Friday, September 22, 2017

Bombs Bursting in Air - Ideas Spreading to Others

I included the fireworks graphic in blog article I posted last Sunday. I created the other graphics shown below in the 1990s. They each communicate the same idea of using information to support decisions and problem solving.

I launch a concept or idea with a blog post which I share via email and social media with my network. That's like the first stage of a fireworks explosion. When others pass my article on to their own networks, that's like the second and third stages of explosions that you see in a fireworks show. It's these efforts to pass on ideas that enables them to reach more people.

I keep emphasizing that there's a cost for me to collect and host ideas in my web library and to launch these ideas on my blogs. While my goal is that people give time, talent and dollars to support tutor and mentor programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities, I seek some who will support my own efforts.

We all want the same outcomes for youth. We need a knowledge base to support what we do to achieve these outcomes.

Each of us has a network of friends, family, coworkers, etc. who we can reach out to in an on-going effort to draw people to the information in the knowledge base, and to places where we can connect with each other, and with organizations working directly in different places to bring tutoring, mentoring and learning opportunities to youth.

Every time that you pass on articles like this you are part of an information sharing fireworks display! You are taking an active role in building the "village" of support kids and families need in high poverty neighborhoods throughout Chicago and the world.

Every time you make a contribution to support my work you are supporting the work done at the bottom of the pyramid shown above.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tutor/Mentor Strategy - Go Forth and Multiply

I led a volunteer based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 till 2011 and have collected a load of endorsements and paper archives. I've been digitizing these and last week converted a 22x26" Thank You, Dan! card from 1989-90, signed by students and volunteers.  Click on the graphic at the left and you can see a few comments.

I put the entire card into a PDF and uploaded it to Slideshare. You can view it below. Use your zoom button to enlarge and see all the signatures and comments.  One of the joys of having led these programs is the enthusiasm and positive feed back that I've received.  However, that has to lead to more than just "thank you cards".  Read more after you view this.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 (and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011) to help mentor-rich non-school programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and since then have created a huge library and hundreds of articles and strategy presentations that are tools others could used to help with this strategy.

In the four-part strategy that we developed in 1993, step 1 focuses on collecting information, such as the database of Chicago tutor and mentor organizations. However, step 2 and step 3 focus on increasing the number of people who are using this information.

Since I never had many dollars for advertising, and I'm not a celebrity or part of a wealthy family, or politically connected, this strategy has always depended on others carrying the ideas I launch on this blog and my web sites forward to their own friends, family and co-workers.

This graphic illustrates how ideas I share can be shared by people who read them, with others who will read them and then pass them on to even greater numbers of people. I included this in a 2011 article, and in many others.

I was thinking about this last week during a Twitter chat with educators from around the world and the I began to think of this graphic as a form of fireworks.

Posting an idea, like this article, is like lighting the fuse on a fireworks rocket. As it explodes it creates a constellation of stars, which represents people who are exposed to the message.

Some of these also explode, creating another burst of stars, representing the message reaching a new network of people. Often there's a third, and a fourth blast, meaning the ideas are reaching more and more people.

Think of my Tweets and articles as a daily blast of exploding ideas.  

Below is an example of what I hope happens every day:

Since 1975 several thousand youth and adults have been part of tutor/mentor programs I've led. Some have provided endorsements and "thank you, Dan" messages, like those you can see above.

However, so far, too few are passing on the ideas I share and taking actions that result in more and better volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs reaching k-12 youth in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities.

In addition, too few are providing talent and dollars to help me continue this work, or to help me pass this entire library and mission on to a younger, more talented generation of leaders.  I saw a tweet this morning with a quote saying "the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now"  I re-tweeted it with this message.

Had a few leaders helped me "plant the Tutor/Mentor Connection tree" in early 1990s, and helped me continue to nurture it for the past 24 years, I feel Chicago would have a much denser network of mentor-rich programs helping kids in poverty, and many more people taking active roles to share these ideas, get more people involved, and build sustainable and on-going flows of talent and dollars to every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities.  Many might be able to show "thank you" cards from alumni students and volunteers on their own web sites similar to mine.

