Monday, September 22, 2014

Expanding Network in Chicago

Last Thursday I attended the UIC Urban Forum in Chicago. As I listened to speakers many of the ideas resonated with me and I began building a list of follow ups. I encourage you to visit the web site to see the list of speakers, read the white papers, etc.

One of the panel members was NBA Hall of Fame Star Isiah Thomas, who grew up in Chicago. His comments were challenging. He said "This is about compassion, love and engagement, not a data issue." "When we start disinvestment in communities we take sports and play out of a community." "We're dancing around an issue of poverty and segregation." If you search #urbanforum on Twitter you can read some of what I heard.

Then on Friday and Saturday I attended the Chicago School of Data event hosted by the Smart Chicago Collaboration ver two days people talked about collecting, organizing, mapping and visualizing data, with the important focus of "how do we use this data?".

I was one of a minority of the 300-plus participants of the Urban Forum who was posting Tweets to my timeline as the conference took place, using hashtag #urbanforum.

The organizers of the Chicago School of Data event hired bloggers, social media experts, film makers, etc who were active throughout both days collecting interviews and posting Tweets under the hashtag #chidata. Here's a RivetNews radio interview.

As I attended the Urban Forum I wrote in my notes "Where do people meet to follow-up on the various ideas shared by panel members?" The organizers of the Chicago School of Data event answered part of this by posting meeting notes in this Google Drive space.

Both web sites include agendas with bios of speakers. The School of Data event included a roster of participants, with links to their organizations. This seems like a real effort to support connections among participants.

I hope in future events organizers will use maps to show participation, such as the maps I've created to show who has been attending Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences. In fact, I created a concept map to suggest how participants in events like these could be mapped to show what areas they focus on, not just who they are.

If we can get more of the people who attend these events into on-going conversation and brainstorming, and bring donors in to help fund our individual efforts so we have time to participate in collective efforts, we can unleash a tremendous amount of talent toward making Chicago's future bright for all of its residents.

I encourage you to bookmark this article. As the hosts of these events provide follow up information I'll post links on this article.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Knowledge Based Problem Solving - What is it?

I've been trying to find an elevator speech that quickly communicates what I do to corporate and philanthropic leaders, and I continue to struggle to do that. Last night in an event at JPMorgan Chase I simply said, "while you're on the airplane search for "tutor mentor" on Google and my sites will be on the first page. Spend some time looking at the sites and perhaps you'll form your own understanding. Click on the images feature, and look at maps and graphics I've created.

That's probably not a good tactic, but I'm working in a field that does not have a lot of understanding of knowledge management and innovation, especially applied to social sector involvement. In early September I attended an event where a business leader said "most CEOs don't understand, or embrace knowledge management".

Wow. No wonder I have been struggling to gain consistent business and philanthropic support for nearly 20 years.

My problem is compounded by the fact that I'm talking in dimensions. I use maps to show all of the places in Chicago where kids need extra support that organized tutor/mentor programs can provide. I use graphics that show the 12-16 years of continued support kids need to move from first grade to first job. I use other graphics to show the range of people who could be helping, as well as the variety of age appropriate supports kids need at every age level.

Too few people are thinking this way. If they are, they are not connecting with me.

I've been creating illustrated essays to communicate my ideas. Below are two. If you're on an airplane or stuck in a hotel, I hope you'll look at these and want to meet so we can talk about how you and a team of your employees/friends might begin to dig deeper into this information and apply it in your own actions.

Solving problems requires consistent long-term impact. This is what a "vertical" network would do.

Vertical Horizontal Networks and Social Problem Solving by Daniel F. Bassill

Innovation is enhanced when you can look at what other people are already doing to solve the same problem you have been trying to solve. In this PDF step one focuses on knowledge management while steps two and three focus on ways to increase the number of people involved in this problem solving, and who help people use the knowledge to support youth, and youth serving organizations in many neighborhoods of big cities like Chicago.

