Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Help Me Celebrate 72nd Birthday

It's my 72nd birthday on December 19. I'm also celebrating the 25th anniversary of creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993.

I invite readers to help me celebrate, and keep the T/MC vision alive with a gift to my Birthday Fund

Thank you for your help.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Can you Help Me Help Youth In Chicago and Other Cities?

Below is text and images from a letter I've just mailed to people who  have made financial contributions to support this blog and the work I have been doing for the past 25 years. I hope you'll read and respond.

Happy Holidays, from Dan Bassill and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC .. Dec. 2018

Dear Friend of Youth,

It's the Holiday Season and I hope you and your family will enjoy all of the blessings that this season brings to many, but not all people in America.

This is the 25th Year Anniversary of forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep this available in Chicago and to try to help similar models grow in other cities. I've been sending you updates, asking for your support, in the seven years since then.

Once again I am reaching out to people who have supported my efforts to help K-12 youth in high poverty areas of Chicago and every other city in the country have access to well organized, mentor-rich programs. In the photos above, I keep saying “Read my Blog”. The address is http://tutormentor.blogspot.com

My aim is to provide ideas that others use to build systems of support for kids in poverty, and to serve as a model that you and others duplicate, telling the same stories, to people in your own network, expanding the number of people looking at these ideas and using them to build strategic support for k-12 youth.

For 35 years I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, so developed a deep commitment to the potential of well-organized, mentor-rich programs. When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the goal was to build a database of existing Chicago programs and a library of information and ideas, then find innovative ways to draw more frequent attention to tutor/mentor programs as a way to help kids and a way to get more people involved. Borrowing from my work in advertising with Montgomery Ward, the goal was to draw more customers (volunteers, donors, media, etc.) directly to each program in the Chicago region.

I had no idea of how difficult this would be, yet I persist with the commitment of “If it is to be, it is up to me..and YOU!

The graphic at the right is similar to many that you'll find in my blog. It shows my role as an intermediary connecting people who can help to an information base, including a list of Chicago youth programs in places where help is needed. This is part of a four-part strategy that I launched in 1993 and still follow today.

Ever since starting the T/MC in 1993 it's been difficult helping others understand what it has been trying to do. Part of the challenge is that philanthropy encourages competition among non-profits. Few work together to generate the resources that would help great programs grow in more places. In addition, few in leadership roles have ever taken the time to build a database of programs and then use it in on-going efforts intended to help every program get the resources each needs to be successful...the way that corporations support multiple stores reaching customers in many locations.

That's why I keep repeating "Read my Blogs!" If you read the articles consistently, you'll understand what I'm trying to do, and you might help find others who want to bring these strategies into their own leadership efforts.

I'm celebrating a 25th Anniversary this year. With your help in the next few weeks, I'll still be doing this in 2019

We all want a world where all kids grow up safely and reach their full potential. In a huge city like Chicago that means people with different skills and resources need to be working together at three levels:

1. at the organization level, supporting different youth serving organizations;
2. neighborhood level, making sure programs are reaching all the kids who need help; and
3. at the city/regional level, making sure ALL high poverty neighborhoods have great programs.

Getting people involved in shaping and sharing this message is just one of many challenges. The concept map at the left is part of a library of visualizations that I've created since 2005. You can view it at https://tinyurl.com/ChallengesFacingYouth-TM

This map shows that poverty has many entry points, many challenges. That means that people who are donating time, talent or dollars are working in many different, but often disconnected, efforts. The competition for resources at every level is fierce, meaning consistent long-term solutions are difficult to find in many places.

During the past year I've continued to add new links to the web library at http://tinyurl.com/TMC-Library and continue to maintain a list of Chicago area non-school tutor/mentor programs at http://tinyurl.com/TMI-ChiProgramLinks  I've also continued posting strategy ideas on Scribd.com and Slideshare.com, which I then point to in my blog articles.

I spend time each day sharing these ideas in social media channels and trying to connect with people from Chicago and around the world who might use these ideas to help needed programs and services grow in all places where kids need help moving through school and into adult lives.

