Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Take a learning journey through Tutor/Mentor web library

In 2010 a volunteer who was looking at the resources of the Tutor/Mentor Connection wrote a blot article titled "Thinking like Google", in which he compared the T/MC to Google. He wrote,

It occurred to me that this forum is essentially modeled on a similar format as Google's. Tutormentorconnection.ning.com a) looks for information, or content, and people relevant to the cause of tutoring and mentoring; b) organizes, analyzes, and archives that information for future reference; and c) utilizes those references for targeted advertising campaigns, social networking, grant-writing, and the like. Even more to the point, this forum is a way of attempting to grow the idea of tutoring and mentoring to scale, or to a point where it "tips".

I've built a huge web library and I've created a variety of PDF essays over the past 20 years that are intended to help people learn ways to support the growth of volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in high poverty neighborhoods. While I point to these via email newsletters and social media, I've been looking for new ways to introduce these concepts.

How about a WebQuest?  How might I motivate students and adults to take Michael's advice and begin to journey through my web library, and as they do, share what they are learning with people in their own network, so they begin their own journey through this information.

Several years ago I began to learn about WebQuest and I created an animation to introduce this concept. You can view it on YouTube


Here are a couple of other animations introducing students to a web quest.

Making a map, class assignment, animation.

Doing a web quest.

Interns were on this journey for short bursts of time every year between 2006 and 2015.  Here's a page that shows work interns have done in the past to guide people through this information.

For the past month, I've been updating the links on the web library so all are working, and I keep adding new links. I also keep adding new blog articles herehere and here. Some of the articles written 10 years ago are as relevant today as they were then, so while it's important that you subscribe and follow new articles, it's also important that you visit the past and read some of those articles.

Here's a visualization done by one of our past interns that illustrates the goal of supporting groups of learners in many sectors, who each look at maps to determine where youth and families need more help, and what programs are already operating in those areas.....who need constant support to constantly improve and stay available.

The links in the web library point to more than 200 youth serving programs in Chicago and others around the country. They point to research articles and to business and foundation web sites.  They represent a large ocean of ideas you can use to help programs grow, by borrowing good ideas already working in different places, rather than by starting from scratch on an on-going basis.

Most of the links in the web library point to other people's ideas, not my own. This emphasizes the purpose of the library for myself, and others. We can do more by borrowing ideas from others than from constantly starting from the beginning.

However, some links point to my own ideas, which I've communicated with illustrated presentations which you can find in my blogs, and on this page and in libraries at Scribd.com and SlideShare.

Students from around the world could be looking at the web library, and my articles, and could be creating their own presentations to draw adults and other students from their own community into this information, and into actions that lead to the growth of more programs in more places that help kids move through school and into careers.  Visit this page and see how past interns working with me in Chicago have already been doing this.

If you're hosting a web library, and creating visualized articles to motivate people to visit your library and support youth serving organizations in your community, please share your links so others can learn from you. If you're interested in exploring this idea with me, let's connect on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

As Youth Grow to Become Adults Many Supports Needed

This morning my neighbor neighbor reminded me that your success in life "is largely dependent on the parents who birthed you". I added, "and the place where you were born".

It's Sunday, so this is my sermon for the day. I hope those who are spiritual and may have attended faith services, will read my blog and reflect on the blessings they have and how they might share those blessings to help others who were not born to wealth, privilege and opportunity.

I've created a variety of graphics over the past 20 years to try to show the support kids need as they grow up, and how kids in lower income areas and high poverty need help in obtaining a mix of these supports.

This is one that I use often since the mid 1990s. It shows the 12 years it takes to move from first grade through 12th grade, then beyond that until a young person is an adult with a job, and starting a career.

At each grade level a range of supports need to be available in order to safely, and successfully, move to the next grade, and on toward an adult life.

If you enlarge the graphic, and look at the arrow, you see suggestions of age appropriate supports.  You also see a map of Chicago, with dark shading showing areas of high poverty. All of these areas need this type of support system.

Most donors and public policy initiatives don't provide this type of long-term support in all the places where it is needed. Is it possible to change this?

I created the concept map shown below to try to illustrate this better.  Note that at each age level, there are spokes showing a range of supports that need to be available to youth in every high poverty neighborhood. Because of the challenges of poverty, parents are often not able to find these supports, and communities can not offer them. One role of organized, volunteer-based, tutor/mentor programs is to bring extra adults into the neighborhood who will help kids and families get these supports.