Problem-Solving Strategy-Explanation and Overview by Daniel F. Bassill

These are two of many essays in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Library. Form a circle of interested volunteers and begin to dig into this information, then apply the ideas in ongoing efforts to help every youth born in a high poverty neighborhood today be starting a job and career by their late 20's.

I am available to help guide you, and your team, through this information and help you understand how it is intended to be used.

If you figure out an "elevator speech" to introduce this, please send it to me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Increase flow of operating resources to needed youth orgs

This is a graphic I've used many times to illustrate how people from any part of the Chicago region can be encouraging friends, co-workers, family, etc. to support tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods with time, talent and/or dollars.

This is a graphic showing the home page of the Boston Indicators Project which I wrote about in an article on the Mapping for Justice blog. I hope you'll read the article and see how this site provides information about 10 different issue categories relevant to the Boston area, and points to a Giving Common, where donors can search the same ten categories to find organizations working in those categories which they can support.

In a number of articles I've written since 2012 I've pointed to MOOCs, like the Education, Technology and Media #ETMOOC, as forums where people from many places can connect around specific topics.

I think a next step for Boston, and other cities who might want to duplicate what Boston has done, or do it better, would be to create MOOCs around each of the 10 issue categories, and timed at different times of the year so they support what people are thinking about and what programs are doing at different times.

Thus, a MOOC focused on education, violence prevention, youth and workforce development, etc. might have events in August/Sept as school is started, and November/December when non profits are looking for donations. Events in Jan/Feb would help convert some of the volunteers who join programs in September into leaders, and help recruit replacements for those who have dropped out. A May/June MOOC might celebrate what has been done during the year, share best practices, and remind everyone that programs need to repeat and be in more places the following year since kids only go through school one year at a time, and cities like Chicago have too few programs where they are most needed.

I hope you'll share these ideas and read others I've posted on this blog since 2005. Follow the links to do your own deeper learning, or to create a study group in your family, business, faith group, etc. so more people use this information to support their on-going involvement in tutoring/mentoring, or in any other issue important to the well-being of Chicago, the USA or the world community.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Climate Change March, Sept. 21, 2014

What issue has the most potential to unite people from around the world to fight against inequality? Climate Change. I encourage you to view this film, then plan to share it with youth and volunteers in your tutor/mentor programs. While we all seek ways to inspire youth to learn, many realize we need to provide a reason to learn and engage with others. Building in a "climate change" study/activism group within a tutor/mentor program could offer many longterm benefits to youth and volunteers, and to the larger community.

What I like about this video is how it shows that climate change is an issue that unites many different movements, such as income inequity, social justice, poverty reduction, jobs creation, political inequity, health disparities, etc. It also reflects a long-term vision and understands how difficult it is to recruit and retain deep involvement of millions of people, over many decades of work. I understand this from my own efforts to engage people who don't live in poverty, including my own family, college classmates, and hometown friends, in my own efforts to help build systems of support for inner city youth.

I host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months. The next is November 7, 2014 in Chicago. I invite someone involved with the climate change movement to organize a workshop sharing ideas for ways the ideas in this video could become organized activities within many tutor/mentor and non-school learning programs in Chicago and other cities. To present a workshop, fill out the form on this page.

Learn more about the Climate Change March, and this movement at

Monday, September 08, 2014

Building a Distribution of Influence

At any given time of the year it's not hard to find a story about a company or foundation providing a grant to support a youth serving organization in Chicago or another city. At some times you might even find stories showing how a group of people, like professional football players, are encouraging people to volunteer at one or more youth serving organizations in a city.

However, how often do you see corporate leaders, or groups like the National Football League, or National Basketball Association, show maps on their web sites, as part of strategies intended to help well-organized, long-term youth mentoring, tutoring and learning programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of a city?

I use maps, like the ones below, to show the entire city of Chicago, so leaders will create strategies that distribute volunteer talent, company technology and ideas, and flexible operating dollars to programs in every neighborhood, so each has the resources to constantly grow its impact.

