Monday, January 22, 2018

How to Use this Blog

I've been writing this blog as part of a strategy launched in 1993 to help kids living in high poverty areas have access to well-organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs that operate in the non-school  hours.

The articles are intended for program leaders, volunteers, policy makers, resource providers, business, volunteers and virtually anyone who is concerned about poverty, inequality, workforce development and/or democracy.

search on Google for "tutor mentor" and any of these words.

This graphic shows the tags on the left side of this blog, with the larger size type representing more articles with that tag. This was created in 2016 so there are a few more categories in the tag list now, but if you browse the list you'll find them.  Just open any of the tags, then scroll through the articles.

As a short cut to help you find a few articles that provide a broad overview of what I'm writing about, visit this Tumblr site, where I've archived about a dozen articles pulled from this blog.

I don't expect anyone to read every article in a day, or a year. However, if you follow current articles and browse past articles from time-to-time you'll begin to understand the ideas I'm sharing and hopefully, you'll want to share them via your own blog, meetings, social media, etc.

If you value this work please visit this page and use the PayPal button to send me some financial support.  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Mentoring Kids to Careers - What Do We Need to Know?

View presentation
If you're concerned about poverty, inequality, workforce development, diversity, democracy, etc., how well we raise our kids has to be something you think about.

While all kids (and parents) need  help as they grow up, over the past 40 years I've focused on how we build and sustain mentor-rich non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs where volunteers from beyond the family, and neighborhood, take meaningful roles in helping kids living in high poverty areas, move safely through school and into jobs, careers and adult responsibilities.

Throughout that time I've focused on "what are all the things we need to know" to make such systems available to youth in a growing number of places.

I began to build a library of research articles, newspaper clips, and books that showed places of concentrated poverty as areas where kids were not getting adequate support (for many reasons) and where volunteers who become connected to kids through organized programs can help bring some of this support.  Combined with my own experiences this information constantly has reinforced my commitment for doing this work.

Me and Leo- 1973-4
I started asking the "what do we need to know" question in the 1970s as I became a volunteer tutor (1973) and as I became the volunteer leader of an organized program that already had 100 pairs of kids/volunteers meeting weekly when I took the lead in 1975.  By applying what I was learning on an on-going basis for seventeen years, that program had 440  2nd to 6th grade teens and more than 500 volunteers participating each year.

In 1993 as I and six other volunteers were creating a new program to help teens move from 7th grade through high school, we decided to fill a leadership and information void in Chicago, and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC). Our goal was to help mentor-rich programs in every part of the city get a more consistent flow of attention, and thus volunteers, operating dollars and ideas, enabling each to sustain and improve their efforts from year-to-year.

10-Point Strategy
At the left you can see the 10-point strategy we launched in 1994 which soon condensed down to these four steps.  You can also see a  map showing high poverty areas, which was where we wanted to help tutor and mentor programs grow.

The "what we need to know" to operate a single program question expanded to a list of questions, such as:

How can we generate the talent, dollars, visibility and leadership needed to support more than 150 existing programs in the Chicago region?

How do we  help new programs start where more are needed? How do we map our data so we can  understand where more are needed?  I started trying to find ways to use computer generated maps to show Chicago tutor/mentor program information as early as 1993. Learning ways to do this was part of what I needed to learn.

View Influence article
How do we influence program leaders to use the information we share to build longer term youth support strategies?

How do we influence business, colleges,  hospitals, philanthropists and government to provide on-going, long-term, flexible operating support, so programs  have the resources to learn, to hire and retain talented people, and to support long-term connections between youth, volunteers and the programs?


View as cMap
This learning became like a famous board game. Each square represents something a program leader, student, volunteer, donor and/or community organizer needs to know. The more you learn, the more likely you are to win the game--which in this case is to build and sustain mentor-rich programs that help kids through school and into jobs and careers.

For youth who use the resources, winning is a life-long journey. They more other people help you, and you help yourself, the greater  your chances are of leading the life you want.

The "what are all the things we need to know" question led me to expand my search for information far beyond "what tutor/mentor programs operate in Chicago" and resulted in many new sections of the web library.

