Thursday, September 03, 2015

Building Public Will - Essential

I scratched out the outline for this story a couple of days ago as I was riding the train and thinking about the challenges we face in solving complex problems like poverty. I hope you'll follow along with my thinking.

This graphic is part of a strategy graphic that shows the planning steps needed to solve complex problems or role out a new business strategy. See the full graphic and explanation here.

Every year, millions of dollars are spent by social benefit organizations trying to attract resource to support their work. The money is spent directly on fund raising, marketing and public education. It's spent indirectly on training programs and consultants.

Regardless of where an organization operates or what cause it focuses on, we're all competing for a slice of the same donor pie. That pie seems to be shrinking, either because of economic circumstances, or because of the rise in organizations competing for a share of the pie. Natural disasters that occur randomly around the world exert a huge pull on discretionary donor dollars every time they happen.


Thus, it's unlikely that great programs, doing similar work, but in different places, will be available in a large percent of the places where such programs are needed. Since 1993 I've piloted uses of maps to show where non-school tutor/mentor programs are most needed, then using the maps to influence donor support of programs in every place where the map shows programs are needed. In recent years there is a growing application of mapping and data visualization (see blog). However, I still don't see many who are trying to create maps of all service providers doing similar work in areas where that work is needed. Such maps would show a poor distribution of needed programs. Over time it would show change as new programs launch and some go out of business.

It's also unlikely that many organizations will attract on-going dollars to enable them to provide long-term support. In youth development, this is a serious issue. Kids take 12 years to move from first grade to first job. If they are living in high poverty areas, the support system needs to reach them early and stay with them through school and even into work. Such support systems are needed in many, many places.



What's the solution?

Building public will is step 7 on this map. Each step is important in solving complex problems. However, until more people from different places, with different talents, and different levels of influence get involved in brainstorming ways to build public support and keep it growing, I don't see many long-term solutions emerging.

I created this graphic (see article) to illustrate that while we want to help social benefit organizations and clients use the resources available to achieve their missions and/or overcome challenges they face, we also need to influence what people who don't live in poverty do to help them. This can include direct support such as funding, or public policy. It can also include indirect support, such as removing barriers and obstacles.

Some (but certainly not all) of the actions we need to be focusing on include:

a) constant education of the public so they have deeper understanding of the problems and places where strong, constantly improving, social benefit organizations are needed

b) innovation of on-going advertising-type campaigns to influence what resource providers do

c) build growing understanding of how current systems of philanthropic and government support are not working.

Just a small growth of the resource pie every year could make a huge impact on the availability of needed social benefit organizations (including tutoring/mentoring organizations) in more of the places where they are most needed.

Building public will requires champions and leaders from every sector, in every city of the world. I'm certain that this discussion is taking place. I'm just not sure where this is an on-line forum, a cMOOC, or part of a web library that points to a wide range of places where this is being discussed.

Use the comment section to provide links to open, on-line forums, Google groups, or cMOOCs that you're aware of, where "building public will" is the focus of the group. Or introduce yourself to me on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How to Introduce Myself.

I was invited to connect with a well known writer via email and am in the process of sending an introduction. I'm almost done, and realized that it's a long message, and the introduction could be extended to others, as well. So here it is:

Thanks for inviting me to connect directly to you. Following is a rather long introduction, but not nearly as long as your books. I hope you'll skim through it and browse my web sites after that.


My work extends back almost 40 years when I started a retail advertising career with the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago. Over 17 years I learned much about how big companies support multiple stores in many places, and how they use massive advertising budgets to draw customers to each of their stores. This is relative to what you and I and others are doing because few of us have the massive advertising, or celebrity appeal, that draws attention to our ideas on a regular basis.

Shortly after I joined Wards in 1973 I was recruited to be a volunteer in an employee led, company sponsored, tutor/mentor program which connected volunteers with 2nd to 6th grade kids living in the Cabrini-Green public housing complex, across the street from the Ward Hq complex.

I've a background in history and served a short time in army intelligence, so I've a habit of looking for information to help me when I'm trying to learn to do something new.

As a volunteer in the tutor/mentor program I did not know much, so I began to search out ideas for what to do each week. In 1975 I was recruited to be the leader of the program, which already had 100 pairs of kids/volunteers involved, and again, I had to begin to reach out to find other people who I could learn from, in order to be effective in leading my own program.

In doing so, I began to build a network of peers, and a library of information. Over the 1975-1990 period my corporate jobs grew in responsibility and the tutoring program grew to where it included 300 pairs of kids/volunteers meeting weekly by 1990.

My network of peers began to meet regularly, and we began to organize joint volunteer training efforts. As we did this I tried to find other programs in Chicago to invite, but no one had a master database.

