Saturday, April 19, 2014

Homicide Quilt draws attention to violence in Chicago....again.

Rex W. Huppke's column in the Thursday, April 17 edition of the Chicago Tribune is titled "Look closely at the violence tearing at the fabric of Chicago". You can see slides of the quilt being made on this April 11 DNAinfoChicago article.

These were just two of numerous stories generated by the quilt. In Huppke's article he writes "Each year, as the grim tally comes in, I think: "Surely this will be the year Chicagoans say, 'No more.' Nowhere can this level of violence be deemed acceptable." And yet little seems to change."

Making something change requires a consistent effort to draw people together to make something happen. This being Easter weekend, it's a good time to think of how many years Christians have been "drawing people together" to support their beliefs. I wrote about this at the start of the week.

The media have been telling stories of violence, poverty and poorly performing schools in Chicago for more than 30 years, with some of these stories getting occasional front page attention and editorial "rage". Yet seldom do these stories point to all of the places where poverty contributes to these problems, or to the different social purpose organizations, such as volunteer based tutor/mentor programs, that are working in these neighborhoods to help kids have extra support and learning opportunities that might help them move through school and into jobs out of poverty.

Thus, my strategy has been to create "Rest of the Story" articles, using maps to point to where the news story took place, and writing stories that encouraged readers to seek out places where they could offer time, talent and dollars to help neighborhoods have a full range of learning, mentoring and job opportunities. This is one of those stories. This gallery shows more.

When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 one of the core strategies was to create more frequent media stories that would draw attention and needed resources directly to tutor/mentor programs in all poverty neighborhoods. This article showed that strategy. It's from 1994.

You can see this and more stories resulting from my efforts at this link.

Unfortunately, I started doing this prior to having the Internet and social media as a tool so my efforts were too little, reaching too few, and never have gained the support of higher profile leaders in media, business, politics, religion or support. Yet I keep trying.

It took 300 years before the Christian faith was firmly established in the Old World. I've only been at this for 20 years.

How do we expand this effort and build more consistent attention, greater involvement, and a better flow and distribution of needed resources? The violence quilt is an example of what's possible. However, this effort needs to focus in on individual neighborhoods, and needs to generate media, or social media, attention every day.

In February I wrote this article following this shooting in Rodgers Park. In it I suggested that youth in local high schools, non school programs and faith groups could become the journalist who keep this issue in front of the public on a regular basis, and who use maps like the ones I've created to show who the adult leaders are in the community who should be providing talent, technology, dollars and space for needed non-school tutoring/mentoring, learning and skill development programs in every neighborhood where too many stories of violence and lost opportunities appear.

I included this map in the February story, and I've updated it to show last week's shooting. Visit this page of the Chicago Tribune site and you can see other homicides in this part of Chicago. This article has maps of every community area of Chicago, showing how many high poverty youth between age 6 and 17 live in the area.

In every church celebrating Easter this weekend, and every synagogue celebrating Passover, someone will pass a collecting plate asking for donations. We don't just need stories about bad news. We need stories that ask for donations of time, talent and dollars to support youth serving and jobs programs in every neighborhood where kids need extra help.

Anyone can create these stories. They can probably write more effectively than I can. They can post stories on a wide range of social media sites, and create more emotional connection with readers than I can.

Do it. Do it every day. Keep doing it for an entire year, or a decade. Do it until all of the leaders in the community, and those in the wider Chicago region, are actively involved making high quality, constantly improving programs available to youth in every high poverty neighborhood.

Use the maps as a planning tool, and an accountability tool.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Inequality Research - has greatest impact where wealth gap is greatest

As people around the world celebrate Easter and Passover, an Equality Trust report on "the gap between the rich and the rest of us" came across my desk. I encourage you to read it and share with friends, family and co-workers, along with members of your faith network.

