Sunday, June 18, 2017

If we keep doing things the way we always have, we'll keep getting the same poor results

I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with a goal of helping every non-school, volunteer based tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region get a more continuous flow of the dollars and talent each needs to become great at connecting urban youth with adult volunteers in on-going programs that transform the future for both.  This 1994 Chicago Tribune article announced our launch.

I've struggled for over 20 years to find the talent, dollars and support to do every think I was trying to do, which means I also was never able to build the flow of resources to Chicago area programs that has been needed.  In 2011 I read a book by Dan Pallotta, titled Uncharitable, which outlined some of the struggles I and others in the non profit sector have consistently faced. I wrote about it in this article and several others.

Today I saw this video and want to share it with any who read my blog, with the goal that you'll share it with others.  If we want to get different results we need to invest in the talent and organizational structure that enables great work to be done.



As you look at this video and rethink how you support people doing social benefit work, under a 501-c-3 tax status, or an LLC tax status, take a look at the video below.



If we think connecting a youth with an adult mentor has value, how do we build and sustain high quality non-school programs in all of the neighborhoods where kids need this support from first grade until their are in their adult years and starting jobs and careers?

If this is something that interests you I hope you'll browse other articles on this blog and reach out to start a conversation around ways you can help.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Urban Youth as Data Scientists and Network Builders

My friend Sidney Hargro, posted an article on Linkedin today, which I started to respond to, but ran out of characters.

Here's what I wrote:

More than 15 years ago I began to see the potential of data management and information networking as a skill and 21ct century career opportunity and recognized that since the Internet was an emerging tool, the starting line for rich kids and poor kids was almost the same....IF...patrons were willing to put mentor-rich non-school programs in high poverty neighborhoods, filled with computers, the internet, and opportunities for young people to learn to use those in ways richer kids would also be learning.

A youth who learns coding, web design, blogging, video creation, data visualization, and story telling and how to build an on-line network and motivate people in a desired direction, is learning leadership skills that will have great value.  These skills can be learned without the help of local schools, if the people making learning opportunities in the non-school hours have enough vision and resources.  Kids could be leaving  high school and starting their own consulting businesses or information networking companies --- transporting themselves and their families from poverty to the upper middle class and beyond, in one generation.   Unfortunately , I know of too few places where such programs are operating in high poverty areas of Chicago or other cities.

The opportunity still exists.

Following are a couple of visualizations that illustrate what such a program might look like.  The first is a graphic I've used for over 20 years to describe a program with volunteers from many different industries and backgrounds serving as tutors, mentors, leaders, organizers, etc.  This Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) PDF illustrates the idea.



This next graphic visualizes three forms of learning that would be happening in such a program, if the leaders shared this vision.  This concept map shows a focus on academic, social and work skills and the goal of building habits of using the internet to find and share information.

It's difficult to know how many, if any, Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs have such a vision because few use visualizations on their web sites to show program design and strategy. I've been browsing a list of organizations that I host on Facebook, and just a few attempt to show program design with videos they share.  This East Village Youth Village Program video is one way of showing program design.

When I write about extra roles volunteer tutors and mentors might take, or the role of talent volunteers, I'm thinking of people who work with kids and other volunteers to help programs communicate their own program vision and design better, by borrowing ideas from what others are already doing.  


This vision needs to be shared by philanthropists, business leaders, volunteers and others, as well as by program leaders, if it is to become practice in more than a few places.

I'd be happy to help others explore this idea and others that I share on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Building Systems of Support for Youth. Where Do I Start.

This graphic includes a lot of ideas, all focused on what leaders in a community need to do to build systems of school-based and non-school-based support that help all kids move through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers.

I share these on Pinterest and in blog articles I've written here since 2005, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, which I started in 1998 as a component of the Tutor/Mentor Connection library.

I learned what I know, and built this library, over a period of 40 years, drawing from many experiences along the way, and borrowing ideas from many other people and organizations. Thus, my biggest daily challenge is to figure ways that other people can become familiar with these ideas in a much shorter time frame.

A few years ago I created the concept map below, as a learning guide for staff who joined me at the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  It's now a guide for anyone else who wants to journey through this information.

Learning Path

Then in 2015 an intern from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago, spent time opening and reviewing each link in the map, and then created a visualization to describe what was included. She used Prezi to do this, then transferred the work to YouTube, which you can see below.




This is the solution to my problem and to similar problems faced by others who aggregate content related to local and global problems.  