If this interests  you, read the  "do-over" articles I posted last spring.  And visit this page and  use the PayPal button to send me some financial support.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Navigating Information in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Library

Over the 24 years I've led the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present) I've had many people say "I did not realize there was so much information here." or "Wow, that's a lot of information."

That's not necessarily a complement. In a world where people want solutions in one page papers few are willing to do the deeper learning needed to develop broad strategies to complex problems that affect people in many places throughout the US and the world.

I've persisted and I keep looking for ways to help people navigate the information I've been collecting. In the late 2000s I created a learning path concept map, intended for new staff working with me in Chicago. I've shared it as a guild others can also use.  Today I highlighted some sections using Thinglink.

Click on the dots and learn more about what's included in each section of the map.

In 2015 Wona Chang, and intern from South Korea, spent time looking at the same concept map. She then created a visualization using Prezi (no longer available) and following that, put the visualization on YouTube. You can see that below:

This information can be used as curriculum for high school or college level leadership training and can also be used to guild businesses and organizations as they look for solutions to poverty, inequality and other complex problems.

Furthermore, students in middle school, high school and/or college could be looking at my strategy articles, the same way interns have done in the past, and then creating their own interpretations.  Not only will they learn the ideas and strategies that they study, but they will also learn new ways to communicate ideas.  These are valuable skills.

I'd be happy to walk you through this information, in person if you're in Chicago, or via Skype if you are located elsewhere.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Apply Service Learning LOOP to Disaster Recovery

In the aftermath of hurricane Harvey and in anticipation of hurricanes Irma and Jose many are creating information platforms that use maps to show where the storms are hitting and resources that people can use to survive and recover. These also point to organizations who are providing service and who need donations and volunteers to do their work.  I point to some resources in this section of the Tutor/Mentor web library.

In the early 2000s I created a pdf that shows how volunteers who get involved in a tutor/mentor program often become evangelists who draw other volunteers and donors to support the program. In 2007 an intern created an animation to illustrate what I call a "service learning loop".  Today I created a Thinglink to point out different parts of the loop. Click on the dots and read the information provided.

All five parts of this loop are important. The weakest links are 1) support for knowledge aggregators who collect and share information others can use to get involved, and 2) not enough intermediaries who use their time, talent and communications ability to draw attention to the knowledge (right side) on a regular basis, so that more people use it to find where and how they can help (left side).

Below is another version of this graphic.

I've used versions of this graphic in numerous articles and presentations.  It's critical that more people understand the on-going role of intermediaries as well as the role of information libraries.  See more graphics showing role of intermediaries at 

I've used this and similar graphics to emphasize the many years it takes for kids to grow up.  There are no quick fixes.  The same is true for disaster recovery.

While many are needed in this intermediary role, investors need to also fund the work done by groups who collect and organize information. This needs to be done on a regular basis, and for many years.  I wrote an article a while back showing some of the challenges involved.

I hope those who read this article will see themselves in this intermediary role and will share the article with others using social media and personal communications channels.  That's putting this lesson into action.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Disaster relief. Floods. Kids.

Recovery efforts are now taking place in Texas, Louisiana and other places in the world where floods have caused recent human tragedy.
At the same time, school is starting in Chicago and other places, including in flooded areas, and kids living in high poverty areas are facing an on-going human tragedy of too little support from home, community and school.

There are some common challenges in both areas.

see this map
I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 in an effort to build a master data-base of non-school tutor and/or mentor programs operating in the Chicago region, in an effort to provide information that leaders in business, politics, education, philanthropy, etc. could use to determine if there were enough programs serving different age groups in all of the city's high poverty neighborhoods.  My goal was that the maps and database I was hosting would be used to support on-going public education and marketing plans intended to draw ideas and resources to programs, while helping programs network and learn from each other.

The goal was to have great programs in every neighborhood, not a few great programs in only a few places.

 You can find my list of programs and most updated map here.