I support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs because of their potential to help people from different economic, social, racial and age groups connect and form bonds with each other. For such programs to be more available in cities like Chicago, and better organized, more people need to take on intermediary roles, that connect people and resources from their own networks with programs operating in different neighborhoods defined by poverty, poorly performing schools, high rates of violence, etc.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Participation in November 2013 Tutor/Mentor Conference

I've been building maps to show participation in the Spring and Fall Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences. The map below shows participation in the last one held in November 2013.



This map shows a concentration of programs from the Central/West side of Chicago. It also shows that there are no business, philanthropy, political or media participants.

You can find maps to previous conferences here. They will show a slightly different mix of tutor/mentor program participants but the same lack of participation from resource providers, communicators and policy makers.

The purpose of the conference, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods. To do that we need to engage resource providers and influence how they support programs in different neighborhoods while we also work to help programs use those resources effectively to constantly improve their impact on youth and volunteers.

See this link for a description of the meaning of this graphic.

The next conference is Monday, May 19 at the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. Help us expand the range of participants to include more of the people who need to be strategically involved in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city and suburbs.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Week – mapping growth of movement

Who would have thought that one man, surrounded by a small group of supporters who had little wealth or civic power, could have started a movement that now has hundreds of millions followers in all parts of the world. As you celebrate your religious holiday this week, I encourage you to think of what it takes for movements to grow to the size where they have impact.

Here and here are a couple of links to web sites showing spread of religions of the world.

Now, as you look at this growth, think of how we might growth the number of people from different sectors who are working consistently to help children born in high poverty neighborhoods move through school and into jobs out of poverty by the time they are in their mid-20s.

Most of the articles I’ve written over the past 20 years focus on this network building effort. I value volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring not just because of the impact mentors can have in the lives of kids, but because of the way structured, well organized, and well-funded, programs have the ability to attract a growing number of volunteers who devote their own time, talent and dollars to helping kids in poverty.

Unfortunately there are too few of these organizations, and even less that focus on transforming what volunteers do to help kids. There also is a lack of funding for data collection and analysis that would help build a better understanding of what programs are available and how they differ from each other.

Obtaining consistent funding, talent, technology and leadership for program growth, and intermediary roles, is the most limiting factor in making more mentor-rich programs available in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other parts of the country.

Thus, finding ways to engage more people in learning communities focused on this problem is critically important. As you celebrate your faith holiday this week, I hope a few of you will reflect on this.

I’ve been trying to engage a growing number of people in this conversation since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I’ve created a library of information and ideas that could be used to support the learning and involvement of people from every religion and every industry sector. This library points to more than 2000 web sites, reflecting the ideas of leading thinkers from around the country, not just my own ideas. I've been writing this blog since 2005 to share this information and draw people together to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in Chicago.

I’m not the only one who is trying to do this. Part of my library points to collaboration and community building work being done by others. We can learn from each other. We can connect our efforts.

This week I found a blog article written by Julian Thompson of the Action and Research Centre (RSA) in the UK who describes lessons learned from a project titled Valuing Your Talent (VyT)

He wrote, “The goal of the challenge, called Valuing Your Talent (VyT), is to increase the skills of the UK’s workforce, organisations’ performance, and societal value by helping employers get better at understanding and investing in their human capital. It’s based on an underlying conviction that employers and employees should better recognise their respective value, and have each others’ long-term interests at heart, as well as those of wider society. Central to this is investment in each other’s learning and development, and the ability to tackle important problems.”

In describing challenges, Julian wrote

Achieving diverse participation is hard.
Building expert community participation from scratch, among people from very different disciplines takes time. It also takes continual awareness raising, active facilitation and responsiveness.

So far this has been more of a struggle than we anticipated.” In describing why senior business leaders are not getting involved he write “that it’s partly a cultural leap for them to engage in something like this, but partly a difference in motivation. They just don’t see the issue as much of a priority, compared to the HR folks. The same goes for the business owners and management in some cases, though others seem keen (but just too busy!).” (Read the article to see full description of challenges.)

