Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chasing Cheap Clicks - Sad Situation

So, I posted that headline as a blatant attempt to attract readers to my blog.

Now that you're hear, I hope you'll spend some time reading this article from The Guardian.com, titled, "How Technology Disrupted the Truth".


I've been on-line since the late 1990s with the optimistic belief that intermediaries like myself, could attract people with time, talent and resources, to web libraries and program directories, which they would use to find places where their help could make a difference in the lives of people living in economic distress.

This article shows how far from that reality the world has come in the past 20 years.  I hope you'll spend some time reading this.

Thank  you to friends a ChiHackNight.com who shared this article on their Slack page. 



Friday, July 22, 2016

A Quick Look at Connected Learning

I started connecting and learning on-line in the late 1990s and took part in my first eConference in 2003 or 2004.  I posted this eLearning strategy on my web site about then, and it's still a strategy I firmly believe in.

I started taking part in MOOCs in 2010 and learned that there is a distinction between MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and cMOOC that focuses on connecting many people and their ideas, with each other, through the structure of an open, on-line course. Click the links in this section of my library and build  your own understanding.

I joined the Connected Learning MOOC in 2013 and have participated each year since. If you browse their web site you'll see many forms of engagement. One is the weekly Twitter chat.  Below you can see a Storfy summation of last night's chat, created by Kevin Hogdson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts.



If you look at my mission statement, and many of the articles and photos on my blog, you'll see my goal of helping strong, constantly improving, volunteer-based non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city.

Wow. That's a long, wordy description.  Maybe a picture will help?


Here's one that I created in the 1990s to visualize what a "mentor rich" program might look like.  I describe this in more detail in this PDF presentation.

Notice the map in the lower left corner. You can find many stories using maps, on this blog, on the MappingforJustice blog, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.  By creating a map with indicators, like high poverty, we focus attention on all of the neighborhoods where talent, dollars, ideas, etc. are needed, for many years. Without the map, funding and attention goes mostly to high profile organizations and/or neighborhoods.  If President Bush had used maps consistently with "No Child Left Behind" perhaps fewer kids would still be left behind in 2016.

So far I've not seen maps used for this purpose by any of the four contenders for the 2016 Presidential election. It's not too late.

Notice the arrows on the graphic, connecting the spokes with the hub of the wheel. This represents the "service learning" loop that takes place every time a volunteer connects with a youth in an on-going tutor/mentor program.  See more in this animation.


If a volunteer is well-supported as he approaches his weekly tutor/mentor service, he will be more effective, more satisfied, and more likely to stay involved longer.  If she is well supported as she returns to her work place, family, church, mosque etc, she will do more to educate others and encourage their own involvement.

This is a growth strategy for youth tutoring, mentoring and anti-poverty programs.

However, I don't see enough of this happening. I point to the #CLMOOC and other MOOCs regularly on this blog, and in my social media spaces, because they are a model for connecting people with each other, on an on-going basis, and in on-line space.

This does not replace face-to-face gatherings. It just recognizes the difficulty of keeping large numbers of concerned people together on an on-going basis. It also recognizes the difficulty of every member sharing his/her ideas when the group is larger than 4 or 5 people.

I feel that on-line communities, with designs similar to these cMOOCs should be embedded in each spoke of the wheel shown above, connecting volunteers, donors, leaders, from each sector of business and the "village" with each other and with ideas that show what works, what's not working, and what others are doing to make it work better.....which could be duplicated by other groups in the same city, or in different cities.

Such communities should include youth, parents, teachers, researchers, program leaders, board members, etc.  

This graphic was created by an intern from South Korea several years ago, while she was an intern with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago. It's one of many visualizations you can find here and here, created between 2006 and 2014.

I share what's happening in the #CLMOOC so others will take a look, get involved, learn from people I'm learning from, and then begin to duplicate this process in more sectors, with a focus on the issues I focus on, or with a focus on other issues, that are equally important.

If you're already hosting cMOOCs focused on poverty, youth development, tutoring/mentoring, philanthropy, etc, share your link below. Let's connect.  




Monday, July 18, 2016

Work Together -- Or Fail On Your Own

In my last email newsletter I included the graphic shown below.

I'm working on my July newsletter and the articles will focus on 'tutor mentor' volunteer recruitment to start the 2016-17 school year.   With so much media clutter drawing our attention to Trump, Clinton, Terrorism, Black Lives Matter, jobs and the economy, it's almost impossible for small and mid-sized tutor/mentor programs to attract visitors to their web sites and volunteers to their programs. Yet, connecting more youth to non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning experiences can be part of the solution to all of these problems.

I've posted more than 1000 articles on this blog since 2005 and used the tags at the left to help people find articles focused on specific topics. Do a Google search, using the words "tutor mentor" then any single word from this graphic, and you'll find stories I've posted here and in other places among the first 10 to 20 listings.

