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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Violence Not Limited to Chicago - Solutions Need to Connect Cities

I was at the St. Louis airport Sunday morning after spending Saturday in Nashville to celebrate the 50th birthday of Leo Hall, who I first met when he was a 4th grader living in the Cabrini Green area of Chicago. I've been Leo's mentor, and he's been my mentor, for 41 years.

While I sat at the airport I browsed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the stories about the violence in Ferguson, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. This editorial and the extensive media coverage reminded me that the issues of race, poverty, violence and economic inequality are not limited to Chicago.

Nor is this a new problem.

This image is from the editorial page of the April 22, 2014 Chicago Tribune. I have written follow up stories to negative news for nearly 20 years. I've used maps in many of these. Here's the article I wrote following the April 22 Tribune editorial.

Among the many stories in Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch paper was one titled Why Did this Happen Here which included several maps to show how isolated this neighborhood is from surrounding areas.

As with the violence in Chicago, and other tragedies that take place throughout America, media all over the country are writing about this incident. One story from the Washington Post, which was printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was written by Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. In his column Gerson wrote "As America has grown more diverse and prosperous over the last several decades, the economic and social isolation of some communities has only decreased." He goes on to say "As a practical matter, it becomes increasingly difficult to enforce order in the absence of opportunity."

This map of the US, hosted by a site titled Poverty and Race in America, Then and Now, shows that poverty and racial segregation are concentrated in urban areas. You can zoom into this map and create your own map stories of St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, New York or any other major city in the US.

These are not new problems. However, the Internet enables us to connect and understand these problems in ways that never were possible in the past. What we've not yet learned is how to go from talking about the problem to drawing needed talent, technology, dollars, jobs, etc. into each of these poverty areas, and keeping the flow going for a decade or longer. The presentation below illustrates a role young people and volunteers from every part of the country might take to help make this happen.

Building Network to Solve Community Problems: Youth As Leaders by Daniel F. Bassill

As I said, I was in Nashville to help celebrate the 50th birthday of Leo Hall, who I first met in 1973 when I joined the Tutoring Program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago. In my remarks to Leo's friends and family I emphasized that Leo and I met because others had made the commitment to organize a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program at Wards in 1965 and keep it going for 9 years before I joined it. If they had not done that Leo and I would never have connected. Furthermore, we would not have stayed connected if I and others had not kept the tutoring program at Wards going through 1990, then kept newer versions going through 2011. Tutoring Chicago and Cabrini Connections both still operate today, even though I'm not directly involved with either. Thousands of youth and volunteers have been connected, not just Leo and I. I'm still connected to many via Facebook and other social media.

I use maps to emphasize the need for long-term mentoring and tutoring programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago so more volunteers and youth can connect in long-term relationships. My goal is to draw consistent resources to all of the tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago region, not just to the two I've been part of. I reminded the people I spoke with on Saturday that everyone has a responsibility to provide time, talent and dollars to help these programs grow, and that many of us have unique communications talent to draw attention to these programs and neighborhoods where such programs are needed on a daily basis.

That's the message I've put in this blog since I started writing it in 2005. It's the message in printed newsletters since 1993.

This problem is not limited to Chicago, or St. Louis. Yet it is one that people in big cities may understand better than people living in smaller communities and/or rural areas. Thus, I feel that people in big cities need to connect and innovate tools and collaboration strategies that draw needed resources consistently to all of the youth serving organizations and intermediaries who work in each city, while also innovating in an on-going communications effort intended to draw needed resources to youth serving organizations in high poverty neighborhoods of each city.

At the end of every day, look in the mirror and say to yourself what you've done on that day to make this happen.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sharing ideas that help youth serving organizations grow in more places

This is one of nearly 60 strategy presentations that I share in an on-line library. These are not intended to support a single program in one neighborhood, but a network of age appropriate, mentor-rich organizations in every high poverty neighborhood of a metropolitan area.

