Friday, May 26, 2017

Who Needs to Be Involved Helping Kids to Careers? The Village.

Since 2005 I've been using concept maps to communicate ideas, and one that I point to frequently, in articles like this, focuses on the "village" of people who need to take greater, on-going roles in helping kids to careers.

I've used this "birth to work" arrow in many graphics and articles since the mid 1990s to illustrate the different types of age-specific supports that need to be available to kids in high poverty areas from pre-school till they are entering jobs and careers.

In the original village map I was attempting to show two ideas and that kept confusing me, and probably others. One idea was "why" kids in poverty need extra help. The other was "who" should be taking responsibility beyond parents and schools.

Today I created a new village  map to show "who", which  you can see below, and at this link.
This shows different industries in every city. They each share some common reasons for wanting kids to come out of school prepared to be good workers, leaders and citizens. They each also have specialized reasons, such as worker shortages in key industries. They also each model different skills that kids could learn from employee mentors and company sponsored jobs and internships. They each could be using company resources and employee talent to help schools and non-school organizations help kids in high poverty areas.

Below is a  map showing a commitment I have made, via the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993 - now) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-now).  See the map here.

Note: Concept Maps are Layers of Information. Click on 'right' box at bottom of nodes to open other maps.
If a city, or a nation, is truly committed to helping all youth, including those born in poverty or with disabilities, move safely through school and into adult jobs, careers and responsibilities, then many leaders need to adopt this vision, and show their commitment by putting a version of this map on their own business, personal, religious and/or political web site.

Customers and voters should demand to see this.

If you know of leaders doing this, and who support one or more of the strategies shown on this map, that will lead to achieving these goals, send me the link and I'll point to it from my maps and web site.

If you want to help me continue to share ideas like this and update the  maps as needed, click this link and make a contribution. I'm not a 501-c-3 so consider your support an investment in a shared vision.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Increasing Talent Involved in Helping Youth

I created the graphic below over the weekend, to illustrate a strategy I've followed for the past 40 years, which is engaging the talent of a diverse base of volunteers to help inner-city kids move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.


The graphic has several elements so I'll show them each separately.  If you've followed this blog for very long, you may have seen them in the past.


People ask "what kind of tutoring or mentoring" do I do.  I respond that I'm trying to create non-school, volunteer-based support systems that reach kids when they are  young and stay connected as kids grow through school and into adult lives.  The graphic at the left illustrates this goal.

I've aggregates several similar graphics on this Pinterest.com board.  The share a common vision that could be adopted and owned by people from many sectors of a community.  In this concept map I show many of the supports kids need at each age level. Volunteers who connect with youth via organized non-school programs are people who can help make those supports available.

If you look at the lower left corner of the "Mentoring Kids to Career" graphic you'll see a small map of Chicago. A larger version is at the right.   I've been using maps since 1994 to show where kids need extra support offered by tutor/mentor programs, based on indicators such as high poverty, poorly performing schools and/or urban violence.  I've also been building a database of non-school tutor/mentor programs, and showing them as overlays on the map, so people could locate and support existing programs, while helping new ones form where more are needed.

This Chicago tutor/mentor program locator was created in 2008 and needs much updating now, but illustrates the way maps can be used.

This graphic is from this pdf and asks a question that I started asking in 1975 when I became leader of the tutor/mentor program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago, and which was the main purpose of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in 1993.

What will it take to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty today are entering careers by age 25?  What role does mentoring have? What can we learn from others?

This question needs to be asked and answered in thousands of places, in Chicago and around the world.  What makes the ideas I share unique is that I've been trying to motivate resource providers, policy makers, business, faith and media leaders to form learning circles where they ask the question and take much greater responsibility for making constantly improving tutor, mentor and learning programs available in more places throughout the Chicago region and in other cities and states.  This page provides ideas leaders in different sectors could use.  Many of the articles I've written since 2005 focus on leadership.


To support the efforts of anyone looking for ways to be involved I've been building a web library since 1998, which was a normal library prior to that. This graphic illustrates the range of information available in the library. This PDF shows the graphic as part of a "tutor/mentor learning network".

Last week I created this video, which shows the goal of many people becoming involved in on-going efforts to help youth in high poverty areas have the support systems needed, which are naturally available to kids in more affluent areas, to help them move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.

For a growing number of people to be involved, and stay involved, many people have to take on the role I've taken for the past 40 years, which is a daily effort to reach out to those I know and to invite them to look at the information I've been collecting, then begin to build their own understanding and involvement.