Click on the links in this cMap and go to the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library, which we started putting on line in 1998. Find links to articles, reports, research and other tutor/mentor and youth serving organizations in Chicago and in other cities, states and countries.

cMap visual of one section of library
Such as:

Process Improvement, innovation, collaboration, mapping, visualization and knowledge management - click here

Philanthropy challenges and fund raising resources - click here

Technology resources, ideas and networks - click here

Social enterprise - people earning income and doing good at same time - click here

Mentor and Tutor programs in other places - click here

cMOOCs, on-line learning and collaboration - click here

Visit this article and find a long list of links that point to sections of the web library.

I've never stopped asking this "what do we need to know" question. I've just expanded my sources of information to the entire world, and my primary means of finding ideas as the Internet and various places where I find and connect with others. I add new links to the web library weekly, and share ideas via this and other blogs two or three times a week.

I've applied much of what I've been learning to support the work of the tutor/mentor programs I've led, and the work of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which I formed in 2011 to continue supporting the T/MC in Chicago after the strategy was discontinued at the originating non profit organization.

I learned in the 1970s that this was not easy work, that it required sacrifices of time to work with volunteers and youth in non-school programs, and that it required even greater commitments to spend time collecting and sharing this library of information, and to spend time visiting the sites and learning from what I read.

I invite you to follow the links, enter the library and use the ideas and resources to help kids in your own neighborhood, city, state or country.

If you value this resource, click here, and send a contribution to help me keep it available to you.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Steps to the World we Want

I've been listening to the live-stream of the KennedyForum today and yesterday I viewed a lot of Tweets and FB post related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this morning's KennedyForum session the moderator asked "What's next? What's the follow up?" 

I hope you'll take time to view and think about the steps I feel need to be followed to create the world we want for our children and grandchildren, and for children growing up throughout the world.

First create a concept map, or blueprint, showing work needed to be done that leads to the problem you focus on being solved in many places.  In my case, I focus on helping kids from birth to work, so the cmap below shows supports kids need at every stage.

open map - click here
You can start creating these blueprints with a blank sheet of paper. As you think of more that needs to be done, add it to your graphic. At some point you might want to use a concept mapping tool, like cMapTools, or Kumu, to share your ideas via the Internet.

Next build a database showing organizations in your community who are already involved in doing this work. 


List of programs- click here   Map of Intermediaries - click here

I've been building a database of Chicago non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs since 1993 and plot this on maps showing where programs are located and where they are most needed, based on indicators like high poverty, health disparities, poorly performing schools, etc. 

I've also been building a concept map showing others who focus on helping youth in Chicago. All of these organizations need to be talking and exchanging ideas with each other, on an on-going basis.

Create maps showing related issues.
While I focus on building youth serving programs I realize that there are many other issues that contribute to poverty and represent challenges to youth and families.  That's what the concept map at the right intends to show.

I combined this map with a graphic showing the United Nations' Global Development Goals. You can see it in this article.  This illustrates that the problems we focus on in Chicago are problems to people in many parts of the world. Our source of solutions, support and resources can come from anywhere.

There is a universe of information available about these issues and the organizations working to try to solve some of them. It's on the Internet. It's in local public libraries. It's in book stores.  One of our challenges is motivating people to find time on an on-going basis to read this information and then discuss it with others.  I wrote about this last week.


Generate resource flow.
Then we need to find ways to draw volunteers, operating dollars, ideas and other needed resources on an on-going basis to every program and organization in our database.

EVERY PROGRAM

That means we need to help the great programs seving people in some places get the resources to stay great. We also need to help less well organizations in different places get the resources and ideas they need to become great.

Every neighborhood needs a full range of great programs just like contractor and worker involved in a building project needs to have the right skills and be paid to do their work.  


It's when we have great programs in more places that we begin to see stories showing how kids who have been part of these programs are now adults with jobs, raising their own kids, and hopefully, helping others overcome the problems they face.

This takes time. It takes many years for an organization to become great at what it does and it takes up to 20 years to help a youth move through school and into a first jobs. For some it take even longer.

It starts with gathering information showing where the problem is most concentrated and what work people are already doing in different places to try to solve the problem. The cMap below shows how I share some of what I've put in my web library. 

open map - click here

For every issue that contributes to poverty, inequality, social injustice, etc someone needs to be aggregating information, showing what they do, and what others do, then be sharing that the way I've been trying to do, so others don't need to spend time searching for ideas, but can spend that time reading, reflecting and connecting with others, with the goal of putting good ideas to work in more places.

The most difficult step in doing this work is pointing people in your network to others doing similar work. That includes pointing donors in your network to others who need the same help you do.