Many focus on strategies programs and leaders need to apply to draw consistent attention, and resources, to all of the high poverty neighborhoods of a city like Chicago, despite the torrents of other stories that flood around them.  They also point to a master list of Chicago are programs, with the goal that ALL get a more consistent flow of resources, not just those who are well-known, or have high profile supporters.

The graphic at the top refers to an old saying "I can't drain the swamp because I'm up to my neck in alligators."  In this case those alligators represent all the challenges individual youth serving organizations face each year as they try to help young people navigate their journeys through school and into adult lives.

If we just spend an  hour or two every week thinking of ways to support the entire Chicagoland community of tutor/mentor programs, perhaps we could get rid of some of those alligators, or make their bite a big less painful.

You can't read these all in one setting. But you could work through many of them over a year, or two. As you read the articles, try to apply them in your own actions. Create your own interpretations, and share them via your own media. That's what the Connected Learning MOOC ( #clmooc ) is all about.

It draws together educators from throughout the world, and has done so each year since 2013.  It's a model of networked learning that could be applied in the youth tutoring/mentoring world, too.  It just needs a few leaders to help make it happen.

I participate in cMOOCs like these because I know that every big city has similar pockets of high poverty with disengaged young people. That means any city could have a team working right now to update a list of non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs and at the same time reaching out to business, faith groups, media, celebrities, etc. to encourage them to put stories about volunteering in their August media. I've shared my own efforts on this site, so others can borrow ideas from me..and so leaders in Chicago can learn ways they can apply these ideas.

If you're already doing this, just reach out and introduce yourself. If you're interested in learning more, let's talk.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

RNC Draws Attention to Poverty and Inequality in Cleveland

With Cleveland hosting this week's Republican National Convention, there are a growing number of media stories about poverty in Cleveland showing up on my Internet feed. Here's one with a headline staying, "Cleveland metro area ranks in the Top 10 nationally for the percentage of residents living in concentrated poverty."

Here's another with headline stating, "Decade after being declared nation's poorest big city, 1-3 Clevelanders remain in poverty." 


Over the past couple of years I've written a few guest articles for the I-Open blog, which is hosted by an organization based in the Cleveland area.

Here's one titled "Career Pathways out of Poverty", which starts out asking "What are “all the things we need to know, and do to assure that youth born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New York City, etc. are starting jobs and careers out of poverty by their mid 20’s?"

This is a question that should be asked and answered in every big city, in the USA, and the world.  Below is a map from the Brookings.edu web site, which shows how concentrated poverty is a big city problem. I posted the link in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.



Here are other articles I've written for the I-Open blog. These and the articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 are intended to support leaders asking and answering that "what do we do" question.  

I started asking this question in the 1970s as a leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago. When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, we began sharing the question with leaders throughout the Chicago region, in an effort to help mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city.

Had more leaders responded in the 1990s, and devoted just a small amount of consistent talent, time and dollars to this problem, the availability and distribution of high quality programs throughout the Chicago region, and in other cities might be different in 2016, and the number of alumni telling stories about how their lives have been impacted as a result, might also be different.

We can't go back to 1993.  We can take actions that change what we're talking about in 2033.




Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reducing Poverty and Inequality - Four Actions to Repeat Daily

I've been writing this blog since 2005, as a continuation of a commitment, and strategy, formalized as the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  At that time we stated our mission as:

"gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region"

That mission is accomplished by four actions that take place daily and happen at the same time.


These four actions are described in this PDF essay on Scribd.com.  Almost all of the articles posted on this blog since 2005 relate to one of these four actions.  Here are a few articles where I've embedded this graphic.

3-31-2016 - Mapping a Master Plan - click here

2-10-16 - Focus on the Why, and draw more people into youth development efforts - click here

6-18-16 - Bernie and I: Movement Makers - click here

6-4-16 - Follow up to NY Times series "Race/Related" - click here

4-19-15 - Creating Learning Orgs to Solve Problems - click here

1-14-14 - Interns help share strategies through visualizations - click here

6-6-14 - D-Day: And Planning - click here

3-19-14 - Change Fortune for  Youth in High Poverty - click here

5-21-2011 - Using Information to Support Networ - click here

2-23-11 - Imagine if this were the Mayor's new blog- click here

I spend time every day in a variety of on-line and face-to-face settings where I'm learning new information, which I often add to my web library. I spend time every day writing blog articles, or posting on Twitter, Facebook or Linked in. In the same forums I spend time trying to help people find and use information I've collected.

So that  more people will provide time, talent and dollars to support youth serving organizations in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

And so that the result of the work these programs, schools, families and others are doing results in more kids staying safe during non-school hours while moving through school and into adult lives free of poverty.