In the years since it has served as a resource for parents, social workers, librarians, etc. to help parents find services for their kids.  Just last week I received a message saying,
"Looking for Mentoring programs for young girls and boys  
from the age of 7-16 years of age in the Near North Area."

Over the past 23 year's I've responded to these requests by pointing people to the directory and list of programs, so they could shop and choose from what was available. I've often had to say "none there", which means you and your community need to start programs if your kids are to be served. I've offered the information on my web sites as a resource for such efforts.

I've never had much help doing this, and even less since 2011, however, the need still exists.  Thus, I seek volunteers and partners who will help me keep the information up-to-date and help build awareness so more people use the resource. View this presentation then read more below.

Without a map showing where help is needed and what organizations are providing services, with layers showing age group served and type of programs offered, it's impossible to know if a city has enough needed services in all the places where they are needed.

I seek people who will:

a) adopt a section of the city and review youth program web sites; make sure they are working; tell me of broken links, or new programs that I need to add. Get to know what these programs do, and how they differ from each other. Share news about these programs via social media, blogs, church bulletins, company newsletters, etc.

b) dig deeper into the theory of change and design of programs. Look at similar programs throughout the country/world and build a list of "what looks best" type programs that others can learn from.  Update this regularly.  Build an understanding of what type of program design is best for the needs of different age groups and client groups.

c) help me update my own technology and communications capacity. Look for ways to share ownership and carry this into the future.  This is all part of a four-part strategy described in this article.

Now, how does this relate to disaster relief? map
Without maps showing the areas flooded by the recent Hurricane,with overlays showing service providers needed at different stages of recovery, high profile areas like Houston will draw most of the recovery resources while lesser visibility areas will receive too little.  Even within Houston it's likely that more affluent neighborhoods will attract greater support than the high poverty areas.

For instance, and  this ESRI site provides numerous maps showing flood areas.  The maps are professionally done and provide great information about where the damage was greatest.  However, they don't include overlays of recovery support organizations who need volunteer and donor help to do their work.

Here's a site that is showing resources people are looking for, with a map showing shelters.  SketchCity, a tech group in Texas, has been creating some information-based maps, like the one showing shelters.

This is all useful, but is it enough?

What help do kids in poverty need? What help do disaster recovery areas need?  I've been using cMaps to create a visual blueprint that shows different supports kids need as they move through school and into jobs and careers.

These supports are needed in every high poverty neighborhood for many years. Thus far, I know of no one collecting and mapping such information, like I describe in the presentation shown above, to show availability,  and provide support, for all of these needed services.

Here's a HBR article talking about the impact of Harvey on poor people and advocating for prevention efforts, before the disaster occurs. Here's another from the Washington Post. Many issues mentioned in these articles represent nodes on a concept map like mine.

Concept maps and other visual tools could be used to show the various short and long-term disaster recovery support needed, not just in Houston, but throughout the world.

Visualizations like mine might already be available some place within the US and worldwide disaster-relief ecosystem.  If they are I don't see people on social media pointing to these and calling on volunteers and donors to use them to guide their efforts.

I don't know. Maybe readers who do know will share links.

What I do know is that many volunteers, donors and leaders are needed to collect, organize and maintain such information, and keep it updated for many years.  And many more are needed to build the daily and on-going marketing and communications needed to draw volunteers and donors to the information, and then to all of the areas where kids, or disaster victims, need help, now, and will need help many years more into the future.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Football Season Starts - Think Of How Great Teams are Built

The preseason is over and the games that count are set to begin. College football's kickoff weekend is here. Millions of eyeballs are getting set to spend three to 10 hours or more a week watching the games.

Every team's players have mastered thick and thin playbooks. Coaches have been doing chalk-board talk and  using "x" and "o" diagrams to outline winning plays.

How can we get just a fraction of that attention and game design effort focused building and sustaining great youth development teams in high poverty neighborhoods throughout the country?  

