Sunday, April 10, 2016

Building Support Systems for Urban Youth - Resources. Networked Learning.

I've been using graphics like this for more than 20 years to communicate the vision of long-term volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs that connect with youth as early as elementary and middle school, then do everything they can to help those kids move through school and toward jobs and careers.  If you do a Google search for "tutor mentor" my sites are frequently in the first five. If you then look at the "images" feature, you'll see dozens of maps and visualizations. You can click on each to find the article where the image was used.

In many of my graphics I combine maps with network-building visualizations. This is one. The circle in the middle represents the knowledge that's available to us through the internet, and through the contacts we make with others. The two images to the left of the circle represent intermediaries, like myself, who collect and share the information, and use blog articles and social media to "nudge" the network. The second image represents people who read these stories, then re-post them to people in their own networks, who then form "learning circles" who read, reflect, discuss, then act.

Sort of what happens in faith groups every Saturday or Sunday, except these groups use maps to focus their attention and resources on neighborhoods where tutor/mentor and learning programs are most needed.

This is the front page of many of the PDF articles I share on  Our learning should be intended to help strong, and constantly improving tutoring, mentoring and learning programs be available in all high poverty neighborhoods. That means we need to influence what resource providers do as well as what program leaders and policy makers do.   In this animation I describe volunteer involvement in a tutor/mentor program as a form of adult "service learning". 

Since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I've recognized the need to dig deeper into the library of Chicago area youth serving programs that I've been hosting, to learn about their history and infrastructure, so we know more about what it takes to connect youth and volunteers in long-term relationships that transform the lives of both.  This graphic recognizes that much of the work that needs to be done is not visible to someone just spending an hour or two a week as a tutor/mentor, or to someone reading a one page summary included in a grant proposal.

I've never had the staff or finances to dig deeply into this information, thus have reached out to universities and others to share this work, I created the presentation below to show that community information collection is a shared responsibility.

I created another pdf that I titled "Shoppers Guide" to suggest elements that researchers would look for as they studied different youth serving organizations, or that volunteers, parents and/or donors might look for on web sites of youth serving organizations.

There's a lot of information in my blog articles and on my web sites, representing information and ideas collected over the past 40 years.  It's not something that anyone can master in one or two sessions. Yet college degrees are earned over four to eight years of study. And people have been gathering in big and small groups weekly for over two thousand years to understand the scripture collected in the Torah and the Bible.  

When you read a newspaper story, or Tweet that talks about the bad things happening in our world, where do you go to find ideas for making those negatives change into something better? Or do you even try?

Anyone, anywhere, can take this role.

If you have read this far, your next step is to share this, so others read and reflect, then pass the ideas on to others in their own networks. Through this network-building we'll find people with special talents and resources who will help make a greater difference in the world with the ideas we're sharing. 

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