Sunday, May 24, 2015

Honoring Heroes By How We Live Future

Below is a photo I took while stationed in South Korea with the US Army in 1969. It's from their National Cemetery, honoring their war dead.


I've written a number of articles on Memorial Day Weekend since I started this blog in 2005. Some are here. Others are here. My photo is a sad reminder that young people have been dying for their countries since the beginning of time.

I created this image in the mid-2000s to illustrate how much I was committed to helping find the money and talent to operate Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), with a goal that others would be willing to make equal commitments to my own.

I used this graphic in this 2010 article along with a graphic from the Boston Indicators Project web site.

I realize that people have many causes that they care about. Thus, my goal is that some of the people in Chicago and across the globe, budget part of their time, talent and dollars to help end poverty and close the opportunity gap for kids, by helping them connect with a wide range of adults who help them through school and into jobs and careers.

The challenge I pose is "How much are you willing to sacrifice?" to solve some of the complex problems that our generation is passing on to future generations. Charitable giving in the US averages less than 2.5% percent of total income (see info). Visit this page to view a pie chart showing giving to various sectors.

According to this article, "The average dollar amount given to charity by wealthy donors increased to $68,580 from $53,519 in 2011, But average giving as a percentage of household income decreased by one percentage point as increases in income levels outpaced increases in charitable giving among this high net worth demographic."

As you look at the pie chart above, look at what percent of giving is focused on health, environment, education and human services and what percent really goes to non profits that benefit the wealthy. This Chronicle of Philanthropy article illustrates how giving by wealth contributes to inequty in America.

During this weekend's celebration we are honoring those who gave 100% to defend our freedoms and values. What will it take to dramatically increase the number who sacrifice even 10 to 15% of income or wealth to reduce the problems we are passing on to future generations?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Solving Complex Problems Requires Long Term Focus

A while back I wrote this article and included a link to a paper titled the Cyclical Process of Action Research.

In a 2012 article I included this video.

How action research can help to deliver better services from iriss on Vimeo.


To me this is a form of Total Quality Management (TQM) that I learned when I was working at Montgomery Ward in the 1970s and 1980s If we can learn from what we do, what our customers tell us and what our competitors do we can apply what we learn in constant process improvement.

I created the graphic below to illustrate the type of tutor/mentor program that recruits volunteers from different work background and connects them with youth who live in high poverty neighborhoods, where too few people hold jobs and careers or college degrees. Thus, too few people are opening doors to opportunity. See TQM pdf.


Building and sustaining mentor-rich programs requires on-going support. Action research also requires an on-going flow of resources to do the research, facilitate the learning, and invest in the suggested process improvements.

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel focused on disadvantage youth in his inauguration speech yesterday.

To keep that commitment I think he needs to apply many of the ideas I've been sharing for nearly 20 years.

I'd like to find someone who would do videos like the one above focusing on the challenges non profits face in attracting consistent, flexible operating revenue and a wide range of talent needed to build quality organizations that would be available to k-12 youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city. If we can get more people into this discussion perhaps we can do much more to help high quality programs reach young people in more of the poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

I've been looking for volunteers, partners and/or sponsors/benefactors to help me apply this thinking in the work of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC for many years.

Can you help?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mr. Mayor. I tried to give you these ideas four years ago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was sworn in for his second tour of duty today. On my Twitter feed I saw quotes from his speech:

One said: "The young people that we are losing cannot wait for an endless political debate to be resolved."

Another said: "It is time we stop talking past each other and join together for solutions."

Mr. Mayor, In March 2011, I posted this article, and invited you to adopt this strategy map, showing a commitment to helping youth born or living in poverty be in jobs and careers by age 25.


You've launched a number of initiatives since 2011, such as ThriveChicago, but these are starting from scratch. The ideas I've shared with you have been developed since 1993, and are just waiting for a leader (or more) to embrace them. Here's one presentation from 1998.

This strategy is based on collecting a wide range of information, and engaging a growing percent of Chicagoland residents in using the information to support the growth of a wide range of age-appropriate youth supports in all areas of the city with high poverty and other indicators of need, such as high violence, poorly performing schools, health disparities, etc.

