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 and a list of Chicago area youth program links at 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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Changing futures for youth involves changing what CEOs do

I posted this graphic on my blog in April 2013. It expresses a lot of ideas. So I thought I’d try to break it down into components, which I've done below. If you visit this blog you can see these components in a YouTube video created by one of my 2014 interns.

I feel this graphic is important to understand because if we want mentor-rich youth programs helping kids in more places move through school and into jobs we must influence what resource providers do at the same time as we're influencing what youth programs do. This requires a huge, on-going vision, and a wide range of intermediary supports.

Here is same graphic, but with numbers on different parts. In the paragraphs below I’ll show the meaning.

First, the goal of this graphic, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is to help high quality, long-term, site-based tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods. This section of the Tutor/Mentor web library includes dozens of research articles that show the impact of poverty, indicating the potential benefits of mentor-rich programs.

Second, if we want mentor-rich programs in more high poverty neighborhoods, then we must find ways to increase the flow of needed resources to all programs, and keep this consistent for many years. To do that we need to influence what the donor and resource provider do, not just what programs do.

I’ve been following the National Mentoring Summit via a live feed for the past two days and posting comments on Twitter. There are about 800 people at the Summit, and between one-, and two-hundred subscribed to the live feed.

In one of the featured discussions yesterday, David Gregory, Host of NBC's Meet the Press, was a speaker. @davidgregory has over 1.6 million Twitter Followers. Justin Bieber @justinbieber has 49 million followers. @MENTORnational has only 3663 followers. As of yesterday @tutormentorteam has almost 1600 followers.

These are “attention gaps” we need to close and we cannot do that without more consistent, and strategic, support from business, public leaders, media and other potential resource providers.

Let’s look at this chart closer:

A tutor/mentor program supports a connection between an adult volunteer with a youth living in an area where indicators show extra adult support and learning activities are needed. NOTE: many mentoring strategies are nor primarily focused on youth living in high poverty. However, there is much research showing that for youth living in high poverty the non-school hours offer risk if not filled with positive learning activities and that there are too few resources in most neighborhoods. The Tutor/Mentor Institute's primary focus is helping mentor rich programs reach youth living in high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago.

There are a wide variety of formal mentoring programs, and many youth are involved in informal mentoring. This New Report: The Mentoring Effect, shows that too few youth are engaged in formal mentoring.

This is one graphic from my web site illustrating a need to support youth for many years. On you can find more graphics like this, which point to a long-term result, which is when kids have made the journey from first grade through high school, post high school learning, and into jobs with family level wages or better. Our aim is to help youth programs build strategies that support this long-term goal.

This graphic is intended to illustrate the infrastructure needed in every tutor/mentor program. Most people, including youth and volunteers, don’t see the work it takes to recruit and retain youth and volunteers, and find the operating dollars and other resources needed to build an ongoing program. See this graphic at this link.

I’ve piloted uses of maps since 1994 to illustrate the need for tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago. Without the maps donors and media focus on a few high profile programs, or a few high profile neighborhoods. You don't get a distribution of resources to all of the neighborhoods, or all of the programs, which need consistent support.

The oil well graphic indicates the need for programs to help youth from birth to work. See more maps at

Most efforts to support non profits, including tutor/mentor programs, share ideas that help programs improve themselves, and their operations. This concept map shows a section of the Tutor/Mentor Web library that represents a college of resources that tutor/mentor leaders could draw from to be better at what they do.

However, most smaller programs are so overwhelmed and under financed that they can't draw from this information for on-going learning as much as they need to. This section of the library should be read by business leaders, donors and policy makers. It shows challenges facing non profits.

As the Iceberg graphic demonstrated, every program has common needs for a wide range of talent. Few have the money to hire all the talent they need or purchase the best technology and other tools needed to run a high quality business.

This is where we need to grow. Business leaders have tremendous expertise in building chains of stores operating in multiple locations. I wrote about Polk Bros recently, showing how advertising and sales promotion were used to draw customers to stores. On Pinterest I show many graphics that illustrate the role of business and professionals could take to draw needed resources to volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs all over the city. I created this “Virtual Corporate office PDF” to illustrate the way volunteer talent in many companies and industries could be mobilized and focused on supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs throughout big cities like Chicago.

If programs are consistently supported, and are constantly learning from each other, and engaging all of their supporters in efforts to constantly improve the organization’s impact, they should be able to show on their web sites many indicators of their value and impact. This pdf illustrates some of the things a “shopper” should want to see when looking at a tutor/mentor program’s web site.

Teams of volunteers from business, universities, high schools, etc. could help programs collect and share this information on web sites, and could provide some of the advertising support needed every day to encourage more people to look at these web sites and provide support to help one, or many, programs grow.

As a result of this support there should be many programs with a long-term history and the ability to posts murals like this, showing youth and volunteers who have been part of programs in the past, and who are still connected to those programs today, while helping programs provide services to the next generation of youth.

Now, when you look at this graphic, do you understand what it is showing? Can you share this with people in your own network? Take a look at this blog to see how interns have been creating visualizations and new interpretations of graphics like this. Start a project at your school, or in your church or in your tutor/mentor program, where youth and volunteers create their own interpretations, focusing on your own community and/or school neighborhood if you're not in Chicago.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Change Fortune for Youth In High Poverty

On Monday I posted a version of this graphic to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, wishing everyone share in "the Luck of the Irish".

I think cities need to create their own luck for youth living in areas with high concentrations of poverty, and fewer learning, enrichment and job training opportunities than youth in more affluent areas. How do we do that?

In the four leafs above I've put the four strategies described in this 4-part strategy map. In the presentation below, this 4-part strategy is explained by an intern from IIT who worked with me for six weeks in 2013.

If we have better information to support innovation and collective action, and to distribute needed operating resources into every high poverty neighborhood, more people can use that information to help constantly improving, mentor-rich programs reach k-16 youth in those high poverty neighborhoods.

By "constantly improving" I mean that both programs and resource providers are learning from the best work being done by others on a consistent basis and are applying these ideas to help make every tutor/mentor program in each neighborhood a world class effort. Instead of searching on Google for information showing what others are doing, this information should be aggregated in web libraries such as the one I've maintained since 1998.

This graphic is explained in this video, created by a 2014 intern from IIT.

If youth have access to more non-school support systems, they can create their own good fortune, because they will have more of the help that youth in more affluent areas have naturally available to them.

Anyone can take a role in making this strategy available to Chicago or other cities. Youth from middle school, high school and/or colleges could be creating new interpretations of this information, sharing it with adults in their own neighborhood.

If you'd like to know more about the information in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library, let's find a time to meet in Chicago, or on-line. If you're around on May 19, I encourage you to attend the next Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, which will be held at the Metcalfe Federal Building. Registration is open.