Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Collaboration Success Story: October 9th Tutor Training Conference

On Saturday, October 9th while thousands of Chicagoans loaded up on carbs in preparation for the Chicago Marathon, volunteers and staff from Cabrini Connections, Chicago Lights Tutoring, and Cabrini Green Tutoring Program had a marathon day filled with great workshops and training sessions at the Fifth Annual Tutor Training Conference.

The conference took place at Fourth Presbyterian Church, home of Chicago Lights. The day was filled with a wide variety of skill-building workshops on topics such as tutoring students in reading, teaching math skills, and helping students in the college admissions process. There were also workshops that discussed the role of mentors during difficult times in a youth’s life and workshops that offered volunteers a view inside today’s schools.

I moderated a panel called “The Changing Faces of Cabrini Green” in which a mother who is a Cabrini Green Community Activist and her son discussed the history and present situation of Cabrini Green along with the realities—positive and negative—of living in that community.

The conference was a huge success and we had more
volunteers from Cabrini Connections attend than ever before (not bad for a Saturday with 80 degree weather!). EL Da’Sheon Nix and Bradley Troast from Cabrini Connections played a large roll in motivating our volunteers to attend and in planning this conference—congratulations to both of them! (read EL’s blog entry for his account of the conference).

More than just a victory for the three programs involved, however, this training conference is a great example of how tutoring and mentoring programs can benefit through collaboration. Although the three programs that teamed up for the conference operate independently of one another, the leaders of each program realized that not only do all the programs serve a similar demographic by working with students from the Cabrini Green area, but the tutors/mentors from each program also need similar sets of skills and training. Rather than holding three separate volunteer training events (read: extra planning time, more money, and additional staff), the joint conference enabled each program to share the workload and the benefits of a tutor training conference. What's more, volunteers could pick up tips and ideas from representatives of all three programs not just their own.

Tutor/Mentor Connection actively encourages tutor/mentor programs throughout the city to collaborate in shared efforts. Rather than looking at similar organizations as mere competitors, they can be viewed as potential collaborative partners. The Program Locator is one way that T/MC helps programs identify other similar organizations existing in their geographical regions that they might reach out to for collaboration.

In addition, Mike Trakan,the T/MC GIS Mapping Specialist, makes a wide variety of maps relevant to tutoring/mentoring programs in Chicago. Many of these maps show how programs along with businesses and faith communities could work together to help youth in specific neighborhoods in Chicago. I encourage you to support Mike's work at the upcoming map gallery event, "Mapping Solutions" on November 17th at Webster's Wine Bar.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who attended the October 9th Conference--I look forward to seeing the payoff of the event during tutoring and mentoring sessions this year!

1 comment:

  1. Very good article, Karina. If we can help programs in various neighborhoods connect with each other, then the next step is connecting the programs, and their volunteers, to each other in events like our city-wide May and November conference, or in on-line forums where a wider range of people can ideas can be exchanged every day.