Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Expanding Networks. Deeper Learning.

If you skim through some of the many blog articles I've posted since 2005 you'll find many graphics used to visualize and communicate complex ideas.  I'm not certain how effective this is, but I feel a picture can do more than several pages of words.

Below is a graphic I'm working on.  I'm going to include it in my monthly eMail newsletter.


I use a "wheel" graphic to visualize the need for youth to be connected to volunteers from many work/career backgrounds who can model different opportunities and open doors as kids grow older. As volunteers from different industries get involved in a program, many informally share what they are learning with people in the work/social networks.

The second graphic is visualizing a strategy intended to draw more people to the information available in the Tutor/Mentor web library and on the web sites of the various youth programs and researchers that I point to. Each person involved with a tutor/mentor program formally, or informally, can be telling others about their experiences and recruiting others to take a role.

The maps are intended to show a need for great tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of the city, not just in a few places.


Imagine this photo from a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference as a gathering of your volunteers, where they are sharing ideas for being an effective tutor and/or mentor, or for helping find resources to support your organization.

I'm sure this is happening in many places. But are you writing about it on your blog or web site? Are you pointing to a library of articles for people to read?

Here's a page on the Cluster Tutoring Program web site, where they point to articles their volunteers can read.  Look through the list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs that I host. How many do you find that share information like this?

It would be great if people who read my blog actually looked at these programs, then posted comments telling about programs who are sharing information like Cluster Tutoring does.  

As volunteers from different industries get involved in programs like this, many informally share what they are learning with people in the work/social networks.

View video
I've described this as an "adult service-learning" process. In on-going programs it repeats every week and the longer a volunteer is involved the more he/she has to share with other people who might also become involved.

How can we make this intentional? Are there ways to motivate some volunteers, and students, to take this role, and use social media and face-to-face interactions to draw more people to our libraries of information, help them understand it, and help them use what they learn in one or more ways that helps a tutor/mentor program help kids move more successfully through school?

Why is this so important?

Birth to work challenges

While making mentor-rich non-school programs available in more places is critically important, the challenges facing kids and families in high poverty, highly segregated, neighborhoods of Chicago go beyond schools, education and mentoring.

I created the cMap at the left to show what some of these challenges are.  Each needs a movement of people who dig deeper into the issue and look for solutions which they apply in many, many places, for many years. 

Unless we dramatically increase the number of people focusing on these problems we'll never do enough to assure that more kids born in poverty are living adult lives free of those challenges.

The service-learning loop video that I point to above was created by an intern from South Korea. I originally communicated this idea in this PDF essay.  Between 2005 and 2015 many interns spent time looking at my blog articles and graphics, then created their own interpretation.

I invite others to do the same. Try creating your own version of the graphic I posted at the top of this article. I'm certain that many could communicate these ideas better than I do.  Or they can reach more people than I do.  Give it a try.

Want to help me? Visit my FUND ME page and send a contribution to help me keep doing this work.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Learning from Others. 25 Year Goal of Tutor/Mentor Connection

My mentoring email group today included a message from Graig Meyer, who led the Blue Ribbon Mentoring Program in North Carolina for 16 years. Graig and George Noblit have written a book,  titled "More than a Mentoring Program" and used the email to introduce it to the research community. He also pointed to a series of videos and podcast interviews. Below is one of the videos.



Here's what Graig wrote about the book:

"My hope is that this can act as a guide for both practitioners and researchers. I believe that the field of mentoring needs more examples of effective programs, and we were able to build a model that did some interesting things:

-Support youth beginning in 4th grade and until they completed college
-Provide community based mentoring while being embedded in a school system
-Utilize volunteer mentors and keep costs low
-Attain a 97.5% high school graduation rate and send 100% of those students on to post-secondary education

Perhaps more importantly, we tried to use our program to create leverage for attacking institutionalized racism within our local school system. In the book, we explore Blue Ribbon's anti-racist approach through a wide variety of stories, many of which should be familiar to anyone who is working at the intersection of mentoring and education."


I've had a link to Blue Ribon Mentoring and hundreds of other  youth programs in Chicago and around the USA in my web library since late 1990s, with the goal that people would learn from each other as way to constantly improve every program, and that new start ups would borrow from others to shorten their journey to becoming a great program.

Furthermore, my goal has been that donors, business leaders and policy makers would be learning from the same resource, and using the information to be more proactive in helping great programs grow in more of the places where they are most needed.

However, what really interested me about Graig's post is the effort the program made to attack institutional racism within the local school system.

I've created dozens of visualizations and concept maps that encourage people to dig deeper into all of the issues that influence the lives of people living in high poverty areas.  Furthermore, in my leadership of a single tutor/mentor program between 1993 and 2011 I attempted to share the research in the Tutor/Mentor web library with volunteers so they would dig deeper and get more involved in helping reduce the institutional barriers and other challenges that kids and families face.

I don't know how many programs do this as a strategic part of their program design. I can't tell very well from looking at program web sites.  Below is a concept map showing an ideal "volunteer growth cycle".

View in this article
In this video you can see an animation created by an intern in the late 2000s to explain this.  I've annotated it to highlight some features and to demonstrate a way others can engage with videos like mine. I hope you'll take a look.