If you'd like to support this work, with your own time, talent, network and/or dollars, I'd love to have your help.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Who Am I? #CLMOOC Introduction

This week the 2016 version of the Connected Learning MOOC is starting.  Participants are encouraged to create a visual introduction, and share it with others on various social media platforms.

I first connected with this group in 2013 and repeated in the past two years.  I am constantly amazed by the energy and creativity that many participants show through the many different graphics, blogs, videos and "makes" they create and share (see the "make bank" on the CLMOOC web site). Frankly, I'm in awe.

As I've participated in the #clmooc, I've begun to share interactions in articles on this blog. Click this link and scroll through the articles.

So how will I introduce myself.  How's this?


This concept map shows many of the places on the Internet where I share ideas and learn from others. While I started using the Internet in 1998, my networking, learning and idea sharing extends back to 1973 when I first became a volunteer tutor, working with a 4th grade inner city boy, named Leo.

Not knowing much about Leo, or tutoring and mentoring, I began to search out ideas from others. When I was named the leader of the volunteer program in 1975, I expanded my search for ideas by reaching out to others in Chicago who did this work, and by beginning to collect publications and newspaper stories that showed why tutoring/mentoring was needed, where it was most needed, and what programs already were operating, in Chicago or in other places.  In forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, I dramatically expanded this outreach. By going on the Internet in 1998, I expanded my search to peers and models throughout the world.

As a one-on-one mentor, my universe was narrow. It included the boy I met each week, and a few other volunteers and students who I was meeting through my involvement in the program.  However, as I became the leader of the program, my universe expanded to include 100 pairs of elementary school youth and volunteers (400 pairs by 1992), plus company officials and staff, local school and Chicago Housing Authority leaders, and others who were resources for keeping the program operating. Once we converted the original Montgomery Ward based program to a non-profit in 1990, the range of influence expanded to increase donors and business partners.

In the role of leader (beginning in 1975) I began to realize that I could not do all that needed to be done by myself, and that I needed to recruit others to help me.  I needed to create a continuous, year-round, communications program that "influenced" others to become more involved. I needed to learn to "recruit and delegate" and ask people to "do more" than what they might have expected when they first became part of the tutoring program..

I also began to think visually, mapping the different skills, and networks, that I needed to influence, in order to have all of the talents needed to operate an effective program.

In forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, with a goal of helping mentor-rich non-school programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago,  the range of people who needed to be involved has expanded dramatically, expanding to political leaders, business CEOs, media, celebrities, etc..  Not having much money to advertise and draw people together has meant I've needed to innovate other ways to communicate regularly, connect with people and build the network.  

I first used the constellation graphic in this September 2011 article. What it's saying is that "as we journey through life, we create a gravitational pull that draws others to our ideas and to follow our example, and our lead."

For some this happens naturally. For others, their influence on others may be limited to the small circle of family, friends and co-workers. For me, and, I'm sure for many others, it's an intentional process. Each day is a new opportunity to connect with someone who will change the world for myself, and for those I seek to help.

I embedded the constellation graphic in this concept map, showing places I was connecting with others, learning and sharing ideas. In the lower right portion of the map I point to several cMOOCs that I've been part of in recent years, including the #CLMOOC.  

I emphasize these because I feel the cMOOC format can be duplicated in the social sector in on-going efforts to connect more people from the "village" of adults and organizations who need to be consistently, and strategically, involved in on-going efforts intended to reduce poverty, inequality, racism and many of the other complex problems that we face in the US and the world.

I also feel that the educators who are the primary participants in the cMOOCs I've been part of can be engaging their students, as early as middle school, in roles that follow my own example and enable them to have a greater influence on others as they journey through their own lives.

Finally, I feel that some of the people who are organizing the MOOCs I've been following might provide the talent and manpower, and organizing ability, needed to help me bring this learning and networking forming into the work I'm doing.

So that's my introduction.  

I hope others in the #CLMOOC will hack this, and create their own interpretations, as they have done in past years.


Friday, July 08, 2016

#All Lives Matter #Black Lives Matter

If you've read any of my blog posts or received my newsletters  you know I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help similar programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods.

Below is a mural with just a few of the youth and volunteers who have been involved in the programs I've led.  The total number is over 4000 youth and a similar number of volunteers. Some of the young people in this picture are now adults raising their own kids.


Thus, the violence, racism, police brutality, and social injustices that they face are personal to me.  

Prior to social media it was almost impossible to stay connected to youth and volunteers who had been part of the programs between 1975 and 2003-4.

I was able to stay connected to a few, such as Leo Hall, who was my first, and only, one-on-one mentee, starting in 1973.  He's now the proud father of two young men, and living in Nashville.

As the program's leader, I became a mentor to all of the youth, and volunteers, who participated each year. 

As Facebook and Linked in became tools for connecting networks in the late 2000s, I began to search for former students and volunteers and connecting as "friends".