At the same time occasional news stories about violence, poverty, school performance, etc. would raise to a level of indignation that would result in front page stories and editorials with people saying "it's all of our responsibilities; we must do something.'

However, this indignation only lasted a few days. In addition, unlike our efforts at Wards, where we knew the location of all of our stores, without a master database of youth organizations, or much knowledge about what they do, media stories only pointed to a few high profile programs, or to a few of the many neighborhoods where such programs are needed.

In 1990 I left my Wards job, converted the tutoring program to a non profit, and began to raise money to pay my own salary, and program expenses. At that time, the idea of trying to help programs grow throughout the city began to take shape. That's when I began to learn how difficult it is to raise and retain philanthropic and government dollars to do work that is complex, and requires a long-term process of innovation and constant improvement. I've devoted an entire section of my library to showing challenges non profits face, which we much learn to overcome.

In late 1992 I left the first organization, due to conflict with the board of directors that I had recruited, and created a second version of the first program, focusing on helping 7th grade kids move through high school and beyond.

At the same time, a little boy named Dantrell Davis was killed in Cabrini Green, and the newspapers went crazy with "do something" stories.

Knowing that the city had no master database of programs, thus the media attention would not serve like a corporate maketing strategy intended to support all tutor/mentor programs in the city, and would soon move to another story, I and the volunteers who were creating the new kids program decided to create a second strategy, which became the Tutor/Mentor Connection. It was at this time that I began to innovate uses of maps to show all poverty areas in the city of Chicago.

The T/MC's goal was to collect information that anyone could use to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city.....and to increase the frequency and consistency of media stories drawing volunteers and donors and program leaders to this library of information.

I've been leading that effort ever since.

When we first started the T/MC in 1993 Montgomery Ward gave us a huge amount of office space for the kids program we were also launching and I began to use the wall space to lay out the strategy for both programs.

When the Internet came into play, i began moving this strategy to the Internet.

There are two PDFs in my library I hope you'll look at.

1) 4-part problem solving strategy, which shows the value of the library of information, including your books, that people need to draw from. - http://tinyurl.com/TMI-4-part-strategy-pdf

2) Planning strategy, which shows all the things leaders need to think about, including how to build and sustain public will for many years. http://tinyurl.com/TMI-Problem-solving

At the heart of the information I collect is a list of Chicago tutor/mentor organizations. However, this is only a small percent of the 2000+ links in my web library which is represented by the map below.


Instead of launching a web library with only my ideas, I've been trying to aggregate ideas of others, so visitors have a wider range of influences. Every link in my library is a potential collaborator in efforts to build and sustain public involvement in the movement you're leading. Bringing them together on a consistent basis is almost impossible, especially when has no money for advertising and outreach. This library represents a potential support of support for the efforts of yourself, Robert Reich, Robert Putnam, Bernie Sanders and others who focus on the same and related issues.

Every city in the country has the same problems of concentrated poverty (as illustrated by this Brookings.edu map), fragmented leadership, and no marketing based strategies to mobilize people and resources to solve the problem in all places where it exists.

I think the only place where this information can be shared and where a large enough community of people can connect with the information, and each other, and stay connected for many years, is the Internet. However, as I said in my Facebook post, I think my ideas for using the Internet are still 10-15 years ahead of their time. Too many leaders and decision makers are still not using the Internet in the ways I envision and too many of the poor don't have access at all.

When I say "what are all the things we need to be thinking about?" this is one of them.

I've never had much money to do what I'm doing, nor have I had support from highly visible people, yet the ideas keep getting looked at and shared via social media, just as I'm sharing them with you.

I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 after the Board at the organization I created in 1992 and led since then decided to no longer support the T/MC strategy. I did not have a team of volunteers to create a new non profit, so created the LLC to continue to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and to help similar intermediaries grow in other places.

Thus, I'm focusing on two strategies now

a) find people/resources/partners to help me do this work

b) find universities and/or other institutions who will move what I've been doing into institutes on their own campus where they take leadership and ownership

In many ways I've been trying for 25 years to find a champion, or benefactor who'd support me the way the Medici family supported Lonardo DaVinci (like finding a needle in a world wide haystack) so I could explore ideas and express unpopular opinions. If I were running for public office, perhaps I could find one of the wealthy donors who give so much to PACs!

If you browse my http://www.tutormentorexchange.net web site you'll find numerous examples of what I've just described being put into actions. Also you'll see countless opportunities where other people could do this better than I have done it.

That's the goal. We want to enlist and empower others who take ownership and use their own time, talent and money to help pursue the same goals we've out lined in our own publications.