So far, very few take this role.

If you're one of those doing this work, share your link in the comment box and let's connect. Let's at least follow each other on social media and "like" and "re-Tweet" posts we each share. That's a first step of helping each other.

I've been writing this blog since 2005, so there are a lot of articles focusing on this work. Take some time to read them. Share them. Re-write them. Or reach out and help me do it better.

If you like what I write, and value the information I collect and share, make a contribution to help me keep doing this work. click here










Friday, January 12, 2018

Spend MLKing, Jr. Weekend as a Learner


Over the next few days the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday will be celebrated with marches, breakfast speeches, and thousands of service projects. All good.

However, I want to encourage people to spend two to three hours reading and reflecting. Start by looking at this ESRI story map showing the "Life and Words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.".  While we've made much progress since the 1960s, there is still a huge mountain to climb to reach a point where "all children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their character."

Why is this important? Here's an article I saw a few years ago,  titled, 'Want To Be A Leader? ‘Learn To Be Alone With Your Thoughts’ in which says William Deresiewicz, "Speaking to a plebe class at West Point, said that without solitude, it’s hard to arrive at thoughts that are your own, and hard to develop the moral compass and moral courage necessary to act on those thoughts."

In another article, I read about how it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. This article outlines Chapter 2 in the book "Outliers", by Malcolm Gladwell,which "puts forth the premise that to be an expert in your field requires a devotion to one’s craft for at least 10,000 hours."


I've spent more than 10,000 hours since 1975 leading a tutor/mentor program and much of that time has been spent in solitude, learning and reflection. That's where the ideas I share in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC come from. I use graphics like this one to illustrate how creating programs and services that consistently help kids overcome poverty and rise through school and into jobs and careers is a process of learning and constant experimentation. It's one that requires constant investments of talent and time, which means a constant flow of dollars.

I include a map showing poverty areas in Chicago as a reminder that resources and support needs to reach k-12 youth and families in every high poverty area, not just through a few well-known programs.

As I come across great thinking I point to it in articles like this, and archive links in the Tutor/Mentor Connection library so others can find and learn from the same ideas I'm learning from.


Most of what I'm thinking about relates to influencing the flow of resources to non-school tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods. Most of these ideas can be adopted to the same problem in other social sectors. If we can influence the flow of resources and keep talent in programs longer, we increase the organizational knowledge and the ability of each organization to constantly improve their impact on kids and the volunteers who become part of these programs.

I use concept maps to show sections of my web library and to visualize long-term strategies that need to be adopted in every city, and by leaders of every sector.  Here's a map that business should visit, showing reasons to invest in helping mentor-rich programs grow in cities where they do business or where employees live.

See my complete set of concept maps here.

Thus, while you honor the memory of Dr. King, Jr., spend time learning where and how you can help make  his vision come true. 

Make this a weekly, year-round habit, not a once-a-year day of service.

I'm sure others are spending their own time thinking about this and may have their own master plans and strategies. I hope we can connect on FacebookLinked InTwitter or the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Drawing More Attention to Youth Serving Organizations - Since 1993

When I and six other volunteers created a new direct service tutor/mentor program serving teens in Cabrini-Green in 1993, we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Our goal was to gather and share information that people could use to help mentor-rich programs (like our own) grow in every high poverty area of Chicago.

We launched a four-part strategy in January 1994 with a survey to locate other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and build a master data-base, which I still update on an on-going basis.  This was the heart of what has become a huge web library 24 years later.

Having led a volunteer based tutor/mentor program since 1975 I knew how much work program leaders had to do to attract and retain volunteers. Having started a non-profit in 1990, I was learning how hard it was to attract and retain donations and operating dollars.  However, from 1973 to 1990 I held retail advertising jobs in the corporate headquarters of Montgomery Ward. I knew what people on different functional teams were doing to help all 400 of our stores get the resources and talent each needed to be great (and profitable).

Thus, while step 1 of the 4-part strategy was focused on collecting and organizing information, step two was focused on generating more frequent media stories intended to draw attention to all of the tutor/mentor programs in our data base, and to motivate people from throughout the region to adopt programs and support them on an on-going basis with time, talent and dollars.

