Monday, October 26, 2020

Tipping Points, Influence and more

I created this graphic in 2011 as another attempt to communicate visually what I had been trying to do since 1993, in fact all the way back to 1975 when I first started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago.  The beliefs I posted then are still valid in 2020.

I firmly believe that connecting a youth with a non-family adult in a structured, on-going tutor/mentor program is a good thing
. It has an influence on both the youth and the adult but in so many different ways that it is difficult to quantify. I'm not trying to recruit those who don't believe. I'm trying to connect with the thousands of people who have already been part of tutor/mentor programs at some point in their lives and already know how they have been enriched in big or small ways as a result.

In order for these programs to reach youth in high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago and to involve volunteers who work full-time jobs
in many different industries the programs need to operate in non-school hours and in places where youth and volunteers feel safe participating. In such places the program/organization itself becomes part of the mentoring process. It sets a tradition that connects past, current and future participants of that program.

In a city like Chicago with close to 200,000 youth living in high poverty neighborhoods there needs to be hundreds of small tutor/mentor programs
serving k-12 youth. For such programs to grow in more places teams of leaders need to step forward who act as a 'virtual corporate office'. They do things that people in the corporate offices at WalMart, Sears, McDonalds and other big companies do everyday to support multiple stores in many locations.

If we know who the existing programs are then we can lower their costs of operating and we can enhance the quality of their work
if we can influence the flow of operating dollars directly to each program and if we can influence the flow of manpower and talent to each program. If programs have access to capital for innovation and if they have talented people learning ways to get better by learning from what other programs are already doing, then we can also enhance the quality of every program by collecting and sharing ideas that can be used by any program at any time. 

I created the graphic below in 2013 to visualize this thinking. Here's a 2015 article where I explain it more.

Every big city in the world has areas with high poverty where the gaps between rich and poor are growing wider every year. That means there could be teams and leaders in every city trying to collect information about existing organizations and trying to influence the flow of dollars, talent and ideas to all of the programs in their cities.

I hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months between May 1994 and May 2015 to help stimulate the sharing of ideas among leaders of programs and to build greater visibility for tutoring/mentoring that would drive more donors and volunteers to each of the programs in the city. I've not  hosted the conference for the past few years due to lack of funding and partnership from others.  Yet, I still support the learning goals of the conferences. 

The map below (find at Debategraph site) shows the goals of the conference.

I share these eLearning goals on this page, too. 

For the past six months the nation and the world has been dramatically reshaped by the Covid19 pandemic.  Site-based tutor, mentor and learning programs have not been able to maintain face-to-face connections with youth and volunteers. While many have moved to virtual connections, there are huge obstacles to be overcome.  I think it's more important than ever to connect programs, volunteers, youth and supporters in the type of eLearning that I was trying to stimulate via the conferences.

Ten years ago I was just beginning to use Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.  Now they are my primary means of connecting and sharing ideas with others.  If you're reading this, I encourage you to share it.  If you know of others hosting similar discussions please share the information with me.

If you are someone who already believes in the logic model I've been sharing and sees that you could take a role in influencing the flow of resources to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago or your own community, let's find a way to connect.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to be able to continue leading the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and to share the ideas with other cities. 

I depend on contributions to help fund this work. If you're able, please go to this page and use the PayPal to offer your support.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Role of Intermediaries

Since 1993 the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) has served an intermediary role, collecting and sharing information that others can use to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in EVERY high poverty area of Chicago and other cities. 

Here are two Slideshare presentations that show what I've been trying to do.

This one focuses on the process of network building

This one shows role of intermediaries, consultants and others who could be doing the same as I'm doing, or helping me do it.

These are just two of more than 50 presentations I've placed on Slideshare since 2011.  I started creating visual presentations in the late 1990s to explain work of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the youth tutor/mentor program I was leading.

In 1998 we created the web site (which since 2011 has been the primary website of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC) and I started putting the PDFs on line.  Now in the Library page on the site you can see a long list of presentations, including some I've place on as well as on Slideshare.

Read about this - here

Between 2006 and 2015 interns who worked with me in Chicago created many new versions of articles that I first launched as PDF essays and/or blog articles. My hope is that students and volunteers from many places will continue this work, as part of their own effort to expand the network and help other people get strategically involved.

I've used many visualizations over the past 20 years to communicate ideas. Some I've embedded in presentations. Others in blog articles. I've put some of those on Pinterest. Others can be found by doing a Google search for "tutor mentor" than adding any of the words from the column of tags on the left side of this blog. Once you do the search, look at the images. You'll find many of mine.

While I share this information on this blog, I continue to reach out daily via social media to people in Chicago and around the world who are concerned with the well-being of people and the planet.  You can help by just reading and sharing these articles to your own network. 

Of course, to keep doing this work I must find a sponsor, benefactor and/or a whole lot of people willing to make small contributions to fund me.

