Monday, June 17, 2019

Make Long-Term Mentor-Rich Programs Available in More Places

School has just ended in most parts of the US and while kids are enjoying summer break, leaders of non-school tutor/mentor programs are doing the planning that will lead to renewed efforts in the coming school year.

I've been using this "Mentoring Kids to Careers" graphic, along with various versions, since late 1990s to emphasize the on-going support kids need from pre-school through high school, then beyond, to assure that more of the youth who are born in high poverty areas are starting jobs and lives free of poverty when they are adults.

In the lower left corner is a map of Chicago, with high poverty areas shaded grey. These are the areas where mentor-rich programs are most needed.  In this article on the MappingforJustice blog you can find my list of programs and see how I plot them on a map. This helps people find existing programs and hopefully is used by planners to determine where more are needed.

Below I've created another version, highlighting one stage on this career ladder.

Kids grow one year at a time. Support  needed for many years.
It's great to be able to provide a youth tutoring and/or mentoring activity that lasts for one, or two years, but it takes 12 years to move from first grade through high school and four to six more years beyond that to be starting a job and career.

The challenge Chicago and other places face is building and sustaining k-12 support programs in every high poverty neighborhood.  I've written about this often since starting my blog. Below is a repeat from a previous article.

View in this article
This is one of many graphics I've used to visualize a need to have a wide range of youth support programs available to K-12 youth in every high poverty area of the Chicago region and other places.

I've been writing articles and sharing graphics like this for nearly 20 years, but as just one voice, I don't have enough impact to influence the massive changes that are needed in how such programs are organized, designed and supported.

View in this article
At the right is another graphic that I use to emphasize the need for continuous flows of flexible operating dollars to youth programs in every high poverty neighborhood.

Thus, I was pleased in the past couple of weeks to find funder networks talking about this.

I wrote about the Grant Makers for Effective Organization conference in this post.  If you search #2018GEO on Twitter,  you can review Tweets from the past couple of weeks and capture much of the information shared at this event.

Read about Annotation
Then this week I found this article published by Open Impact, titled, "The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption"

I read the article and saw many ideas which I've been trying to implement via the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC since 1993. So I decided to put it on and re-read it, highlighting relevant parts, and writing comments in the margin that show my own efforts.

In the paper's introduction the writers say "we hope this paper will spark and important conversation". I agree. 

In my comments I suggest that philanthropy would dramatically change if donors were shoppers and if non-profits and social change organizations would put enough information on their web sites for donors, volunteers and clients to make better choices of who they support, and in what ways.  I also emphasize the use of maps to support a better distribution of resources to all high poverty areas of the Chicago region and other places where help is most needed.

Thus, I invite you to read "The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption" with three purposes:

1) build a deeper understanding of what I've been trying to do, and to find reasons to support my efforts and help carry them into the future;

2) build a deeper understanding of the challenges facing all social benefit organizations, in the US and the world, and a commitment to draw others into this conversation; and

3) see how on-line annotation works and build a commitment to launch other articles and invite more readers and learners to join in.

I look forward to meeting you in the margins.

I wrote the above message in May 2018. 

So far no one has joined me in reading the New Normal article.   Maybe that's because so few people actually see my articles.

I post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN and occasionally on Instagram. I also have graphics on  If you do a Google search for "tutor mentor" my web sites will be on the first page (after paid advertising). Thus, if people are looking, they can find me.

In the past few years I've found Twitter to offer the most engagement and have connected with a wide range of classroom and college educators via groups like #clmooc.  Yet, while more than 100 Chicago youth organizations have Twitter accounts, few post regularly and even fewer use Twitter to talk about the fund raising and sustainability challenges that most are facing.

Here's a Tweet I posted today:

If you're connected to any of these programs in any way (student, alum, volunteer, board member, staff, donor) you can post Tweets that share what the organization is doing and make an effort to raise the profile of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs on Twitter.  You can try to do the same on Facebook or Linkedin, but neither of these have a public list feature that enables you to search and find a group of organizations the way you can do on Twitter.

Hopefully we'll see more Tweets like this one coming from programs located in all parts of Chicago and it's suburbs:

Monday, June 10, 2019

I host an in-depth web library - help others learn to use it

I've been collecting and sharing information that others could use to build and sustain volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in high poverty areas for more than 25 years.  I've never had much money to do this work, and even less since 2011.

Yet, the information is still a valuable resource if people would spend time looking at it.

So today I posted three screenshots on Twitter, which I'm showing below. Hopefully a few readers will be motivated to take a journey into my site and to share these Tweets with others.

Step 1 of the four-part strategy that I launched in 1993 focuses on collecting and sharing information. This includes my list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs.

A significant part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC strategy is the focus on  using maps to understand where programs are most needed, where existing programs are located, and what assets are in different areas who should be supporting the movement of youth through school.