I include maps in on-line essays like this one, which can be used in any organization to inspire their own thinking of ways to influence the growth of programs that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers.

Virtual Corporate Office: Strategy for Helping Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs Reach Youth in More Places. by Daniel F. Bassill

If you search Google for the words "tutor mentor" and look at the images page, you'll see dozens of graphics like the one below, which have been created to communicate ideas that can be adopted by many leaders, from many different types of organizations. You can see a collection of these on Pinterest, and in many of the articles from this blog.

This graphic shows a quarterly communications/event strategy that needs to repeat year after year in order to increase the amount of dollars and volunteers available to youth tutoring/mentoring organizations in a city, or in the country. It shows that if visible leaders, like the President, add their own voice, more people will respond.

I led a tutor/mentor program from 1975 to 2011 and used the web site to share ideas like this. While that program is still operating, it has a new web site and limits the information it shows about what it does. I host a link to that program, and nearly 200 other Chicago youth serving organizations in this section of my web library.

If you look at every one of these web sites you'll see that some do a great job of signaling what they do, while others give only limited information. However, few include a blog like this one, where they talk about the need for mentor-rich programs in more places than their own, or where they talk about the challenges they face, and ways volunteers, donors and/or business partners could help them overcome those challenges.

I hope my own example inspires others to create articles like this on their own web sites, and that it inspires talent from industry to help programs tell their stories and build great programs. Here's an article posted last week by Mark Carter, who leads a consulting company in Chicago. And this web site of an organization on Chicago's West site shows support for the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences.

School has started and while a few kids will be lucky enough to be part of a great tutor/mentor programs, many kids will not be as fortunate, and even more kids won't even have a program within a few blocks of where they live.

If more people write articles like these, more kids will begin to have great programs available to them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Build Great Youth Teams in Every Neighborhood - Role of Intermediaries

Like everyone else in Chicago, I'm celebrating the accomplishments of the Jackie Robinson West Little League team. I'm also watching the Bears and hoping the Cubs and Bulls will put great teams on the field. I have hopes for the White Sox, too. I even cheer for the Blackhawks. I think several million other Chicago area residents have the same thoughts on their minds today.

Thus, I want to draw your attention to the infrastructure that is needed to build great teams.
Then I want to ask you to think of ways volunteers in business, civic and alumni groups, faith groups, etc. can take on roles of fans and team owners to build and sustain great tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities.

Below is a graphic I've been trying to develop for many years.

The team on the field consists of youth and volunteers who are connected via the efforts of the staff and leaders of organized tutoring, mentoring and learning programs. Youth in poverty face many obstacles, thus the defensive line in this graphic represents some of those obstacles. However, organized tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods also face many challenges.

Unless we as a city can overcome these challenges there will be too few Jackie Robinson West type teams and tutor/mentor programs in the many Chicago area neighborhoods where they are needed.

In this graphic, the fans in the stands are people who work in business, attend faith services weekly, attend local colleges, etc. These are the people who support great sports teams by their attendance, by watching on TV, or listening on the radio. They sport teams, and sponsors, by the way they purchase sports apparel, and the way the talk about their teams on a daily basis. These are people who could be volunteering time, talent and dollars to support tutor/mentor programs.

In the sky-boxes are team owners, boosters, investors and others who pay millions of dollars to make great teams the professional level, and at the major college level. Unless we find investors like this to support the growth of great tutor/mentor teams, there will be too few, and there will be few who have long-term commitments to building great teams (think CUBS).

This next graphic shows the role of intermediaries. The articles I write and graphics I create are limited by the talent I have to do this work. The number of people who see these is limited by my own lack of personal visibility and advertising dollars. Thus, if we want more great teams we need more people doing what I do, taking on an intermediary role to help connect people they know with ideas and with programs where they can help implement these ideas.

I send out a monthly email newsletter, with graphics like these, and with links to different sections of my web library. This section points to almost 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations who need support from fans and owners to be world class at what they do.