Youth and adults from faith groups, business, middle and high schools, colleges and other organizations in Chicago or in cities throughout the world, could take their own journey through this concept map, and other resources in my library, then create their own presentations and discussions to bring others from their community to the information, and into brainstorming and innovation sessions intended to build and sustain long-term systems of support helping youth move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives.

Yesterday I viewed a video of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's presentation last week at ChiHackNight. As I viewed the video I tweeted some things he was saying. I encourage you to take a look, too.



He's one of the people I hope will look through these ideas and want to start a conversation about ways he can champion them and apply them via his own office.

There's much to learn, and much to do.  It starts with learning what's already available.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Chicago Murder - I Hate Writing These Stories

The senseless shootings and killing or Chicago young people continued this week. This time the young man killed was the son of Ra Joy,
a long time civic activist, who I've interacted with off and on since the early 2000s. The map below shows where the shooting took place just South of the University of Chicago campus, in the Woodlawn neighborhood.


I did not create a new map view for this story. Instead, I searched this blog for "Woodlawn" and found stories I've written since 2009.  I used one of those maps, and added an image from the front page of today's Chicago Tribune.

Look at some of the headlines from these past articles.

Crime down in Chicago. What about shootings? What's the rest of the story? 8-8-2009







Chicago SunTimes Oct. 1992



I started using maps in 1993, as part of a strategy designed to create more frequent stories that drew attention to neighborhoods where kids and families and schools need extra help and where volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs were trying to reach k-12 youth during non-school hours.

My goal then, and still, was to help existing programs get a more consistent flow of dollars, talent, ideas, technology, etc. so each could constantly improve  how they competed for the attention and participation of young people and volunteers so they could have growing impact on the choices kids make and their ability to move through school and into jobs free of poverty.

The maps show too few programs in many neighborhoods, including Woodlawn, so the goal was also to help business, faith groups, celebrities, media, universities and others connect with a library of ideas showing work being done in other places that could be duplicated in their own neighborhoods, helping new programs grow where none now exists.

Too few have responded to the newsletters and blog articles I've posted for the past 20 years so the full strategies I've outlined and have on the drawing board have never had nearly the support they need. Yet, I've developed a set of strategies and ideas that could be given new life by others, in Chicago and other cities, over the next decade, if just some people would step forward to offer help.

Maybe 20 years from now we would not need to be writing stories like this.

Read what I wrote about a "do over" back in March 2017.

How About a Do-Over? Oscars. Election. Tutor/Mentor Connection

Thursday, June 08, 2017

I'm up to my neck in alligators. How can I drain the swamp?

In dozens of past articles I've used maps to show all of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago where kids and families need extra  help, and graphics like the one at the left, to show the role each of us can take to draw others into the work of making such programs available in more places.

Over the weekend I was reminded of how difficult it is to attract people from their own busy, complex, lives, to devote time, talent, thinking, learning and dollars to help others who live on another block, another part of the city, or in another state or country.

My neighbor, Casey Jablonski, died of a sudden heart attack. As we gathered for the wake, my wife and I reached out to an elderly couple across the street, and one comment was how "every Sunday after church Casey had visited to offer them help".  I constantly saw Casey reaching out to help neighbors, while spending countless hours mentoring his grandsons.  He also worked long shifts on his job.

Every day, citizens like Casey, are doing different acts of service, helping their neighbors, their local schools, the local sports programs, their church, and even local politics. At the same time they are taking care of their own parents, kids and grandkids.

With eating, sleeping, working, and caring for close neighbors, how much time is left for caring about people who don't live near you, don't look like you, don't share the same belief systems, etc?

From this blog
So today I read an article about digital citizenship, written by Sheri Edwards, a school teacher from Washington state, who I've met via the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc).   The graphic at the right was one of several in her article. This one shows family at the center of a person's universe with rings of involvement surrounding each person and their family.

I love the graphic, but felt that it was missing some of the complexity that I've been focusing on. So I created my own interpretation.


Instead of showing "city, state, country, continent, world" in one ring, I separated them into different rings, with the intent of illustrating the growing distances between your family, close friends and neighborhood, with other parts of your city and its suburbs, your state, other cities, your country, and the world.


I've used this graphic often to show how conversations, and interest, need to turn into planning and on-going efforts to build public will to support the distribution of resources into high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.  The further away the problem is, and the more complex it is, the more difficult it is to get people to devote a fraction of their waking hours to get involved in finding solutions.