This section of the web site, and the next, focus on what leaders in business, religion, hospitals, universities, professions, sports, media, etc. can do to help existing programs grow and new ones form, and to keep these programs in place and constantly improving for many years.  Remember, it takes 12 years for most kids to go from first grade through high school. Those living in high poverty need many extra supports for all of these years. 

You can visit the web site and browse through the various sections.  And you can use a snipping tool to take a picture of different sections, then share it on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, just as I did.  The more this is done the greater will be the use of this data and the benefit to kids.

When you open the site you'll find information along the top and on the left side and right side.  I'm showing the left side of the home page, where I've circled a link asking for help funding the work I do.

Help me keep this going. Help me find others who will share ownership and do the work of re-building the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the next decade of work.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

We Have the Words. What We Lack is the Will

Read 1990s newsletters
At the left is page 2 of the Summer 1995 Tutor/Mentor Connection newsletter.  We published this three to four times a year from 1993 to 2002 then ran out of money for print media.  In each issue I used Page 2 to put in an editorial, under the T/MC EXTRA heading.

Here's what I wrote in 1995

"We have the words. What we lack is the will," said Joe Kellman, founder of the Corporate/Community School, as the concluding quote from an article that appeared in the May 1995 issue of Catalyst, a school reform publication. "This is a problem in our community. We frequently point to others for leadership. We seldom point to ourselves."

“illiteracy has a tremendous impact on the cost of poverty”

Kellman was talking about the difficulty of generating long-term support for school reform efforts.  This is also a problem for our tutoring programs. Mentoring only works if volunteers and programs can support kids for years, not weeks or months. So how do we obtain that commitment?

Two ways. First, our programs must be well organized and provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers to join and contribute. That will build a growing base of business volunteers who will draw their companies into the battle.

Second, we must find a way to show the cost of poverty-in a way that CEO's cannot ignore. Better put, in a way that shows up on the profit or loss statement.

Finding this type of data is a challenge. The healthcare industry serves as a model because healthcare discovered a way to successfully market prevention, causing a fundamental change in the way business invests in healthcare. One hospital has gone a step further. New York's Harlem Hospital has shown that prevention saves money--the result of a long term youth program operated by the hospital.

Now we have a new tool. A 1995 summary report titled "The Cost of Poverty in Overtown and in Dade County in 1990." According to the report, 59% of the cost to sustain households in Overtown comes from the public sector. "The public cost of poverty in Overtown is $30 million per year," it concludes.

That's a cost that shows up on the bottom line of every business in America. That's a lot of will-power.

I concluded with this call to action:

This report is available from DEVPLAN, (407) 395-7445. (2019 note: this is no longer available although I have a hard copy in the Tutor/Mentor Libray) Get it and give it to your CEO. Then give us a call. We can help you invest in prevention programs such as tutoring and mentoring. It pays to be involved.

Why is this relevant in 2019?

A couple of days ago I saw this Youth In Cities brief on LinkedIn, then shared it via the Twitter post I'm showing below:

The introduction to the report states "A city’s rate of upward economic mobility from one generation to the next is strongly linked to its investment in its youth-serving nonprofits." The data shows that Chicago ranks 16th in annual per capital investment far behind other cities such as New York.

Maybe that's one reason Chicago has higher rates of violence than New York?  Just speculating.

Anyone can be the YOU 
If you read my 1995 editorial you'll see I was calling for long-term investment in youth tutor/mentor programs.  I've been using visualizations like the one at the left, to show the need for leaders from throughout the Chicago region to take on-going roles that influence people in their networks to become involved and provide on-going support to youth #tutor #mentor programs throughout the region.

I've provide a list of programs to choose from and a map-directory that can be used to understand where programs are located.   Unfortunately too few have been using this information, and too few have been helping me keep it updated.

Yet, as the Youth In Cities report shows, the need is the same today as it was in 1995

I have been collecting and sharing information since 1993 with the goal that others would use this in on-going discussions that focus on finding ways to help well-organized, long-term youth tutor, mentor and learning programs reach k-12 kids in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.

I started doing this before the Internet became a tool. My library has been growing on-line since 1998. It's FREE.

I'm available to help guide you through the library and to take part in your conversations.  You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN

Let's connect.

PS: If you value the ideas I'm sharing please make a contribution to help me fund this work. Click here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Looking for inspiration for today's article

I've been sharing ideas via a printed newsletter, web site and blog since 1993, with the hope that others will find the articles, read them, then use them in their own efforts to build and sustain systems of support to help kids in high poverty areas move safely through school and into adult lives.

I often look at past articles for inspiration. Today I did that, but with a twist. As I scrolled through my blog I posted some of the articles that I found on my Twitter feed. Take a look.