Here's another pdf that shows this goal.

How can we do this better?

This was the headline on the graphic at the top of this article.  As we ask what are "all the things" we need to know, we need to talk about building a flow of talent, technology, ideas and operating dollars to every high poverty neighborhood to support a full range of needed youth and family supports.

Doing it better means getting more talent involved in this effort. That includes students, the elderly, the disabled, and people from around the world.  Anyone can look at my articles and the PDFs I share and re-do these with their own creativity and talent and point the message at their own city if they don't live in Chicago.  Think of these as "open source" learning for helping reduce poverty an inequality in the world.

In the video I describe this as on-going learning, just as reading and understanding scripture is a life-long journey.  I hope you'll take some time to read this, visit the links I point to, then turn around and invite others to do the same.

Update 5/27/19 - this article about strategic planning, on the "From Poverty to Power" blog is relevant to what I wrote above.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Reflection on #onthetable2017 - thanks to #clmooc friends

On Monday I wrote this blog article, encouraging participants in Tuesday's #onthetable2017 event to look for ways to support existing organizations and help them become great instead of just creating new solutions.  Then yesterday my #clmooc friend Terry Elliott, shared a video he had created, turning a blog article by Simon Ensor, into a video.

I decided to test the tool, converting my blog article. The video below is the result.



For several years I've used my blog articles and social media to encourage people working with youth in non-school programs and schools to take time to follow some of the people I'm following and see ideas and activities that they might include in their own work with the youth and volunteers in their programs.

In addition, I've hoped programs would share work they are doing on their own web sites and blogs, and connect with each other on social media, so they could be learning from each other, and constantly improving how they help kids and volunteers connect.

Between yesterday when I first saw Terry's video on Twitter, and today when I was able to publish the one I created, Kevin Hodgson, another #clmooc friend, posted this Tweet, with his own video.



Imagine if youth and volunteers from dozens of tutor/mentor programs were engaging in this type of activity.  The only cost is the time invested in the learning and creating.

My articles focus on strategies that help mentor-rich non-school tutor, mentor programs be available in more high poverty neighborhoods. It's within such programs that this type of creative learning and networking with others can be incubated. The connections youth and volunteers make, to other people, and a world wide library of ideas, can last a lifetime.

I've more than 1000 articles on this blog. I invite anyone with the interest to take one or more, and convert them to videos using the Lumen5.com site.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Billionaires Asking for Your Donations.

In Illinois we have three very wealthy men seeking to be elected to the Governor's role in 2018.  At least one has the support of other very wealthy people, having just received a $20 million campaign contribution from one.

I've been getting email messages from two of these candidates, asking me for donations.  Why should I help them when they have not helped me in past years when I asked for their support?  What have they done with their wealth that would make me want to vote for one over another?

I included this graphic in this 2014 article inviting billionaires to adopt high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and its suburbs.


What might that involve?

The first commitment would be to adopt the ideas in this strategy map, putting a version of this on your personal, company or campaign website, with your name in the blue box.

This means you, or someone on your staff, would open every link and look at all the maps, and embrace all of the strategies. You'd talk about them in blogs, just like I do.

The second commitment would be to devote $1 or $2 million a year to make general operating gifts to help every youth serving organization in the areas you have adopted build strong leadership and strong organizational infrastructure.  Take the intermediary role I describe in this blog article.

That might include $50,000 a year to help me rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, described here. I received a $50k gift from an anonymous donor to rebuild my GIS capacity in late 2007. Unfortunately that was not repeated each year after and funding from a major corporation ceased when they were a victim of the financial meltdown of the late 2000s. Thus, the site is now out-of-date.

You'd also support the 4 part strategy shown on this map,  Step 2 of this shows the need for constant advertising and public education and enlistment of others from business, universities, faith groups, media, entertainment, etc. to share your leadership commitment.

I wrote this letter to the family of one of the candidates in 1999.  Imagine where we'd be today if that had resulted in support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the past 17 years and adoption and leadership of the ideas I've been sharing.

I'd want to see this strategy visualized on the candidate's web site, and where it says "donate" or "volunteer" people would be pointed to web sites where they could chose non profits to support with donations and volunteer efforts, not just the candidate's campaign fund.

I know this is a bit idealistic, but.....

I'd vote for that person. 

