Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bernie and I...Movement Makers

If you've been following the 2016 Presidential election campaign you've seen the fantastic rise of Bernie Sanders, from an obscure Vermont Senator, to a force in this year's election. I saw the image above recently, showing that he's been preaching the same ideas for over 50 years. It's just in the past year that he's captured the attention of a large, and idealistic, segment of the American and world population.

I included an image of myself from the mid 1970s and from a graphic I created in the past year to illustrate the similarities between myself and Bernie. We've both been calling for involvement of individuals, business, philanthropists and political leaders and for the most part, have operated under the radar. I'm approaching 70. He's 73 or 74.

So far he's had a lot more success than I, but is just as far from making his movement a reality as I am of building a network of leaders supporting the ideas I've been sharing for so long.

Since I'm only 69, does that mean I still have hope for adoption of my ideas?

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975 (see timeline) and had to learn to ask volunteers to contribute time and talent to help the program grow. By the mid 1980s I had created an organizational structure with volunteers filling different functional areas. The graphic as the right is from one of our handouts. 

We started Cabrini Connections in late 1992, right after this Chicago SunTimes front page story appeared, following the shooting of a 7-year-old boy in Cabrini Green. The editorial included words saying “it's everyone's responsibility” to solve this problem.

I and other organizers of CC recognized that while a new program serving 60 to 90 teens in one neighborhood of Chicago could be life changing for those teens, it would have little impact on the neatly 200,000 youth living in poverty in Chicago.  That is why we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and why I have been so committed to it for the past 23 years.

In my advertising work at the Montgomery Ward HQ in Chicago, I was one of many functional teams helping nearly 400 retail stores operate in 40 states. We wanted every single store to be the best it could be. The Tutor/Mentor Connection launched a survey in 1994 that identified 120 tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods, and sorted them by type of program and age group served. We plotted this information on maps, showing where they were located, with poverty overlays, showing where they were needed and where there are voids.

Then I began a year-round communications program, using quarterly events, like the Tutor/Mentor Conferences as anchors, calling on volunteers, donors, public leaders from around the region to support the growth of every program in the Chicago region, helping EACH BECOME GREAT, so each could have a greater impact on youth and volunteers. In doing so, I've simply expanded the work I started doing in the 1970s to help a single program be as good as it could be.

In recruiting volunteers and donors, I've consistently shown the image of a youth and volunteer and talked of the impact one person can have. Then I've talked about how organized programs are needed to enable workplace volunteers connect, and stay connected, with inner city kids. Finally, I've asked, “What are all the things we need to do to make well organized programs available in all high poverty neighborhoods? And what do we need to do to help each program constantly improve their impact on youth and volunteers”.

In 1993 an IWU fraternity brother, Al Leahigh, a VP at Public Communications Inc., helped me develop a strategy for the T/MC, which I've narrowed to four actions that need to be happening on an on-going basis in Chicago and other cities. 

Collecting information about non-school tutor/mentor programs is part of step 1. Telling stories, holding conferences, and building public awareness is part of step 2. Helping people understand where tutor/mentor programs are most needed, what tutoring/mentoring programs should look like, and ways they can help great programs grow in more places, is part of step 3. Actions that draw volunteers, donors and ideas directly to different programs listed in the database, is step 4.

This is a strategy that requires many leaders over many years. I've modeled it through my own actions, and continue to do that in 2016, reminding people that many need to be involved in helping well-organized tutor/mentor programs be available in all high poverty neighborhoods.

The challenge, and obstacle, I've faced is that most people don't really understand the work needed to support a single youth program for multiple years.  And even fewer  take the “corporate office role” and spend much time thinking of the work needed to support a city full of well-organized k-12 tutor, mentor and learning programs.

And few value the library of information and ideas that veterans like myself have aggregated over many years of service or are willing to provide the on-going funds to maintain a library or dig deeper into the information.