Here's another

Here's another

And another

Terry Elliott, from my #clmooc network, posted this Tweet yesterday, with a video showing some Connected Learning #clmooc interactions from a few years ago. You can see my maps and logo in the video.

I hope you'll be inspired to read some of these articles, then do what Terry does. Find a way to share them with people you know.  It's only when thousands of people are reading and using these ideas that we'll reach the critical mass needed to dramatically impact the availability and quality of non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities.

This visualizes T/MI and T/MC role

In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue supporting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and to help similar intermediaries grow in other cities.  I've managed to continue to gather and share ideas, but have been less successful at finding sponsors and others to share this vision and the work.  Thus, I depend on contributions to my "fund me" campaign. Please help if you can. Click here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Look Deeper to Understand Complex Problems

Below is a graphic from this video, which offers some important tips about network building and bringing people together to solve problems, something I've been focused on for many years.

I love how the Hippo was used to illustrate that what you see above the water line is just the tip of a much more complex set of problems, which are often hard to see. 

I started using the Iceberg graphic below more than 10 years ago to illustrate a similar concept. In my graphic (created by one of my Northwestern University Public Interest Fellows) what you see above the water is a youth and a volunteer, meeting in a tutor/mentor program.  What you don't see is all of the infrastructure needed to enable that program to be near enough for the youth to participate, and organized well enough that she and a flow of volunteers will be motivated to participate week after week for many years.

I combine this graphic with many others to illustrate that it's not enough to support one or two great tutor and/or mentor programs in a few places. Chicago has more than 200,000 youth who might benefit from these programs, spread throughout the city.  There are more youth who might benefit living in the suburbs.

So take a look at this graphic.  The oil well icons represent well-organized programs that reach youth when they are in elementary or middle school and stay connected as the youth moves through high school and beyond.

I ask "Can you help make this happen?" because there are not enough of these programs, and the few that exist are not evenly spread into all high poverty areas of Chicago.  Each needs a team of people helping a program build the infrastructure that supports great mentoring, learning and youth development.

I think that every neighborhood, or Ward. in the city should also have a team, working to assure that there are enough good programs to reach at least 25% of the kids in different areas.  A team at City Hall should be working for the same purpose.

I've been writing this blog since 2005 and started creating visual ideas like this in the 1990s, when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  There's a lot of information to review, which is why I keep reaching out to universities and high schools, to offer my Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and blogs as content for a service-learning course, intended to develop leaders who apply these ideas.  Here's a recent article that focuses on this leadership development.

At the left is a picture of Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, along with Montgomery Ward CEO Bernie Brennan, taken in 1990 when Daley visited the tutoring program I had been leading since 1975.

Imagine if these two leaders had given their full support to the ideas I've been developing for the past 25 years. Would the Chicago map be filled with more and better programs? Would some neighborhoods show different patterns of violence, employment, education levels, in 2019, as a result of that many years of consistent leadership? 

Maybe the new Mayor, or other business, university and/or philanthropy leaders in Chicago, or in other cities, will embrace these ideas. It's never too late. 

PS: If you value what I'm sharing please visit this page and send me a contribution to help pay the bills. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Missing Tutor/Mentor eNew for April and May?

If you are one of the 300 or 400 people who open and read my monthly eMail newsletters you may be wondering where the past two month's issues are.  I've been going through some personal struggles since April 1 so I've not been able to focus attention on the newsletters. I continue to post on social media, and you may notice, I've fewer blog articles, too.

I've tried to produce a monthly newsletter every month for the past 20 years to help draw attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and elsewhere, while also sharing ideas that resource providers and program leaders can use to build great programs.

Each month's issue has focused on what's timely. So in July and August I'm focusing on volunteer recruitment, while in November and December I focus on fund raising and learning from each other.

With that in mind, you can browse my newsletter archive and open newsletters written in May-June for past years and find many of the same ideas that I'd be including in 2019 newsletters, if I had written then.  Below I'm showing part of the May-June 2018 newsletter. Click here to read it.

By now most programs that operate on a school year cycle have  held their year-end celebrations, or will do that in the next couple of weeks. Most well-organized programs already have been in the planning process, learning from what worked,or did not work this year, and from what they can see about work being done at other programs, then looking for ways to add new or improved ideas into the 2019-20 program cycle. Some are already recruiting volunteers for the coming school year.

I see posts from many Chicago programs on my Facebook feed, and a smaller group on my Twitter feed.  Many are showing success stories, of kids graduating from high school and/or college.  Not many are talking about the challenges they have faced of the past year or more to help kids have these successes.

Too few programs are actually sharing anything!  

If you look at the map in this article, and my list of programs serving Chicago, you'll see that there are nearly 200 organizations providing some form of tutoring and/or mentoring to kids.  Yet, less than 20% of these programs share regularly on FB and fewer on Twitter (unscientific observation!). 