The goal is that people use the information I'm aggregating to expand the range of ideas they have to support actions they take to help great tutor/mentor teams be available in more places. Volunteers from different places could help create a better design for this newsletter, could write articles, and could create their own versions to circulate this information to their own network of family, friends, co-workers, etc.

Below is an animation that illustrates a role athletes could take on a regular basis to mobilize fans and owners to support constantly improving youth programs in high poverty areas.

Sports Start Helps Build Tutor/Mentor Teams by tutormentor1 on GoAnimate

Video Maker - Powered by GoAnimate.

This animation, and other videos in my library, could be re-produced in many ways, with hundreds of different athletes, celebrities, etc. giving the message.

This isn't an ICE BUCKET campaign, but if it is given the same attention, the result will be better support of hundreds, or thousands of different youth serving organizations operating in Chicago and other cities.

And ultimately, that will provide more of the support youth need to move through school and into adult lives and careers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

9-Yr Old Executed. Rage in Short Supply

This image is from page 12 of today's Chicago Tribune, which is an article featured on the front page under the headline "Young Life Cut Short Along a Gang Divide".

This second image is from a today's John Kass column, on page 2 of the Chicago Tribune. The headline is "9-year-old boy is executed, but rage is in short supply.

I've written about the Woodlawn Community Area of Chicago in the past, both because of the violence and because it is one of the Promise Neighborhoods intended to support youth throughout the community area. I hope you'll browse some of these articles and see a pattern, and a strategy, that can respond to Kass's "where is the rage" question.

The map (below) is from a December 2011 article. The map shows the location of a shooting, and the location of New Beginnings Church.

In February 2014 (and often since 1994) I've posted stories showing how others can create map stories to "expand the supply of rage" and turn this into a supply chain supporting the growth of youth tutoring, mentoring, learning and jobs programs in high poverty areas.

Here's another based on today's story.

I created this map using the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. It shows the location where the shooting took place, which is just South of the Woodlawn Community area, in the Greater Grand Crossing Community area. On this map I show community area boundaries, and the number of youth age 6-17 living below poverty in that area. I've been collecting information about Chicago volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs since 1993, and green stars on my maps show locations of programs. You can click on a star and get the program name, and double-click to go to their web site.

This next map is one that looks closer at the neighborhoods around where the shooting took place, and adds information about hospitals, businesses, universities, faith groups, etc. in the area. All of these groups could be connecting to support the growth of non-school tutor/mentor programs in the area. Read this story, which I wrote in 2009, to see that I've been sharing these maps with leaders of initiatives like the Woodlawn Promise Zone Initiative for many years. So far the strategies don't seem to have been adopted, or we would see a growing number of non-school tutor/mentor programs in the area.

While I've been creating map stories to draw attention and mobilize resources for tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods since 1994, I'm like John the Baptist. I see a brighter future, but too few people are listening. While media tell these stories from time to time, and writers like Kass call on people to be involved, they don't do this every day, and when they do, they don't point readers to web sites where they can learn more, and find ways to get involved. When they do, they point to single locations, not locations all over the Chicago region.

In this graphic, posted in 2009, I show that while the media post stories every day related to the issues surrounding incidents of violence, they don't connect these stories in ways that point readers to many paths of involvement.

They don't get paid to do this and media don't make money focusing on good news. Thus, where's the solution.

In this article, I show how youth from schools throughout Chicagoland could be creating blog articles just like this one, and for the same purpose. This image is from one of several presentations done by interns working with me in past years.

Anyone can take on the intermediary role that connects people with ideas and brings them together to focus on actions that lead to solutions. Youth can do this.

If writers in various media outlets, and bloggers on social media, encourage young people to become activist and community mobilizers, and show them how to create map stories like this, we can build the reach and frequency, and evangelism, needed to build the supply of rage, and actions, needed over many years to reduce these problems in Chicago, and in other cities around the country.

Use the articles I've posted since 2005 as a lesson plan for creating such stories.