Every year there are 50,000 to 100,000 volunteers working with high poverty youth. If every supporting organization were doing what Blue Ribbon Mentoring was doing imagine how many more people would be giving time, talent, dollars, leadership, votes and other support to help such programs reach k-12 youth in more places, and help these kids move more safely through school and into adult lives.

If you're doing this, share your links.

If you value the ideas I'm sharing please visit my FUND ME page and make a contribution.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

#Never Forget

This being the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, my Twitter feed is full of powerful, emotional, and motivating posts. Some use the #NeverForget tag. Not all focus on the 9/11 tragedy. Some focus on other tragedies, including US interventions around the world that have resulted in the loss of life and unimaginable suffering of millions of people. 

We are not alone in our suffering and our memories.  I encourage you to click on the link and scroll through some of the comments.

ChicagoSunTimes 10-1992
This Chicago SunTimes front page, from October 1992, is my own #NeverForget message. As with many other times before then, and since then, the editorial writers were eloquent in saying "it's everyone's responsibility" to solve this problem.

Unfortunately, that never was sustained.  Other than a few days, to a year, of editorial indignation, these headlines did little to bring people together, develop solutions to complex problems, and generate an on-going flow of talent and dollars into every high poverty neighborhood, and to all of the organizations needing those resources to help kids and families overcome poverty.

Furthermore, few news stories about urban violence, or poorly performing schools, pointed readers to a library of articles that showed the institutional racism that has existed in America since before the Declaration of Independence, and which has continued up until today.

View map
In one section of the Tutor/Mentor web library, which I show in this concept map, I point to many articles that point out these injustices.

Thus, when I say #Never Forget, I'm reminding you of Dantrell Davis and calling on you to do your homework to learn more about the problems we face and more about ways you can use your time, talent, dollars, votes and voice to bring about solutions.



Here's one more reminder, from today's ChicagoSunTimes.  It's a story of three innocent people killed by gun violence in Chicago.  If you click on the image and enlarge it you can see that I drew a red line around the last paragraphs of the story, then wrote that text in the yellow highlighted box.  It's a quote from the father of one of these three victims. He said,

"This has been going on for 20 or 30 years, and has been evolving. The teens and young adults caught up in the cycle of violence need additional funding for education and jobs programs to get them off the streets.”

“I haven't seen anyone with that kind of leadership. I don't have a lot of hope."


Share this with others.
I've been trying to draw people to a growing information library that people could use to build and sustain these types of  youth development, tutor, mentor and jobs programs. Too few have seen these stories or chosen to respond.

Share my articles with people you know and you become part of the solution.

Visit my FUND ME page, and make a contribution, and you help me continue to keep the memory of Dantrell Davis and others like him alive through my on-going efforts.

Scroll through articles I wrote during the second week of September,  in past years, to see other ways I've remembered this tragedy.

Monday, September 10, 2018

You get up every day and do what you can with what you have

Today I've been looking at articles I posted on this blog in September of past years and am sharing these via my @tutormentorteam feed on Twitter.  Here's an example.


I started building an information library that others could use to build and sustain mentor-rich, non-school programs, in 1993 when we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  In 1998 I began putting this on the Internet, dramatically expanding the range of information I could point to and the number of people who could find and use it.

Using this library, and the list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs that was part of the library, I began to invite people to gather in Chicago in May and November for networking conferences.  I continued doing that until 2015 when I no longer was able to raise enough money to fund these (I'm still paying of credit card debt from hosting these in the past), so I've not hosted a conference since.

I posted this article on Friday, asking for contributions to my FUND ME campaign, to help me pay the costs of keeping Tutor/Mentor Connection resources on line, and keeping my own bills paid. Thus, I've had fewer resources to attract people to the information I've been collecting.

Yet I've continued to work daily, using social media, Skype and face-to-face events (that don't charge a fee), to connect with others who share my concern for the well-being of youth born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we developed a four-part strategy to help programs grow in more places. While step 1 focused on gathering information and step 3 focused on helping people understand the information, step 2 focused on getting more people to visit the library, conferences, etc. and step 4 focused on motivating people to use what they learn in on-going actions that help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places.

I'm still doing what I can to collect and share this information with others who have greater ability to use it effectively. I continue to see financial support, but also seek partnership with universities, hospitals and public schools who could create a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy within their own organization, focused on the geography surrounding where they are located.

Can you help me do this?  

One no-cost way is for you to look at past articles, just as I do, and then post them, with your comments, on various social media channels, or in your church bulletin, company or school newsletter, or on your blog. Here's another example to guide your own efforts.



That's the way a movement grows.



Thursday, September 06, 2018

Can you help Fund the Work I'm Doing?

Below is a screen shot from an updated FUND ME page that I posted on my web site today. The one I had been using has not been attracting contributions, so I thought I'd try a new look.


Since 2011 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection (founded in 1993) operating in Chicago I've been operating at a loss and self funding the deficit from my own savings. I've not drawn a salary so my only income has been Social Security.