They all might benefit from ideas in my newsletters so please share the link. I feel they also would benefit from connecting to me, and each other in on-line forums. I recommend Twitter for its ease of interaction more than I do Facebook or LinkedIN.

I hope to be back in circulation in a month or two.  In the meantime, please read and share my blog articles, past newsletters and help build the village of support kids in all neighborhoods need to connect with volunteers in well organized programs, and to move safely through school and into adult lives.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Navigating Information Overload - 2019 update

See in this article
I studied history in college, then spent three years in the US Army, in the Intelligence branch. In both cases I was learning to use best available information to support decisions of leaders.

I began to build a library of information in the 1970s, while leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago. I expanded this effort in 1993 when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and then in 1998 when I began to build the library on the Internet.

Visit this article and find links to all sections of the library.

We now have a new Mayor in Chicago, meaning new people will be seeking solutions to old problems.

Helping kids living in high poverty move safely through school and into adult live and jobs, will be one of the focus areas.

Four-part strategy click here
My hope is that the Mayor will point her team to the web library I've been building, and to the four-part strategy described in this visual.  What makes my library unique is that while some of the information is from my own experiences, most of the sites I point to, have their own web libraries. Thus, each site opens to hundreds, if not thousands, of additional resources.

With all of this information, how can normal people find time to do more than scratch the surface? I think this is one of the major problems facing the world. Too much information. Too few using it.

Below is what I wrote about this in a 2012 article.

Often I learn to understand what I've been doing by seeing how others present similar ideas. Over the past few years I've followed many people who share ideas in a variety of blogs, web sites, videos, social media sites, etc. I've pointed to many on my own blog and web site and even collect some of the links in my web library.

Over the past year I've been learning about Massive open Online Courses (MOOCS). Rather than trying to give you a description of my own, I encourage you to view this video then visit this CHANGE.MOOC.CA site.

Without knowing it, I've been creating a platform of information and ideas that is waiting for a team of facilitators to turn it into a MOOC. This video describes many of the strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection. It shows a way to connect people from different places and different networks in on-going learning that they can use to understand poverty and its impact on youth, families and communities, and to learn strategies working in some places that could be applied in other places.

I've used this graphic often to illustrate the "village" of people who need to be involved in this on-going learning process and in strategies that help kids in poverty areas have more of the support systems needed to move through school and into adult responsibilities.

In several past blog articles I've written about "silos" where groups focus on their own issues, with their own ideas, and their own limited membership. Chicago and other big cities are full of silos. Chicago has more than 200 different youth serving organizations offering various forms of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring in non-school hours.

Each one is forced to be a "silo" because of how they compete for dollars.

Yet, each also has common needs. Connecting together in a MOOC type of process, and engaging volunteers, alumni, business people, philanthropists, etc. might build shared commitment and new strategies for generating and distributing these resources, leading to constantly improving programs in all parts of an urban area.

Until we find ways to connect youth, volunteers, leaders, donors and policy makers from each of these different organizations and from business, religion, philanthropy, higher education,government, media, etc. we'll never have consistent strategies reaching young people in all poverty neighborhoods with best-in-world strategies learned from this world of ideas that can be found through the Internet.

I point to more than 2000 different web sites from my own sites...and these point to other web sites with even greater levels of information. It's the information overload that David Comer talks about in this video about MOOCs.

While I record more than 8000 visitors and 150,000 page views on my own web sites this is just a fraction of the people who need to be involved in this on-going learning. While I have the vision, I don't yet have the ability to organize and lead a MOOC that connects big-city stakeholders in on-going learning that draws from all of this information in the ways the video above describes.

Yet, if you look at the structure of the courses on CHANGE.MOOC, perhaps the blog I've written since 2005 could be considered a MOOC! It's open to anyone in the world. In needs more facilitators.

New organizations keep sprouting up in Chicago with new sponsors and new donors putting up hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are reinventing the wheel and the cost of accumulating all of this information and building a network of people to share it will be overwhelming.

-------------- end 2012 article --------

Since 2012 I've  participated in other cMOOCs and one group that has has a longer-lasting connectivity is a Connected Learning #CLMOOC group that started in 2013 and continues in 2019.

Here's an article that I wrote about this group in late December 2018.

So, what's next?

This picture shows how I constantly am trying to connect people in my network with information in my web library. 

I'd love to find a collection of similar graphics, picturing the Mayor, the Governor, CEOs of business and philanthropy, doing the same thing.  They don't need to point to my library, if the sites they point to have links to it.  But they do need to be encouraging the growth of this information base, as a source of understanding  and solving complex problems.

If you'd like to know more about what I'm describing, let's connect.  I'm on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. You can introduce yourself in the comments section.