If you share this goal, let's connect on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin and find ways to connect via email, or in person.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Maps, Maps and More Maps

The concept map below shows some of the data/visualization platforms I point to. These and many more are highlighted in stories on the Mapping For Justice blog, which I've hosted since 2008 to highlight the use of maps as part of planning and leadership strategies. If you don't visit that blog regularly, you're missing out on some great resources.


As we head into Labor Day, leaders of volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in every city and state are looking for volunteers to pair with kids as school starts, or to help them build and sustain strong organizations. Here's a list of Chicago area organizations who all need volunteer and donor support. I organize this by sections of the city and suburbs for two reasons. a) It helps volunteers and parents locate programs near where they live/work. b) It highlights the need to help programs in every neighborhood grow to become great programs.

As you browse the list of programs you'll see fewer programs in some parts of the region than in others. You'll also see a big difference in the information posted on web sites, and the strength/sophistication of programs. With consistent volunteer and donor support we ought to be able to look at this list every year and see constant improvement in every program.

I created this graphic almost 20 years ago to illustrate the role business should be playing in pulling kids through school and into the workforce. One of the primary roles every business can take is to encourage employees to become volunteers in youth serving organizations and schools, offering time as tutors/mentors and talent as leaders, planners, tech support, fund raisers, etc.

Chris Jarvis Owner, RealizedWorth, posted this article showing the Unique Role of Corporations.

While it's too late now to do creative planning that results in more volunteers supporting more programs in cities across the country, it's a great time to recruit a team of volunteers who will dig into the information and ideas I share, and build a strategy that begins to mobilize volunteer time and talent by next spring.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Are you leading youth serving organization in Chicago, or another location? Where do you get the ideas that guide your efforts?

Over the many years I've led a tutor/mentor program in Chicago I've come to believe that volunteer-involvement in the life of young people is a good thing for the youth, and the volunteer. In order for such programs to reach kids in big city neighborhoods, organized programs are needed. Since there are nearly 200,000 kids living in poverty in Chicago, many programs are needed, which requires new forms of leadership and resource distribution. I show this graphic in this Logic Model PDF.

I did not know much about what I was doing when I started to volunteer in 1973, but I began to seek out ideas. I did not know much about leading a program when I became the leader of the program at Montgomery Ward in 1975, so I began to seek out ideas from people who were leading programs in other cities. Over the years, I expanded my search for ideas into wider and wider categories of information.

A few days ago I began to think of how I might share the spaces where I connect with people and ideas. While taking the train to the city, I scratched out this graphic on my notepad.

I was going to try to create a version of this using PowerPoint, or a Drawing program, but then I attended a data visualization workshop at 1871 in Chicago, and was inspired by slides shared by Steven Franconeri, a Professor at Northwestern University, to create the graphic below to communicate this idea.


This is color coded so the light blue boxes are areas where you'd expect leaders of tutor/mentor programs to be going for information. The green boxes represent categories of potential resources and volunteers, so you'd expect leaders to be visiting these sections, too. However, the chart shows sections with research on poverty, inequality, health disparities, social capital, etc. which I hope programs, volunteers and leaders are looking at. Then to the right side of the chart I point to categories that I'm not too sure others are looking at often. These are web sites with information about process improvement, collaboration, visualization, knowledge management, etc. This also points to a section with links to social entrepreneurs around the world, who are innovative problem solvers that don't all depend on charity for revenue (though many do).

I think this graphic helps you understand the spaces I'm looking at every day, but it's not interactive. You can't click on a box and dig into some of the information I'm looking at.

So, I used my concept mapping tool and created a version of this graphic, with links to some of my sites. You can view it at this link.

Last January one of my interns from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago, created the video below to help guide people through sections of my web library.



So, now you've some visuals to guide you into this vast library of people and ideas. Spend some time each week looking at this, and sharing what you see with people in your own network. After a while, you might even be inspired to create your own visual guides through this information. Good luck!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sharing ideas. Who's Listening?

This graphic illustrates the purpose of this blog, and the work I've done for the past 40 years. I'm trying to connect people "who can help" with people and organizations in places "where help is needed"..usually defined by high levels of segregated poverty.

I've been sharing ideas on web sites since 1998, using email newsletters, social media, blogs and other tools to try to extend the reach of these ideas. Last week I received a copy of the White Papers from the 2013 UIC Forum which focused on uses of information technology in different regions of the country, with a focus on Chicago. The first article in the book was titled "TOWARD CONNECTED, INNOVATIVE AND RESILIENT METRO REGIONS" and written by Karen Mossberger, Chen-Yu Kao, Kuang-Ting Tai of Arizona State University.