I led volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs from 1975 to 2011 and in one we grew from 100 volunteers to nearly 550 volunteers over a 17 year period...with almost no paid staff until the final two years.  I learned through those years that the commitment of most volunteers to the tutoring program was seldom higher than 4th or 5th on their life priorities, behind family, work, faith, friends and often a few other interests. Because I was able to build an on-going organization with this level of support, I've always believed we could draw enough people into on-going efforts focused on helping every neighborhood have high quality, mentor-rich programs.

I'm constantly reminded of how difficult this is.  But I'm also reminded of how important it is to keep trying.

I created this "drain the swamp" graphic for an article I wrote several years ago, to illustrate this problem. The article is still valid. I hope that I can connect with others who are also thinking about this.

I encourage you to read and share other articles I've posted, in the past few days, and the past few years. Create your own interpretations of my graphics.

I look forward to adding my experiences into your own discussions and borrowing from your own ideas at the same time.

Monday, June 05, 2017

I focus on Faith groups and Business to reach those not on-line

Faith groups - many denominations
This map was created between 2008 and 2010 and shows faith groups of many major denominations with locations in the Chicago region. It's one of many similar maps found on the MappingforJustice blog, such as this.

I was prompted to write this today because I've been watching the 2017 #MCON conference live and tweeting ideas from my blogs.  I've also been engaging with a network of others on a Digital Citizenship (#digciz) event, which is on many platforms.

The reason I point to this map of faith groups is that while there is a lively interaction on Twitter that is spread through many blogs and other places, less than 30% of Americans actually use Twitter, according to this PEW Research Center report.  While nearly 80% are on Facebook, that does not mean you're reaching 80% of your friends, or many other people with your posts and comments.

Thus, were engaging with too small of a crowd.

I've used graphics like this for nearly 20 years to show role of a single person who acts daily to draw people she knows to information they can use to become involved in supporting the growth of mentor-rich programs in all poverty neighborhoods of Chicago.

If you see yourself as the RED circle, your tweets, retweets, etc can draw others to this information, and the group will grow from year-to-year.   However, as I was reminded by an in-law recently, who is an executive of a big company, he does not use Twitter, nor does he use the Internet this way. While he has hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand contacts in his phone contact list, he reaches out to them, one-by-one when he wants information or wants to connect.  He's very active in social justice causes, and in his faith group. He's just not yet using the Internet to bring his network to on-line libraries, discussions and networks.

Catholic churches

He, and many others, may never use the Internet the way I do. But they could lead the face-to-face mobilizing and learning that is needed. Many already do.

The dots on these maps represent individual churches where people from business, universities, hospitals, politics, sports, etc, gather each week to hear a sermon, meet for Bible study, or talk about local-global issues that they care about.

Imagine if there were a flag on 50% of these churches, indicating an effort to draw members to my blogs, my on-line libraries of information, and to on-line discussions that I'm part of, where they could expand what they know and how they connect with each other, and with others beyond their local congregation.

Over time that would build a massive army of people who were working to help youth born or living in high poverty areas, move through school and into jobs and careers. 


See pdf presentation

No one who goes to a church, synagogue or temple every week is expected to know everything about that religion. They are learning a little every week, and are reinforcing what they learned in previous weeks and past years.

I've posted 47 articles on this blog that show strategies faith leaders could apply to build learning circles in their congregations that then influence what others in the village do to support the growth of youth serving programs in high poverty neighborhoods.

If just a few people from different congregations begin to dig into these as much as people are digging in to scripture, or the Digital Citizenship and MCON articles, they can begin hosting study groups with others from their local group, and build on-line conversations that engage people from other churches in their own city, or in many other cities.

They could be the bridge that connects the on-line world with the off-line world, with their faith group providing the infrastructure needed to make this an on-going, long-term process. 

If they create a map they can plot locations of congregations that have this strategy, with the goal of increasing the number on the map as part of the strategy of bringing more people into efforts to solve local-global problems.

And, while I focus on faith groups in this article, the process could be duplicated in K-12 schools, colleges, businesses,  and any other place where 2 or more people meet regularly and are concerned with issues that they cannot solve by themselves.

Furthermore, while I focus on youth and poverty, groups could focus on any of the issues that face people locally and throughout the world.

Who's doing this?

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Engaging Chicago Tutor/Mentor Orgs on Twitter

Below is a map showing locations of nearly 200 non-school tutoring and/or mentoring programs operating in the Chicago region. You can find the map on this page, along with a link to a list of programs that I've maintained since 1994.


