Throughout the Explore Tutoring and Mentoring Course at DePaul University we have learned the positive effects of tutoring and mentoring programs on children of all ages. It is vital parents or guardians know what their community offers children in their area, especially for urban underprivileged kids. This week we have taken on the responsibility of investigating tutoring and mentoring programs in the West Side of Chicago.

Austin Chicago has a variety of programs that cater to tutoring and mentoring.  When I began searching I decided to start at the Austin Public School’s website I had found the previous week. (www.austin.k12.mn.us) I found two links for local learning centers.  The first one listed was their Community Learning Center. I clinked on the link and it gave a brief description of what the center has available along with their contact information. The second learning center listed was Area Learning Center and it was similar to the Community Learning Center. Neither centers supplied a website. Although they provide a phone number the lack of a website prohibits their means of communication. The Community Learning Center and Area Learning Center are great tools to have within a community especially when they are recognized by their school district. But the problem is the do not offer mentoring programs and they are costly. I investigated more using an internet search engine and found Cluster.  Cluster is a tutoring and mentoring program in the Austin area.  They offer one-on-one tutor and mentors.  The program was founded in 1989 and is a nonprofit organization.  This is a great opportunity for children but Cluster also has its setbacks.  For example, they do not have their own building. They meet twice a week, on Tuesday at Pine Avenue United Church and Thursday at First United Church of Oak Park. Both nights meet at 6:30 pm until 8:00 pm.  The problem that occurs with meeting at night is transportation. All together Cluster (www.clustertutoring.org) is a great program. The Austin Public Schools should add this program in addition to their learning centers because it caters to more needs and is cost free. Additional programs I found were in an Austin Community newsletter. They include their local YMCA, Off the Street Club, and Shore bank Residents Services Learning Center.  All three offer tutoring and mentoring programs but did not include a website in the newsletter. Austin Public Schools would benefit greatly from including these programs on their website because it would give students an equal opportunity.

East Garfield Park is one area of Chicago that didn’t particularly have many tutor/mentor programs according to my research. One thing that I noticed was that like the schools in the East Garfield Park area, there were many programs that didn’t exactly provide tutor/mentor services. They were mainly designed to keep the children off the streets with activities. There were not really specific tutor/mentoring services for the children.  There was one facility in particular that had many different programs that catered to many different age groups or needs. The name of the facility is Marillac House. This facility is mainly projected to underprivileged children and families that can’t afford day care or after school programs. This place has about four different programs. They have the “wrap around care” program that provides day care for children ages 15 months-3years.  They also provide after school programs and tutoring for children who have started school. They also provide a curriculum, field trips, library, a computer lab, as well an art room for the children. The next program provided by Marillac House   Project Hope which is a program designed for teenage moms ages 12-21. They provide a curriculum for them as well as well as referrals to school, job training, and recreational activities.  One more program that I have researched within Marillac House is called Hope Jr. It provides youth with a positive experience at a young age for girls ages 7-17. They participate in community service projects. They also have a fine arts program and tutor/mentor programs. Programs in the Marillac House had many programs; some had tutor/mentor services, but not all did.

 

In my search for tutor/mentoring programs in North Lawndale I came upon one called the Better Boys Foundation, otherwise known as BBF (www.betterboys.org/index2.html). It is available for anyone between the ages of 5 and 21 years of age (peculiar, I know). It is a non-profit organization that aims to improve life for the youth in North Lawndale area by providing them with experiences to shape their various stages of development. Despite its name, over half of the organization is now made up of girls. BFF concentrates on three major areas: Youth and Family Counseling, Out-of-school programming, and Scholarships/Career Guidance. Within these areas is where their programs evolved such as the Family Services Program. The Family Services Program offers counseling services for the youth and their respective families. Project LEAD (Leadership, Education, Academic Development) serves to assist elementary-school students both academically and socially. Project LEEP (Leadership Ensuring Educational Progress) aims to prepare pre-teens for high school and to meet their needs. BBF’s Teen Program is a program for high-school students that offers teens engagement opportunities such as for after-school or activities available throughout the year. The BBF Memorial Scholarship and Career Guidance Program offers scholarships and career guidance to youths that are in the process of either preparing for or entering their post-secondary education. All in all, the Better Boys Foundation is a superb example of a highly successful tutor/mentor program in North Lawndale. It fully sets the example of what a tutor/mentor program should be like. When I tried to find other tutor/mentor programs from the North Lawndale online, I found it to be more difficult than I would like, or that anyone would for that matter. I know for a fact that there are many more tutor/mentoring programs in the North Lawndale area, but the problem appears to be that the programs are not available to view online. Either that, or they are, just not easily accessible to provide information to the public.

Although Austin, East Garfield Park, and North Lawndale are all on the West Side of Chicago their options for tutoring and mentoring programs are very different.  These programs are vital for children’s success. Comparing the map below with what we have found we can see that the areas with higher crime have less tutoring and mentoring programs.  Tutoring and mentoring programs help children develop a sense of belonging, and knowledge between what is right and wrong that they may be lacking at home. By adding more to the areas with less programs hopefully the crime rate will lessen from generation to generation.

 

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