If you're one of those people, visit this page and use the PayPal to send a contribution.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Digging Deeper using ThingLink

If you've spent time on this blog you'll see I use visualizations frequently to communicate strategies. A few years ago I created a few articles, using ThingLink to help people dig deeper into the visualization.

Below is an article from 2017.  I had created this blog post, pointing to a 2017 report, by the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at UIC that focuses on the State of Racial Justice in Chicago . Then in a follow-up article, I used the same image, and embedded links,  using Thinglink.

I learned about this from my #clmooc educator network.

Click on any of the nodes and you'll find an article related to that part of the graphic. Read the article and more like it.  Share with people in your own network so more people will get involved and we can increase public will and the number who care. 

Below are two more graphics I shared  using ThingLink.

Service Learning Loop:   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".  Below is a screen shot of his animation, using 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 graphic showing my role as an intermediary, connecting people who can help (the list on the left) with information (the blue box) and people and organizations in places where help is needed (the tutor/mentor organizations I  point to from the web library I host. .

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.   

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.  In fact, I encourage you to rewrite it, with your own interpretation, pointing to your city, and youth serving organizations operating in your city.  

If you value these articles please consider a small contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  Click here to find a PayPal link you can use. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Get to know Chicago area youth tutor, mentor and learning programs

 Below are a few images I pulled from Facebook posts this week, shared by volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs operating in Chicago.

Cluster Tutoring

Next is Inspired Youth

Next is Metro Achievement Center, part of the Midtown Educational Foundation

Next is Chicago Lights

These are just a few of the more than 100 Chicago area  non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs that I host on this list, which I've been maintaining since 1993 in an effort to connect "people who can help" to programs in areas of the city and suburbs where k-12 kids need more help moving through school and into jobs and careers.  Take a look at the graphic below.

I fill the blue box in the middle with information like my list of programs, and with a library of information showing why they are needed and where they are needed most, as well as challenges that keep cities from  having great programs in every zip code.  By sharing this list on social media and this blog, I'm also attempting to draw resources and attention directly to the websites and social media posts of each individual program, without a middle man filtering who gets help, or asking for grant proposals to narrow who gets funded.

I use maps and data to show where help is most needed and to show assets (banks, hospitals, universities, faith groups, etc) located in different areas, who could be doing more to help programs grow. 

EVERY program needs to be funded, because they all need to be great.

While anyone can open and scroll through my list and then open websites of individual programs to learn what they do and where they operate (if this information is being provided, which is not always true), I've been trying to help people find programs more easily on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Below is a screen shot from the list of Chicago area programs that I host on Twitter. 

A few years ago I created a similar list showing Facebook pages of more than 100 programs. I kept it in the NOTES section of my FB page, an pointed to it often.  Last week I learned that FB was no longer hosting, so I rebuilt the list on my Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site. You can view part of it below. If you want to see posts from the organizations I featured above, visit the list and find their name and link.

My efforts to draw visibility to this list of youth serving organizations only works when those organizations are keeping their websites updated, using blogs to show why they are needed, what they are doing to help kids, and success stories, and posting regular stories to Facebook and Twitter.  In this post I share some ideas of what I wish were on every program's website. 

Sadly, only a few use Twitter regularly. More use Facebook.  So far I've not built a list of Linkedin and/or Instagram sites. That would be a great project for a group of students.

Here's the deal. Except for Twitter, you still need to scroll through my list of links and open pages one-by-one to see what programs are showing.  On Twitter, if you open my list you can scroll through it and see any post offered, going as far back on the list as you want to go.  I visit it every day and then give attention to those sharing information with a 'like' or a 'reTweet'.

During the current Covid19 pandemic, the US Elections, and the climate disasters it's more difficult than ever for youth serving organizations to attract attention and talent.  Thus, their ability to help kids who need extra help is limited.

You can help change that. View the lists. Get to know individual programs. Share links to these programs in your own network. Volunteer time when you can, to be a virtual tutor or mentor, or to help build a programs infrastructure. Or to posts social media posts for them.  Encourage others to do the same.

Find time to do this every day.

Not in Chicago?  Does your city have someone doing exactly what I've been doing for the past 27 years? If not, build a team, spend time learning what I've been doing, then duplicate it, doing even better than I have. There should be a Tutor/Mentor Connection type strategy in every urban area where there are high concentrations of poverty. 

See the above map in this article on the Mappingforjustice blog. 

Do you find this useful? If yes, please consider a small contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. Visit this page and use the PayPal button. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Is This Your Goal?


Take some time to look at this graphic and think about it. What are all the things we need to know and do to assure that all kids born in America today are safely through high school in 18 years and then through post high school education and training and in jobs by their mid 20s?  Where are all the places where extra help is needed, not for a few months, or a few years, but for many years?

All of the articles on this blog, started in 2005 focus on this.  