Between 1994 and 1996 we developed an event strategy, anchored by conferences in May and November, and  a citywide volunteer-recruitment campaign in August/September. These drew programs together and drew volunteers and donors to programs, while also motivating media to write more frequent stories about the work we were doing.  Visit this page and you can view print stories generated over 24 years.  Below is an example:

Chicago Tribune, May 1995
In 1998 we began putting our library and stories on web sites and as we struggled from 2000 through 2010 to find funds to support our kids program and the T/MC we relied more and more on the Internet, blogs and social media to attract attention to programs, and our web library, since we had far fewer dollars and greater expenses after losing Wards in 2000 as host for our activities and our major donor.  I've had even fewer resources since 2011 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the T/MC operating after support the strategy was dropped by the original non-profit.

Chicago SunTimes, 1994
If you browse through articles on this blog, which I started in 2005, or the MappingforJustice blog, which was started in 2008, you'll see a consistent use of maps and visualizations and a consistent invitation for the T/MC strategy to be adopted and led by many leaders, in Chicago, and in other cities with similar problems.

You'll find many stories where I show that students as young as middle school and as advanced at PhD programs, could be duplicating my efforts to build a web library of local youth programs and create an on-going effort to draw needed resources to all of those programs.


I recognized in 1993, and continue to understand, in 2018, that unless we find ways to build and sustain public interest and involvement we'll not make much of a dent in the poverty, segregation, class and race-related issues that are the root causes of many of our problems.  I also recognized that without a map we would provide millions of dollars and still be missing most of the kids needing consistent, on-going help.

Since 2011 I've not not had the money to organize events and host the mapping, or have a team of people working with me on this. I've not drawn a salary. I've cut expenses to site hosting and use my time to continue to maintain the web library and list of programs and to draw people to my blogs, web library and list of  youth serving organizations.

Last week I posted a podcast interview created by Emily Drevets, who I met at the weekly ChiHackNight events.  At this link you can find a few other interviews.   And, if you look at the links that I point to on this concept map,  you'll find many others who have been helping tell the stories I'm telling.


I keep looking for leaders who are thinking and acting the same way I do. They could be in Chicago, or in any other city. You'd recognize them by reading blog articles they write, looking at their web sites, and seeing what they post on social media.  There are many who do part of what I do.  I can't find any who apply the four-part strategy.  If you think you know one, send me the link to their web site and send them the link to my blog.

For 24  years I've gotten out of bed in the morning and spent the day doing whatever I could to draw attention and resources to youth serving organizations in Chicago so more kids could have the support they need. I'm still doing that, just with a lot fewer resources.

You can help change that by creating your own stories, using my blog articles and visualizations as thought-starters.  If you're in a business, university, hospital or faith group, you can form a group and adopt the T/MC strategy. If you're really ambitious you can reach out and form a partnership with me, that will lead to your ownership of these ideas and commitments over the next few years.

Connect with me on one of these social media platforms. I look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Connecting Rich and Poor in America - Follow-up to Reeves & Putnam

I just read an article by Richard Reeves, titled "Trickle-Down Norms" which talked about the growing gap between rich and poor in America and how the practices of the affluent often influence the habits and behavior of the rest of American society.

In the article he referred to Dr. Robert Putnam's "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" book, which I've written about in several past articles.

I've supported organized, on-going, volunteer-based #tutor and #mentor programs for nearly 40 years because of their potential to build connections between people who don't live in poverty and young people and families who do.

As I said, I've written a series of articles that refer to Dr. Putnam's book. I'd like to highlight a few here.

March 24, 2015 - Closing Opportunity Gap in America. Making All Kids "Our Kids.  I included this graphic in the article, which I created in the  mid 1990s to show a vision of a tutor/mentor program with volunteers from many different business/professional backgrounds.  This depicts the expansion of mentors and learning experiences in the lives of kids who participate in these programs. It also shows the multi-dimensional support of programs by volunteers and donors from many different industries. It focuses on muti-year support, from first grade into jobs.  It also includes a map, showing that such programs need to reach kids in every high poverty neighborhood.

Putnam and Reeves both posted several suggestions. One was "invest in well organized mentoring" programs.  I'd like to see more of a road map that shows how we do this. How do we get to where we are today to a future when this opportunity gap has been significantly diminished.

May 5, 2016 - Follow up to Putnam Talk in Chicago.  I included this map story, which was first created in 1996, to illustrate a need to use maps to show the gaps between rich and poor, to show all of the high poverty areas of the Chicago region, and to force (and guide) a distribution of needed resources and mentor-rich programs to more of those neighborhoods.  I also demonstrate using map-stories as part of an on-going effort to draw more attention and to increase the flow of volunteer and donors to individual tutor/mentor programs.  I still don't see any leaders in Chicago using maps this way .

