Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Wish. Awards for Strategic Business Investment

If you've visited this blog I hope you've also visited the Mapping for Justice blog. This one provides a broader range of information and ideas intended to engage more people in support of organized, non-school programs that connect youth and volunteers in muti-year efforts. The Mapping for Justice blog focuses narrowly on the use of Geographic maps and visualizations.

During the last two months of 2014 I've posted a series of concept maps, like the one at the left, that illustrate strategies I hope are adopted in many places, that support the on-going growth and distribution of tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

During the January National Mentoring Summit, several businesses will be recognized for their "outstanding contributions to advancing quality mentoring opportunities for young people". At the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service , to be held in October 2015, the Corporation for National and Community Service provides this Award of Excellence to businesses with outstanding corporate volunteer engagement strategies.

In many articles on this blog I've used graphics to show the 12 years it takes for a youth to go from first grade to 12th grade, and the need for on-going operating support to organizations in every poverty neighborhood who have strategies to help youth succeed in this journey. I've pointed to challenges facing non profits, resulting from an inconsistent flow of operating dollars and an almost non-existing advertising budget, which makes it extremely difficult for high quality tutor/mentor programs to realistically be operating in every poverty neighborhood of any city.

Thus, my wish for 2015 and beyond is that awards be given to companies who form teams of volunteers who research ways their company can engage employee talent and company resources to provide on-going flows of talent and dollars to support youth serving organizations who show strategies aimed to help youth move through school and into careers. Such teams would use the maps I've pointed to here, and on the Mapping for Justice Blog, as part of their own research. Maps like the one below can be used as study guide, or to stimulate thinking on the benefits to adopting such strategies.


In this Shoppers Guide I show some indicators that I feel should show up on the web sites of non school, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs. As I talk to my peers I encourage them to create their own strategy graphics and blog articles, showing the challenges they face and encouraging business to support them, and all other, youth serving organizations in the city where they operate.

Companies might use this Role of Leaders PDF as a guide for launching internal teams.

I'd like to see a similar guide showing indicators that would appear on business web sites, showing a CEO commitment to engaging company resources in strategic, on-going efforts to help more kids move through school and showing strategies the company is applying to mobilize more and more resources and distribute their influence to all locations where they do business or where employees live.

If companies from every industry and profession were encouraging volunteer involvement in neighborhoods throughout the city, programs from throughout the city might be able to show a greater diversity of volunteers and funding. Using Social Network Analysis tactics every program might begin to publish graphics similar to this, showing the different jobs/careers modeled by volunteers within their organization, or showing sources of operating resources, technology, talent and ideas.

Finally, my 2015 wish includes a hope that one or two investors/benefactors will step forward and put their name on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, with a major contribution and long term commitment. This strategy map shows what I've been building and all the different places where investment is needed to do this better than I've been able to so far.

I recognize the vast amount of information I've provided in 2014 and in past years and that while my visualizations make sense to me, they may not make sense to others who've not spent as many years thinking about this as I have. Thus, I encourage you to invite me to your company or organization (for a small fee) where I can spend time talking with you about any of these articles or graphics.

Happy New Year to all who read these articles. Best wishes to you, your families and the people who serve in your own efforts.





Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Commitment to Chicago area youth. Need more leaders.

This was the editorial from the April 14, 2014 Chicago Tribune, following another weekend of violence. I've been collecting news articles like this for more than 20 years, with a goal that I'd some day have the ability to put these into book form in ways that the aggregated total would show that the way we've tried to solve this problem in the past has not worked, and that new ways need to be innovated.

This was the front page of the October 15, 1992 Chicago SunTimes. I've used this often in this blog to remind myself, and others, of the daily commitment many of us need to make to help youth in areas with high concentrations of poverty, poor schools and youth violence, have a non-school support system, anchored by well-organized, consistently funded volunteer based tutor/mentor programs.

Every December since I started writing this blog in 2005 I've posted articles focusing forward into the next year. I hope you'll read some and share them with others.\

Dec. 9, 2014 - Building Influence. Building Networks

Dec. 26, 2013 - Connecting a Million Minds around Complex Problems

Dec. 21, 2012 - New Year's Resolution for Helping At-Risk Youth

Dec. 26, 2011 - Creating a Service and Learning Organization that Mentors Kids to Careers: 2012 Resolution

Dec. 22, 2010 - Networking, sharing information, collaboration

Dec. 17, 2009 - Network Building for Inner City Youth

Dec. 29, 2008 - SunTimes 'Stop the Killing’ Special Report misses opportunity

Dec. 16, 2007 - Building Networks of Purpose

Dec. 26, 2006 - National Mentoring Month - Who Mentored You?