I point to web sites of more than 200 Chicago area youth programs, and many others from around the country, and I don't see this role discussed very often, or shown as a strategy of the organization.

Here's another concept map that shows a much broader range of youth and family supports that need to be available in every high poverty neighborhood.


This map shows that kids in affluent areas face many of the same problems as do kids in poverty areas. The difference, as pointed out by Robert Putnam in his "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" book (see article), is that affluent communities have more resources available to help kids overcome their challenges. And kids and families in poverty areas have unique challenges to overcome that are not normally part of affluent areas.  For instance, how many kids in Winnetka worry about getting shot when they leave home and go to school or to a friend's house?


This graphic is from an  animation of one of the strategy ideas I started visualizing in the early 2000s with this PDF.  An intern from Hong Kong created the first version of this in 2007, then an intern from South Korea created this current version in 2010.

This illustrates how volunteers and students could be looking at any of the visualizations and blog articles I've created, then create their own version, using their own talent and creativity.

This graphic was part of a blog article I wrote late last year. It emphasizes the team of support needed to help a youth grow to be an adult, or to help a single tutor/mentor program help many young people, or that a neighborhood leadership team needs to have in order to bring the supports I'm describing into a neighborhood.

In the 'race-poverty" map shown above each issue area requires support from many people, in many places, for many years. Somehow, through the Internet, we need to connect people working in different issue areas with each other, to talk about problems we all face, such as lack of consistent funding, and lack of talent, to support our efforts.

As I write this the Federal budget proposed by the White House is cutting funding for many of these initiatives, creating an even greater competition among each sector to fight to retain their own funding. The result is greater silos of organizations who don't work together to solve problems that are part of a great, interconnected puzzle of poverty.

I met with a small group of African American leaders yesterday and shared some of my graphics via this PDF.  My hope is that a few of these leaders take time to read this, and click on the links to blog articles that illustrate use of these visualizations.  As they do that, my goal is that some of them write their own blog articles, and create their own versions of my graphics and stories, and share these with people in their own network so that a growing number of people begin to understand and support the strategies I've been sharing.

Since I share my stories on the Internet, anyone in the world can read them and take on the same set of actions, even billionaires and people with great personal visibility and influence.  I created the concept map shown below, to point so some people who are already doing this.


There may be others doing this and I just don't know who they are. There need to be people in every city and state in the country, and around the world, who take this role. If you're writing stories about what you see on my blogs, or web sites, please share your link in the comments below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN.

Or if you've been creating your own maps and graphics, focused on the same problems I focus on, and sharing them on your own blog, let's connect. Maybe we can learn from each other, or at least, try to draw greater attention to each other.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#ilgive launching spring day of giving - May 31 - are you benefiting?

Based on the overall success of its November Giving Tuesday event, Forefront is launching a spring day of giving, on May 31, 2016. A kick off webinar is scheduled for March 31 at 9am CST.

I wrote about this on November 30, 2017 asking if "all Chicago Youth Organizations Filled their Funding Tanks on Giving Tuesday".

Forefront has been very open and transparent about this event, so the list of participating organizations and the amount each raised, and the number of donors for each, is available, on this page.

The numbers show that of 413 participating organizations, only 7 raised more than $50,000 and only 52 raised over $10,000.  237 organizations raised under $500 for the day, and out of this, 117 raised less than $200.

While I recognized a few Chicago are tutor/mentor programs from my list of nearly 200 organizations, the most successful was Tutoring Chicago (which I led from 1975-1992), which raised close to $13,000.

67 organizations raised less than $100.

That does not put much gas in the tank or fuel very much tutor/mentor program activity.

This does not mean the campaign is a bad idea. It means there needs to be greater innovation to draw funds into more organizations, and to get more organizations involved.  The graphic below is one that illustrates the need for year-round communications, drawing volunteers and donors to youth serving organizations in every poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region, and the state.


It also means more programs need to build a dedicated, enthusiastic, volunteer base and long-term history, which is what TutoringChicago and a few other organizations have done.

