Sunday, August 28, 2016

Help Urban Youth Connect with Tutors, Mentors, Extra Learning

School has started, or will be starting in the next two weeks. Volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring organizations in Chicago and other cities are now in the process of recruiting, screening, training and matching volunteers with youth.  There's much you can do to help this process.

When I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, my goal was to build a library of existing programs, and create more frequent media stories, so more people would be motivated to volunteer time, talent and dollars to help existing programs grow, or help new programs start where more are needed.

The information in the library was intended to help existing programs see what others were doing, so they could borrow ideas to help improve their own program.  However, it's also intended to be used by people in business, faith groups, media, politics, high schools, colleges, etc. who should be much more proactive in helping good programs grow in more places.

One way I stay informed about tutoring/mentoring in Chicago and around the country is by looking at what Chicago area tutoring and/or mentoring programs are putting on Twitter and/or Facebook, as well as what they are putting on their web sites. 

Connecting with other programs on Facebook.  The easiest way to learn what other programs are doing is to look at their Facebook pages. The way I've done this is to look at web sites of programs I maintain on this list.  I find their Facebook link, and then visit their page and click on the "like" button. I've created a list of programs on Facebook, so this would be easier for others to do.

Then, on a regular basis, daily or weekly, I just click on the Pages Feed button, on the left side of my home page, and scroll down through the listings to see what's being posted.  

Several Chicago youth organizations are very consistent, and creative, in sharing photo stories on a regular basis. Spend time looking at these and add the ideas to your own communications strategy. 

Then, go a step further. Create graphics that feature some of these programs and share them in social media, to build greater visibility for the entire sector of youth tutor/mentor programs in your neighborhood, or in the entire city.

You can also follow what Chicago and national youth serving organizations are sharing on Twitter, by clicking on my TMPrograms list, then scrolling through what's being posted.  Unfortunately, only a few Chicago programs are active on Twitter. My list includes organizations from around the country, so don't limit where you look to find ideas for your own organization.

Note: If you're a volunteer, board member, parent or student in a tutor/mentor program, and active on Twitter, you could be posting messages regularly, pointing to your organization's web site or Facebook page.

Looking at program web sites (here's my list) provides the most information about individual youth serving organizations  in the Chicago region. I organize my list by sections of the city and suburbs to make it easier for parents, volunteers, donors, etc. to find programs near where they live or work.  Many of the web sites are full of information. Some don't have as much.

I also point to other youth programs around the country. See the list.  

My vision has been that a program's web site should serve as its grant proposal, and that donors and volunteers should be educated to seek out programs in different parts of the city and suburbs, in response to negative news or other reminders.  I created this SHOPPER GUIDE PDF to show a list of things that I feel should be included on a web site, to fully inform site visitors.  Very few organizations actually include most of this information on their web sites.

Note. If you've web design, communications, marking and/or PR skills, you could volunteer time to help programs update their web sites and tell their stories more effectively.

One opportunity that most programs miss, is using blogs to share their vision, successes and challenges with each other and with the public. If you browse articles I've posted since 2005, I'm pretty open about what I'm trying to influence.  If you look at this AllStars Project blog, you'll see a clear statement of some of the challenges non-school youth development programs face.   I would like to be able expand this list of blogs, which I've been building for the past 10 years, where leaders of tutoring and mentoring programs are sharing their own ideas in a similar way. Send me your blog address and I'll add it to the list. 

As we start this school year, and move toward the year-end holidays and into 2017, we need more people to fill the RED circle in this graphic, using their personal visibility, their social media, their blogs and company/faith group web sites, to tell the story of youth serving programs in different parts of the city, with the goal of attracting needed talent, dollars, ideas and technology support to every program, on an on-going basis.

Are you taking this role?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

#EnoughisEnough Stop the Violence!

Another senseless act of violence in Chicago took the life of a young woman, this time the cousin of NBA basketball star Dwyane Wade.  Over night Wade Tweeted a call to end the violence, using the hashtag #EnoughisEnough.

