One of the goals of our Social Network Analysis is to find a way to show how the networks of kids living in highly segregated, high poverty, inner city neighborhood changes over many years as a result of being part of a tutor/mentor program like the Cabrini Connections program led by Dan Bassill between 1992 and 2011.
In this web site, Bob Pearlman shows that "who you know" is more important than what you know. He points to a Silicon Valley study by AT Kearney, which shows how kids living in poverty don't have people in their lives modeling college and technology careers, thus they are less likely to pursue those careers. Read other articles about social capital. Read articles about social network analysis and benefits to business.
This is one example of work we might do using SNA tools. When a student joins a tutor/mentor program, we could create a map of his/her network. Every couple of years we might update that. It should show that he/she is connected to a broader range of people because of the tutor/mentor program. If we're also teaching him how to access this network, understand it, and use it to find information, or help with work or jobs, then this demonstrates a value of tutor/mentor programs that might result in more consistent donor investment.
Thus, if we can create a SNA survey that shows how frequently kids are in contact with people who went to college, hold jobs in Science, Math, Technology, Engineering, health care, law, etc., we can ask our teens to take this at the beginning of each year. Comparison maps from year to year, should show an expanding network created as a result of being part of a tutor/mentor program.
Read more about this idea here.
As an Institute or Think Tank can we attract funding to do research showing mentoring as a way to build social capital. If we can demonstrate a different way to understand and value the connection between people of different backgrounds perhaps we can open new funding streams and provide less costly ways for tutor/mentor programs to demonstrate their value.
The I-Open network in Ohio does great visualization work and has many examples of Social Network Analysis. Can we find ways to partner where they are helping make the case to donors based on their own network and past history?