I continue to offer free advice to any who request it, while also looking for ways to earn income from sharing what I know. I still have not figured how to make that work. Nor have I found 3 or 4 people who would share the vision, and responsibility, and form a new non-profit Tutor/Mentor Connection. Thus, I continue to look for contributors who will help fund my efforts. I'm still not able to offer you a tax deduction, since I don't have a non-profit status.

There are two ways for you to offer financial support.

1) Make a birthday gift. I'll be 72 on December 19th and invite you to make a “Birthday Gift” contribution using the PayPal button at http://www.tutormentorconference.org/birthdaywish2018.htm

2) Make a 25th Year Anniversary Contribution to my FUND-ME campaign. click here

If you cannot make a contribution, please read my blog articles and share them with others.

If you use Twitter, Facebook or Linked in, please connect with me, which helps people in your network find the information I'm sharing.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support this work in the past.

If you'd like to talk to me, email me at tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net to arrange a time to talk by phone, Skype or in person.

Happy Holidays to you and your family,

Daniel F. Bassill, D.H.L.
Tutor/Mentor Connection, 1993-present
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, 2011-present

Mail contributions to Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303, Chicago, IL 60654

Find me at:

Connect with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook  (click this link to see nice video of my past year, created by FB)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Can we imagine a future without traditional schools?

Last week I stumbled upon a Twitter chat which includes school superintendents from the Chicago area. I added the hashtags #suptchat and #k12prchat to my hashtag map, with the goal of going back this weekend to review all of the posts.

I'm glad I did. I'm not through my review but found this post:

I followed the link  and read this article, titled "School’s Out: Who Takes Responsibility for the Education of Young People?"

The article uses words to visualize an idea that I've used graphics to communicate. What I was seeing in my mind was the graphic at the top of the visualization shown below.  It shows the community of people surrounding kids as the grow up and lead their adult lives.  The spokes lead to different work/life experiences which offer different forms of learning and career opportunities.

In the lower part of this graphic I show a map of Chicago, with poverty areas highlighted. To the left of this is a circle, representing "all the knowledge in the world" that is available to young people and adults.  To the left of that circle and in the smaller circles below, I visualize the idea of gathering people together to discuss this information, and to learn how such learning is less available to kids in high poverty areas due to the lower diversity of people with different types of jobs, careers and incomes.

Thus, the goal of the discussion is to find ways to make this type of a learning environment more available throughout Chicagoland, Illinois, the USA and the world, so that at some point you could look at maps and see a distribution of mentor-rich learning opportunities distributed like Christmas lights on a tree. Hopefully, no spaces are left uncovered.

This is one of many articles where I show uses of maps.

Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) 
I first created this graphic in the 1990s to visualize the type of non-school tutor/mentor program I had led in Chicago since 1975 and to show a program design that others might duplicate.

At this link you can see this idea in more detail.

Below is another Tweet from the #suptchat thread.  Twitter chats enable people from schools, non-school organizations and all sectors to engage in conversations that focus on the well-being of youth, families, our communities and the world.

We just need to find ways to draw more people, from more places into these conversations.  That's why I've encouraged people hosting events and chats to create participation maps, like the one shown below, which is for the 2017 #clmooc, connected learning group.

With participation maps we help people connect with each other. We also enable a conversation of "who's here, and who's missing".  For instance, if you zoom into this map, you'll find few people from the Chicago region and other metros, which serve large numbers of low-income kids.  The data can encourage discussions of why, and what can we do about it.

The #CLMOOC group has been going since 2013 and their web site is a rich archive of ideas for helping people connect and learn from each other. Here's an activity from 2016 under the heading of "What if we Cultivate Connections and Strengthen our Networks",

To me, this is part of the learning that is available to those who spend time connecting and looking for ideas.

That's what I have been doing since I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975.  Initially, I built a library of books and tutoring ideas and encouraged volunteers to use this to support their own work with kids.

