Friday, September 10, 2010

Makeover...T/MC Addition

Yesterday, CC, T/MC got a mini-makeover.

Two groups of incoming Northwestern freshman visited us through the Freshman Urban Program (FUP). FUP exposes Northwestern freshman to communities, social issues, and org
anizations throughout Chicago in the weeks before these soon-to-be Wildcats officially start their undergraduate careers.

Yesterday’s groups of students worked on a wide range of projects to spiff up our center prior to Cabrini Connection’s official 2010-11 start-up next week. The “FUPers” painted artwork on several walls, went through the library and got rid of antiquated books (copies of What Is the Internet? from 1994 are probably not particularly high on the reading lists of our tech-savvy students), and cleared out paperwork from old files.

We even had one person look through pages on our websites to repair broken links and update information. He contributed to some of the work I have been focusing on these past several weeks. While our office needs ongoing cleaning and maintenance, so do our websites, resource libraries, and databases. As of the beginning of August, for instance, The Program Locator had well over a hundred missing or broken links—the majority of which have now been repaired.

Checking in with organizations in order to update their information has provided me an opportunity to learn about programs and reach out to their leaders. Some have moved locations or changed personnel. Others have started new centers. Unfortunately, still others have been forced to shut down due to insufficient funding—stark reminders of how important it is for us to build ongoing partnerships and consistent support for tutoring and mentoring programs.

The visit from FUP students was an example of one of many ways universities can play an integral role in forming those types of ongoing partnerships. In fact, part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection’s strategy is to engage university communities and form partnerships with university departments, programs, and professors. As shown in former PIP Fellow Chris Warren’s concept map of resources at Northwestern and as described in Bradley Troast’s recent blog post, universities have a tremendous wealth of resources, organizations, and student groups that could form meaningful partnerships with tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago.

Thank you to the leaders and freshman from FUP for their contributions to both our physical and virtual space. A lot has happened in Chicago since I was an incoming freshman—we have welcomed a new president, we have lost the Olympic bid. I wonder what changes these students will witness to the city in their four years at Northwestern---with a new mayor in store and a gradually recovering economy, Chicago's landscape will undoubtedly shift for its residents, its businesses, and its organizations. I feel optimistic.

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