Thursday, May 17, 2012

NATO Summit - Work Behind the Scenes

Leaders of NATO and aligned nations are in Chicago this week and will try to reach agreement on some big decisions. Do you think they do all the thinking, planning, brainstorming just while the leaders get together for a few days? I doubt it. I'm certain that teams of people from each country have been meeting frequently throughout the year to try to find solutions to tough problems.

With that being said, what sort of system connects the foundations, business leaders, policy makers, non profits, educators, and others who are trying to figure out ways to lower the costs of poverty and prepare more young people for roles in the global economy?

When leaders in Chicago and elsewhere say they want to help kids, I look for graphics like the one below on their web sites, illustrating the long-term commitment it takes to help kids through school and into careers. I post this map on my web site, with links to many other maps, so anyone in the world can use my sites as a platform for their own thinking and decision support.

I support mentoring in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs because it brings an extra network of adults into high poverty neighborhoods who can build a personal empathy and understanding of the challenges of poverty and who can begin to help young people access the range of learning supports they need, and which are taken for granted in more affluent areas.

In order for volunteers to connect consistently with kids in high poverty areas of big cities and build this understanding, organized programs need to be in these places, to facilitate these connections. So what type of thinking is going on in all of the places where people are thinking about this problems?

This is just one of many graphics I've created to try to segment this big problem into smaller problems. If you browse other articles on this blog, or even do a web search for "tutor/mentor" and then looked at the images page, you'd find dozens that I've created over the past 15 years.

In the concept maps I've been able to create links to web libraries and web sites of other people. For instance if you look at the research map below,the links point to sections of my article with links to articles, blogs, research and ideas that any group can use to expand the range of information they have to support their own brainstorming.

There are many groups focusing on issues of education, drop out crisis, youth development. However, I'm not able to find many places on the internet where these groups are connecting and talking to each other, and where they are looking at the same library of information. This is a concept map showing organizations, I've connected to via drop out conferences and similar events. See actual map.

I've hosted a tutor/mentor conference in Chicago every six months since 1994 and I've sent invitations and email notices to most of the organizations in my library and shown on these maps, and many others, yet I still am only able to bring together 100-125 people. I'm sure that's because of a lack of money to market the events. I'm also sure it's because I'm not the Mayor, a big foundation or celebrity, or CEO of a big company.

My next event is June 14 at First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park (Chicago). It's still being organized. It is just one of many gatherings taking place in June, which is another reason people can only attend a few of these. I wrote an article about this competition for participation back in February 2012.

I don't think we every can get enough of everyone into the same room often enough to solve major problems, or build consistent support for tutor/mentor programs that need to last for 20 or more years. I do think that we can do learning on the Internet, if we can build platforms that motivate people from all sectors who are interested in the same problem to participate. I've been following this Change.MOOC an the Webheads community for a while. These are examples of connected learning groups that involve many people.

In the library on the Tutor/Mentor Connection site and in the Tutor/Mentor Forum people can submit links to add new information. If there are web sites using maps and graphics like I do to support the work of people helping kids in poverty through school and into jobs and careers, please share them. If there are forums where resource providers, non profit leaders, researchers, and youth/parents actively participating in planning intended to make more non-school learning programs available in high poverty areas, please point them out to me so I can participate and share links to others.

Supporting platforms like I'm describing takes talent, technology, even some dollars. If you'd like to help build and expand the platform I've been building for more than 18 years, I'd sure like to hear from you.

Take a look at more of the ideas I share in the Library on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site and by clicking into the tabs on this page.

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