Collective Effort Required to Support Youth Mentoring Programs by Daniel F. Bassill

As I've created these essays and shared them on blog article, I've encouraged interns and others to look at them and crate their own versions. Visit this page and find work done since 2006.

I encourage others to do the same. Create versions that focus on your city, or your neighborhood in Chicago. As you do that share your versions on your blog and send me a link so I and others can learn from you.

Friday, August 08, 2014

New Attention For Vocational Education

Last night as I took the Blue Line to an event in Chicago I read through my current issue of I found a story titled "The Dream Factory" which showed how Georgia-based Southwire set up a vocational education program for troubled teens. I ripped this story from the magazine and stuffed it into my pocket, aiming to look it up today.

The event I attended was hosted by members of the insurance industry, to give recognition and raise money for a program called InVEST, which provides financial literacy training in public schools.

During the reception I looked for a place to sit and found an older African American man with a great seat by the window. We introduced ourselves and he told me he was superintendent for a school in Milwaukee, with goals of keeping kids in school, reducing violence, and preparing kids for careers. I pulled the Forbes article from my pocket and encouraged him to read it, saying "if we can get the business community strategically involved, we can solve many of our problems".

Today as I browsed my Wall Street Journal, I found another article about this company in Georgia, under the headline "Factory Helps Teens Get Diplomas". I said to myself, if two high profile business publications are giving attention to this, maybe more business leaders will be motivated to try to build similar solutions.

A commitment to business involvement in pulling kids through school and into careers is not a new issue for me. You can see in both of the graphics I've used the role of business volunteers, dollars, technology, ideas and jobs reaching youth at early age then providing age-appropritate mentoring to help youth through high school, then college or vocational training, then into jobs.

This is another graphic I've used for a long time. The hub of this wheel is a youth, and the program that connects a youth with volunteers and a wide range of career opportunities. Such programs need to be located in many places, especially in high poverty neighborhoods where the diversity of adults working in different careers is limited.

As I said, I've been interested in vocational education for many years. One of the books I read in the 1990s, was "Rethinking America" by Hedrick Smith. He showed the same lessons that Southwire is demonstrating. For many young people the job provides the reason to learn math, science and better reading skills. Too many schools that focus on college as the only track don't provide this opportunity for a large number of their students.

I think about ideas like this as a result of becoming a mentor to a 4th grade inner city boy in 1973 through a program organized by employee volunteers at the Montgomery Ward Headquarters in Chicago. I became the volunteer leader of the program in 1975 and continued in that role until 1990 when I left the company and converted the program to a non profit, where I became its first full-time paid executive directory. In 1992 I created a new version of the original program, aimed at helping youth from 7th grade through high school, and led that till 2011. I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to mimic what the corporate office at Wards was doing to support 400 stores all over the country. My goal was to provide better support to all of the non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

If I had not been involved for so many years, I would not be looking at articles like these and would not be writing a blog encouraging others to become volunteers, then carry these ideas about vocational education and strategic business involvement back to your business.

This blog is organized into sections, so if you view the list on the left side, you can see article written about workforce development, violence, complex problems, etc. Consider this a learning resource for developing stronger tutor/mentor programs and for developing more and better vocational education programs involving businesses in your community.

If you're looking for a place to volunteer, here's my list of Chicago area youth serving organizations. It's organized by sections of the city and suburbs, so you can look for programs close to where you live or work, or on the route that you travel between home and work. In some parts of the region you have multiple choices. In others there are few choices. Some programs are well developed. Some need a lot of help to be well developed. Many need help with financial management. Most need help finding money to manage!

This graphic illustrates that every tutor/mentor program could have a broad range of volunteers and a broad range of learning experiences. Here's a pdf that illustrates this idea and shows how company teams, or volunteers from an industry sector, could take on a role of "virtual corporate office" to help mentor-rich programs grow in more places.

