I've posted ideas before of ways colleges and high schools might get involved with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in a meaningful way. Here's an idea I shared with a professor from a Chicago university today. If this is something another university would like to get involved with, please contact me. This type of learning needs to be taking place on every campus, and in every high school.
I'm Dan Bassill, president of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. It sounds like you're interested in getting your "Growing up in Chicago" students interested in some aspect of what we do.
The Cabrini Connections program we operate is near Cabrini Green, in Chicago, is not far from DePaul University, or the LOOP campuses of Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul and other universities. However, it serves a small number of kids when you consider that close to 200,000 k-12 kids live in poverty areas, and more than 400,000 attend CPS.
Thus, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to try to help programs like Cabrini Connections grow in all parts of Chicago.
There are probably many ways a university might get involved with us, but keeping in mind the theme "growing up in Chicago"theme of some classes my hope is that you might consider a research/writing/communications seminar.
In such a project, your students would divide into teams, with each team focusing on one section of the city and suburbs. They would use the research links on the T/MC web site to read about poverty, and it's impact on learning. They would also visit the web sites of different organizations who offer tutoring and/or mentoring in their assigned area, and get to know them.
Each week the goal would be that your students would write one article, posted to the Internet, talking about poverty, a tutor/mentor program, and ways people who don't live in poverty can help kids who do.
Nicole White's interviews with different programs is an example of what is possible. http://tinyurl.com/Nicole-program-stories
Thus, over the course of your class the learning and stories would help each other member of the class know more about the different parts of Chicago, and the distribution of tutor/mentor programs in those areas. Other students might even create maps to support the story.
The final presentation, or seminar, would be incorporated into the May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, which we've held every six months since 1994. The next is Nov. 19 and 20 and will be held on Northwestern's campus.
As a result of the research your students do, and the way they communicate this on an on-going basis, and through the conferences, your entire class, and others in the university community would know more about the different parts of Chicago, and the tutor/mentor programs that operate in each area. This would lead some to get directly or indirectly involved with specific programs, as volunteers, leaders, donors, etc.
It would give a huge boost to the work we're doing, because of the extra understanding and visibility it would create. It would also model what other universities could also be doing.
Finally, it is a strategy that could repeat from year to year with new students, building a body of knowledge hosted at a university that could be used by students, faculty, alumni and community members.
There are certainly other forms of involvement, but none that has as much benefit to your students, the university, the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Chicago.