As a result, I've been able to follow their posts, see their joys, their sorrows, the graduation and prom pictures of their kids.  I've had many say "thanks Dan".  I've invited many to take on my role, to keep the work I've been doing alive and growing in future years.  Through these on-line communities I've attempted to help them connect to each other, and to volunteers and staff who were part of the programs in the past.  To me, this offers the greatest future potential of this type of volunteer-based tutor/mentor strategy.

I've seen the anger and frustration over #BlackLivesMatter growing for several years, even before there was an official #BlackLivesMatter.

I've shared the grief when seeing stories like this in the Chicago papers. These kids had been part of the tutoring programs I led, but we were not strong enough to keep them involved, and to keep these tragedies from happening.

Facebook enables you to form "groups" of friends, family, etc. which you can then follow on an ongoing basis.

Thus, I've been able to read the messages posted in the past, and in the last couple of days, by many former students, and it just saddens, frustrates, and angers me.

I'm connected to many other former students and volunteers on Facebook, who are not included in any of my lists, but reading these will break your heart, and will also give you hope.

 In 2012 I used some network analysis tools to show who I was connected to, and how they are connected to each other. This graphic can be seen in this PDF.

Some of the people on these list were in elementary school in the 1970s when I first met them. When I think of mentoring, I think of strategies that build connections between people from different backgrounds that last for many years, even decades.

I'd like to see donors encourage network-building and network analysis as core strategies of tutor/mentor programs. I'd also like to see funding focus on building strong, long-term organizations, rather than focus on short term project based goals.

Since the 1990s, I've created a variety of graphics to try to illustrate how an organized tutor/mentor program can serve as a bridge to connect people who don't live in poverty with people who do.  

This is a graphic from a 2008 article.



Here's a concept map illustrating a similar idea.


I did not grow up in Chicago, or in a neighborhood with diverse families. I grew up in small Midwest towns with little diversity.

My empathy and understanding come from nearly 40 years of leading a tutor/mentor program and collecting and sharing articles related to race, poverty, inequality, etc., which are reasons tutor/mentor programs are needed in the first place.

In the tutor/mentor programs I led, I made an effort to share a library of articles with my volunteers, so that as they stayed involved from year-to-year, their empathy and  understanding would grow, and the amount of time, talent and dollars they would devote to supporting the kids they were working with, and the organization, would also grow.

As the Internet became a resource, I put this library on line and used weekly email newsletters and web sites to try to draw volunteers to this information. As social media has grown, I have used it as well.

Here's an animation created by an intern from the University of Michigan, showing how volunteers grow and become more involved, if they are well supported in the program where they are involved.  This type of support does not happen by accident. It needs to be intentional. It needs to be well funded.

Such program need to be in many more places.

I'm pissed off at what's happening now, partly because too few leaders, volunteers and donors have helped me build and sustain my own program, or have helped mentor-rich programs, with a LEARNING STRATEGY for volunteers, grow in more places.

I am connected to a network of former students and leaders from similar programs in Chicago and other cities because I've made a concerted, on-going effort, to build and maintain these connections.  Because I've done that, they are available to others.  I've boxes of news clips, saved since the late 1970s, that show that the tragedies we face today, we were facing 20 and 30 years ago. The only difference is that today social media enables many, many, more people to talk about this and share their anger and frustrations with each other and with strangers.


Every time I have read about violence in Chicago for the past few years, I've been frustrated because "tutoring/mentoring" programs are not a QUICK FIX.  As I read about police brutality and killings of Black men and women, I feel the same frustration. Tutor/mentor programs are not a quick fix and there is no simple solution.

However, unless someone is building a library of stories and sharing them with the world, the information we use to understand and solve problems will be limited to our own narrow experiences.

Unless others are spending time, talent and dollars to draw people together to learn from each other, too few will be looking at this information and innovating solutions.

Unless there are more volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs with long-term strategies, and with a commitment to educating their volunteers on "WHY" these programs are needed and "WHERE" they are needed, too few people will have the many years of involvement that I've had, or the connections to so many of those who are living directly with these problems.

I've often seen media stories where "talking heads" are saying "Enough is Enough" after something bad happens.  I wrote out six steps that groups and individuals could take to respond to these tragedies.  Here's a 2012 version of that article.

The #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter movements are not happening in a vacuum.  They are part of many different local, national and international stories that demand our attention and spur our anger and frustration every day.

One of the challenges we have is to focus consistent attention, of a growing number of people, on this problem, and keep it focused for many days, weeks and years into the future. 
That's not a Quick Fix. It can lead to a better future.

We must find ways to get many more people from different backgrounds personally connected to each other, in ways where they connect over, and over, for multiple years so that  understanding, empathy, and passion for solutions grows in more places.

Organized tutoring/mentoring programs can do that. They need more help. Many need to adopt this as part of their vision, mission and strategy.