Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mapping impact of network builder

Since 1975 I've been building a database of people who operate tutor/mentor programs, people who do research, people who provide funding, etc. This is the "village" of people who need to be working together to help inner city kids move through school and into jobs.

Since 1994 we've been doing this through the Tutor/Mentor Connection. In May 1994 we used the database to invite programs to come together for a conference, to share information, network and build stronger businesses of tutoring/mentoring. We've been doing that every six months since then.

We've not had much help because it's hard to demonstrate the value and impact of what a "network builder", especially when there is almost no money available to fund the T/MC on a regular basis, and we're in the third largest city in the country.

In the past year we've been learning to use Social Network Analysis software donated by Valdis Krebs of We've had no money for staff, so volunteers have been doing this work. You can follow the progress here.

One of our volunteers, Kalyani Misra, has created maps showing participation in the May 2008 Conference. She posted these maps on a Social Network Analysis blog that she has created. Here's one of the maps that Kalyani included in her blog.

I encourage you all to read the blog and offer comments either on the blog, or in SNA work space forum. The map shows that because the Tutor/Mentor Connection makes an effort to maintain a database of tutor/mentor programs and related organizations, we can send an invitation that invites people to come together to share ideas. Because we make an effort to organize the May and November conferences, funded by our own volunteers and leaders, and small fees from some of the conference participants, we make it possible for this group of people to connect.

Below is a different way to look at this information. This is a map of Chicago showing locations of Chicago based organizations who participated in the conference. With the information now available, we can show how all of these organizations are connected to T/MC. With future surveys of conference participants, we can show how the participants are connecting to each other, as a result of attending the conferences. We can also build an understanding of how strong the networks are for each organization, and hopefully help each group strengthen those.

If this is used in combination with the GIS maps, we can help programs see what other programs, and assets are in the same zip code, or section of the city. With this information anyone can begin to submit invitations for people to meet at the T/MC conferences, and in smaller neighborhood collaborations in the months between conferences.

Do you feel this is important? Do you see the potential of using these visualization tools to help build a community of support for inner city kids? Then can you become a donor, or benefactor, to help us fund the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and these mapping projects? Call 312-492-9614 or email tutormentor 2 at

Or mail donations to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, at 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642

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