I started sharing this network-building worksheet in the 1990s, in an effort to expand the number and diversity of people supporting the work I was doing

 If each person reading this article were to identify one person in each sub group of his/her network, that would total 8-10 new people to add to my email newsletter mailing list. If those people did the same, it would add hundreds of additional people. Ultimately this would reach what I call “Super Heroes” who have the civic reach, wealth, or talent to bring the Tutor/Mentor Connection to greater visibility and impact and/or bring the Tutor/Mentor Institute to a college campus.

I've never found the super hero. I'm still looking.

I'm optimistic, because I keep finding people in different parts of the world who are trying to build an understanding of this strategy.  View this link and see how an educator from Brazil has responded.

I've posted regular articles on this blog since 2006, and sent a monthly email newsletter since 2002.  Since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to support the continuation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I've not had a non-profit status, so far fewer people have been providing financial support. Thus I have not hosted the conference since May 2015 and the interactive Program Locator is not up-to-date or working properly. I created this new  map, just to show the current list of Chicago  youth organizations that I host.

I've been sending a quarterly print update to a few who still provide small donations, showing work I've been doing and asking them to visit this blog and the blog to read and share stories I post weekly.  

Their annual contributions have enabled me continue to maintain the T/MC library and share this vision on a regular basis, just as many have helped Bernie Sanders share his ideas for so long.  

Bernie understands that getting elected, or not, is not what's important. Building a movement where millions of people are involved is his goal. It needs to last beyond his lifetime, or beyond his term in office, should he be elected. I am focused on the same things. 

While I need financial support and volunteers to help now, I'm looking for leaders who will endow a Tutor/Mentor Institute on college campuses, or provide leadership and funds to continue it as a stand-alone operation that grows its impact well beyond my lifetime.

If you'd like to talk to me, email me at to arrange a time to talk by phone, Skype or in person.

If you'd like to be added to my print mail list, send a $20 or larger annual contribution.
Mail contributions to Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303, Chicago, Il

Monday, April 25, 2016

Benefits of using maps in story telling shown in SSIR article

As this 1994 Chicago SunTimes article illustrates, I've been using maps to tell stories intended to draw resources to high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago for a long time.

Today I read an article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) web site that showed how the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) has been using maps.

In the article CHCF's map-making process was described, saying "If gathering the data was the first step, making it useful was the second."

A benefit of using maps for story telling was described this way:

Maribeth Shannon, the CHCF program director who led the project, said: “The truth is that philanthropy is strategic and opportunistic. We are never quite certain a proposed intervention will make a difference, and we often wait years to see an impact. What catalyzed action here was our ability to visually tell a compelling story and get it into the hands of people motivated to do something about it.”

I use maps and visualizations often on this blog and show uses of maps on the MappingforJustice blog.  In this wiki page I describe strategic uses of maps that I've been trying to develop since 1994. I've never had consistent funds to do this, and still don't.  

But every time I share an article like this, I'm hoping to connect with others who will help develop the mapping capacities as I describe them, so they can be applied in Chicago and shared in other cities.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Using Maps to Support Local-Global Collaborations

All of the articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog aim to support the growth of non-school programs that connect urban youth with workplace volunteers.

I encourage you to spend time browsing past articles on this and the MappingforJustice blog. See how concept maps are used to show strategy, and emphasize the need for long-term, on-going, flexible funding of youth serving programs.  See how GIS maps focus attention and resources on all high poverty areas of the Chicago region, not just a few high profile places.

I've been building a database of Chicago non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs since 1993 and use maps to show where these programs are located.  Below is an example from a map platform, showing how you can zoom into the map and look at a specific part of the neighborhood.

While I've been hosting an interactive Chicago Program Locator that can be used to create map views, I've also been pointing to platforms hosted by others.  

Today I posted an article on the MappingforJustice blog showing how maps can be used for building community collaborations that support the growth of needed youth serving programs. In this I also show how you can use interactive platforms to create your own map story. The above map is from the Community web site, and shows faith groups in the Chicago region.  I hope you'll read the full article.