In 1993 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I began expanding this library, while also building a list of Chicago non-school tutor and/or mentor programs. Then I shared this with others, via a quarterly print newsletter, and bi-annual conferences.

In 1998 I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site, and in 1999 the Tutor/Mentor Institute web site. Both enabled visitors to connect with a wide range of information, ideas, program models, philanthropy resources, and more.

I'm still doing this, but without a non-profit organizational structure or reliable revenue stream. Thus, I share this FUND ME campaign page, inviting any who have read this far to make a contribution to support this work.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Exceeded Word Limit on LinkedIn - Here's my question

I posted this map, and started writing a message in the Non-Profit Network Group on LinkedIn, and when I was ready to hit "send" found that I had vastly exceeded the word limit.  So, I'm posting the question here.

I've been piloting uses of maps to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas of Chicago for the past 20 years. Here's a recent blog article where you can learn more about this.

A map can show demographic information, or indicators, visualizing where a service is needed. Overlays can show existing service providers within the map area. If someone is collecting the data, this can be shown in layers, such as age group served, type of program, etc. I've been trying to do this since 1993. See the search page we built in 2004.

Using this, leaders in the map area could be building an understanding of the level of service available from this type of program. For instance, in the map I've attached one Chicago community area has 7127 kids, age 6-17, below the poverty level. If an afterschool tutor/mentor program served 100 kids, that neighborhood would still need about 35 of these programs, just to reach 50% of the kids in that area. (Most tutor/mentor programs do not serve that many kids.)

Just building a flow of resources, talent and ideas to help existing programs grow is a challenge, so helping additional programs grow represents an even larger challenge. This is especially true since most of the existing programs are competing with each other for scarce resources.

That's an introduction. 

Are any of you involved in this type of planning and program development process in your communities? If yes, can you point to blogs like mine where the process is being described and supported? It's never been supported in Chicago, and I've found few examples of maps being used as part of an effort to reach more kids with needed services, in any city. I look forward to hearing from any who might be doing this.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Need and Potential of Non-School Youth Programs

I keep encouraging readers to engage on Twitter. Here's an example of why I feel think this is important.  I connected with Tony Brown, ED of Heart of LA today, and he shared this Tweet, and video, with me.

If I did not use Twitter daily I would never have found this. 

As I listened to Tony many images from my articles came to mind. Here's one.

Create virtual corporate office to help mentor rich programs grow - read
I focus on actions required to make mentor rich programs like Tony is describing available in more places. Those are not just what volunteers and non profit programs leaders do. They are what resource providers, business leaders and policy makers also need to do.

See work interns have done.
When I connect with people like Tony I  invite them to browse my blogs and web site to see the ideas I've been sharing for the past 25 years.  I know how frustrating this is, because there are so many ideas on my sites.

Thus, I point to work interns did with me between 2006 and 2015, which you can preview in this concept map. Tony and others can recruit students from local high schools, colleges and youth programs to dig into my ideas, then share what they are learning and how those ideas can be applied in LA, Philadelphia, Houston, Detroit, London or any other city, just as interns working with me have done.

I have been sharing these ideas with the goal of becoming a consultant and partner with people who are trying to help youth support systems form in different places.  If you'd like my help please connect with me at @tutormentorteam on Twitter or post a comment here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#GivingTuesday - Ideas

It's the annual GivingTuesday (#ILGive) in Illinois and hundreds of non-profit organizations are using email, web sites, social media and a variety of other tactics to try to attract donors.

Good luck to all.

Below are a few thoughts for this day.

First, youth tutor and mentor programs are competing with a wide range of other important causes for limited donor attention and dollars.  My efforts for the past 25 years have been to create a greater daily frequency of stories talking about where and why tutor/mentor programs are most needed, ways to help them (time, talent and dollars), and ways to find out what programs are operating in different parts of the Chicago region.