It calls on you to be the number one cheerleader, recruiter and arm-twister, getting leaders from business, religion, higher education, philanthropy, sports, and other sectors consistently involved, providing time, talent and dollars to youth organizations in all high poverty neighborhoods, not just to favored programs like Afterschool Matters.

It also calls on you to support the development of accountability and positive recognition tools that show where people are engaging with youth and communities, and in what ways. Below is one of many illustrated pdfs that are available for you and other leaders to learn from. This one shows how giving positive recognition for good work can encourage others to duplicate it.

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



Collecting information, organizing and sharing it is step one of a four part strategy that I've encouraged you and others to support. I'd be happy to meet with you or any other leaders to guide them through this information. I hope I'm not making the same invitation four years from now.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Recommended Reading: Grad Nation 2015 report

Visit this link to read the "2015 Building a Grad Nation Report: PROGRESS AND CHALLENGE IN ENDING THE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT EPIDEMIC"
This report is released annually, by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University. It shows detailed progress toward the GradNation goal of a national on-time graduation rate of 90 percent by 2020.

On the home page you can click into subsections titled "Explore this Report". Look at some of the "drivers" causing gains, or lack of gains, in graduation rates, like poverty, big cities, and big states.

Download the report and use this as research and recommended reading in groups who are focused on closing the opportunity gaps in Chicago and other cities and states.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

OnTheTable2015 gathers concerned citizens today in Chicago

Today the Chicago Community Trust is hosting its second annual OnTheTable event. I hope all who gather to discuss issues important to Chicago will use resources like the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and blogs like this one to build a deeper understanding of issues and strategies that reach youth and families in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.


At last Friday's Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, Mark Duhon, Executive Director of Highsight, led an OnTheTable discussion. Participants were encouraged to host table discussions, focusing on questions such as:

* What is your organization's ultimate goal for the young people you serve?
* What are you doing well to help accomplish this goal?
* What can others do to help you (volunteers, donors, etc. from business, faith groups, colleges)?

Participant feedback was collected and will be posted on Tutor/Mentor blogs and social media, and shared with the larger #OnTheTable discussions.

I wrote about the 2014 OnTheTable event last May with an article titled "Follow up to On The Table2014 – 5 years, 10 years, 15 years."

On April 27, I shared this graphic, from a 1993 newspaper story, calling for a "master battle plan" to address poverty and its many related causes.

Last week I shared this graphic, urging leaders who organize events that bring diverse groups of people together, to build participation maps that show who is participating and where they come from, just as I've been trying to do to show who has been participating in the conferences I've hosted since 1993.

If you're one of the thousands of people participating in #onthetable2015, I hope you'll read this article and browse others I've written since 2005, then add this to your own library and planning process. I'd be happy to give you a guided tour and become your coach. Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIN.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

New Super Hero, Avengers Movie. Read about role of Heros.

Millions of people will be watching the new super hero Avengers movie this month. I wish just a fraction of that were engaged in deeper learning on ways to reduce poverty and inequality in this country and around the world. Here's an article I wrote in 2012 when the last episode in this series was released.

The message applies now as much as it did then.

Report looks at Tutor/Mentor Conferences since 1994

I've been hosting Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago since 1994. The first had 70 participants. The largest was in 1999 with 350. The last few have had 80-100. The one Friday may be lowest attended.

The goal of the conferences and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) has been to bring people together to share ideas and learn ways to build and sustain mentor-rich support systems that help youth in high poverty neighborhoods move through school and into work.

Since I began organizing conferences many others in Chicago, and around the country have begun doing their own events, focusing on the same problem, or different parts of the same problem.

I've been trying to develop tools that would visualize and map participation in my conferences, to demonstrate that they should receive financial support, and to convince others to use the same network analysis in their own events.

In 2010 a graduate of DePaul University created some maps and blog-articles showing participation in 2008 and 2009 conferences. You can see her articles here.

This spring a team of students from different parts of the country adopted the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC as their client in an Information Visualization MOOC (#IVMOOC) hosted by Indiana University. Here's the final report from the work they were able to do in such a short period of time. On this page you can see how goals for this project were communicated.