You can see that this is not a very smart business, or personal well-being,  move on my part. Yet I am deeply committed to building an information base that others use to become more strategic and on-going in what they do to help kids living in poverty connect with volunteers in organized tutor/mentor programs, that help them move more successfully through school and into adult lives.

So, if you've been reading this blog, or are one of the people who has said "Thank you, Dan" for what I'm doing, now I'm asking you to reach into your pocket and send a contribution to help me keep doing this.

Here's the link to the full page with a PayPal button.  http://www.tutormentorconference.org/2018_Fund_TMC_TMI_Campaign.htm

I am not organized as a 501-c-3 non  profit, so cannot offer a tax deduction for your contribution. I can promise to use the money to continue to do all that you see on my blogs and web sites and social media sites.  If I'm lucky enough to find a major benefactor ($300k or more) I'll actually update all of my platforms, get the Program Locator working properly and do even more to try to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago and other cities.

If you want to dig deep and really understand what I've been trying to do, what the current challenges are, and what some opportunities are that I've never been able to develop, visit this wiki and read through all the sections.

Monday, September 03, 2018

The Day after Labor Day - Network Building Continues

 I did not stop working on Labor Day. I continued to reach out via social media to people in Chicago and around the world who are concerned with the well-being of people and the planet.  I've been building a web library that points to some of these people since 1993 and spend time every day trying to connect them to each other and to myself, while increasing attention and support for everyone in the network.

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 46 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 www.tutormentorexchange.net web site 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 Scribd.com 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.

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.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Using Maps in Planning - Chicago West Side and Healthy Chicago 2.0

West Side of Chicago
Tutor/Mentor map
I used this map of El Stations on Chicago's West side in an article I posted yesterday.  Today I'm going to add some more maps and resources you might include in doing your own planning.

Below are three images that I created from pages on the Healthy Chicago 2.0 Health Atlas web site.   These all focus on the North Lawndale area which is included in the map I show above.

On the RESOURCE page of Healthy Chicago 2.0 you can learn about hospitals available in different community areas or zip codes of Chicago.  You can see the page below, showing North Lawndale. 


I have written several articles in the past showing roles hospitals, as anchor organizations, could take to help volunteer based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in the area around the hospital. If a team from any of these  hospitals were leading the planning process I have recommended, they'd first create a map showing the area around the hospital.

Then they'd want to know what tutor/mentor programs already exist. The map below shows YOUTH SERVICES included in the database of Healthy Chicago 2.0.


This database does not focus specifically on non-school tutor/mentor programs, and does not include some in the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute database, so you'd need to also use the library I point to in this link to create a more focused, comprehensive map. The map at the top of this article was created using this.

Next you want to understand the need for non-school tutor/mentor programs in this area. I created the graphic below using information from the INDICATORS section of Healthy Chicago 2.0


The area has a very low Child Opportunity Index and a very high economic hardship index with 12,833 young people between age 5 and 24 in the area.  You can supplement this with the information I provide on the map at the top, showing 4100 high poverty kids, age 6-17 in North Lawndale, and 7100 in South Lawndale.   If you look at each youth program and ask how many kids they serve, and what age group, you'd find that in total a very small percent of kids in the area have access to organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

You can find another set of indicator maps on the SCY Chicago web site. I point to it in this article.

Invite people to look at the
information and meet to discuss.

With this information the hospital can take a role of convener/network-builder, inviting people from the community to gather and look at this information, and begin to talk of ways they can draw more continuous support to help the existing youth programs constantly improve, while also help new programs form, borrowing ideas from existing programs in other parts of Chicago and other parts of the US and the world....all available in sections of the Tutor/Mentor web library that I've been building since 1998.


Since the late 90s I've been trying to motivate hospitals and universities to create Tutor/Mentor Connection type planning teams that would do the type of analysis I've just described, and the on-going work that leads to more and better programs helping youth in the service area surrounding a hospital move more safely and successfully through school and into jobs, including jobs in the hospitals themselves.  Here's one article with that invitation.

Unless a wealthy benefactor steps forward and provides the money to make this happen, I don't think I'll make much progress on this goal since leaders in these institutions are already doing their own things to solve these problems, and that reduces their ability to step back and ask "are there other things we should be doing?"

Who else could be helping?  I'm not suggesting that a hospital or university spend their own money to build and sustain well-organized non-school tutor/mentor programs. I'm saying they should use their visibility to draw business people into the conversation and motivate them to take this role.  In this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site if focus on role leaders in business need to take to help pull kids through school and into jobs and careers.

Find maps like this on
MappingforJustice site
At the right is another data platform that a planning team could use. It's a US Small Business Administration Business Locator site, which I describe in this article.  Using information like this teams in any neighborhood can build a list of businesses who also share the same geography who should be involved in building and sustaining  youth development programs that lower the costs of poverty in the area while increasing the pool of workforce talent and customers.

This article and the one from yesterday, as well as others that I've written over and over since 2005, are templates that could be duplicated on web sites of different organizations in various parts of the Chicago region and in other cities....all with the same goal!

I'd like to help you develop this strategy. Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN

If you value the information and ideas I'm sharing, please go to this "fund me" page and make a contribution.