Maybe one of the people who are writing $1 million to $20 million dollar checks to get someone elected to the Governor's office would write a $250k check each year for the next 10 years to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection on one or more college campuses. 

Update - 5-27-17 - What are foundations and wealthy  elite philanthropists doing to counter actions of new administration? See article.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Instead of new projects, why not help old projects be great?

Tomorrow will be the 4th annual #OnTheTable event, hosted by the Chicago Community Trust.  I have written about this for the past three years. Here's last year's article.

As you prepare for the event I encourage you to read this article:

How many of you have read the Jim Collins book titled "Good to Great and the Social Sectors"?

Here are some links to blog articles where the writers summarize this book

Notes from reading Good to Great:  http://ericswanson.blogspot.com/2006/02/good-to-great-and-social-sector.html

Good to Great: Lessons for the Social Sector - click here

I’ve applied Good to Great concepts in the leadership of the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1990 -2011 and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and before that in my leadership of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program) since 1977 when I learned about Total Quality Management (TQM) while working as an Advertising Manager at Wards.

The key to constant improvement, is a commitment of leadership, and for members of the organization to constantly look for ways to improve. I describe my own approach to this in the Operating Philosophy, posted on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

However, I'm convinced that the only way non profits can become great, and remain great for many years, is if they can develop consistent revenue streams that enable them to hire and retain talented people, and that give these people time during the work day for expanding their network and learning from others, reflecting, and innovating new ways to improve from year-to-year.

Thus, I've constantly worked to teach volunteers, Directors, friends, and leaders of the programs I've led, and from other Chicago area tutor/mentor programs, to take on roles where they become agents, and advocates, for tutor/mentor programs.

Here' are a few articles that you might consider, as you think of helping youth in Chicago.

Tipping Points - what are some of the actions that might make a system-wide difference?

Re-Thinking Philanthropy and Funding - click here to see article with this graphic.

If we can stabilize the flow of talent, dollars and ideas into youth serving programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities, we can help every organization become great, and stay great.

That will result in more youth through school and into jobs and careers, which is the focus of this Forbes magazine article.

Here's a final link to consider. It is titled, "Helping urban youth move through school. What do we need to know."

This is not a short term process, or something you can learn in a few hours. Just as faith leaders ask you to spend a few minutes in reading and reflection every day, I ask the same.

I've posted more than 1000 articles on this blog that focus on learning, collaboration, marketing and on-going actions that help fill high poverty neighborhoods with great programs helping youth through school and into adult lives. Dig in to the articles and links I point to in my blogs and web library and engage others in on-going conversations.

As you talk with others during this round of #onthetable, I hope some of you begin to map out actions and strategies that participants can use to mobilize others, form learning communities, and develop  year-round actions that also grow to become great in what they do to provide the needed flow of resources required to win the war against poverty, inequality, injustice, etc. that plague our communities.

I'll be Tweeting my participation in two conversations and what I see on my Twitter feed, from my @tutormentorteam account. http://www.twitter.com/tutormentorteam I hope to meet some of you there.

Enjoy your conversations!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Honoring Mothers. Today and Every Day

I searched my blog this morning to find articles I'd written specifically for Mother's Day, and found none. Then I took a look at articles I'd written at other holidays to see if any fit.

South Korea War Memorial Cemetery
Here's one I wrote in 2015 that talks about honoring heroes by how we live our futures.  I think we can honor our Mother's in the same way.

We honor our wives and build a future for our daughters and their children by our actions that make the world a better, safer, more equal place, for every Mother to give birth and raise their children.

Chicago Tribune, April 14, 2014


Here's another article that I wrote in December 2014. The headline was

Commitment to Chicago area youth. Need more leaders.

I've been collecting news stories about violence and poverty in Chicago for over 20 years. Many I've put into blog articles. Most sit in my archive waiting for a story or a writer. They all point to the failure of leaders to build a comprehensive, long-term response to the poverty and segregation in Chicago and other big cities.

Here's another, written in 2012, with the title of 

Connecting Grains of Sand into Castle on Beach


How many of you remember visits to the beach or ocean, or even the sand box in the local park, where your Mother sat with you as you built castles with your imagination as your blueprint.

Can you imagine a Chicago where the map shows very few indicators of poverty in any zip code and where the map also shows many indicators of opportunity?  Until we imagine this we won't have the will power to provide the on-going flow of time, talent and dollars needed to build it.