When I started leading Tutoring Chicago in 1975 I was also in the beginning stages of a retail advertising career with the Montgomery Ward Corporation, which hosted the program at its Chicago headquarters.  In 1974 the program stated the school year with 100 pairs of 2nd to 6th grade kids and adult volunteers, 90% of them from Wards. However, the program was loosely organized and more than half of the volunteers dropped out by the end of the year without being replaced.  By 1990, the year we turned the organization into a non profit, called Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc., we had 300 volunteer pairs, and we grew from the beginning of the year to the end.

Why? Because of program organization and volunteer support. We created a program that people wanted to participate in.  Only 10% of these volunteers were from Wards. 90% were from nearly 100 companies located in the Chicago region. We had a team of more than 15 volunteers coming to the Near North location from the AT&T location near Naperville!  As Wards had downsized starting in the late 1970s, and closed its Catalog business, many of the volunteers went to other jobs, but they continued to come to the tutor/mentor program. Within a few years, they were bringing their friends and co-workers.

We turned the organization in to a non-profit in 1990 and started raising money, so I could lead the program full time, and we could hire staff. Our volunteer numbers grew to 550 by May 1992 and youth served grew to 440.  More than 60 of the programs core leaders were volunteers, organized into functional teams similar to those working in the Montgomery Ward corporate office, who supported 400 stores throughout the country.

Chicago SunTimes, 10-92
I left the CGTP program in Oct. 1992 and with a few volunteers created a new program serving older youth who had aged out of the CGTP program at the end of 6th grade. We started in January 1993 with 7 volunteers and 5 teens in 1993 and by 1997 had more than 80 pairs actively participating. Due to space limitations we kept this annual number through 2011 when I left the organization.

In 1993, we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with a goal of  helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region.  I continued to apply the ideas learned from working in the corporate headquarters of Wards, and leading one volunteer-based program, in an effort to help many programs grow in many places.  However, I also began to build a library of links to other programs, and other thinkers, so that people in my own program, and in all other programs, could find ideas from more people and organizations than just myself, and my own tutor/mentor program.

I never had consistent support from city leaders and Wards went out of business in 2000.  The last 17 years, starting with the dot-com bubble's burst in 2000, and the 9/11 tragedy, made it more and more difficult to obtain consistent, on-going funding. It also resulted in leadership and staff changes in many of the organizations that I had been building relationships with in the 1990s.  I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC  in 2011 to continue to support the strategy, but have not found a way to finance the work that needs to be done.

Others, have stepped in as intermediaries, covering a broader based of non-profits, like Forefront, or covering a narrower part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection's vision, like a few others are doing. However, I have 40 years of ideas and experiences, which I continue to share via blog articles, on-line presentations and one-on-one conversations and in a monthly email newsletter.

I'd love to share these ideas with others who are working to help kids living in poverty have mentoring paths to adult lives, and jobs, free of poverty.  I also seek others to help me do this work, as I suggested in this article about a "do over" for the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Contact me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

White House Budget Causes NonProfits to Fight Each other for Funding

 I created this graphic in the 1990s to show a goal of attracting consistent attention and support for non-school tutor/mentor programs from a small segment of leaders, businesses and donors, recognizing that other causes also needed the same support.

With the announcement of the Federal budget draft, with dramatic funding cuts for all sorts of social programs and services, as well as for environmental protection services, I'm already seeing messages from different stakeholders asking that people contact their elected officials and demand that their programs be funded.

Below is a concept map with this image, with others like it, and with links to web sites where maps are used to show a distribution of problems in the United States and the world.  When I look at how many different issues and causes need funding, I'm overwhelmed.  This problem is too big.


Below is another graphic, part of this blog article,  Its goal is to emphasize the need for on-going, flexible funding, that continues for many years, and funds non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region and other cities and states.  This type of  long-term commitment, distributed to many places, has not been seen in the past from the private sector and philanthropy. Government programs that build and maintain roads, infrastructure, public schools and our military are examples of on-going support distributed to many places, even though that support is often not very flexible in allowing for local innovation.


But the White House is proposing to cut many of those funding streams. The natural response is what I'm already seeing. Each program is trying to protect its own funding. That's a natural response. It's one reason I've had limited success in getting non-profit tutor/mentor program leaders to work with the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the past 20 years. When competing for a limited pool of resources ME, not WE, is a survival strategy.

Yet, is it the wise strategy?  

