Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#ilgive launching spring day of giving - May 31 - are you benefiting?

Based on the overall success of its November Giving Tuesday event, Forefront is launching a spring day of giving, on May 31, 2016. A kick off webinar is scheduled for March 31 at 9am CST.

I wrote about this on November 30, 2017 asking if "all Chicago Youth Organizations Filled their Funding Tanks on Giving Tuesday".

Forefront has been very open and transparent about this event, so the list of participating organizations and the amount each raised, and the number of donors for each, is available, on this page.

The numbers show that of 413 participating organizations, only 7 raised more than $50,000 and only 52 raised over $10,000.  237 organizations raised under $500 for the day, and out of this, 117 raised less than $200.

While I recognized a few Chicago are tutor/mentor programs from my list of nearly 200 organizations, the most successful was Tutoring Chicago (which I led from 1975-1992), which raised close to $13,000.

67 organizations raised less than $100.

That does not put much gas in the tank or fuel very much tutor/mentor program activity.

This does not mean the campaign is a bad idea. It means there needs to be greater innovation to draw funds into more organizations, and to get more organizations involved.  The graphic below is one that illustrates the need for year-round communications, drawing volunteers and donors to youth serving organizations in every poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region, and the state.


It also means more programs need to build a dedicated, enthusiastic, volunteer base and long-term history, which is what TutoringChicago and a few other organizations have done.

When I started leading Tutoring Chicago in 1975 I was also in the beginning stages of a retail advertising career with the Montgomery Ward Corporation, which hosted the program at its Chicago headquarters.  In 1974 the program stated the school year with 100 pairs of 2nd to 6th grade kids and adult volunteers, 90% of them from Wards. However, the program was loosely organized and more than half of the volunteers dropped out by the end of the year without being replaced.  By 1990, the year we turned the organization into a non profit, called Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc., we had 300 volunteer pairs, and we grew from the beginning of the year to the end.

Why? Because of program organization and volunteer support. We created a program that people wanted to participate in.  Only 10% of these volunteers were from Wards. 90% were from nearly 100 companies located in the Chicago region. We had a team of more than 15 volunteers coming to the Near North location from the AT&T location near Naperville!  As Wards had downsized starting in the late 1970s, and closed its Catalog business, many of the volunteers went to other jobs, but they continued to come to the tutor/mentor program. Within a few years, they were bringing their friends and co-workers.

We turned the organization in to a non-profit in 1990 and started raising money, so I could lead the program full time, and we could hire staff. Our volunteer numbers grew to 550 by May 1992 and youth served grew to 440.  More than 60 of the programs core leaders were volunteers, organized into functional teams similar to those working in the Montgomery Ward corporate office, who supported 400 stores throughout the country.

Chicago SunTimes, 10-92
I left the CGTP program in Oct. 1992 and with a few volunteers created a new program serving older youth who had aged out of the CGTP program at the end of 6th grade. We started in January 1993 with 7 volunteers and 5 teens in 1993 and by 1997 had more than 80 pairs actively participating. Due to space limitations we kept this annual number through 2011 when I left the organization.

In 1993, we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with a goal of  helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region.  I continued to apply the ideas learned from working in the corporate headquarters of Wards, and leading one volunteer-based program, in an effort to help many programs grow in many places.  However, I also began to build a library of links to other programs, and other thinkers, so that people in my own program, and in all other programs, could find ideas from more people and organizations than just myself, and my own tutor/mentor program.

I never had consistent support from city leaders and Wards went out of business in 2000.  The last 17 years, starting with the dot-com bubble's burst in 2000, and the 9/11 tragedy, made it more and more difficult to obtain consistent, on-going funding. It also resulted in leadership and staff changes in many of the organizations that I had been building relationships with in the 1990s.  I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC  in 2011 to continue to support the strategy, but have not found a way to finance the work that needs to be done.

Others, have stepped in as intermediaries, covering a broader based of non-profits, like Forefront, or covering a narrower part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection's vision, like a few others are doing. However, I have 40 years of ideas and experiences, which I continue to share via blog articles, on-line presentations and one-on-one conversations and in a monthly email newsletter.