I've been using this phrase for nearly 10 years, to show steps of involvement that anyone can take.  Here's an article written just two weeks ago, that is titled "Stop the Violence. Where are the Leaders?"

I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in Chicago in 1993 with the goal of helping non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, as an alternative to the negative influences available to youth in high poverty neighborhoods.

I've reached out to athletes to take a role in "building great teams" to support youth, with graphics like the one below.
This graphic is included in this 2014 article titled "Build Great Youth Teams in Every Neighborhood - Role of Intermediaries".  It's one of several articles showing roles athletes and coaches can take, which you can find in this set of articles,

There's a lot of information here. It's not something you can master in just one session. Yet, athletes like Wade, our Olympians, pro baseball and football players, all know that to be great you spend lots and lots of time practicing and building your skills.

That's why they should focus on motivating fans to spend their own time, talent and dollars, learning ways to be strategic and consistently involved, and motivating them to stay involved for many years.

I started sharing these strategies 23 years ago. Had anyone accepted this leadership role at that time, maybe things would be different now in 2016 Chicago.

#EnoughisEnough - share this with athletes, leaders and celebrities.  I'd be happy to serve as a coach.

It's not too late to start changing the future.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Solving Complex Problems. No One Promised "EASY"

Last week I posted an article under the headline of  "Want to Make A Difference? Spend Time in Deeper Learning"  and pointed to a "How to Help the World" chart created by a group in the UK.

Over the past couple of days I came across an article with the Periodic Table, re-mixed, to show 90 issues that challenge our well-being, locally and globally.

The article says this chart was created by "A 17-year-old Indian school girl who came up with an imaginative way to remember all the elements on the periodic table for her science class. She decided to recreate the periodic table to highlight 90 global issues, using the acronym of each element to highlight a particular problem."

Read the article and look at the issues she includes.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in Chicago in 1993 to try to pull people together to help build and sustain mentor-rich non school  programs helping kids in poverty areas move through school and into jobs and careers.  I started writing this blog in 2005 and many articles, like this, share maps and graphics, that focus on how we get from "here to there".

I encourage others who talk about problems to spend some time with a pen and paper and try to scratch out their own master plan, then share it on-line as I do.

I created the graphic at the right in the 1990s, to recognize that there are many different issues that need to be solved, in Chicago and in other places around the world. Each needs a network of people with various talents and civic reach who are dedicating their time, talent and dollars to solving that problem.

The Periodic Table created by our Indian school girl just emphasizes how many different issues there are which require the involvement of many people, over many years and in many places.

My goal is to find just a few people who focus on the same strategies that I focus on. With the right mix of talent, and deep commitment, we can change the world....or at least have a small impact.

While I'm in Chicago, the third largest city in the US, I've found it really difficult to connect with other people who think the same as I do, and who are willing to commit their time, talent and dollars to working with me on the strategies I've developed.  Nor have I found many using maps and graphics on their own web sites, for their own organization, who focus on the same problem.

The article about the Periodic Table was shared by Sheri Edwards, an educator from Washington state, via a Connected Learning #clmooc Facebook page. I've written about this group before, showing how I've been connecting and building relationships since 2013 with educators from the US and the world.   I've been part of a Webheads in Action group of ESL educators from around the world since 2004.

Both of these demonstrate how people from different places can connect and build relationships and expand what they know, if someone keeps the group alive from year to year and if individuals are willing to devote their own personal time visiting, reading and connecting on an on-going basis

I emphasize this because while there may only be a few people in Chicago who might be interested in the ideas and strategies I share, in big cities around the world, there may be many others who are struggling to find attention and support for the same ideas.  I included this map from an article, in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.

Every one of my articles, Tweets and Facebook posts is an invitation seeking some who will respond.  This graphic illustrates a goal of finding leaders from different sectors.  This talent map illustrates the same idea, with more detail.

I created this 4-part strategy map and this article to illustrate a problem solving strategy that I have been building since 1993. It starts with "what do I know about the problem? Then, "What can I learn from others?"

