Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Looking Past Current Funding Crisis to Future Challenges

If you read the local Chicago papers, the financial mess in Chicago and Illinois means there's not going to be enough money available to fund Chicago Public Schools, resulting in staff cuts and class sizes increasing. There's also going to be a cut in state funding of non-profit youth serving organizations, meaning staff cuts and lost of services. With all of this weighing us down, I'd like to try to stimulate some future thinking.

I've used this graphic often to illustrate the three time frames when youth need support from caring adults (school day, right after school, evening, weekend, summer). This also emphasizes the responsibility we have of helping kids move through school and into jobs and careers, not just high school graduation.

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago for more than 35 years. Our sessions were held from 5:15 till 8pm, when workplace volunteers were available. In the Cabrini Connections program (1993-2011) we tried to recruit kids in 7th and 8th grade and keep them coming back until they finished high school.

This means we needed to find money every year to pay the bills. That was always a challenge. The graphics below illustrate this challenge.

There's a tremendous amount of wealth in Chicago, and the US, but much of it is not yet being focused on helping build and sustain great learning and mentoring opportunities in high poverty neighborhoods, reach kids at school, and in the non-school hours.

If these graphics resonate with you then let's find places on the Internet, and in Chicago, where we can begin to connect and look for solutions.

Monday, June 29, 2015

#CLMOOC Make Cycle #2: Re(Media)te with ME

I started taking part in MOOCs several years ago and am now part of the 2015 Connected Learning MOOC #CLMOOC. We're in the second week, and each week a newsletter introduces a new theme for learning. The theme this week is Re(Media)te with ME, which means participants are encouraged "to choose something (an artifact, a story, a picture, a video clip, an anything) and over the course of the week remediate it through one or more different media."

This is something I've been doing for nearly 20 years. Many of the graphics you see on this blog started out as doodles on a notepad during meetings I've attended. This drawing is one example:

This is the visualization that I created from that bunch of scribbles.

Since 2005 I've had a variety of interns from different colleges work with me for as long a a year, and as short as a week. In many of these projects, interns look at a blog article and graphic, then create their own interpretation.
This graphic first appeared in this blog article.

Below is a video interpretation of my blog article, created in 2013 by Kyungryul Kim, an intern from IIT and from South Korea.

Here's another example. I've used this graphic many times to show the role of intermediaries who connect people who can help to places where help (tutoring, mentoring, learning programs, etc) is needed. This PDF describes "building a network of purpose".

View this blog article, and this Prezi, to see how another intern did an interpretation of the PDF during his June 2013 internship.

Browse this intern blog and see many more examples of interns Re(Media)ting with Tutor/Mentor Connection. Visit this page and see a library of these projects.

I think students in middle school, high school and colleges throughout the country, and the world, could be creating their own versions of these strategy presentations, adopting them to their own location and its needs. I think kids doing Bar and Bat Mitzvahs could be doing these as part of the service project included in this religious coming of age ceremony. In each case we create new leaders with broader understanding of ways to overcome poverty, and we create new messages sharing these ideas with the adults in their lives.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mapping Data - Resources

I created a new concept map, showing some of the data mapping platforms I point to in my web library and blog articles. Here's the link.

These are resources people from anyplace in the US can use to draw attention to a wide range of issues that concern members of different communities. This is one of many concept maps I've created, which you can see on this page.

If you'd like me to help you understand the information in each map, and their purposes, let's connect.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What Are You Doing to Support Volunteer Recruitment for Back to School?

I know it's still June, but what are your plans to help mobilize volunteers to be part of organized tutoring, mentoring and learning programs for the 2015-16 school year? School starts in September. Tutor/Mentor Programs should be sending out email to ask veteran volunteers to sign up for another year, and new volunteers to join, as we enter August.

However, what are YOU (business, faith group, political leader, media, celebrity, etc) doing now to help programs in Chicago and other cities recruit volunteers so more youth are able to benefit from a mentor and being part of an organized program?

Here's a presentation with tips for mobilizing volunteers. If teams of volunteers in business, faith groups, media, etc. look at this, there are many ways your team can help mobilize volunteers for various tutor/mentor programs serving your city.

Strategies for recruiting volunteers for tutor/mentor programs by Daniel F. Bassill

Don't wait until August. There is work that already should have been started. For instance:

Help programs build staff to support volunteers. If we were able to organize a massive volunteer recruitment campaign that doubled the number of volunteers we would fail in our mission if we had not also increased the staff available in different programs to support those volunteers. The worst campaign is one that inspires someone to volunteer, who then finds out there is no room for them, or get into a program where they are poorly supported. That volunteer turns around and tells others "Don't do this."

One way to help programs attract talent, is to help them get the operating dollars they need to hire and pay staff. Consider adding organized tutor/mentor programs to your company's workplace giving campaign choices, and to programs like "dollars for doers" and matching gifts. Encourage employees who already volunteer or serve on boards to tell other employees about the value of these programs and to encourage donations to support operations.

Help programs improve the way they tell their stories on their web sites. Volunteers and parents who are shopping to find a place to volunteer should be able to look at a web site and see if the program is close to where they live or work, has a history of success, is well organized, and meets at a time frame convenient for the volunteer and youth to participate regularly. View this shoppers guide for some ideas of what should be on a web site.

Teams of volunteers, or individual volunteers, can offer their talent to help programs improve their web sites, tell their stories, and even organize events that support learning and participation of youth and volunteers. This essay, shows roles of talent volunteers.

While its only June, now's the time to plan ways to include volunteer recruitment ads in fall media and business publications. Non profit tutor/mentor programs have few advertising dollars, yet it is reach and frequency of message delivery that finds potential volunteers (and donors) and encourages them to shop and become involved in tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods. Create ads that show your company logo, and point to web directories where people can learn about volunteer opportunities in their city.