If you want to take the time, this link points to other articles I've posted at different holidays since I started writing this blog in 2005.  As I've often done, anyone can re-write these articles, put them in video, turn them into poems, in their own effort to connect people who can help with people who need help in places throughout the world.

I hope you're all set to enjoy this Mother's Day, and all the other holidays that come each year. As you do, visit my site and be reminded of the work we each need to do to make the blessings of hope, opportunity, freedom and Motherhood available to all.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Innovating at the World Wide Coffee Shop

Today in my Twitter feed my friend Simon Ensor, a university professor in France, who I met via the Connected Learning MOOC, #clmooc, posted this article, talking about how he was interacting with people throughout the world.  In the article was the TED talk that I'm showing below.  I hope you'll take time to view it.



In the TED talk the speaker, Steven Johnson,  talks about the English coffee house as a meeting place and spark for innovations that fed the Age of Enlightenment that stretched from 1715 to 1785. He finishes with a story about how a mid 1950s lunchtime conversation of two scientists led to GPS technology that we use every day to find a coffee shop near us.  In one part of the video he talks about how innovation is encouraged by allowing "those with hunches to connect with other people's hunches".

Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch the video. 

Simon's article talks about how difficult it is to engage in conversations with people who we pass in our daily lives and how he has been connecting with people like myself in on-going conversations via the Internet.

His article resonated with me, as many of them do.

I have a stack of business cards in front of me that I've collected over the past few months, and years, representing people I've met via various Chicago events. I've followed up with email and invited most to "have coffee and share ideas" with me, if they are interested.  Some do. Most don't. And even when we do meet, it's like a "one cup stand", not followed up with on-going connections that allow people to share "hunches" and connect with "other people's hunches" in ways that lead to new innovations in how we provide support to youth and families living in poverty, and how such on-going support might lesson the violence in our cities....while providing many other benefits.

I've been attending #ChiHackNight Tuesday evening sessions for a couple of years, and visit their Slack page daily to interact with participants.  Yesterday Isaw mention of this article from the SouthSideWeekly, which is reviewing a "Chicago at a Crossroads" event held recently to brainstorm solutions to violence in Chicago.

In it's critique of last week's event, the article said
The Times “live event,” coming nearly a year after the Memorial Day package, fell short in the same way its coverage did: its assemblage of voices offered no surprises and did little to push the fight against violence forward. After treating themselves to finger food in the venue lobby, its hundred-or-so well-dressed, mostly white attendees went home no closer to solving the gun violence crisis than they were when they arrived, and the perspectives presented on stage went more or less unchallenged. 
I've attended far too many events like this, with high profile talking heads on stage sharing ideas while several hundred in the audience listen. Maybe a few questions get asked. But there's no real interaction. And few event organizers create on-line spaces for participants and speakers to interact following the event.

The "It Takes a Village" concept map above shows my belief that people from all sectors need to be engaged in on-going efforts to reduce the poverty and isolation that feeds the violence we face in Chicago and other cities. In this article I expand on that idea.


The concept map at the right shows sections of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library, which I started building even before I knew the Internet was a tool. I point to more than 2000 links, organized into four sections, with information and ideas anyone could use to build a deeper understanding of poverty, and to see work being done in some places that could be borrowed and applied in other places.  

Each link represents a group of people who I'd like to be meeting on an on-going basis in a "virtual" coffee shop of ideas and interaction.

When we think of the coffee house as a  meeting place, I feel there's just no realistic way that any of us can meet with more than a tiny fraction of people and ideas, if that's the only format available to us.  I've justified the time I spend on-line since 1998 by the fact that I can meet more people, and have deeper interactions over a period of years than is possible through face-to-face meetings.  We can not only connect with more people, but we can create gardens of ideas, such as our blogs and web libraries, that people from our immediate neighborhood and community, as well as people from around the world, can harvest for their own inspiration and application.

Unfortunately, the trade off is that I meet less often with people in Chicago who are part of this "village".

While I constantly say to people I've met in Chicago, "Let's do coffee and get to know each other", that just does not happen nearly as often as I'd like.  At the same time, while I have conversations with Simon in France, Terry in Kentucky, Kevin in Massachusetts and others from many other places, too few of the people working to help kids in Chicago are in these conversations.

It seems like Chicago is a hub for technology innovation but too many don't use this medium for networking, brainstorming and sharing ideas.  

I keep trying to change that. I'm inspired by people and ideas I keep meeting on-line.