This strategy, or a version of it, needs to have owners who focus on each of the 90 global issues described in the Periodic Table map shown above. Such groups need to be forming on line, and in each of the major cities of the world, and in each country.

They need to be connected so that people can draw ideas from other sectors, and that people in different sectors can collaborate on building tools that can be used in each place, and in each sector.

This needs to be supported by champions and benefactors from around the world.

As I said at the beginning, this is not going to be easy. Yet, if we don't try, what future can we expect?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Race Riots in Big Cities. Chicago next?

This is a map showing demographics in Milwaukee, where riots have erupted as a result of long simmering frustration.  I included the map in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.

I hope people in Chicago and other cities will take a look.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stop the Violence. Where are the Leaders?

 On Page 2 of today's Chicago Tribune, Rex  Huppke's article is titled "Past time for senseless violence to mean something to everyone."  He used the word "enough" twice in the first two major paragraphs. He ended by saying,

"So that's my question: Where are the people, the ones who have the resources and knowledge and networks, who care?  Why can't they come together and organize and attack this problem?"

I wish he had been reading this blog for the past 10 years.

I first used the word ENOUGH to create and share actions people could take, in this 2007 article. I've used it often since then.

I created this graphic, and versions of it, in the 1990s, to illustrate the need for leaders from every sector to be strategically, and consistently, involved in solving the problems of poverty, inequality, violence, etc. that plague Chicago and many other cities.

Milwaukee is reaping the harvest of that neglect this week.

In yesterday's article I talked about deeper learning and pointed to this strategy map illustrating a commitment that all those people Rex Huppke is referring to, need to be making and keeping.

You need to open and view all of the links at the bottom of each node to really comprehend what this commitment really involves.  That's part of the "deeper learning" that has to be part of a path toward a solution.

This isn't a new problem, as this article from 1996 shows. My ideas aren't new either. I've been using maps since 1993 to focus attention, and resource, on neighborhoods with high poverty and poorly performing schools, with the goal of helping well-organized tutor/mentor programs grow in these areas.  They just have not been viewed or embraced by very many leaders in Chicago.

Rex said the solution is "not coming from me. I'm a newspaper columnist".

We'll Rex, and others in media, you can be more of the solution than you have been.

Why not use your column to give recognition to leaders who put the strategy map on their web sites, to demonstrate their own commitment.  Then look at this 4-part strategy map (it can be found in the links off the middle section of the strategy map.)

When you give recognition, be specific. Did they do something to improve the information available? Did they use their media, visibility, dollars, to draw more people to the information?  Did they appoint someone in their organization to form a learning strategy and lead a company-involvement effort? Do the use maps to show their involvement around places where they do business, or where employees or customers live?  Do they provide flexible operating dollars on an on-going basis to multiple organizations. Do they encourage others to duplicate their own efforts?

You can even create maps that show locations of leaders doing good work, or companies, faith groups, hospitals, etc. who adopt and lead this strategy. Host them on your web site, right next to where you keep track of homicides.

Keep doing it, week-after-week. Year-after-year.

Here's a presentation showing how you and others can give recognition to good work, in ways that it is continued and duplicated by others.

Had reporters been consistently highlighting strategic efforts that make mentor-rich learning programs available in high poverty areas and that help kids come to school better prepared to learn, and leave school with adults helping them in to jobs and careers, for the past 30 years, maybe Chicago would be recognized as a model for social justice, opportunity and where to raise  a family, rather than for violence and corruption.

This role is not restricted to media. With social media and the internet anyone can look at this information and give recognition to good work being done in different places.  Furthermore, they can connect with each other in on-line communities, like the Connected Learning MOOC #clmooc, and share what they are doing while learning new ideas from peers.

Rex, you could even be writing about that.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Want To Make a Difference? Spend Time In Deeper Learning

Saturday I included this graphic in this article, and pointed to an annotation platform called NowComment, where I highlighted sections of the map, and offered comment to try to help readers build their own  understanding.