All of the information on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, started as the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, focus on this goal.  Make it a resource you visit often. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Supporting America's Mayors

Today I listened to mayors of Chicago, Oakland, Minneapolis and Sacramento, in a session hosted by Taubman College at the University of Michigan.

You can listen to it yourself, on this YouTube page

In one segment one of the Mayors talked about how it's important that Mayors borrow good ideas from each other.  Imagine if someone were building a web library to help make this borrowing easier.

I've been building such a library since 1990s to help people do more to build mentor-rich non-school programs that help kids move from birth to work. This goal is shown at the top of this graphic.

At the bottom of the graphic is the library, or the knowledge base.  It's not just a collection of what I've learned, but a collection of links to websites showing what other people have learned, or what they are doing to reach this goal.  Rather than constantly starting from your own limited knowledge, problem solving should start by borrowing from the knowledge of as many resources as you can find.

I seek to influence change by a) collecting and sharing what I can learn from others; and b) sharing my own ideas of how this information can be used; and c) what an ideal mentor-rich non-school program might look like.

However, I don't try to be an expert on other people's ideas. Instead, if I see a website with interesting and related work, I add it to the library, so it's available to others who will dig deeper and build their own understanding and expertise.  I maintain an extensive list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs so everyone can learn from each other. I point to similar groups in other cities for the same reason. View this cMap to find these links.

I show the four major sections of the Tutor/Mentor web library in this concept map

Here's an example of what I'm writing about. In today's event the Mayors talked about "spatial solutions" which involves using maps to understand where in a city's geography certain problems persist, then using that understanding to guild the distribution of resources and solutions to places where help is needed most.  Knowing what others are doing could certainly enhance the effectiveness of what Mayors do throughout the country.

In one section of my library I aggregate links to websites showing uses of maps. Then, I use concept maps to share some of that information. Thus, the map below points to a variety of websites which share data using maps.

concept map showing data platforms

Now, imagine a version of this concept map pointing to data platforms from 50 to 100 or more cities throughout the US and the world which are being used to reduce poverty and create greater opportunity, reduce hunger and provide more affordable housing and opportunities to jobs.

I don't know if anyone is building a library of such information or sharing it using concept maps.  However, I'd be happy to share how I've been building the tutor/mentor library, how I build concept maps, and how this fits into a four-part strategy that intends to share this information with a growing number of stakeholders and users.

I've been writing about this for past 15 years so on the left side of this blog you can find tags that take you into additional articles on learning, leadership, philanthropy, etc.   Feel free to share this blog with Mayors in your city or use it as a curriculum guide for a high school or college study program. 

I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram (see links here) and hope to connect with others who are interested in using knowledge to help others solve important problems.

If you'd like to help fund my work, visit this page and use the PayPal button to send a contribution. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Understanding Racism Using a Map

 Below is a Tweet from Chicago Beyond highlighting a discussion they hosted today on ZOOM, titled "Unpacking Race, Wealth and Individual Power".

As the conversation unfolded I begin to feel that it mixed two significant problems facing the Black community and people of color.  I created a screenshot of this RacialDot map to help illustrate my thinking.

I circled areas in Chicago with high concentrations of Black citizens, which also are areas with high concentrations of poverty.  If you browse through the maps, media and violence articles on this blog, you'll see that most of my focus has been to help create opportunity for youth in these areas, by motivating more consistent investment in youth mentoring, tutoring, learning and jobs opportunities.

However, as this graphic from Ebony Jet magazine illustrates, many Black Americans do not live in poverty. Many are very, very successful and have great wealth and unlimited opportunities.  These people are spread in all parts of the Chicago region. 

For them racism is not so much a lack of opportunity as it is a fear that because of the color of their skin they or their kids can be pulled over by police, and possibly killed, or they can be stopped in their neighborhood at their homes, or near their cars, because someone called the police, "fearing" that a Black person had entered their space.

You can find stories like this every day in some part of America.   

Don't get me wrong. From what I have read, there is plenty of discrimination facing people who have managed to escape poverty but still lose jobs, promotions, access to loans and lower property valued because of the color of their skin.

If you're in a high poverty neighborhood, you have these fears, too. Maybe even more frequently. However, I think that some how this conversation needs to broaden, using a map, to understand the ingrained racism that affects every Black person, regardless of their wealth or where they live.

At the same time we need to find ways to engage EVERYONE in efforts that fill every high poverty neighborhood with a full range of programs and supports that help each youth born today be starting a jobs and career free of poverty 20 to 30 years from now. That will take significant investment and public will, for many years.

Build your own understanding of race/poverty issues.  I've built a huge library, pointing to dozens of web sites and resources.  The concept map shown below serves as an entry point. Use it often.

I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Linkedin and Faceboo, too. I urge you to follow my posts, share them with your network, and share your own ideas with myself and my networks.  

If you value my posts, please help me fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a small contribution. Visit this page and use the PayPal link.