Below is a map showing participation in the May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences that I hosted in Chicago every six months from May 1994 to May 2015. See the map here. See goals of the conference here.


I visit the web sites of every one of the Chicago organizations on my list at least twice a year, to update links and review what they show on their sites. Most  have Twitter and Facebook identities, and I follow or like everyone.  While a few are active in posting news about their activities on social media, most are not active.

Furthermore, I don't find many engaged in sharing ideas, talking about challenges, looking for solutions to problems, etc.

My Twitter handle is @tutormentorteam.

If you follow my Tweets for a few weeks you can see who I'm connecting with by looking at my posts and who I'm amplifying with my re-Tweets.  Take some time to follow some of those and see how other people are engaging with each other.

If you search hashtags (the # followed by a word) on Twitter you can see how some topics are discussed.  Here's a few recent:

#onthetable2017  - The Chicago Community Trust's May 16 event

#recommit2kids - the America's Promise campaign

#gradnation - focus on increasing highschool graduation rates

#digciz - Digital Citizenship

#clmooc - Connected Learning cMOOC

#futureofchildren - the hashtag for a Brookings.edu webinar and discussion

#sketch50 - see how people from around the world share visualizations they created each day for 50 days.

#SDGchallenge - help increase awareness and involvement in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals

The list of possible hashtags to search is unlimited. Thus, once you venture onto Twitter  you can begin following hashtags that come across your feed, or do your own search for topics that interest you or your organization.

Not enough time?
I recognize that most after school and tutor/mentor programs have small staffs doing too many different jobs in their organizations. So, I'm suggesting that your volunteers, board members, or even alumni, could be  your "advance scouts" into the Twitter and social media world, finding new ideas and then sharing those on their blog articles.

I'd love to be able to create a map some day that would represent tutor/mentor programs active on Twitter, showing a large percent of programs included.


Friday, June 02, 2017

Digging deeper into "here to there" graphic

On Wednesday I posted an article about an on-line digital citizenship conversation, under the hashtag #digciz. I included a graphic from Kevin Hodgson's blog. Today I read another article from Kevin's blog, with a list of  issues he is interested in.

Here to There Steps
That prompted me to look at some past articles I'd written, including this one titled "Social Media and Civic Engagement" where I point to another article by Kevin. In that article I also included this graphic.

Each text box on this graphic represents an issue that I feel needs to be part of any discussion of local-global problems and solutions.  To me civic engagement is not just talking about who gets elected. It's talking to other people about ways we can use our own time, talent and dollars, as well as our votes, to bring solutions to some of those problems.

I created this graphic earlier this year to illustrate how much of our daily attention seems to be focused on what the new President of the US is doing, and what I and others should be doing to resist or elect different people to represent us.

However, the goal was to also show that we still need to provide daily attention to the problems we can solve, if we can just get more people to connect and work together, and more people to think creatively about ways they apply their time, talent and dollars.

In my article I wrote
I'm not just trying to motivate people to read and reflect. I'm trying to motivate on-going investments of time, talent and dollars to support the growth of youth serving organizations that help kids move through school and into jobs.
Thus, my list of topics is focused on problem solving, not just creating on-line discussions and learning opportunities.

I wasn't sure how to communicate what was shown on the graphic, so I decided to put the Lumin5 tool to a new test. Below is the video that I created.



Since 2005 interns have been looking at graphics and blog articles I've created and have then created their own interpretations, which I show here.  

I think one thing educators and leaders of non-school tutor/mentor programs could do is to encourage youth to look at articles like mine, Kevin's and the #digciz community, then build their own interpretations and share them on various social media platforms. Others could do this, too.

For instance, take a look at the visualizations created during this Sketch50 event.   Or look at the ideas Terry Elliott captured in the Storify on his blog.

There are thousands of people creating visualizations daily. I'd like to focus some continuously on the graphics and ideas I've been sharing for the past 20 years in an effort to bring more people and resources to efforts that make mentor-rich school and non-school learning and youth development opportunities available to k-12 youth in every high poverty area of the country.

What do you think? Are your students doing this?


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

DigCiz - A Conversation about Digital Citizenship

Every day I journey through a network of blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts, looking for the nuggets of inspiration I find being shared by people I've met on-line over the past decade or longer.

This graphic was on a post by Kevin Hodgson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts. I've pointed to Kevin's blog often in the past, and the #clmooc network where we first met in 2013.