One role volunteers can take is to help get tutor/mentor organizations listed on as many volunteer matching services as you can. This graphic is the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC's concept map showing a range of web sites where you can list your program. This includes the Illinois Mentoring Partnership, the One Good Deed Chicago and VolunteerMatch sites.

Do this work now and many kids will have the special opportunity of being part of an organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor program this fall and for many years to come. You can help change the future through your actions.

If you'd like to meet or talk with me about actions you can take to support volunteer recruitment, just email tutormentor2 at or reach out to me on Twitter @tutormentorteam.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Do the Reading. Do the Planning.

I've used this graphic in the past to illustrate the planning required to get from "here", or where we are today, to "there", or where we want to be in the future. With the horrible mass murder in Charleston, we have another reminder of a complex problem that will take a long time to solve.

This graphic is intended to show how groups of people with some common identity should be banding together to study available information about the problem they are concerned about, and about how people in different places are trying to solve the same problem. By borrowing ideas from people already working on a problem groups can innovate new ways to apply those solutions in different places. This is a constant cycle that could have thousands of groups meeting at faith groups, businesses, colleges, social and civic clubs, family gatherings, etc.

I've written over 1000 articles and in many I'm using graphics like this, and posting links to other articles. I tag each article, so if groups wanted to spend some time just reading article talking about planning, they could click on the planning tag, and scroll through those articles.

I've also created some illustrated essays to describe work that needs to be done. This presentation shows that if someone is collecting information about a problem, and highlighting promising practices, they can stimulate how others throughout the sector might include those ideas in their own work.

Using Ideas to Stimulate Competition and Process Improvement - Concept Paper by Daniel F. Bassill

I've never had nearly enough funding to do this as well as it needs to be done, but the articles I write, and the conferences I've hosted, have been intended to point attention to work being done in this field. This is all part of an on-going 4-part strategy that I describe here.

If we want to get to a different place, we need to be doing the planning, and this needs to be taking place in thousands of big and small groups.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Building Tutor/Mentor Teams at Universities

I presented a workshop at yesterday's Illinois Campus Compact conference, held at DePaul University. My goal was to inspire campus leaders to launch student/faculty/alumni teams that duplicate what I've been doing to support the growth of mentor-rich non-school programs in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, but with a focus on the geography around each campus. Below are slides from my presentation:

Forming a College-Based Tutor/Mentor Connection by Daniel F. Bassill

Interns from various universities have spent time getting to know the T/MC since 2005. See a list of interns here. View some of their projects, here. This page points to a project done by DePaul students in 2009 and 2010.

Any university in the world could engage students in this type of project. Contact me if you'd like my help.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Collecting, Mapping, Sharing Knowledge

I created this graphic over 20 years ago to visualize the information I was trying to collect to support the growth, and effectiveness, of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor program I was leading in Chicago, and to help similar programs grow in other high poverty neighborhoods of the city.

Between 1994 and 2004 the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) published a printed directory of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs, sorting by age group served, type of program and location in Chicago. In 2004 we put the Directory on-line and launched the on-line program locator that enabled you to search by these criteria and get a map showing the program and any other programs in the same part of the city.

In 2005 I began using concept maps to share ideas and show information available in the Tutor/Mentor Connection library. The map below is a version of the knowledge map above. I've been trying for years to create an interactive graphic that would work like a blueprint, showing all of the talents and influences needed to build thriving adults, starting with their pre school years. You can see this here.

This graphic is another way to visualize each section of the map above. It's intended to show the range of influences and supports, a youth might need to grow from one age level to another. In more affluent areas, these resources are naturally available, or parents have the money to purchase them, and knowledge to know where to find help that is needed.

In high poverty neighborhoods that's not the case. The resources are less available and parents don't have the money to purchase all the help kids need. This is the problem Robert. D. Putnam wrote about in the book "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis". Thus, if we collect links related to each node, we could create a library of "models" showing supports available to kids in some places, that need to be available to kids in many other places.

Ideally a visitor could chose a section of the map, based on the age group of the youth he/she was interested in helping. Then he could click into any of the nodes to find ideas related to that topic. If these were also plotted on a map, you could see if they are available in the neighborhood you're interested in. Ideally there would be links to discussion forums and help centers where people could gather and learn about these resources, and talk about ways to improve them where they exist, or build new ones where they are needed. This map should also point to sources of talent and dollars to support the growth and operations of these programs, also with a geographic sort feature.

So far, most of this does not exist on my sites, and I'm not sure if it exists anywhere else.

I've never had much money, or talent, to help me build this, or share it, and I've much less since 2011. I created this presentation to show what I've been building since 1994.

Tutor/Mentor Institute - Learning Network Strategy by Daniel F. Bassill

As you look at presentation above, also look at this presentation on Slide Share, which was created in 1998. These are just two of many presentations and articles I've written that others could turn into a curriculum, or their own city-wide strategy for helping kids move through school and into jobs and careers.

While I'd be delighted to have one of the billionaires who bankroll political elections decide to bankroll my efforts, I'd be just as happy if a benefactor said "let's put this on a college campus, with you as the creative director."

Until that happens I'll continue sharing ideas via my blogs and speaking at conferences, such as the Illinois Campus Compact event on Monday, where I'll be talking about how the Tutor/Mentor Connection could be adopted on many college campuses.

If you agree that this type of a knowledge library could support the involvement of large number of people who may not know how to get involved now, or if you want to help me build part of this system, introduce yourself. Let's start a conversation.