See at this link
March 16, 2015 - Making All Kids "Our Kids".  I've been reading books and articles like those by Putnam and Reeves for more than 25 years, along with other information that focuses on "What are ALL the things we need to know, and do, to help all kids born in poverty be starting jobs and careers by mid 20's".

As I've found articles like "Trickle Down Norms", I started putting them in a library I was building, which was originally intended to support myself and the leaders and volunteers in the single Chicago tutor/mentor program I started leading in 1975. When we formally formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we created an intentional process for finding this information and sharing it with leaders and supporters of tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago. When we built our first web site in 1998 we began sharing this library with the world, while also finding ideas from other cities that could be applied to building new solutions in Chicago.

See at this link
October 27, 2016 - Understanding and Applying Social Capital Concepts.  Reeves and Putnam are writing about social capital.

In this article I wrote about the difference between the terms "bridging" and "bonding" social capital. This page on the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University site provides those definitions

In my work, I focus on "bridging" social capital, or social ties that link people together with others across a cleavage that typically divides society (like race, or class, or religion).


There are several more articles that refer to Putnam's book on this blog and many others that focus on learning, network building, media, leadership, etc.  You can't read all of these in one day, or a week. Why not form a learning circle in your business, faith group, college or family, and read and discuss one article a week? Why not connect with myself and each other on Twitter, the way the #clmooc group has been doing since 2013?

Chicago Tribune 1994
This was the front page of a 1994 Chicago Tribune. Note the use of "Kids at Risk" and a MAP and the sub head "240,000 kids in poverty's grip".  I've been pointing to stories like this for many years, but following with a four part strategy that and a leadership commitment that can be used and supported by leaders in Chicago and any other city and state in the country.


I've shared ideas like these, since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, with most of the candidates running for Governor of Illinois, and with the current and former Mayor of Chicago.  Yet, if you visit their web sites you don't see any concept maps similar to those I've shared, nor a mobilization and learning strategy similar to the four-part strategy that I've shared.  You don't see their support on anything I've done. I'm not part of any of their planning committees, nor funded as a consultant to their own efforts.

I wonder if they have read Putnam, or Reeves, or any of my articles.

Nothing will change until more people read, reflect, share and then apply these ideas, and the many resources I've aggregated in the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library, using their own personal, and professional, time, talent, dollars and votes.

Note: Since 2011 I've kept the Tutor/Mentor Connection operating under the structure of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  If you'd like to support me, click here for information. 






Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Help Me Help You - podcast

I've been sort of depressed the past few days because my year-end "fund me" campaign was not as successful as last year. Then yesterday Emily Drevets,  @drevets ,sent me the edited podcast of an interview she did with me a couple of months ago.  You can listen to it at http://helpmehelpyou.libsyn.com/it-became-personal-with-daniel-bissel

Emily is one of the talented people who gather weekly at ChiHackNight which is held in the Braintree offices at Chicago's Merchandise Mart. I've attended off and on for several years (see article) and am constantly thrilled by the talented people who introduce themselves at the start of each weekly event. My wish has been that some of them would do exactly what Emily has done and use their talent to help me upgrade the technology and share the ideas from this blog and my web sites with more people.

Last summer she announced to the group that she was launching a Podcast and wanted volunteers to practice with. I offered and in preparation she took some time to look at my sites. Then she interviewed me via Skype, and then created the podcast, which now shares my ideas with people in her own network.

What makes this special is how Emily asks leading questions or helps create shared understanding of ideas I was sharing in the interview. It makes more sense to others because of the work she did.

If you look at the graphic at the right, Emily and I are the two people to the left of the big circle. Her podcast is sharing ideas I've been putting on this blog and my web sites for more than 20 years.  It's potentially going to reach many people who I don't know, and some of them my create their own blog or video to share it further.

In the podcast I describe the graphic at the right, showing how an idea launched by one person can spread, through the efforts of others.

I feel many can, and should, take this role, not just to support what I do, but to amplify and support the work that others are doing.

I look forward to hearing from some who will listen to this in the coming moths.

Maybe a few of those will go to this page and send some financial support to help me do this work in the coming year.