Kevin's article introduces a month-long conversation about Digital Citizenship, using the hashtag of #digciz, and using cartoons like the one above.

I followed the link on Kevin's page, to this link, where I read about the event. Then read a blog article by Mia Zamora, introducing the event, and another by Bonnie Stewart, reflecting on the event. 


Mia's blog article showed a schedule for June 2017 and encouraged a #4wordstory on digital citizenship.

Bonnie's blog article expanded on this, with her own thoughts and ended by saying "Tell us your #4wordstories of what YOU want, using hashtag #digciz".   That's mine at the right.

In Kevin's graphic he said "What if...we all gave up our phones and devices for a month and reach out to solitary neighbors, host block parties, and hold discussion forums around the fire pit? Wouldn't that be cool?"

I guess that would be, but how do you define "who your neighbors are" or "what the boundaries of your neighborhood are?"

I lived on the North side of Chicago in the Rogers Park neighborhood from 1973 to 1988 then moved to Park Ridge, an affluent suburb just outside the city boundary, near O'Hare Airport, where I've lived since then.  I got involved with helping inner city kids living in the Cabrini Green area (Near North) in 1973 and have stayed involved with urban youth and their well-being for the past 43 years.

Thus my neighborhood, or community, is not defined by geography or where I live, but by what I care about and who I'm trying to help.  Chicago has more than 3 million people and the region has more than 11 million.  There's no logistical way to have a block party or a face-to-face meeting with more than a few of those people. Thus, I've been trying to bring this community together on-line since I learned about the Internet in 1998.

Thus "Who's Here? Who's Not?" is a primary focus, because if it's just you and a few friends talking about poverty and segregation in Chicago, or trying to help non-school tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods, you can't really have much impact.

This VILLAGE MAP emphasizes the need to engage people from many different sectors in on-going conversations, like those I've been having with a few of the people I've met on-line in the past 10 years, and like the #DigCiz activity seeks to bring together.

In my "Who's Here?Who's Not?" graphic I include a network analysis map created using the SocioViz tool.  I saw a similar map in this article on the #DigCiz site.

Using this and similar tools we might begin to answer that question and make efforts to reach out and try to engage those who are not yet "here" in the on-line conversation, or who we can only reach off-line.

When saying "Who's here? and Who's not?" we need to understand that less than 30% of the US population use Twitter and while more use Facebook (see report), the reality is that your posts only reach a small fraction of your followers, and an even smaller fraction of those around the world who might be interested in what you have to say.  That should be part of the discussion of  Digital Citizenship I think.

This graphic illustrates the goal of my work, and a portion of the Digital Citizenship I hope to inspire. Let's fill all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities and states with mentor-rich programs that help kids through school and into adult lives, reaching youth during the school day, right after school, or right after work when workplace volunteers may be more available for weekly tutor, mentor sessions.

Until more people are engaged in that discussion and working to make it a reality, much of the good things we'd like to see happen in the world are only going to be available to a few.

While I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago every six months from May 1994-May 2015, I was never able to get more than a few of the non-school programs in my database to attend regularly or engage in capacity building discussions. And I was less successful in getting others who need to be in the discussion to participate.  I've been even less successful in connecting to Chicago programs and leader on-line even though I follow many on this Twitter list and on this Facebook list.  

So, instead of saying "join my discussion", I'm saying join in discussions hosted by others, with topics you might be interested in, such as Digital Citizenship.  I'll meet you there.

So, if you're reading, join in. Then, let's talk about "Who's here and Who's not."


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Enough is Enough. Do the Planning. Build the Network.

Hope everyone is enjoying this Memorial Day. I also hope you'll spend some time thinking about how your actions might lead to a world with less need to send men and women to fight on foriegn soil, or to fight in our own streets and neighborhoods.



I created this Enough is Enough message in 2007. The video above is from this 2007 blog article.

I repeated it again in this 2008 article. Then again in this 2010 article.  Again in this 2012 article.

Again in 2015 article.

Chicago Sun-Times 1992
Again with this 2016 article.

Anyone who looks at a media story like this can dig up one of these "Enough is Enough" articles and share it with friends, family, co-workers, faith network, college and more.

Until more people take these steps we'll keep seeing these stories.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Who Needs to Be Involved Helping Kids to Careers? The Village.

Since 2005 I've been using concept maps to communicate ideas, and one that I point to frequently, in articles like this, focuses on the "village" of people who need to take greater, on-going roles in helping kids to careers.