In another article, this time from Monday’s edition of Crain’s, the title was “Why can't anyone make money in hyperlocal news?

Businesses have not yet figured out how to make money from community benefit web portals, despite investment of millions of dollars, thus after a few years these initiatives disappear or are dramatically down sized.

Thus, how can any initiative focused on social and/or environmental issues ever succeed in multi-year efforts (decades?) intent on engaging people in ‘movement building’ proportions?

More than 10 years ago a VP from a big financial services company said to me, “You’ve got to be more creative in how you do business since you don’t have the money we have to invest in problem solving.”

Since I’ve been trying to draw visitors to the ideas and the information the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been aggregating for over 20 years, I’ve developed quite a few creative ideas that I feel could draw people together in face to face and on-line communities of practice, and that could draw volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city like Chicago.

I focus on getting the attention and involvement of business leaders, because employee involvement in well-organized, on-going tutor/mentor programs is a benefit to current employees, not just to future employees. Leaders who realize this value should be more strategic in how they use company resources to support the growth and operations of such programs.

Below are a few visualizations I’ve created to show why business should be strategically involved with volunteer based tutor/mentor programs. In many of the nodes on the map I point to a web library with articles available for deeper learning.

I hope RSA and others who are trying to engage business leaders will use in their own efforts.

This map illustrates strategic reasons business should encourage volunteer involvement in tutor/mentor programs.

Here's the link to this map. Follow the idea path and see how this suggest benefits to the company from employee involvement and from involvement of part time employees in paid roles with youth serving organizations.

This graphic illustrates that companies in every industry need to be supporting tutor/mentor programs in every part of the city. This would result in multiple channels of revenue for every program and a diversity of workplace experiences being mentored in every program. For kids living in highly segregated neighborhoods (based on race and poverty) this type of mentoring program can connect kids to experiences and opportunities similar to what kids in more economically diverse neighborhoods experience naturally.

While there are numerous articles business leaders might read to engage in this thinking, this map shows a selection that could be used as a starting point.


While Google and other search engines have developed technology that enables you to find information if you know what you are looking for, I’ve yet to see a tool that maps problem solving, the way engineers and architects use blueprints to show steps toward building a product or a building.

Maps like the "Mentoring Kids to Career" map shown below can be linked to wiki pages or web site libraries which host links to web sites related to each node. New information can be added on a regular basis. MOOCs, Google Groups and similar on-line communities can stimulate learning around any set of ideas on the blueprint, or create a high level discussion of “everything” that needs to be happening concurrently in a community.

Building on-line discussions around these blueprints can help people from different places connect with each other. Place based conferences can draw visibility to the on-line libraries and help people and ideas connect in different places, drawing media attention needed to help keep the movement alive and giving recognition and awards to those providing leaders, funding and bringing new ideas to the sector.

Finally, GIS mapping and Social Network Analysis can help us understand who is participating in these events, and where they are located so we understand who else needs to be motivated to be involved.

We might some day see a world map showing growth of leadership and on-line communities of people working strategically to end poverty, solve environmental and health issues, improve wealth distribution and business habits and improve the well being of people throughout the world?

These are tools and ideas that need ownership by many people in many places. I hope to be invited to participate in forums hosted by others to help them understand how these graphics are intended to be used.

At the same time, I realize that too few people really understand what I’m talking about. Thus, I seek partners, investors and volunteers who will help me keep developing these tools, under the “If we build it, they will follow” thinking that most entrepreneurs have used to change the world.

Since 2005 interns from various colleges have help me communicate these ideas through their own writing and visualizations. Visit here and here to see work that has been done. If you think you can present this message with more clarity, interest and impact, I encourage you to reach out and offer your help.

Perhaps that’s what the motivating force was among the leaders who launched each of the religious movements that we celebrate this week.