Dec. 23, 2005 - Spread Holiday Hope and Holiday Cheer

If you look at articles I've written in other months of the year, you'll see a consistency of messages. I firmly believe that until more people are writing similar stories, using common information libraries, and for the same purpose, we won't build the momentum needed to make great tutor/mentor programs available in all poverty areas, or keep them their and constantly improving as they help kids move from first grade to first job.

If you're writing stories like this, and have been doing it for as many years, let's connect.

I've been trying to find a way to fund the work I've been doing since forming Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011. I've not had much success so I'm spending less than $20,000 a year when I really should be spending more than $1 million a year to implement the 4-part strategy shown in this concept map.

If you want to help me do this work, on an incremental basis, become a sponsor for the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, or make a "HOPE and Opportunity" contribution that is an investment in the work I'm doing.

However, if you'd like to make this your legacy, and put your name on the door, please reach out to me at tutormentor2@earthlink.net

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Building Influence. Building Networks.

I frequently see this quote from Margaret Mead quote in my Twitter feed: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

However, have you done much thinking about what the membership of this small group looks like? Of how they might help you?

To answer the second question first, a leader is constantly seeking to influence the actions of others. If you have an idea for solving a problem and realize you can't do it all by yourself, the first thing you need to do is begin reaching out to invite others to become involved in the work. I posted this article about "intentional influence" a few weeks ago. I hope you'll read it.

Once you realize you need help from others, a map showing the type of help you need could be helpful.

The map below is one I created many years to to serve as a worksheet in my own efforts to build this "small group of people". I've shared it often because I think others could also use it to show the wide range of talent and skills needed to launch a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program and keep it constantly improving (good to great) for many years.


If you were to do a survey of people helping you now, and categorize them by talent, or by areas of influence, would your map show you have all the skills you need, along with the civic reach needed to get your message to resource providers, media, policy makers, etc? If you're not sure what I'm talking about, read this article titled "Building Philanthropy Capital to Fuel Good to Great". Toward the end of the article is a link to a Stanford Social Innovation Review article titled Increasing Civic Reach.

Most small non profits don't have all the talent they need, not at the beginning, and not as they mature. It's why so many, including the ones I led, struggle so much.

I started Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1992 with six other volunteers. I had been leading a volunteer based tutor/mentor program for the previous 17 years, but was only able to draw a few of the people from that group into support for my new effort, so my initial mail list was about 400 people.

By 1998 that was up to 12,000 people. This was before I began to build an internet community. The graphic below is a worksheet I developed in the mid 1990s. Here's an article I posted on the Cabrini Blog in 2011 with this graphic. Here's the same graphic in an article on the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum.


This worksheet is useful because if you ask someone to give you 5 names to add to a mailing list for an event or a newsletter, they struggle to come up with five names. One reason may be that there are so many people to choose from. If you use this worksheet, you can look at each sub category, such as family, neighbor, college, etc. and look for one person who might be interested in knowing more about your ideas. One person from each category represents 8 to 10 people. As I did this in the 1990s I began to add groups of people, like my college fraternity brothers from the years I was at Illinois Wesleyan.

If you use email, or a printed newsletter to tell stories of your work, why it's important, what you accomplish, how people might help you, some from your network may offer their own time, talent and resources. However, if a few pass on this message to their network, you may reach friends of friends who have an even greater potential to help.

Even with the worksheet motivating others to map their network and constantly reach out asking for support is difficult. People don't like asking friends or family for money. That leads to the next steps in this strategy.

Because of my background with the Montgomery Ward corporation in the 1970s and 1980s I often draw analogies from those experiences. For instance, I think of a mentor-rich youth organization as a "retail store for hope and opportunity" which needs to have a variety of age-appropriate learning and mentoring experiences that motivate youth and volunteers to participate weekly, and for multiple years. Here's one article where I explore this idea.

If you think of a single program like a Walgreens, then my web sites serve as a "shopping mall" or a "department store". When you first visit a new store, or mall, you just take a walking tour, visiting the different shops so you know what's there. Later you go back and take more time browsing the stores that were most interesting to you. Thus, if you set up a web site with information related to your mission, or the problem you're trying to solve, your blogs, social media, Twitter and other forms of daily communication serve as "advertising" intended to draw people to your ideas.

The Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection.org web sites serve this purpose. This PDF essay shows information a youth tutor/mentor program might want to have on their web site to show shoppers what they do and why they should be supported.

This last graphic is one that illustrates your role in facilitating the involvement of a growing number of other people. Over time, this can result in many people, with many different talents and a significant level of civic reach, working to help you make a difference in the world.


If you'd like to have me visit and talk to you about these ideas, or others shared on my blog and web site, let's find a way for me to do that.



Thursday, December 04, 2014

What's on your book shelf? Ferguson? Race? Poverty? Philanthropy?

If you're like me, you have stacks of books, publications and magazines in your home or office that you've collected and set aside for "future reading". While my home library includes books on history and science fiction, my work library includes books on innovation, mentoring, poverty, youth development, leadership, etc.

This image is from a small collection of my library in my office on the North side of Chicago. Between 1993 and 1999 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was hosted at the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago and we had lots of space. Thus, we had a huge collection of publications and information files about Chicago area tutor/mentor programs. I also maintained a media clip file, of stories from local media.

However, we all know that once an article is printed, it's out of date. Thus, since 1998 I've been building a much larger library on the Internet than the one in my office. I host on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site and I point to ideas from all over the world. Because I point to the web sites hosting those ideas, people looking at these ideas are also exposed to the web libraries hosted by others. It's a vast network of knowledge available to everyone.

This map is an outline of just one section, where I post research articles and publications related to the challenges facing youth living in high poverty neighborhoods.

The purpose of this library is to support innovation and constant improvement. If program leaders, volunteers and donors can look at what people do in one place that seems to be working, they can expand the range of ideas they have to improve what they do in their own location...as long as they have the talent and resources to apply those ideas.

I created this illustrated essay to show how this information could be used by many to influence actions of others.

Using Ideas to Stimulate Competition and Process Improvement - Concept Paper by Daniel F. Bassill



I was contacted yesterday by a program leader looking for articles mentors could read
that are related to some of the high profile media stories, such racial profiling and police shootings, domestic abuse, child abuse, etc. I was preparing an email response, and thought I'd just share that response here with more of you.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection web library has sub sections, and within these are sub-sub sections. One section titled homework help, has many ideas volunteers might look at for engaging their students. In this section there's also one focused on Black History, with links to some sites that could be used to develop discussion and activities.

Another section has the title of Law, Justice, Housing, Poverty and Prevention. Each of the sub sections have links to web sites that volunteers can visit to expand their thinking on issues affecting the youth they work with.

Another section focuses on research, which is also divided into sub categories focused on education, dropout prevention, social capital, mentoring and tutoring. The links I point to usually point to even more links.

I suggest that one activity any tutor/mentor program could undertake is to encourage a small group of youth and volunteers to go through the site, doing a deeper dive into the information. As they do this, they can create presentations that share sites they find valuable with the other youth, volunteers and staff in the organization...or with the larger community. I've been encouraging interns working with me to do this. This is an animation I made to introduce this concept.

New Assignment. A Quest. by tutormentor1 on GoAnimate

Video Maker - Powered by GoAnimate.

I've had interns from different colleges going through my web sites and library to create guides for users. Here's an animation created in 2009. Some of the links may be broken in this, but it illustrates work that can be done.

My library has been built over 40 years, starting with hard copy information
, then moving to the internet in 1998. It was created primarily as my own "book shelf", providing ideas I could use to innovate better ways to recruit youth and volunteers, keep them connected, and have an impact on both groups. I've constantly borrowed ideas from others, and one complete section of the web library focuses on collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, etc. These are ideas that not only apply to tutoring/mentoring, but can be applied to many work/life situations.

Since I operated as a non profit from 1990-2011, one section is focused on philanthropy, and shows challenges that need to be overcome if high quality, long-term youth programs are to be in more places, reaching more youth.

I'm constantly adding to the library, and links often break. If you identify a broken link, send me a note. If you are building your own web library, with information that relates to my library, send me a link and I'll add it. I don't need to gather all knowledge in my library. I only need to point to knowledge that represents "all we need to know" to help well-organized non-school programs connect with youth in high poverty areas, and stay connected as those youth grow up and become adults.

If you're a university and want to co-host this library, or set up a curriculum to teach students and alumni to navigate the library, and use the information in their own actions, please connect. If you're one of the people featured in the current philanthropy issue of Forbes, and want to put your name on this library and use if for your own purposes, I'd love to hear from you.