in that benefits the Tutor/Mentor Connection. What makes it an effective tool for tracking qualitative success is that anybody who is curious about what the Tutor/Mentor Connection has done, or is doing, can simply log in under username: Guest, password: Visitor and see the most recent activity recorded by those who work with Tutor/Mentor Connection in some capacity. I invite anyone who is interested in seeing what we're doing to login and browse around. There are entries that date back to the early 2000's, when the tracking system was first developed. It's a great way to see what we've done at Tutor/Mentor Connection, how far we've come, and where we are going.

Also, if you'd like to read more about the theory behind OHATS, I invite you to check out some great articles on Tutor/Mentor Exchange.

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