With Spring just around the corner (according to the calendar, not necessarily the weather forecast), I have been doing some cleaning of the Chicago-Area Program Links on the Tutor/Mentor Connection website.
While the Program Locator enables visitors to search for tutoring and mentoring programs based on a variety of criteria such as zip code and age group, the Chicago-Area Program Links provides a list of website links for tutoring and mentoring programs according to their region in Chicago. This allow prospective students and volunteers to find programs in their areas. Likewise, it provides an inventory of programs that the leaders of organizations themselves can use to build awareness of programs operating in the same region.
I went through all the links during the Fall to make sure programs are still operating. I revisited every website in the past week to ensure that all links are still correct and to touch base with many of the programs.
Of the 214 programs currently listed in this links directory, the regional breakdown is as follows:
The distribution of programs doesn't necessarily align with the distribution of need. This map that Mike Trakan created (click here to see enlarged view) shows the locations of programs in relation to poverty and poorly-performing schools.
It isn't rocket science to surmise that where there are more poorly performing schools, more tutoring and mentoring programs are needed to give kids academic skills, guidance, and motivation to graduate from high school and prepare for their next steps such as college, vocational schools, or careers. For those growing up in poverty neighborhoods and with failing schools, building relationships with a mentor can give students the support they need to realize their own potential.
Each one of the dots on the map represents a story, a program, a unique vision, a group of youth, a group of volunteers, and a staff.
When I look at Mike's maps, I try not to just see "dots" where programs are located. I try to picture in my head the tutoring sessions and programs occurring on a weekly basis at that center. By putting a "human face" on these locations, I realize more fully the impact of these programs and their vital roles within each community. For a sneak-peak into a tutoring session at one of these locations (Cabrini Connections), see the latest Cabrini Madness video below.
What would it take to keep these programs operating while also expanding the number of programs to reach all neighborhoods with failing schools?