Here's a diagram from the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC playbook. It shows the goal of helping youth through school and into jobs and careers and the need for programs reaching every age level, in the school day and non-school hours.  It's one of many visualizations you'll find if you browse articles on this blog or pdf essays in the Tutor/Mentor library.

I've written many articles in the past showing roles that athletes and coaches might take beyond what they already do to help kids and communities.   My articles focus on building great teams, which is work owners, media, coaches and fans all help with.  I go beyond the great play or a single game, to building leagues and great teams in many places.

In the past couple of weeks J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans has raised over $10 million for flood relief in Texas.  This is a great example of the power of celebrities to mobilize resources following a disaster of huge magnitude. I've seen similar efforts focused on helping a single child suffering from a disease or personal difficulty.

What I've not seen are maps, charts, and a game plan...for raising kids, or preventing environmental disasters.  Do a search for J.J. Watt on Google, then look at the images.  Do a similar search for other celebrities and sports stars.  Then do a search for Tutor/Mentor Connection and look at the images. Look at the maps and visualizations on the T/MC search. Click into blog articles and see how they are used.

Think of these as the "x's" and "o's" for making life better for disadvantaged or suffering people. Think of this as the game of life, with celebrities serving as coaches, team builders, sports writers, etc.

Think of how many more people would be thinking and acting differently if you found images like on the T/MC search when you looked up football, baseball and/or basketball players and teams, or TV, Movie and/or Music celebrities.

Think of what it would mean to kids growing up in poverty neighborhoods, or people trying to rebuild after disasters like Katrina, Harvey, or the floods, famine and wars in Asia, Africa and the Middle East if you saw these images repeated over and over for many years.

As you're watching college and pro football this week and in coming weeks, spend some time looking at the ideas I've been sharing and then think of ways to enlist sports teams and fans in this strategy.  Take time to share this message on social media and via your own blogs or videos.

Life is a team sport.  Don't just watch. Participate.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

24 Years Later - Children's Needs Still Not Being Met

While the US focuses on the tragedy unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, I keep thinking of what will be needed for decades to help people in these areas recover from these disasters.

I also keep adding links to this Climate Crisis article, showing that disasters like what's happening in Texas are unfolding throughout the world.

Since 2005 I've written a few articles following natural disasters. They all have the same pace. Urgent need and huge attention and outpouring of help as the tragedy unfolds.  Few using maps, so many areas where help is needed get little attention. In the years following one tragedy another happens and attention goes to a new crisis. Keeping attention and resources flowing five, 10 and 15 years after the tragedy is almost impossible.

That same flow of attention follows urban violence.

I've been reducing my paper trail and am scanning some of my news stories into my computer. Added this one from 1993, which is a letter to the editor written to the Chicago Tribune by Florence Cox, President of the Chicago Board of Education

I highlighted one section where she says:
"We must begin to realize that the needs of Chicago-area children are not being met, and in neglecting those needs, we neglect our own future as a prosperous and safe city."

Here's another article with some quotes from other stories, showing how difficult it is for this nation to focus on complex problems that require long-term attention and resources to be solved.

When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 one of four strategies was to generate more consistent attention to issues of poverty, violence, inequality, etc. drawing needed support to all of the non-school tutor/mentor programs operating in the Chicago region. I started using maps to show where they were most needed and where existing programs are located.  

I found another set of notes, with quotes I'd written down during speeches given during the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia, PA.  I was there as a delegate from Chicago and as a Teaching Example exhibitor.

In the letter to the editor and in the Summit speeches, leaders are calling on Americans to become involved in solving complex problems.  The problem is, they have not made this call for people's involvement every day since then, and they have not pointed to web libraries and directories showing information people need to learn from, and lists of existing programs who need their help.

That's still a problem.

I've tried to model what needs to be done, by my own actions and those of the Tutor/Mentor Connect ion (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present).  I've had limited resources to do this, but continue with what I have.

I keep hoping to find others who will help me...and will help provide the consistent attention needed to support people and organizations working with kids in all places where they are needed. I invite disaster recovery leaders to borrow ideas and apply in their own work.