I've been plotting locations of Chicago youth tutor and/or mentor programs on maps since 1993. In 2004 we were able to create this on-line search page, to help you find programs, based on what type of program (pure mentor, pure tutor, combination tutor/mentor), age group served (elementary, middle,  high school) and location.   Then in 2008 we created this interactive map that provided the same search feature but showed the entire Chicago region.

Those have not been updated since 2011 due to lack of funds, so I created the map shown above in 2016, to provide information about existing youth serving programs. Visit this page to see the map and my list of programs.

I've also created this concept map, to help people find youth serving organizations, based on the lists I maintain, and based on lists others are building.

If I had the talent, time and money, I'd create a #GivingTuesday map, showing which of the tutor/mentor programs in Chicago were running campaigns today via #ILGive or other platforms.

This map from 1990s
In addition, I'd be reaching out to schools, non-school organizations, faith groups and others, to teach them to create story maps, that follow negative news with maps showing where the news event occurred, and stories of why things like this keep happening, and ways tutor/mentor programs might help make a difference. Such stories would then point to existing programs in that area, and to assets, like businesses, colleges, hospitals and others who could help programs grow. Here's one example.

Instead of only myself, or a few others trying to increase attention and resources for all  programs in this sector, there could be hundreds of people doing this daily, which I think would help make events like #GivingTuesday much more effective for those who are trying to raise money today. 
Make this a year-long effort

While I use my blog as a teaching tool. I really don't have the money to keep the program locator on-line as a model for what others might build, or help me build.  Nor do I have advertising dollars and/or professional talent to help me reach more people with my articles.

Thus, as you decide who to support today, or tomorrow, or next month, click on this page and look for ways to help me do this work. 

One of the major challenges I'm facing is that since 2011, I've not operated as a 501-c-3 non-profit. I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I started as part of a non profit in 1993, alive for Chicago and as a model for other cities.  I keep seeking partners, benefactors and/or volunteers to create a new non profit, but have not found any willing to take on the work done over the past 25 years, but have not found the few needed. 

So, I'm a social entrepreneur, with a wealth of ideas, seeking support to keep sharing these with the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Doing the impossible. Influencing Donors and Providers

I've been creating visualizations to share ideas since the 1990s, thinking a picture is worth a thousand words, and you can see many in my blog articles.  The one featured in this article is one of the most important.

I try to draw ideas and resources
to every youth program in Chicago
When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 my goal was to duplicate advertising strategies that big business use to motivate people to shop at their stores.  I needed to find a way to do this without the money available to most companies to do this work.

On one level, I've been sharing information that people directly involved in youth tutor/mentor programs can use to help build on-going programs that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers.

At the same time, I've been sharing information intended to influence donors to become more proactive in supporting youth tutor/mentor programs already operating, and in helping new programs start where more are needed.

Below is a graphic that you can click into to see these influence steps.

Both paths shown on this graphic are important.  I think influencing people who don't live in poverty to provide a consistent flow of time, talent and dollars to programs serving youth and families in poverty is going to be just as difficult as it is to influence the people leading existing programs, or starting new programs, to look past what they have already been doing, to new ideas of what they should be doing,  if the goal is that the kids in these programs today are in jobs and starting careers when they are age 25 or older.

I first used this graphic in this 2014 article.  Browse this list and read more articles where I use this graphic. Can you apply this in your own efforts?

However, there's also a third level of influence involved. Since forming Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I've tried to influence volunteers and donors to provide the talent and dollars both parts of our youth support strategies needed each year.  And, since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, I've continued to try find this support each year.

It Takes A Village - see map

It's never been easy. It's been much more difficult since 2011. 

The concept map at the right is titled "It Takes A Village" meaning, people from every different sector of life in the Chicago region, or any other part of the country, should be involved in helping all kids move through school and into jobs and careers.   With this in mind, many could be joining me in trying to "influence" actions of others. 

If you're doing this, or trying to do this, I'm trying to find and connect with you on Twitter, LinkedIN or Facebook.

This also means that many people could also be helping me do this work. 

If you've read this far I hope I've influenced you to visit this page and send a contribution to help me continue this work.