I've written many articles that leaders can use to build and sustain mentor-rich programs and strategies. I hope today's attention in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal will encourage companies to form research teams who will begin reading and reflecting on these ideas.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Look in your Google mirror!

Occasionally I will do a Google search for "tutor mentor" or "Bassill" to see where my web sites show up on the search and to find others who I don't yet know who may be pointing to my sites. When I do this I also click the "images" button to see what types of graphics show up. Below is a graphic that was among many that I found yesterday.

If you and thousands of others around the world search for "tutor mentor", you'll find my sites on the first page. That means the ideas I share are available to people anywhere in Chicago, or in the world.

In the Google images you can find a page reference for each image, thus you can see how the image is being used. I've put over 100 images on my Pinterest page with links to one page where the image has been used, but this is pretty limiting. I've used some of these graphics over, and over, to illustrate the need for youth mentoring and tutoring programs to be in many places, and for them to have long-term strategies that engage volunteers from diverse work backgrounds.

In the graphic above, I point to stories and media interviews from the early 1990s, showing that I've been giving a consistent message for almost 20 years. In this I'm sort of like John the Baptist, saying "there's a better future" and trying to survive at the same time.

If you're involved in youth development, mentoring, tutoring in any way, I encourage you to search for names of people you feel are leaders in this movement. Look at the images with their profiles. Do you see maps and graphics showing strategy or do you see pictures of them with youth or with other leaders and celebrities?
If you search for my name you'll find some photos of me, like from 1999 when I received the Publisher's Clearing House Good as Gold Award on a year end Montell TV Show. You'll also find photos of me with Leo Hall, who was my mentee in 1973 when I first became involved. He's still my friend today.

However, most of the images are going to be similar to this, showing the role of intermediaries who connect people from their network with programs serving youth in high poverty areas, and with a library of information they can learn from so they are more strategic in how they use their time, talent and dollars.

I've often been told I'm so far out in front that no one can see me. When I look at the images of most people, I see a self promotion, and an emotional appeal. I've not done that and perhaps that's a problem. Unfortunately, too few people are interested in long-term solutions. They want to feel good now.

Yet, as this Huffington Post article about the high costs of high school drop outs shows, we pay a huge price for short term solutions.

The image at the top of the page is from this page, where I'm asking for financial support, partners and investors to help me do the work I do. I'm not operating as a 501-c-3. Thus your support is an investment in reducing the high costs of poverty.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to apply systems thinking mapping to helping kids move through school

In a number of past articles I've posted videos by Gene Bellinger, who leads a Systems Thinking network on a variety of web platforms. In a video I watched today Gene showed the history that led him to what he is doing today. I encourage you to view this.

As I looked at the first part of the video I was reminded of my own efforts using concept maps to show my history going back to 1965 when employees at the Montgomery Ward Corporation launched a tutor/mentor program in Chicago. I created this map to show history and my involvement until 1992, then this map to show the creation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and my involvement, since late 1992.

I'm inspired to convert many of my maps and graphics to KUMU and Insight maker and create videos to help people understand them, but unlike Gene, I've not built a network of thousands of people who are interacting regularly about ways to make youth tutor/mentor programs available in high poverty neighborhoods, or to help those programs constantly improve their impact over many years as a result of how donors, business partners and volunteers support them. In fact, since 2011 I've operated as Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC due to changes at the non profit I had founded to do this work in 1992. It has been difficult to find talent, leaders and donors to give me the organizational strength to continue the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago, led alone help similar groups grow in other cities.

Thus, I spend a lot of time talking to myself, and creating in a vaacuum.

I created this graphic a few years ago to illustrate the fact that every youth serving organization is constantly experimenting, trying to find the best ways to motivate youth and volunteers to participate, and trying to find ways to turn this into youth aspirations that lead to motivation and learning. Edison had a good amount of wealth to support his experiments. Over the years I led Cabrini Connections I struggled to find dollars and talent to do this thinking with me. Hundreds of other youth serving organizations face the same challenges.