I'd love to share these ideas with others who are working to help kids living in poverty have mentoring paths to adult lives, and jobs, free of poverty.  I also seek others to help me do this work, as I suggested in this article about a "do over" for the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Contact me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

White House Budget Causes NonProfits to Fight Each other for Funding

 I created this graphic in the 1990s to show a goal of attracting consistent attention and support for non-school tutor/mentor programs from a small segment of leaders, businesses and donors, recognizing that other causes also needed the same support.

With the announcement of the Federal budget draft, with dramatic funding cuts for all sorts of social programs and services, as well as for environmental protection services, I'm already seeing messages from different stakeholders asking that people contact their elected officials and demand that their programs be funded.

Below is a concept map with this image, with others like it, and with links to web sites where maps are used to show a distribution of problems in the United States and the world.  When I look at how many different issues and causes need funding, I'm overwhelmed.  This problem is too big.


Below is another graphic, part of this blog article,  Its goal is to emphasize the need for on-going, flexible funding, that continues for many years, and funds non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region and other cities and states.  This type of  long-term commitment, distributed to many places, has not been seen in the past from the private sector and philanthropy. Government programs that build and maintain roads, infrastructure, public schools and our military are examples of on-going support distributed to many places, even though that support is often not very flexible in allowing for local innovation.


But the White House is proposing to cut many of those funding streams. The natural response is what I'm already seeing. Each program is trying to protect its own funding. That's a natural response. It's one reason I've had limited success in getting non-profit tutor/mentor program leaders to work with the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the past 20 years. When competing for a limited pool of resources ME, not WE, is a survival strategy.

Yet, is it the wise strategy?  

I created this graphic several years ago, for this article, to illustrate how many of us focus on self interests, using the "I can't drain the swamp because I'm up to my neck in alligators" thinking.

The swamp is getting bigger. We need to find some new, innovative, ways for people to connect and find some ways to drain it.

I don't have an answer. I can point to links in one section of my web library, where collaboration, innovation, creativity and similar ideas are discussed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ex-U.S. Attorney says "reach young kids before gangs do"

I don't know if any of you read the letter outgoing U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon wrote, which was in the Chicago SunTimes on Tuesday. Among his recommendations for combating violence he said
"there should be a "place" in each afflicted neighborhood dedicated to reaching young kids before gangs do.  Brick and mortor. Create a place. Call it anything."
That's what I've been saying for the past 24 years.  Some of those "places" should be organized, well-supported, well-designed, long-term, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. They do exist in some places, but not in many other places.

 Last Sunday, March 12, the Chicago Tribune featured a story about one of these neighborhoods that needs those "places".   I wrote about it on the MappingforJustice blog, showing how leaders could use maps as part of an analysis, mobilization and planning tool intended to help existing programs in the neighborhood get the resources, talent, ideas, etc. that each needs to be better able to compete against gangs by offering hope and opportunity.

I included maps showing the neighborhood, existing programs, and some of the assets.

I hope you'll read that story, and hundreds of similar stories that I've posted on my blogs since 2005 (and on web sites and in printed newsletters before then) and apply the ideas to every high poverty neighborhood.  

Now that Mr. Fardon is 'unemployed' I hope he'll read this too, along with articles I've written in the past week about a "do-over" for Tutor/Mentor Connection.  He's the type of leader needed to mobilize others and provide high level visibility and support for the growth of a new Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and other cities.

If you know him, I invite you to share this article.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What a Tutor/Mentor Connection "do over" looks like

On March 2 I posted an article suggesting a "do over" for the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), which I started in 1993 while also starting a site based tutor/mentor program in Chicago.

In May 1995 this commentary was in the Chicago Tribune, talking about the strategy of the T/MC.

Chicago Tribune article, May 1995
For many reasons, some which I mentioned in last week's article, I've never been able to generate the significant and consistent resources needed to have the impact that I hoped for. The problems of poverty and inequality are still with us 24 years later in 2017. So now I'm suggesting that others could start new organizations with exactly the same goals, but start with everything I've learned and created over the past 24 years. Hopefully in 20 years your impact will be far greater than mine has been, and it will extend to other cities and states beyond Chicago and Illinois.