Today Congresswoman Robin Kelly hosted a press conference, announcing an #Urban Progress initiative.  Here's one of many tweets from that event, which includes photos of the high profile people who spoke.

I hope some of those leaders will view this and other articles I've written and duplicate what I've been doing for the past 20 years, to achieve a problem that still persist because too few have a deep commitment and a day-to-day map-based strategy, to draw people from the entire village together, and to mobilize needed resources for each high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other big cities throughout the country.

Just as a refresher, here's an article I wrote last November, which includes maps of political districts and focuses on collaborative actions. It includes news stories from 20 years ago where leaders were making the same appeals for action.

Will something change this time?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Finding Time for Reading and Reflecting

Yesterday I posted an article about engaging universities as partners and hosts to the Tutor/Mentor Institute.  I wonder how many found time to read it.

Today I found three articles that relate to my work.

Community Engagement Matters More than Ever.  This is a Stanford Social Innovation Review article.

From Community to Prosperity, by Ben Hetch, president  of Living Cities.  click here

The Wisdom of Linus Torvalds,

The interview with Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux and inspiration behind the open source movement, shows how one person, with a passion, persistence and vision, can dramatically change the world. 

Every one of my blog articles links to other articles, which in turn, lead to even more. The three article I shared today, each lead to additional reading.  I added them to this section of my web library.

Who has time to look at this?   Students.

Or people who have a passion for helping others, ending poverty, reducing inequality, etc.

Because the amount of information is so great, the learning process needs to be stretched out over a period of years.  Schools can support this. So can faith groups. Or reading clubs. Or retirees.

Finding ways and places where people connect with others, who may be located in different cities and countries, is something that people like those at Living Cities are focusing on.  It's something I've been focused on, too.

I've posted articles about MOOCs and Learning on this blog. That's more reading for those who are interested.  

Torvalds talked about the tipping point in building the open source movement. He said " the big part was getting the community"  which was the first 10 to 100 people who joined the effort.

Over the past 20 years many people have helped me, but due to life changes, career changes, etc, few have been able to stay consistently involved in doing the work of building and leading the Tutor/Mentor Institute.  Thus, i'm still looking for a few others who share the vision and offer different talents and skills needed to upgrade existing web sites and technology and carry it forward into the future...with others in the lead, but using the ideas and resources I've aggregated over the past 40 years. 

I think that others who are working to solve complex problems are looking for the same range of support. If my worksheet is useful to you, use it.   If you'd like to offer your talent and time to help me, I'd like to hear from you.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Reaching out to Universities

Here's a graphic that I created a few months ago in preparation for a meeting with some students and faculty at DePaul University in Chicago.

From top to bottom it illustrates a vision of creating youth serving organizations that help urban youth move more safely and successfully through school and into jobs and careers. It compares the planning to that involved in building tall sky-scrapers, where many talents are needed, much financing is needed, and where you work from the foundation to the top floor over a period of years.

The map in the middle illustrates that there are colleges and universities in different parts of Chicago (or other cities) who are full of student, faculty and alumni talent, and serve as anchor organizations able to support the growth of long-term tutor/mentor programs in the area surrounding their universities.

The last two graphics illustrate that while it takes daily effort by many people to build and sustain one, or many, youth serving organizations, this is just one issue that people are concerned with on a daily basis.,

Thus, part of the role of student teams on  universities is to mobilize leaders who will focus their talent and resources on the youth development slide of the pie, while also connecting, sharing and drawing ideas from groups working on other problems, in other places.

Universities are critically important in this process because as we move through 2016 and into future years, there still is no body of knowledge that everyone draws from to build and sustain youth serving programs in high poverty areas that last for 10-30 years and show on their web sites the impact they have had over that many years.  Imagine if there were no thousand year history supporting architecture, engineering and the building trades, but that anyone who wanted to build a building, first had to figure out what talent was needed, and had to build training programs so the talent had the skills needed to build the building. Imagine them doing this while also trying to find the funding needed to develop the talent, and spread it to all the places where tutor/mentor "buildings" were needed.