Monday, April 07, 2014

New Plan for Chicago - Join In

I've been following a Chicago Tribune series titled "A New Plan of Chicago" since last October when it was launched. Sunday's article focuses on improving the lives of disadvantaged Chicagoans. I encourage you to read it and other articles in this series and engage people in your own family, business and faith network in this process.

I wrote an article last October showing my own ideas which is one of more than 1000 articles I've written on this blog since 2005 that focus on the well-being of youth living in high poverty areas of the city and suburbs.

My recommendations focus on the following ideas.

First, unless we have a better understanding of who already is working to help youth in high poverty neighborhoods we'll never have a strategy that helps existing programs grow to become great at what they do, or a strategy that helps new programs grow in areas where more programs are needed, or programs serving specific age groups, or providing specific types of learning and mentoring, are needed. I started providing this information in a printed directory in 1994.

I put this Directory on the Internet in 1994 and now you can find a map-based directory at http://www.tutormentorprogramlocator.net and a list of Chicago area youth program links at http://tinyurl.com/TMI-ChiProgramLinks You can also browse this link and find other directories created by other organizations in Chicago since the mid 2000s.

However, building a director of service providers is only one part of the information base that needs to be created, and maintained. We also need maps, like this, showing information available in web libraries, and maps, like this, showing information available, showing resource providers, and showing who else is also bringing people together to solve exactly the same problem.

With web sites aggregating and connecting programs, information, intermediaries and resource providers, we can begin to build MOOCs, like the recent Deeper Learning MOOC, that enable people to connect with each other to discuss these ideas and build relationships that lead to collective actions.

Second, we need a commitment to on-going marketing activities that draw more and more people to the on-line library of information and ideas, the maps and directories of programs, and to on-line communities of practice. The graphic below shows four key times each year when leaders in business, media and politics can talk about the needs of young people and have an impact on helping programs in every neighborhood attract volunteers, ideas and dollars to support constant improvement.


If these events repeat year after year they can grow the flow of resources needed to build and sustain great youth support programs in every part of the city where they are needed.

The ideas I share have been developed over nearly 40 years of leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago and 20 years of leading a strategy intended to help high quality non-school tutor/mentor programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood. Below is a 1995 Chicago Tribune article calling attention to my efforts.


These ideas are shared on my blog and web sites and you're encouraged to review and use them in your own efforts. I'd be happy to spend time monthly discussing these with you and helping you learn to navigate my web library. If you'd like to meet why not attend the next Tutor/Mentor Conference on May 19.

Better yet, why not make a sponsor contribution to help me keep doing this?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Building the Network. Follow up to Race for Results Kids Count Report

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a new Kids Count Report, titled: Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children, that explores the intersection of kids, race and opportunity. Below is a recording of the announcement of this publication along with a panel discussion.



In the video, Soledad O’Brien, the panel moderator said “If we have all this research showing what works and what the need is, why is it still such a fight to get it executed?”

One of the panel members responded that “rational self interest, rightly understood, has to be the motivation that brings us together.”

How do we get from here, to there?

While another panel member called this research revolutionary, and “a wake up call” I have been involved in helping youth in inner city Chicago since the mid 1970s and while much has changed for minorities, too much has not changed.

Here are a few of articles I wrote over the past seven years. If you view some of my print newsletters from the 1990s you’ll see that I’ve been trying to build “rational self interest” among the wealthy and corporate leaders for a long time.

Friday, May 27, 2005
Memorial Day: Just Don't Forget

Monday, January 16, 2006
Making the vision of Dr. King a reality

Monday, December 10, 2007
Building Public Will - Expanding the Choir

Sunday, December 11, 2011
Fighting Dropout Crisis – Building Public Will

I've created map stories, since the mid 1990s, following negative news with efforts to draw people together to help tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty areas of Chicago.