A few days ago, Terry Elliott, an educator from Kentucky, who I've met over the past four years via the Connected Learning #clmooc, wrote this post on his blog, after reading my "do over" article. In his blog he shared this Hackpad page, where he wrote 
"I am creating this space for people to help Daniel create a Do Over."
Terry has been looking at my blog articles and interacting with me in a variety of formats since 2013 and then has used his own blog to share his understanding of the work I'm doing.  I've been encouraging many to take this role, for many years.


This is a talent map that shows skills needed to build any successful organization.  In addition, here's a network map, that shows networks of business, faith groups and other organizations that need to be involved.

I've had a mix of these people helping me, off and on, for over 41 years (I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975). Since 2011 I've not had a team that would serve as workers, partners and/or co-owners in a non-profit structure, thus I've not had success in raising money to hire a team to help do this work (or pay myself a salary) since then.

The nodes on my talent map could be filled by people from any place in the world, working to create T/MC-like structures, with different names than Tutor/Mentor Connection. One team needs to take ownership of the T/MC focused on Chicago, using its name, and position in Google search rankings for the word "tutor mentor", and adopting its long history and resource library. That team would be a resource for every other team.

Map from Brookings.edu story

This map, from a Brookings.edu story, shows that cities throughout the US have concentrations of poverty, thus could apply the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy. Supporters could come from any of these places, and similar places throughout the world.

For a "do over" to take place all of the yellow boxes on my talent map need to be filled with people doing what Terry is doing. If many of the other boxes are also filled, that's even better.

If the people looking at my articles also have access to resources and can influence others because of their civic and/or business reputation, the chances of a successful "do over" will be even better.

Here's another concept map. If you open the links at the bottom of each node you'll find stories by Terry and others, who already are spending some time looking at what I do and are occasionally writing about it.

For a new, or re-energized, Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy to succeed, or for a 'do-over" to dramatically improve on what I've done over the past 24 years, people need to look at the articles written since 2005, and that I'll keep writing as long as I'm able.   Take time to learn about the work that goes into building and maintaining directories of youth serving programs, libraries of ideas, bringing people together, forming networks, etc.  Look at how I've tried to do this. Think of how you could do it better.

Step 2 of the 4-part Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy emphasizes public awareness and on-going communications, that attracts people to the information in the T/MC library, and to the different tutor/mentor programs in the T/MC Chicago programs directory.

While collecting and organizing information is important (step 1), creating on-going communications that draw people to this information and motivate them to get involved has been equally important. I've been a one-person army. More need to join me.

Thus, do what Terry has done. Look at my blog articles and see how I use social media on a daily basis to educate and create public awareness. Then do the same. Create your own visualizations, and maps and write your own stories, at least once a week, with the goal of influencing others to also learn from the T/MC history, and get involved in rebuilding it in Chicago and creating it in other cities.

Pick a neighborhood that you want to focus on, or an entire city. Make a long-term commitment to fill that neighborhood with great birth-to-work, mentor-rich programs that are constantly learning to get better by borrowing ideas from others, and have the ability to implement those ideas because of the talent and resources that you are helping them attract.

If you're an educator at the middle school, high school or college level, set up an on-going program that engages students in this process. Learn from work interns have done while working with me since 2005.

On his Hackpad, Terry encouraged others to create a "Go Fund Me" page and raise money to support what I do. That would be welcome. However, I already have a page where interested people can find a PayPal button and offer a big or small contribution. Click here to see it.

Like everything else on my web sites, some one, or many, could re-do this page, making it more effective, reaching more people.

I offer some additional thinking about creating a new Tutor/Mentor Connection on Terry's Hack pad. Please take a look.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Using Information to Solve Problems - a Process

I've been using concept maps to visualize strategy and process for nearly 20 years. I posting a series of articles on the MappingforJustice blog, that use concept maps as a tool for communicating strategy for helping kids in poverty move from birth to work, while also pointing to resources available to support leaders who adopt this commitment.

In the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog you can see more articles where I've embedded concept maps and ideas on systems thinking.