Parents are constantly experimenting, in raising their own kids. Tutor/Mentor program leaders are also constantly experimenting trying to help the kids they work with grow up. Few of us have blueprints to follow. Few of us have the consistent funding needed.

I created this graphic to illustrate this concept. Raising kids is like building a building. We start with a blueprint (and financing) then dig the foundation. From that stage forward,with the help of teams of workers who have different skills, we build the building, one floor at a time.

Chicago and other cities needs well organized, age appropriate, mentor rich programs in all high poverty neighborhoods. However, no one has a blueprint and no long term financing exists to support the hundreds of programs needed. The thinking behind a well organized program is complex. I've not found any programs using systems thinking mapping to show their history, and steps they go through to help youth move on to college, vocational education and jobs.

The thinking behind mobilizing resources to fill a city with programs is even more complex. Once Edison invented the light bulb, he then invented an industry that enabled light bulbs to be in every home and business. He had a lot of help doing that and a lot of money to invest. I've had even more difficulty finding people to invest money in the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which is aimed at building a citywide network of youth serving organizations that work in a systematic way to help kids move from first grade to first job and on through adult lives out of poverty.

The systems thinking tools Gene has described in his videos are available to me, and anyone else who cares about helping close the gaps between rich and poor. We should find a way to use them.

I'm don't want to invest my own time converting what I've built over the past 20 years into a new way of sharing ideas. I want to do this as a collaborative project with others who focus on the same goals, or who want to carry on the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago, and in other cities, in future years.

I've talked to many people about duplicating the Tutor/Mentor Connection. However, most don't really understand it. I feel that until someone actually is trying to create their own graphics, write their own blog articles, and enlist their own network in support of these ideas, they won't really understand. Until you are leading a tutor/mentor program and struggling to find the resources you need to operate, you won't fully understand how challenging, and how frustrating this is. If the Board of a non profit were writing regular articles, and creating their own graphics to illustrate the work that needs to be done, more would have a deeper commitment to strategies that support the growth of all programs, and would do more to help obtain the resources needed.

In today's video Gene said at one point "this (systems thinking and systems thinking mapping) is only important if it enables you to do something meaningful with it."

I think that foundations, researchers, businesses focusing on workforce skill development, policy makers, media and many in this country are as concerned with the education of our youth and with preparing them to compete in a global workforce as I am.

In fact, there are many who are beginning to do work in this area. Take a look at the Prezi on this page of the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University. Take a look at the way information is shared on the Boston Indicators site. In this section of the Tutor/Mentor web library I point to many who are innovating in visual thinking.

There must be some who will invest time and talent to apply the ideas Gene is sharing to mapping and sharing the information and ideas I've aggregated over the past 40 years.

Where to start? Look at the projects interns have created to share their own understanding of Tutor/Mentor Connection. Build your own understanding by creating a map on Insight maker, or on Prezi of some other platform. Join the forum where I've coached interns, and let me coach you and your team. Of reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook, or this site, and offer financial support to help me build this network.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A New Way of Attracting Philanthropic Support

The image of the lonesome warrior is one that reminds me of the men and women who are fighting overseas to make this a better world. As we count our blessings, let's pray for the young people in our armed forces.

However, this image is also one that I think of when I think of the people leading social benefit organizations around the world, mostly in isolation, mostly with too few resources to do everything they are trying to do. From 1990 to 2011 I led a small non profit organization, and I wrote thousands of letters to potential donors, business leaders, city leaders, foundations, etc. asking for support of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs I led, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I created in late 1992 as a strategy aimed at helping high quality, constantly improving, tutor/mentor programs grow and thrive in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.

While I raised more than $6 million over a 20 year period, I received far more rejections than approvals. My biggest challenge was not finding new donors. It was keeping existing donors who kept changing due to business conditions, changes of focus, funding restrictions, etc. After a few years of doing this I said "there has to be a better way". Below are some graphics that I included in an article I wrote on this topic in 2007.