I've used this "birth to work" arrow in many graphics and articles since the mid 1990s to illustrate the different types of age-specific supports that need to be available to kids in high poverty areas from pre-school till they are entering jobs and careers.

In the original village map I was attempting to show two ideas and that kept confusing me, and probably others. One idea was "why" kids in poverty need extra help. The other was "who" should be taking responsibility beyond parents and schools.

Today I created a new village  map to show "who", which  you can see below, and at this link.
This shows different industries in every city. They each share some common reasons for wanting kids to come out of school prepared to be good workers, leaders and citizens. They each also have specialized reasons, such as worker shortages in key industries. They also each model different skills that kids could learn from employee mentors and company sponsored jobs and internships. They each could be using company resources and employee talent to help schools and non-school organizations help kids in high poverty areas.

Below is a  map showing a commitment I have made, via the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993 - now) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-now).  See the map here.

Note: Concept Maps are Layers of Information. Click on 'right' box at bottom of nodes to open other maps.
If a city, or a nation, is truly committed to helping all youth, including those born in poverty or with disabilities, move safely through school and into adult jobs, careers and responsibilities, then many leaders need to adopt this vision, and show their commitment by putting a version of this map on their own business, personal, religious and/or political web site.

Customers and voters should demand to see this.

If you know of leaders doing this, and who support one or more of the strategies shown on this map, that will lead to achieving these goals, send me the link and I'll point to it from my maps and web site.

If you want to help me continue to share ideas like this and update the  maps as needed, click this link and make a contribution. I'm not a 501-c-3 so consider your support an investment in a shared vision.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Increasing Talent Involved in Helping Youth

I created the graphic below over the weekend, to illustrate a strategy I've followed for the past 40 years, which is engaging the talent of a diverse base of volunteers to help inner-city kids move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.


The graphic has several elements so I'll show them each separately.  If you've followed this blog for very long, you may have seen them in the past.


People ask "what kind of tutoring or mentoring" do I do.  I respond that I'm trying to create non-school, volunteer-based support systems that reach kids when they are  young and stay connected as kids grow through school and into adult lives.  The graphic at the left illustrates this goal.

I've aggregates several similar graphics on this Pinterest.com board.  The share a common vision that could be adopted and owned by people from many sectors of a community.  In this concept map I show many of the supports kids need at each age level. Volunteers who connect with youth via organized non-school programs are people who can help make those supports available.

If you look at the lower left corner of the "Mentoring Kids to Career" graphic you'll see a small map of Chicago. A larger version is at the right.   I've been using maps since 1994 to show where kids need extra support offered by tutor/mentor programs, based on indicators such as high poverty, poorly performing schools and/or urban violence.  I've also been building a database of non-school tutor/mentor programs, and showing them as overlays on the map, so people could locate and support existing programs, while helping new ones form where more are needed.

This Chicago tutor/mentor program locator was created in 2008 and needs much updating now, but illustrates the way maps can be used.

This graphic is from this pdf and asks a question that I started asking in 1975 when I became leader of the tutor/mentor program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago, and which was the main purpose of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in 1993.

What will it take to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty today are entering careers by age 25?  What role does mentoring have? What can we learn from others?

This question needs to be asked and answered in thousands of places, in Chicago and around the world.  What makes the ideas I share unique is that I've been trying to motivate resource providers, policy makers, business, faith and media leaders to form learning circles where they ask the question and take much greater responsibility for making constantly improving tutor, mentor and learning programs available in more places throughout the Chicago region and in other cities and states.  This page provides ideas leaders in different sectors could use.  Many of the articles I've written since 2005 focus on leadership.


To support the efforts of anyone looking for ways to be involved I've been building a web library since 1998, which was a normal library prior to that. This graphic illustrates the range of information available in the library. This PDF shows the graphic as part of a "tutor/mentor learning network".

Last week I created this video, which shows the goal of many people becoming involved in on-going efforts to help youth in high poverty areas have the support systems needed, which are naturally available to kids in more affluent areas, to help them move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.

For a growing number of people to be involved, and stay involved, many people have to take on the role I've taken for the past 40 years, which is a daily effort to reach out to those I know and to invite them to look at the information I've been collecting, then begin to build their own understanding and involvement.

Here's another pdf that shows this goal.

How can we do this better?

This was the headline on the graphic at the top of this article.  As we ask what are "all the things" we need to know, we need to talk about building a flow of talent, technology, ideas and operating dollars to every high poverty neighborhood to support a full range of needed youth and family supports.

