If you do a Google search for many leading advocates for mentoring, then look at the images page, you'll see photos of youth and adults, which provide an emotional appeal for people to become involved as tutors and mentors.
If you search for the words "tutor mentor" my web sites will be on the first page. If you look at the images page, you'll see maps and graphics like the one shown at the right. which represent strategies that make great programs available in more places, and help you define what "great" means. You can find this graphic explained in this article.
It shows that if we want kids in high poverty neighborhoods of big cities like Chicago to connect with adult mentors and experiences not common in their own neighborhoods, we need to help well-organized programs operate in these neighborhoods. If we want well organized programs we need to help build strong leadership teams that stay in place for multiple years and are constantly trying to improve their organization, based on what they learn from their own performance, and what they learn from others doing similar work.
For this to happen we need to influence what resource providers do, so talent, dollars and ideas flow more consistently to every program, in every neighborhood.
For that to happen we need more people looking beyond the images and logos and at other information, with maps and visualizations.
We're in a presidential campaign right now. How many voters are visiting campaign web sites to read position papers? How many of these web sites include maps and graphics like you see on this blog? Yet, just about every hour of every day someone is doing something that encourages us to pay attention to the campaign based on what candidates are doing or saying and what others are writing.
How much of this is drawing people together to learn ways they can support needed k-12 learning and mentoring programs in one or more high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities?
How many millions of dollars in advertising, public relations and media attention are being devoted to these campaigns? How much of this actually translates to manpower at well organized tutor/mentor programs helping kids in poverty areas move through school and into jobs?
I've been writing these articles in one format or another for over 20 years. In every article I include hyperlinks, pointing to other articles that I've created or to articles hosted in the Tutor/Mentor web library, with over 2000 links to ideas of other people and organizations.
I don't have dollars to advertise so I depend on other people to give the articles attention and to forward them to people in their own network. If more people look at these ideas daily, more people will eventually do what's needed to provide operating resources to youth programs in more places.
At least, that's the goal.
So the article, or the idea, represents a "carrot". The presentation below illustrates how good ideas can be given attention in ways that they influence what others do to copy those ideas and apply them in other places.
I started building my web library almost 40 years ago, as ideas I was using to support my own involvement as a tutor/mentor working with a 4th grade boy in Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood. When I was tapped to be the leader of that program in 1975, I used the library as a source of ideas to help me sustain and grow the program.
By 1990 I was beginning to share this information with others, to help other tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago. Ultimately that's what led to the formation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, then the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011.
Over the years since 1993 I've come to understand my role as an "information intermediary". The ideas I collect and share can be used by anyone else in Chicago or other cities to locate individual tutor/mentor programs (see list of Chicago programs) which they can support with time, talent and/or dollars. The can also be used to build new programs in areas where none now exists, or where specific age groups are not being served with existing programs. (Read more about knowledge management.)
Since 1993 others have entered this space, doing similar work. In many cases that has resulted in fewer resources to help me in my own efforts. I created the map below so others could find other intermediaries in Chicago and learn what they are doing. In many ways this is intended to help the intermediaries connect with each other, and with my own efforts.
Here's a page where you can make a contribution to support my own efforts. If you'd like a tour of the web library I've created, or talk about this concept map, just introduce yourself via Twitter, Facebook, or Linked in or the comment section of this blog.