Instead of each different tutor/mentor program competing for a shrinking pool of dollars, why can't we combine our efforts and innovate ways to inspire more donors to fund our sector? Then let those donors choose who to fund based on where we are located, and what we show of our work on our web sites.

When I was a retail advertising manager for Montgomery Ward I learned that more competition in a market created more advertising and led more customers to want the products we were selling. Those customers usually shopped at a store near where they lived or worked. I've piloted the uses of maps to show where programs are needed and to help potential customers locate programs in different parts of the city.

I've borrowed ideas from others for more than 40 years. My background studying history in college, and spending three years in US Army Intelligence, taught me to look for ideas applied by others and to borrow those ideas to improve my own efforts.

One of the web sites I found a few years ago was one that is called Internet Evangelism Day. This article suggests that the old way of standing on street corners to pass out religious tracts is replaced by using web sites to express ideas. The people who find your web sites are already interested in what you offer, thus will spend more time trying to understand your message.

Thus, my vision is that people who care about helping inner city kids living in high poverty areas will learn to use web sites like mine for deeper learning, and to make funding decisions. This graphic can be found at this link, and shows information in the various sections of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site. This link points to a concept map, which offers a "learning path" through the information on my web sites.

Some might say "who will spend this much time?" I would say, "Who is tired of spending billions of dollars with so little long-term impact?" Why in the social sector do we make funding decisions on sound bytes and elevator speeches, where in the corporate world plans are developed over many years of research and thinking.

The Internet is a Game Changer. Busy executives, people with too much money to know what to do with it. Political leaders. They all use computers and if the do a Google search for "tutor mentor" they will find my sites. If the spend a little time every day reading and reflecting they will soon understand the ideas and be able to adopt what makes sense to them into their own efforts.

Those who lead small non profits, or are struggling to get social benefit ideas launched, may relate to this One-To-Many graphic. We're constantly reaching out in many different directions, trying to find the help we need. We're like fish in a bowl, competing with thousands of others for a limited amount of dollars and volunteers. Unless you've got a powerful marketing machine, or are well connected in donor circles, you succeed some of the time, but not most of the time, and you spend tremendous amounts of emotional capital and energy all of the time.

Through the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I'm trying to change this. I'm trying to recruit leaders in many places who lead strategic thinking process in their organization that aligns social benefit with corporate and organizational strategy. Such leaders will use their own advertising, visibility and resources to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs that lead kids to careers, because it's a core business strategy.

I've been saying this for a long time, but last week I found an article on the Harvard Business Review that reinforces this concept. The article is titled Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Written by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer.

Education and workforce development are of strategic importance for most industries. Thus, if leaders of business, health care, law, journalism, sports and entertainment, etc. are strategic, they can use tools like the Program Locator and Chicago Program Links to choose what part of a city they want to support, and what programs they want to help grow from good to great.

This isn't a strategy to support just one tutor/mentor program, or one brand name like the Boys and Girls Clubs, or Big BrothersBigSisters, it's a strategy to help every high poverty neighborhood have comprehensive programs that are one end of the pipeline to jobs and careers for businesses that are strategically engaging their corporate resources to help grow their future workforce.

Recently the President launched a new initiative to attract mentors, and has requested millions of dollars in funding. I encourage you to read this editorial from the BlackStar Project in Chicago, showing how this initiative supports big brand name organizations while ignoring smaller organizations who may be doing great work in many places.

If decision makers in philanthropy, government and business go directly to the internet to build their own understanding of problems and solutions, instead of depending on sound bytes provided by people who work for them, who depend on one or two page summaries from organizations competing for scarce funding, perhaps better, more consistent, and longer lasting support will be distributed to all of the neighborhoods where help is needed and to more of the organizations already operating in those areas.

Hopefully a few will spend time on Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC sites and step forward to offer their help for my own role in this process.