Scroll down on the PDF to Table 1 and Table 2, which show high levels of Internet use in more affluent neighborhoods of Chicago, and low levels in low income areas. This disparity is troubling because it means the most of what I've been sharing is not being seen by people in low-income neighborhoods. Many years ago someone pointed out this disparity to me and I said, "I understand the lack of technology access and use in high poverty areas. However, my goal is that people who have talent and resources needed to change this, who live in more affluent areas, are looking at the information I share." This group represents "those who could help" in my graphic. If they are motivated to do so with any consistency, they could dramatically change internet access in low income areas.

However, if you look at Table 1, it shows that while nearly 90% are using the Internet, only about 50% of users in affluent areas are using the internet for on-line courses, or learning. That could mean that almost half of those who could be helping are not even looking at the ideas I'm sharing. That's a concern.

In different parts of the world this gap in Internet access and use is even more severe.

While I was leading volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs between 1975 and 2011 I made an effort to recruit technology-skilled volunteers who set up and managed computer labs at our program sites in the Montgomery Ward corporate office. In the early years these primarily gave kids opportunity to access learning games via disc based programs. As the Internet became a resource in the late 1990s they expanded the range of learning resources volunteers could introduce to kids.

During the 2000s it became more and more urgent that we find ways to motivate kids, staff, volunteers and others to become active learners, who spent their own time visiting web sites and learning from information available. I used weekly newsletters and the tutor/mentor program web site, to point students and volunteers to information in the homework help section of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site, and in the research section. As I was able to raise funds in the mid 2000s for a technology coordinator at the tutor/mentor program, I created the graphic below, to show learning goals.

At the core of this was a goal of developing a habit of visiting organization web sites, now, and in the future, to get information, give information, connect with fellow student and volunteer alumni, etc. in ways that provide on-going benefit of the mentoring and tutoring community to each participant.


In 2008 the financial crisis began to have a huge negative impact on the program I was leading and by 2010 we had lost funds for a technology coordinator and in 2011 I also left the organization. Thus, the on-going effort to teach web learning habits was not in place long enough to have the impact I was hoping to achieve. I cannot tell from the organization's current web site if they are continuing this strategy.

I created the graphic below to illustrate the need to constantly expand the network of people who were looking at information and ideas we're sharing so that at some point in the future we could tip the scales for people living in concentrated poverty because we've innovated ways to build empathy, understanding and involvement from more people who don't live in poverty...which would also result in the on-line engagement of more people who do live in poverty.


I point to more than 200 Chicago youth serving organizations on this page of my web site. I point to other youth serving organizations and networks around the country on this page. I browse these sites every year and don't see many who show a technology learning strategy similar to what I've shared above.

Is that a reflection of activity not taking place, or the inability or organizations to show process and strategy on their web sites, or both? So many future jobs are dependent on youth learning the skills I show on the Learning Chart above, it would seem that donors would emphasize and encourage technology learning programs within every site-based tutor/mentor program.

I'll close with one final chart. This shows the potential for site-based tutor/mentor programs that operate in the non-school hours in different neighborhoods to recruit volunteers from different business and education backgrounds. These are people who already use technology for everyday work and learning who could be modeling technology uses for kids, and for the tutor/mentor programs where they volunteer. How many programs show this type of graphic as a model of the type of program they are building? This PDF shows more about this chart.


As we start the new school year I hope programs who are trying to build web learning habits in their youth and volunteer corps will share their strategies, on their web sites, in their blogs, and in research papers. As some share, others will learn. I'd also like to find a sponsor/partner who'd create a MOOC that draws programs, volunteers and donors together to talk about this topic and share strategies (or who is already hosting this discussion).

If YOU are one of those who are on line, and looking for ideas, please share this with others in your network.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mayor Emanuel Joins Mayor's Mentoring Challenge

Just received news release saying "Mayor Emanuel and the Illinois Mentoring Partnership today announced the Mayor’s Mentoring Challenge (MMC), a two-year initiative seeking 1,000 residents to serve as new mentors for Chicago’s youth. This call to action will pair at-risk youth across the city with a mentor to provide enrichment and guidance opportunities that are critical to each and every child’s development and success. Mayor Emanuel is urging Chicagoans to volunteer their time, values, knowledge, or a skill – to ensure all of our youth have the tools and support they need to succeed and reach their full potential."

First I congratulate Illinois Mentoring Partnership for securing this commitment. Second, hope this leads to the Mayor digging deeper into articles I've shared over the past 10 years, that would lead to thousands of volunteers joining volunteer-based tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

Many of the articles I write point to the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and library. Others point to articles I've posted on Scribd.com, such as the one below.