When I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago, I could have built a web site just sharing my own previous 20 years of experience. Instead, I started building a web library collecting what other people knew about the problem and the challenges they were facing.  That library now has more than 2000 links and I've been updating them for the past few weeks (and for the rest of March).

Just putting this information in a web library is not enough. It's on the first step of an on-going strategy. Below is a concept map, showing the process I've been developing over the past 20 years.



On the left, I show the inputs, or information I've been aggregating since I formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Across the middle I show various ways I've tried to expose this information to a growing number of people. Since I've never had advertising dollars, nor support from high profile business, political or celebrity spokespersons, the number of people I've reached has been limited, but still over a million visits to my web sites alone since 1998.

On the right, I show how formal and informal learning can help people innovate new ways to draw resources to all tutor/mentor programs in a geographic region as large as Chicago, and to help leaders of these programs use these resources, and what they can learn from each other, to constantly improve the work they do to connect youth and volunteers and help kids succeed in school, and move to jobs and careers not limited by poverty.

I've been sharing ideas like this on blogs since 2005 and email newsletters since 2001. I published printed newsletters between 1993 and 2001. Everything I've done can be done much better by others who may have more talent and resources than I have.

I've been looking for leaders in business, universities, philanthropy, etc who embrace the strategies and the way I share this information, and who want to adopt my efforts and support them with their own leadership and resources into future years. I used this image in article I posted yesterday.

I used the graphic at the right in this article.  If more people from business, universities, faith groups, sports/marketing, media and other sectors take a role in the strategies I've described, we can fill high poverty areas with great programs helping kids move through school and into careers free of poverty.

This graphic illustrates the goal. Kids we connect with in elementary and middle school are holding jobs and raising their own kids in neighborhoods not dominated by poverty. Many are beginning to use their own time, talent and dollars to help others. We need to begin to see this happening at youth serving programs throughout Chicago and in other cities when we visit their web sites. Some show this well. Others need help.

If you're interested supporting this work, or learning more, here's a link to social media places where you can connect with me.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Hard Work, Creative Thinking Brings Good Fortune

Since the St. Patrick's Day celebration is approaching I created this meme to show work needed to help kids living in high poverty areas move through school and into jobs and careers.

I first used this in 2014, in this article.  I also used the graphic in this month's e-Mail newsletter.

There are several important elements in this graphic.

Cover of Chicago Programs Directory
First, there's a map of Chicago, with high poverty areas shaded. Great non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs need to be in every one of these areas.  I started using maps in 1994 to show where tutor/mentor programs are most needed, and where existing programs are located, drawing from an on-going survey I was doing to know what programs were operating in the city.

 In the graphic above I also emphasize the 12 years it takes for a youth to move from first grade to 12th grade, and additional years it takes to move on to a job and the beginnings of a career.  The graphic at the left illustrates this and emphasizes a role business needs to take to supply volunteers, dollars, ideas, technology and job programs to kids in every high poverty area. This graphic also shows the three time frames of every day when kids can access extra support.....if it is available.

View this concept map to see another visualization of the "mentoring youth to careers" strategy that needs to be available in every high poverty neighborhood, with leadership commitment from every business and civic sector.

The four-leaf clover is a symbol of "good luck". I used it to show the four on-going strategies a city needs to apply, or that individual programs need to apply, to create their own good fortune for kids. I developed this strategy starting in 1993, and have worked to support it for 24 years, with limited resources and/or civic support.  In this concept map I added "work that needs to be done" to re-energize this strategy.


In my on-line "strategy statement", many blog articles and in several visualizations created by interns, I've outlined these four steps.  View the presentation below to understand what they area.



Since 2005 I've posted more than 1000 articles on this blog, all focused on mobilizing leaders who will apply these four steps, via their own applications of time, talent and dollars.  In the past few years I've been reaching out to find partners and new leaders who will not only help me re-energize this work, but will take ownership and, as I wrote last week, "re-do" it, providing leadership for the next 20 years, in Chicago and in places throughout the US and the world.