I created this graphic several years ago, for this article, to illustrate how many of us focus on self interests, using the "I can't drain the swamp because I'm up to my neck in alligators" thinking.

The swamp is getting bigger. We need to find some new, innovative, ways for people to connect and find some ways to drain it.

I don't have an answer. I can point to links in one section of my web library, where collaboration, innovation, creativity and similar ideas are discussed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ex-U.S. Attorney says "reach young kids before gangs do"

I don't know if any of you read the letter outgoing U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon wrote, which was in the Chicago SunTimes on Tuesday. Among his recommendations for combating violence he said
"there should be a "place" in each afflicted neighborhood dedicated to reaching young kids before gangs do.  Brick and mortor. Create a place. Call it anything."
That's what I've been saying for the past 24 years.  Some of those "places" should be organized, well-supported, well-designed, long-term, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. They do exist in some places, but not in many other places.

 Last Sunday, March 12, the Chicago Tribune featured a story about one of these neighborhoods that needs those "places".   I wrote about it on the MappingforJustice blog, showing how leaders could use maps as part of an analysis, mobilization and planning tool intended to help existing programs in the neighborhood get the resources, talent, ideas, etc. that each needs to be better able to compete against gangs by offering hope and opportunity.

I included maps showing the neighborhood, existing programs, and some of the assets.

I hope you'll read that story, and hundreds of similar stories that I've posted on my blogs since 2005 (and on web sites and in printed newsletters before then) and apply the ideas to every high poverty neighborhood.  

Now that Mr. Fardon is 'unemployed' I hope he'll read this too, along with articles I've written in the past week about a "do-over" for Tutor/Mentor Connection.  He's the type of leader needed to mobilize others and provide high level visibility and support for the growth of a new Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and other cities.

If you know him, I invite you to share this article.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What a Tutor/Mentor Connection "do over" looks like

On March 2 I posted an article suggesting a "do over" for the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), which I started in 1993 while also starting a site based tutor/mentor program in Chicago.

In May 1995 this commentary was in the Chicago Tribune, talking about the strategy of the T/MC.

Chicago Tribune article, May 1995
For many reasons, some which I mentioned in last week's article, I've never been able to generate the significant and consistent resources needed to have the impact that I hoped for. The problems of poverty and inequality are still with us 24 years later in 2017. So now I'm suggesting that others could start new organizations with exactly the same goals, but start with everything I've learned and created over the past 24 years. Hopefully in 20 years your impact will be far greater than mine has been, and it will extend to other cities and states beyond Chicago and Illinois.

A few days ago, Terry Elliott, an educator from Kentucky, who I've met over the past four years via the Connected Learning #clmooc, wrote this post on his blog, after reading my "do over" article. In his blog he shared this Hackpad page, where he wrote 
"I am creating this space for people to help Daniel create a Do Over."
Terry has been looking at my blog articles and interacting with me in a variety of formats since 2013 and then has used his own blog to share his understanding of the work I'm doing.  I've been encouraging many to take this role, for many years.


This is a talent map that shows skills needed to build any successful organization.  In addition, here's a network map, that shows networks of business, faith groups and other organizations that need to be involved.

I've had a mix of these people helping me, off and on, for over 41 years (I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975). Since 2011 I've not had a team that would serve as workers, partners and/or co-owners in a non-profit structure, thus I've not had success in raising money to hire a team to help do this work (or pay myself a salary) since then.

The nodes on my talent map could be filled by people from any place in the world, working to create T/MC-like structures, with different names than Tutor/Mentor Connection. One team needs to take ownership of the T/MC focused on Chicago, using its name, and position in Google search rankings for the word "tutor mentor", and adopting its long history and resource library. That team would be a resource for every other team.

Map from Brookings.edu story

This map, from a Brookings.edu story, shows that cities throughout the US have concentrations of poverty, thus could apply the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy. Supporters could come from any of these places, and similar places throughout the world.

For a "do over" to take place all of the yellow boxes on my talent map need to be filled with people doing what Terry is doing. If many of the other boxes are also filled, that's even better.

If the people looking at my articles also have access to resources and can influence others because of their civic and/or business reputation, the chances of a successful "do over" will be even better.

Here's another concept map. If you open the links at the bottom of each node you'll find stories by Terry and others, who already are spending some time looking at what I do and are occasionally writing about it.