Chicago Community Areas_Youth in Poverty Analysis by Daniel F. Bassill



The Mayor and business leaders are making a commitment to mobilize 1000 new volunteers over 2 years. My hope is that they use maps to help distribute volunteers into each of the community areas with between 1,000 and 6,000 youth age 6-17 living in high poverty. Furthermore, I hope they will encourage people to offer their talent and resources to support the growth of existing programs and/or help new programs grow in under-served areas. The essay below focuses on "recruiting talent volunteers".

Recruiting Talent Volunteers for Youth Tutoring, Mentoring, Learning Programs by Daniel F. Bassill



This list shows nearly 200 different organizations that offer various forms of tutoring and/or mentoring in the Chicago region.

Volunteers (and donors) can visit web sites and find programs where they might want to get involved. Browsing this list will quickly show that some programs are more mature, and better organized than others. However, the goal should be to have great programs in every neighborhood. This can mean volunteers help some programs become great, or help others stay great. This requires a long term commitment from the Mayor and other leaders.

These illustrated PDFs are part of an extensive library of information and ideas that I've been collecting for nearly 40 years. The information is available to business, faith groups, universities, political leaders and philanthropists. In the flow of social media it's easy to highlight commitments like the Mayor's Mentoring Challenge. However, unless people form learning communities, and dig deeper into web libraries like the one I have been building for 20 years, responses will be superficial and short term, and the systems of support that need to be put in place in every high poverty neighborhood won't result from the involvement of these extra reinforcements of volunteers.

I'm available to help you and your team find and understand these ideas.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Want to Change World? Who's Helping?

I'm taking part in an interesting conversation in one of my Facebook groups which is focusing on network theory and how members of a large Facebook community can support each other in achieving common goals. I've offered some ideas from my own work, which you can see if you browse the conversation thread.

I used this graphic in this article, to illustrate my own efforts to support what others do to help high quality tutor/mentor programs reach youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. If you look at the graphics on the Facebook page, they are similar in showing process, however, few focus their process on solving specific problems, like filling a city with great programs which help kids through school and into adult roles...over a period of many years of consistent effort.

Mapping of networks, and the work of leading thinkers like Valdis Krebs, has been introduced into the Facebook discussion thread (Really, you need to take a look). Krebs spoke at a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in 2009 and donated his software for my use. In this page I point to articles by Krebs and others about the value of social network analysis. In this page you can see efforts I've been making to map participation in past Tutor/Mentor Conferences.

What I've seen so far from network analysis, is the ability to map what's happened in the past. What I'm trying to do is create a mapping tool that would help groups change what happens in the future.

In groups on Facebook, Linked in and in face-to-face events hosted by leaders in Chicago, many people are gathering. However, I've not yet seen an effort to map "who is in the room" or "who is helping". Below is a "talent map" that I created several years ago to show the range of talents needed to help the Tutor/Mentor Connection succeed in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago. This map is also the talent needed to help me lead the volunteer based tutor/mentor programs that I started leading in the 1970s.


In a small organization, or a start up, the leader or founder often needs to have many of these skills, or has the ability to attract volunteers and partners who add their strengths in areas where the founder/leader has weaknesses. Over time, if all of these talents are not consistently available, it's not likely an organization will be successful. My own growth over the past 25 years has been limited because I've been missing some of these talents, or they have not been consistently available.

A similar network map, shows that organizational talent needs to represent different networks, or constituencies. If I have a writer from a PR or Advertising company, I'm more likely to gain business support from that sector, than if I have a writer from the local college. Having a highly-motivated volunteer who is an accountant at a small company serve on your board can be valuable. But if you have an accountant from a major accounting firm, who is part of one of the wealthy families in Chicago, you probably have a greater access to the consistent funding you need to hire talent as your organization grows.

Talent matters. So does network.

I talk about talent needed and building a team in this Steps to Start a Program PDF, which you can purchase for a small fee.

I've suggested to others that these concept maps could serve as team building worksheets by any organization, or community network. If someone with a design/technology background could turn this into a form, that people can use to enter data and see a growing network of talent, it would be an even more useful tool. I'm looking for developers who are interested in working on this, perhaps as open source.

I've been part of some Facebook networks since 2011, with participants from all over the world. I've suggested over and over that efforts need to be made to bring donors and investors and other needed talent into the conversation. Mapping who is participating would be a start. Using a worksheet like above, would help focus on future recruitment efforts.

On a side note, I've been disappointed that so few people from the Chicago area are participating in these same groups. These are full of ideas that can fuel the efforts of local activists. I'm not seeing this participation, at least not in the groups I'm part of.