Doing it better means getting more talent involved in this effort. That includes students, the elderly, the disabled, and people from around the world.  Anyone can look at my articles and the PDFs I share and re-do these with their own creativity and talent and point the message at their own city if they don't live in Chicago.  Think of these as "open source" learning for helping reduce poverty an inequality in the world.

In the video I describe this as on-going learning, just as reading and understanding scripture is a life-long journey.  I hope you'll take some time to read this, visit the links I point to, then turn around and invite others to do the same.

Update 5/27/19 - this article about strategic planning, on the "From Poverty to Power" blog is relevant to what I wrote above.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Reflection on #onthetable2017 - thanks to #clmooc friends

On Monday I wrote this blog article, encouraging participants in Tuesday's #onthetable2017 event to look for ways to support existing organizations and help them become great instead of just creating new solutions.  Then yesterday my #clmooc friend Terry Elliott, shared a video he had created, turning a blog article by Simon Ensor, into a video.

I decided to test the tool, converting my blog article. The video below is the result.



For several years I've used my blog articles and social media to encourage people working with youth in non-school programs and schools to take time to follow some of the people I'm following and see ideas and activities that they might include in their own work with the youth and volunteers in their programs.

In addition, I've hoped programs would share work they are doing on their own web sites and blogs, and connect with each other on social media, so they could be learning from each other, and constantly improving how they help kids and volunteers connect.

Between yesterday when I first saw Terry's video on Twitter, and today when I was able to publish the one I created, Kevin Hodgson, another #clmooc friend, posted this Tweet, with his own video.



Imagine if youth and volunteers from dozens of tutor/mentor programs were engaging in this type of activity.  The only cost is the time invested in the learning and creating.

My articles focus on strategies that help mentor-rich non-school tutor, mentor programs be available in more high poverty neighborhoods. It's within such programs that this type of creative learning and networking with others can be incubated. The connections youth and volunteers make, to other people, and a world wide library of ideas, can last a lifetime.

I've more than 1000 articles on this blog. I invite anyone with the interest to take one or more, and convert them to videos using the Lumen5.com site.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Billionaires Asking for Your Donations.

In Illinois we have three very wealthy men seeking to be elected to the Governor's role in 2018.  At least one has the support of other very wealthy people, having just received a $20 million campaign contribution from one.

I've been getting email messages from two of these candidates, asking me for donations.  Why should I help them when they have not helped me in past years when I asked for their support?  What have they done with their wealth that would make me want to vote for one over another?

I included this graphic in this 2014 article inviting billionaires to adopt high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and its suburbs.


What might that involve?

The first commitment would be to adopt the ideas in this strategy map, putting a version of this on your personal, company or campaign website, with your name in the blue box.

This means you, or someone on your staff, would open every link and look at all the maps, and embrace all of the strategies. You'd talk about them in blogs, just like I do.

The second commitment would be to devote $1 or $2 million a year to make general operating gifts to help every youth serving organization in the areas you have adopted build strong leadership and strong organizational infrastructure.  Take the intermediary role I describe in this blog article.

That might include $50,000 a year to help me rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, described here. I received a $50k gift from an anonymous donor to rebuild my GIS capacity in late 2007. Unfortunately that was not repeated each year after and funding from a major corporation ceased when they were a victim of the financial meltdown of the late 2000s. Thus, the site is now out-of-date.

You'd also support the 4 part strategy shown on this map,  Step 2 of this shows the need for constant advertising and public education and enlistment of others from business, universities, faith groups, media, entertainment, etc. to share your leadership commitment.

I wrote this letter to the family of one of the candidates in 1999.  Imagine where we'd be today if that had resulted in support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the past 17 years and adoption and leadership of the ideas I've been sharing.

I'd want to see this strategy visualized on the candidate's web site, and where it says "donate" or "volunteer" people would be pointed to web sites where they could chose non profits to support with donations and volunteer efforts, not just the candidate's campaign fund.

I know this is a bit idealistic, but.....

I'd vote for that person. 

Maybe one of the people who are writing $1 million to $20 million dollar checks to get someone elected to the Governor's office would write a $250k check each year for the next 10 years to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection on one or more college campuses. 

Update - 5-27-17 - What are foundations and wealthy  elite philanthropists doing to counter actions of new administration? See article.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Instead of new projects, why not help old projects be great?