I hope you'll read this, share it, and look for ways to adopt the ideas in your own efforts to improve the future fortunes of young people entering schools today in high poverty neighborhoods throughout the world.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

How About a Do-Over? Oscars. Election. Tutor/Mentor Connection

The death of 7-year old Dantrel Davis in October 1992 was the spark that led me to form the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  I had led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago since 1975 and had been building a list of other programs in the city, and had been working with several on joint volunteer training efforts.

From my retail advertising role with the Montgomery Ward  company I knew how big companies support hundreds of stores in multiple locations with consistent advertising and functional teams focused on other store development roles.

I'd seen stories like this in previous years and knew that without a master database of existing programs, and without maps showing where programs were located, and where they were needed, there would be no consistent response intended to help great programs, who were doing great work to help kids move safely through school and into adult roles, grow in more places.

There was no template to follow when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection and we had no dedicated funds. Just like any inventor we used what we had to build what was needed.  By 1997 this had evolved into a "master plan" that was communicated in this presentation:



While we were creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection, our primary focus was on also creating a non-school tutor/mentor program serving 7th through 12th grade youth in the Cabrini-Green area. We raised more and more money each year in the 1990s, anchored by support from Montgomery Ward, then in 2000 Wards went out of business, the dot-com bubble bursts and 9/11 led to a decade long struggle to survive, while continuing to try to do good work. Just as we were coming out of the early 2000s financial struggles the financial crisis hit the world, and I've scratched ever since to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago.

This map shows work that has been done to support the growth of volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in the Chicago area since 1992.


In 1998 we launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site and began moving our library of printed material to the internet. That enabled us to provide direct links to researchers, writers, resources and ideas from throughout the world that people in Chicago, or any other city, could used to build and sustain stronger programs in more places.


Unfortunately what I was able to do has been too little and the problems we faced in 1993 are still with us in 2017.

I posted an article on Sunday, just before the Oscars started, showing some of the videos and presentations my team has created over the past decade, and inviting people with greater talent, more resources, and higher visibility, to view these, then create new, more polished and more creative versions, with the same goals.

Then the unimaginable happened. The Oscars had a "Do-Over". After announcing LaLa Land as winner of best picture, an error was discovered and the best picture award was given to Moonlight.

Then on Tuesday I watched the new President of the  United States speak to the nation, and along with many others wished we could have a "Do Over" of the 2016 election.  In the United Kingdom, many are asking for a "Do Over" of the BREXIT vote.

Since 2011 I've continued to operate the Tutor/Mentor Connection from the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC structure. Same goals. Same strategy. Just different tax structure. I've had little revenue to support what I'm doing, and have been paying excess costs from my own retirement savings, which is shrinking fast.

Thus, I'm calling for a "Do Over".  While I had no blueprint in 1993 when I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection, others who might want to create a master plan to respond to violence in Chicago and poverty and inequality in America and the world, have my archives and web library as a resource.

Here's a 1993 Chicago SunTimes article saying that "poverty in Chicago is greater than it was 20 years ago because the city has no master plan" and because those who are engaged are working separately, in silos, rather than with a common blueprint. (see story here).

I've used maps, graphics and concept maps frequently in my articles and presentations because too few people are reading and most problems are seen differently by different people, based on their lived experiences. A visualization can help create a shared understanding of a problem and of possible solutions.


If a few people create data maps that many others can use to support their own involvement, many people can take on leader roles.  That's what this "village" map" is showing.

It's also what this graphic is showing.  The hub of this wheel could be a single child, a tutor/mentor program, a neighborhood, or a city. The spokes lead to different industry clusters, just as the spokes on the village map lead to other stakeholders in the city and suburbs of Chicago or any other city. Leaders in each spoke need to adopt and champion the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, and mobilize the talent, ideas, technology, jobs and dollars within their industry to help kids in high poverty areas go through school and into jobs and careers free of poverty.

Intermediaries with greater talent and resources than I have need to help make this  happen.

In 20 years the conditions that contribute to today's violence and inequality could be far different as a result of one or many leaders reaching out to adopt and "ReDO" the strategies I've been developing over the past 24 years.

Reach out now while I'm still here to help you understand and implement these ideas.

Let's have a "Do Over".