The data for the past 42 conferences has now been cleaned, and while my IVMOOC team hopes to continue working with this, I'm inviting students/faculty from universities anywhere in the world to also work with this data. As the analysis of the 2008-09 conferences shows, you can look at this information in many different ways and create quite a few articles making sense of the visualizations.

The IVMOOC team looked at this data from a spatial perspective, using GIS mapping applications, as well as from a social network analysis perspective. This demonstrates a wide range of opportunities for future researchers and writers.

My goal is that as you do this you will convince others who host conferences and large gatherings that focus on poverty, race, inequality, workforce development, health disparities, etc. to apply these tools for their own events. Furthermore, instead of looking for organizers in Chicago, look for organizers in your own city.

Imagine a web site where maps like these from New York, London, LA, Houston, Paris and many other cities who struggle with these same issues are aggregated, so that people who attend different events in each city can easily connect with each other, or can connect with people and ideas from different cities.


Analysis of participation over multiple years should (hopefully) show show more people getting involved, and staying involved, and more support in a greater number of places where poverty is the root cause of many other problems. I hope this work inspires others to get involved with this work, and to share work they are already doing.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Building Strong Programs in ALL High Poverty Areas. Why is this so Hard?

From my 40 year involvement in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs I've come to believe that well organized, non-school programs that connect workplace volunteers with inner city youth in ongoing, supported tutoring, mentoring and learning, is a good thing to do.

I've been using maps since 1994 to focus attention on all of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago where well organized programs are most needed. I use these in visualizations that illustrate that to have well-organized programs we need to help them get a constant flow of talent, ideas, technology, volunteers and operating dollars.

In the 1990s and through 2002 I communicated these ideas, and strategies via printed newsletters. Then I ran short of money. Since then I've communicated largely via social media, blogs and email newsletters to a small list.

Since I never have had advertising or significant Public Relations dollars, I've developed a "Rest of the Story" strategy that follows negative news, with map-stories, intended to show the level of poverty in the neighborhood where a shooting or school story took place, and the location of existing tutor/mentor programs in that neighborhood. My message was "support existing programs" and "help new programs form where needed".

Interns from Chicago universities have helped me communicate these ideas, via visualizations, videos and their own blog articles. This graphic was created by an intern (see more) and shows that anyone reading this can invite the people they know to support tutor/mentor programs all over the city.

This is all part of a 4-part information based problem solving strategy. This graphic is one that shows the four parts of the strategy. All four parts need to be consistently supported, and can be duplicated in any city.

I've created graphics like the one below to show four key times each year when we all might be "singing the same song" and uniting our voices in a mobilization of attention and resources for youth serving organizations in an entire city, state or the whole country. In between these four times there are numerous other opportunities where individual organizations and networks can be contributing to the "noise making" that is needed to get more people involved in this effort.


This only works if a) someone in a city is creating maps that show where people need help; and b) someone also is creating, and mapping, a directory of organizations that provide specific types of help (e.g. tutoring, mentoring, tutor/mentor, arts, STEM, etc.), and also showing what age group those programs focus on. While each individual program has their own marketing and fund raising (some much more than others), not every program is as good at attracting needed resources. Not every neighborhood can attract workplace volunteers and donors as easily as some are able to. These are problems to discuss and overcome, but first we need to be coming together to talk about them.

So why don't I see other people writing about strategies that mobilize resources for all programs in all neighborhoods? (Do a Google search for "tutor mentor" then look at the images. Do the same for others who are "visible" leaders in this movement. See if they are using maps and visualizations that focus on entire city support systems.) Everyone in Chicagoland has a stake in the future of our city, and addressing poverty and inequality of opportunity is an activity we all need to be involved in.

We need to start doing this now, and with urgency, before some radical says "instead of burning your own neighborhood, why not burn their neighborhood".

I keep inviting people who care about what I'm writing to gather at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences I host in Chicago. The next is this Friday, May 8 and seats are still available.

However, I know that there are many other events that compete for "rear-ends in the seats" so I also focus on how we can connect and share ideas and talk strategy on the Internet. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and host a Tutor/Mentor Forum. I'm also available for one-on-one conversations with any one interested.