Tomorrow will be the 4th annual #OnTheTable event, hosted by the Chicago Community Trust.  I have written about this for the past three years. Here's last year's article.

As you prepare for the event I encourage you to read this article:

How many of you have read the Jim Collins book titled "Good to Great and the Social Sectors"?

Here are some links to blog articles where the writers summarize this book

Notes from reading Good to Great:  http://ericswanson.blogspot.com/2006/02/good-to-great-and-social-sector.html

Good to Great: Lessons for the Social Sector - click here

I’ve applied Good to Great concepts in the leadership of the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1990 -2011 and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and before that in my leadership of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program) since 1977 when I learned about Total Quality Management (TQM) while working as an Advertising Manager at Wards.

The key to constant improvement, is a commitment of leadership, and for members of the organization to constantly look for ways to improve. I describe my own approach to this in the Operating Philosophy, posted on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

However, I'm convinced that the only way non profits can become great, and remain great for many years, is if they can develop consistent revenue streams that enable them to hire and retain talented people, and that give these people time during the work day for expanding their network and learning from others, reflecting, and innovating new ways to improve from year-to-year.

Thus, I've constantly worked to teach volunteers, Directors, friends, and leaders of the programs I've led, and from other Chicago area tutor/mentor programs, to take on roles where they become agents, and advocates, for tutor/mentor programs.

Here' are a few articles that you might consider, as you think of helping youth in Chicago.

Tipping Points - what are some of the actions that might make a system-wide difference?

Re-Thinking Philanthropy and Funding - click here to see article with this graphic.

If we can stabilize the flow of talent, dollars and ideas into youth serving programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities, we can help every organization become great, and stay great.

That will result in more youth through school and into jobs and careers, which is the focus of this Forbes magazine article.

Here's a final link to consider. It is titled, "Helping urban youth move through school. What do we need to know."

This is not a short term process, or something you can learn in a few hours. Just as faith leaders ask you to spend a few minutes in reading and reflection every day, I ask the same.

I've posted more than 1000 articles on this blog that focus on learning, collaboration, marketing and on-going actions that help fill high poverty neighborhoods with great programs helping youth through school and into adult lives. Dig in to the articles and links I point to in my blogs and web library and engage others in on-going conversations.

As you talk with others during this round of #onthetable, I hope some of you begin to map out actions and strategies that participants can use to mobilize others, form learning communities, and develop  year-round actions that also grow to become great in what they do to provide the needed flow of resources required to win the war against poverty, inequality, injustice, etc. that plague our communities.

I'll be Tweeting my participation in two conversations and what I see on my Twitter feed, from my @tutormentorteam account. http://www.twitter.com/tutormentorteam I hope to meet some of you there.

Enjoy your conversations!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Honoring Mothers. Today and Every Day

I searched my blog this morning to find articles I'd written specifically for Mother's Day, and found none. Then I took a look at articles I'd written at other holidays to see if any fit.

South Korea War Memorial Cemetery
Here's one I wrote in 2015 that talks about honoring heroes by how we live our futures.  I think we can honor our Mother's in the same way.

We honor our wives and build a future for our daughters and their children by our actions that make the world a better, safer, more equal place, for every Mother to give birth and raise their children.

Chicago Tribune, April 14, 2014


Here's another article that I wrote in December 2014. The headline was

Commitment to Chicago area youth. Need more leaders.

I've been collecting news stories about violence and poverty in Chicago for over 20 years. Many I've put into blog articles. Most sit in my archive waiting for a story or a writer. They all point to the failure of leaders to build a comprehensive, long-term response to the poverty and segregation in Chicago and other big cities.

Here's another, written in 2012, with the title of 

Connecting Grains of Sand into Castle on Beach


How many of you remember visits to the beach or ocean, or even the sand box in the local park, where your Mother sat with you as you built castles with your imagination as your blueprint.

Can you imagine a Chicago where the map shows very few indicators of poverty in any zip code and where the map also shows many indicators of opportunity?  Until we imagine this we won't have the will power to provide the on-going flow of time, talent and dollars needed to build it.

If you want to take the time, this link points to other articles I've posted at different holidays since I started writing this blog in 2005.  As I've often done, anyone can re-write these articles, put them in video, turn them into poems, in their own effort to connect people who can help with people who need help in places throughout the world.

I hope you're all set to enjoy this Mother's Day, and all the other holidays that come each year. As you do, visit my site and be reminded of the work we each need to do to make the blessings of hope, opportunity, freedom and Motherhood available to all.