In articles I’ve written, and graphics I’ve posted at Pinterest, you can see geographic maps showing all the places in Chicago where kids and families need help and concept maps representing blueprints that connect the ideas of many different organizations, such as the Anne E Casey Foundation, with each other.

In building a movement, we need to find ways to connect the research, passion and advocacy of existing leaders to create a year-round effort that expands the number of “self interested” people who are involved and who are providing time, talent, dollars and votes to support people in places where the data maps show kids need extra help.

How do we appeal to the self interest of business and the wealthy who are able to isolate themselves from the problems of the poor and the middle class?

I created this knowledge map to serve as a “curriculum guide” for anyone who wants to find ways to reach corporate leaders and build a strategic, self interested, support for efforts that help youth living in high poverty move through school and into the 21st century jobs they are trying so hard to fill. These articles are intended to show that volunteer or pro bono engagement of current employees, is a strategy that helps their current workforce and human capital development strategies, while also building a future workforce.

How do we get this on the reading list of busy executives or in the required reading list of MBA students?

While I can launch ideas with my blog articles and pdf essays, and interns working with me can create new versions reaching more people, I’m too small a player in this game. Others need to adopt my strategies and help build a knowledge map connecting more of the ideas and research from different sectors.

Others need to help create learning paths that connect place based conferences, meetings, dinners, etc. held throughout the year in cities across the country (world) with online learning events such as MOOCs where thousands of people from different places can dig deeper into this information and build relationships and collaborations with others who are involved in the same learning communities.

This learning network needs to include all of the emerging data centers, such as the Boston Indicators Project, the WEAVE network, and my own Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library.


If more leaders work to “Pull” learners to the information we share on-line, and work to help them understand the ideas as they related to their own personal and professional lives we might build a movement that changes the future for kids identified in this Kids Count Report, but only if we keep working at this and expanding the network for many years into the future.

If you’re in Chicago and agree with these ideas why not connect with me and help me do my work, while letting me help you adopt some of my ideas into your work?

If you're anywhere in the world teams of volunteers could be connecting with me in on-line communities to innovate ways to map the growth and composition of networks so we know who is looking at this information, and who is helping youth move through schools and into jobs and careers.

I have hosted a gathering of tutor/mentor program leaders every six months since May 1994. The next conference is May 19. I need help organizing, promoting, facilitating and attracting participants. Can you build this into your own personal commitment for expanding the network of “self interested people” who use the research to support actions that change the future?

This is the front page of the October 1992 Chicago SunTimes. If we don't find ways to connect and build the network we'll be repeating these stories 20 years from now.






Thursday, March 27, 2014

Building Network to Solve Complex Problems

This graphic illustrates the need for youth to be surrounded by a wide range of age appropriate learning resources as the move from elementary school toward jobs and careers. Depending on the level of economic security a youth needs more of these because they are not naturally available in the community. I view volunteer tutors/mentors who connect with kids via organize tutor/mentor programs as "extra adults" who can help youth and families have greater access to some of these supports.

If you agree with that logic, then the next step would be to become part of efforts that help more volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs be available, so more kids are reached and more volunteers get involved.

I've written many articles trying to show the long term involvement needed by many people, in many places, to help tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods, and become great at what they do. It's only when the begin to be "great" that the kids entering those programs have the best chance to benefit from the services they offer. If an organization can't keep it's talent, because it can't keep its funding, it's not likely to become great, or stay great.

I constantly hear people say we "want something to happen" but few share a map showing how they think we'll get from where we are now, with only a few people talking about the problem (or a lot of people talking about it, but in different silos), to where we want to be after a period of consistent effort.

I really appreciate it when other people help share these ideas via their own blogs. Today Betsey Merkel posted this graphic on the I-Open Blog. Betsey's in Ohio and hopefully leaders from Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and/or Toledo will see this and want to adopt the ideas in their own cities. If they do this well, and share what they do, perhaps that will influence how leaders in Chicago and other cities also view the ideas.