For a new, or re-energized, Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy to succeed, or for a 'do-over" to dramatically improve on what I've done over the past 24 years, people need to look at the articles written since 2005, and that I'll keep writing as long as I'm able.   Take time to learn about the work that goes into building and maintaining directories of youth serving programs, libraries of ideas, bringing people together, forming networks, etc.  Look at how I've tried to do this. Think of how you could do it better.

Step 2 of the 4-part Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy emphasizes public awareness and on-going communications, that attracts people to the information in the T/MC library, and to the different tutor/mentor programs in the T/MC Chicago programs directory.

While collecting and organizing information is important (step 1), creating on-going communications that draw people to this information and motivate them to get involved has been equally important. I've been a one-person army. More need to join me.

Thus, do what Terry has done. Look at my blog articles and see how I use social media on a daily basis to educate and create public awareness. Then do the same. Create your own visualizations, and maps and write your own stories, at least once a week, with the goal of influencing others to also learn from the T/MC history, and get involved in rebuilding it in Chicago and creating it in other cities.

Pick a neighborhood that you want to focus on, or an entire city. Make a long-term commitment to fill that neighborhood with great birth-to-work, mentor-rich programs that are constantly learning to get better by borrowing ideas from others, and have the ability to implement those ideas because of the talent and resources that you are helping them attract.

If you're an educator at the middle school, high school or college level, set up an on-going program that engages students in this process. Learn from work interns have done while working with me since 2005.

On his Hackpad, Terry encouraged others to create a "Go Fund Me" page and raise money to support what I do. That would be welcome. However, I already have a page where interested people can find a PayPal button and offer a big or small contribution. Click here to see it.

Like everything else on my web sites, some one, or many, could re-do this page, making it more effective, reaching more people.

I offer some additional thinking about creating a new Tutor/Mentor Connection on Terry's Hack pad. Please take a look.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Using Information to Solve Problems - a Process

I've been using concept maps to visualize strategy and process for nearly 20 years. I posting a series of articles on the MappingforJustice blog, that use concept maps as a tool for communicating strategy for helping kids in poverty move from birth to work, while also pointing to resources available to support leaders who adopt this commitment.

In the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog you can see more articles where I've embedded concept maps and ideas on systems thinking.

When I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago, I could have built a web site just sharing my own previous 20 years of experience. Instead, I started building a web library collecting what other people knew about the problem and the challenges they were facing.  That library now has more than 2000 links and I've been updating them for the past few weeks (and for the rest of March).

Just putting this information in a web library is not enough. It's on the first step of an on-going strategy. Below is a concept map, showing the process I've been developing over the past 20 years.



On the left, I show the inputs, or information I've been aggregating since I formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Across the middle I show various ways I've tried to expose this information to a growing number of people. Since I've never had advertising dollars, nor support from high profile business, political or celebrity spokespersons, the number of people I've reached has been limited, but still over a million visits to my web sites alone since 1998.

On the right, I show how formal and informal learning can help people innovate new ways to draw resources to all tutor/mentor programs in a geographic region as large as Chicago, and to help leaders of these programs use these resources, and what they can learn from each other, to constantly improve the work they do to connect youth and volunteers and help kids succeed in school, and move to jobs and careers not limited by poverty.

I've been sharing ideas like this on blogs since 2005 and email newsletters since 2001. I published printed newsletters between 1993 and 2001. Everything I've done can be done much better by others who may have more talent and resources than I have.

I've been looking for leaders in business, universities, philanthropy, etc who embrace the strategies and the way I share this information, and who want to adopt my efforts and support them with their own leadership and resources into future years. I used this image in article I posted yesterday.

I used the graphic at the right in this article.  If more people from business, universities, faith groups, sports/marketing, media and other sectors take a role in the strategies I've described, we can fill high poverty areas with great programs helping kids move through school and into careers free of poverty.

This graphic illustrates the goal. Kids we connect with in elementary and middle school are holding jobs and raising their own kids in neighborhoods not dominated by poverty. Many are beginning to use their own time, talent and dollars to help others. We need to begin to see this happening at youth serving programs throughout Chicago and in other cities when we visit their web sites. Some show this well. Others need help.

If you're interested supporting this work, or learning more, here's a link to social media places where you can connect with me.