Out of the Box Thinking: Chicago Conference Focuses on Volunteer-based Mentoring, Tutoring programs

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On May 25 and 26, 2006, the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) and the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University's School of Law will co-host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. The aim of the conference is to draw greater public attention to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, and to put help existing programs get the ideas, volunteers and dollars needed to help at-risk youth stay in school and move to jobs and careers.

While most Americans are using the Internet for games, music, shopping and informal chat, a small Chicago nonprofit is using it for building a network of private and public sector organizations aimed at ending poverty by mentoring kids to careers.

On May 25 and 26, 2006, the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) and the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University's School of Law will co-host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. The aim of the conference is to draw greater public attention to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, and to put help existing programs get the ideas, volunteers and dollars needed to help at-risk youth stay in school and move to jobs and careers. This will be the 25th T/MC Conference held in Chicago since May 1994.

What's revolutionary about this event, is that in early May and early June, the T/MC will also host a series of on-line forums, connecting leaders and supporters of volunteer-based programs throughout the USA with each other, and with ideas each program can use to be more effective and successful in connecting volunteers with kids who need extra help.

The T/MC and many of the volunteer based tutor/mentor programs that participate in the Conferences, focus their services on youth living in extreme poverty. "We know that connecting volunteers and youth in long-term mentoring and in a variety of learning and enrichment activities can have a profound affect, not only on the youth, but on the adult volunteer. " reports Daniel F. Bassill, president of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and a 30 year leader of a Cabrini-Green based tutor/mentor program.

The conference focuses on the strategies needed to build and sustain effective, long-term volunteer-based programs, including uses of the Internet for learning, networking, collaboration and capacity building. At Bassill's http://tutormentor.blogspot.com blog, he demonstrates how individuals can by-pass the traditional media to post advocacy and education on-line where the world can read it. "We aim to help others in Chicago and in other cities duplicate this," says Bassill, "as part of our own effort to create greater daily visibility of tutoring/mentoring."

Among the featured speakers in the May Conference will be Professor Robert Halpern, chair of the Research Council at the Erikson Institute, and Sylvia Puente, Director Metropolitan Chicago Initiative, Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame. Workshop presenters represent tutor/mentor organizations from Chicago, Indiana, Tennessee and California. Among the hosts for eConference forums will be MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership, UNiversity College of IUPUI and the National Mentoring Center at the Northwest Regional Education Laboratory..

Media, business, faith and community leaders are encouraged to attend the conference to learn more about volunteer-based tutor/mentoring, and to become partners in strategies that make quality programs available in more places where they are needed.

The Chicago conference will be held on May 25 and 26 at the Northwestern University School of Law, at 375 E. Chicago Avenue. The eConferences will begin on May 2nd. The full agenda and registration information can be found at http://www.tutormentorconference.bigstep.com. Participation in the Internet conference is FREE.

There is still time to register for the conference. Group Rates, Discounts and Scholarships are Available. Call 312-492-9614, or email tutormentor2@earthlink.net to discuss your participation options.

HISTORY - The Tutor/Mentor Connection, formed in 1993, maintains a comprehensive database of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs, a web based resource library, and organizes events such as the conferences to connect tutor/mentor programs with each other, and with volunteers, donors, business partners and media.

Learn more at http://msg.uc.iupui.edu/TMC/html/index.php or call 312-492-9614. Read the Tutor/Mentor Blog at http://tutormentor.blogspot.com

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