As my #clmooc friends Terry Elliott and Kevin Hodgson took a look and added their own comments, I responded. Thus, we've started a conversation around this strategy map, using the NowComment annotation platform.

It takes a certain level of commitment, and time, to create these maps, explain them, and read them. They are not 140 character sound bytes.  Yet, unless people spend that time, they won't know what is being offered and how the ideas might be used by them in their own efforts to help reduce poverty and inequality in big cities like Chicago.

After posting my blog on Saturday I came across an article by the Global Priorities Project,  with the graphic shown below embedded as a Prezi presentation. You can see it at

Just looking at this graphic will probably cause a lot of people to move on to something else. I spent about an hour reading each node and following the lines that helped me move from one point to another. I did not open the links that were provided, and dig even deeper into the ideas, but that would be the next step.  I did respond to the invitation to share my own ideas.

When I started  using the Internet in 1998 I was excited by the potential for putting complex ideas on a web site that other people, from anywhere in the world, could find and their own pace.

I use concept maps the way this group uses a Prezi, to try to guide people sequentially from one part of the map to another.  If you visit this page, you can find a few Prezi presentations done by interns working with me from 2005 to 2014. They work the same way.

In order to teach, and motivate, people to spend time looking at these documents, I think we need to be teaching young people to create them, as part of their own classroom and non-school learning experiences. I've invited others to look at my presentations and create their own interpretations, applying the ideas to their own community, or to the work they are doing in their own tutor/mentor program.

As you do your research, take a look at this article where I introduce systems thinking work being led by Gene Bellinger and apply it to my own efforts.  The graphic is a screen shot from one of Gene's videos.

I hope some of  you will spend some time looking at these presentations and reading the linked blog articles. Then take me up on that offer as you begin a new school year over the next few weeks.

As your students create new understanding through their own work, let's aggregate that work so others will find it and learn from it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Building Greater Involvement in Problem Solving Strategies

In past articles I've shown some of my interactions with the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc), which is an online network of educators from the US and the world. I've done so with the goal of creating a similar on-line community of people who are working to reduce poverty and inequality in Chicago and other cities, through strategies that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers.  

Part of the CLMOOC process involves people from different places creating on-line projects (makes), which then are re-mixed or embedded in blogs and/or social media, so that more people engage with the ideas and each other.  Through this process there is a constant introduction of new places and tools where this work can be done.  

The graphic above was introduced in a blog by Algot Runeman, then remixed by KevinHodgson. I then added my own ideas and re-shared via social media. 

Over the past few days Kevin introduced a new  annotation platform called NowComment, a free site, and posted the graphic here.  

Terry Elliott then used his blog to provide some more encouragement to visit and use the NowComment site.

So I did.  You can see this map here and below.

During the Connected Learning MOOC, participants have been encouraged to "make" and share things. Since most participants are educators, much of the sharing and making tests new ways to engage students in their own learning.  A MAKE BANK has been created where participants have shared some of their work. I've added some of my graphics. 

If you compare my graphics to many of the others, you'll see that I'm trying to engage people in thinking about strategies that would make more powerful learning opportunities available to youth in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.  Furthermore, I'm trying to influence people who look at the graphics and presentations I create, so more will adopt the ideas and apply them through their own efforts, in Chicago or in the communities where they live.

For that to happen, they need to build a deeper understanding of what I'm talking about. Using annotation tools like NowComment is one path toward that greater understanging.  In this particular map I'm showing four steps that are involved in problem solving, that could be duplicated in many places and that require involvement of many people.

I've created maps that show other organizations in Chicago who focus on the well being of young people and on issues such as poverty, inequality, youth and workforce development. This is one. This is another.

I'd like to see strategy maps on every web site that I point to with these maps. I'd like to see their own efforts to draw people together on-line, perhaps learning from the sites I point to.

By sharing these graphics and pointing to these sites, that's what I hope to influence.

I hope you'll take a look. Add your own comment. Make your own version. Share it. Connect with me on other spaces. Help me do this work.