I've created a huge library of ideas and information, with links to over 2000 other web sites, who each link to many thousand of additional web sites.  Working through this information will take years of study. Universities could make this a degree-earning process and provide manpower to support organization growth at the same time. Below is a presentation that outlines my goal. If you're connected to a university, or looking to put your name on a building at your alma mater, I hope you'll make this your mission.

I've written more than 1000 articles on this blog since 2005, and tagged most of them so you can view multiple articles focused on a similar idea. The tags are listed on the left side of this article. Below that are links to other web sites that contain additional information and resources.

Enjoy your reading. I'll look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mapping Philanthopy - Examples. Opportunities

If you look at the mission for the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), formed in 1993, and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, formed in 2011, it says "gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region."  

I've been using maps to show where programs are most needed based on indicators such as high poverty, poorly performing public schools, violence, etc. and to show where existing programs are located. 

Today I posted an article on the Mapping for Justice blog showing some uses of maps to show philanthropic giving and to compare this to the map platform I've been developing for almost 20 years. 

I hope you'll take a look.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Building Support Systems for Urban Youth - Resources. Networked Learning.

I've been using graphics like this for more than 20 years to communicate the vision of long-term volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs that connect with youth as early as elementary and middle school, then do everything they can to help those kids move through school and toward jobs and careers.  If you do a Google search for "tutor mentor" my sites are frequently in the first five. If you then look at the "images" feature, you'll see dozens of maps and visualizations. You can click on each to find the article where the image was used.

In many of my graphics I combine maps with network-building visualizations. This is one. The circle in the middle represents the knowledge that's available to us through the internet, and through the contacts we make with others. The two images to the left of the circle represent intermediaries, like myself, who collect and share the information, and use blog articles and social media to "nudge" the network. The second image represents people who read these stories, then re-post them to people in their own networks, who then form "learning circles" who read, reflect, discuss, then act.

Sort of what happens in faith groups every Saturday or Sunday, except these groups use maps to focus their attention and resources on neighborhoods where tutor/mentor and learning programs are most needed.

This is the front page of many of the PDF articles I share on  Our learning should be intended to help strong, and constantly improving tutoring, mentoring and learning programs be available in all high poverty neighborhoods. That means we need to influence what resource providers do as well as what program leaders and policy makers do.   In this animation I describe volunteer involvement in a tutor/mentor program as a form of adult "service learning". 

Since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I've recognized the need to dig deeper into the library of Chicago area youth serving programs that I've been hosting, to learn about their history and infrastructure, so we know more about what it takes to connect youth and volunteers in long-term relationships that transform the lives of both.  This graphic recognizes that much of the work that needs to be done is not visible to someone just spending an hour or two a week as a tutor/mentor, or to someone reading a one page summary included in a grant proposal.

I've never had the staff or finances to dig deeply into this information, thus have reached out to universities and others to share this work, I created the presentation below to show that community information collection is a shared responsibility.

I created another pdf that I titled "Shoppers Guide" to suggest elements that researchers would look for as they studied different youth serving organizations, or that volunteers, parents and/or donors might look for on web sites of youth serving organizations.

There's a lot of information in my blog articles and on my web sites, representing information and ideas collected over the past 40 years.  It's not something that anyone can master in one or two sessions. Yet college degrees are earned over four to eight years of study. And people have been gathering in big and small groups weekly for over two thousand years to understand the scripture collected in the Torah and the Bible.  

When you read a newspaper story, or Tweet that talks about the bad things happening in our world, where do you go to find ideas for making those negatives change into something better? Or do you even try?

Anyone, anywhere, can take this role.

If you have read this far, your next step is to share this, so others read and reflect, then pass the ideas on to others in their own networks. Through this network-building we'll find people with special talents and resources who will help make a greater difference in the world with the ideas we're sharing.