Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Next for President Obama?

Former President Obama was in Chicago on Monday to speak at a youth leadership event held at the University of Chicago.  View video.

I first met Barack Obama in 1999 when he was a speaker at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference that I hosted in Chicago. I've shared ideas on this blog often since 2005 that I hope he and other leaders would read and adopt.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, and have been sharing strategies via printed newsletter, web sites, email and blogs since then, with the goal that leaders in politics, business, media, religion, higher education and other parts of the "village" would adopt them and use their own time, talent and dollars to implement the strategies.

In his comments on Monday President Obama said
I am the first to acknowledge I did not set the world on fire, nor did I transform these communities in any significant way.  
But it did change me.  This community gave me more than I was able to give in return. This community taught me that ordinary people,  when working together, can do extraordinary things.

It is this transformation of the volunteer that is at the heart of the tutor/mentor strategies that I've shared for over 30 years. I believe that unless we engage people who don't live in poverty, in ways that transform their own lives, too few will devote the time, talent and dollars over a lifetime, to do everything needed to help most youth born in poverty in one year be starting jobs and careers free of poverty 25 to 30 years later.

I've tried to communicate this strategy in many ways, with limited success in reaching leaders like the Mayor of Chicago, the President, or corporate CEOs.  When Rahm Emanuel was elected Mayor of Chicago in March 2011, I created a video in which I Imagined what he would say as a leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies. Today I put that video on Vialogues so I could add comments and web links, to encourage others to carry this message to the current leaders in our city, state and country, and to those who want to get elected in the future.

I am putting this here so that others can create their own version, and present this to President Obama so he might consider adding this strategy to his own future work, or might present it to Steve Ballmer, so he might add this to the work he's doing.  Or they might present it to one of the billionaires who wants to be governor of Illinois.

The simplicity of this strategy is that it can be owned by many leaders, not just the billionaires, but also the middle school classroom of educators like Kevin Hodgson in Massachusetts.  The strategy applies to any city, in the US, or the world, not just Chicago.

I encourage you to read articles I wrote in the past two months about a "do over" of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  Click here and here. Any of these leaders can provide their own resources to help this happen.

If you create a new interpretation of any of my videos and visualizations please post a link so I can know what you're doing and share your work with others.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

21st Century Skills - Are These Modeled In Your Youth Organization?

Below is a graphic from an article on the World Economic Forum web site, titled, "What are 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs? I encourage you to read and share this with others.

Graphic from World Economic Forum article

As I looked through the list, these seem to be skills and habits that apply generically to all of the situations a young person will encounter as he/she travels through life. Anyone working with young people should be looking at these lists and thinking of ways the programs and services they provide reinforce one, or many, or these goals.

However, I'd encourage two other forms of learning.

One is "content".  This concept map includes pie chart graphics, that show different issues and challenges facing Chicago and the world, which need to be understood, and solved. Building understanding, solutions and them developing on-going actions requires the skills and habits suggested in the WEF article. However, learning about problems and solutions, requires on-going learning, drawing from content libraries that focus on specific issues.

The second is "process" or "systems thinking".  What are all the things you need to know to solve a complex problem. That would include habits and skills, and content. However, knowing how to sequence steps to achieve a goal, and how to build the public will and on-going support to stay focused on a problem for many years, and in many places, is also a skill that needs to be learned.

This concept map illustrates steps in the thinking process that need to be included in order for mentor-rich, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs to reach k-12 youth in more of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and the world, and for more of those programs to have on-going strategies that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers free of poverty.

The also steps apply to other issues.

I point to nearly 200 non-school Chicago area youth serving programs in this list and to many others in Chicago and around the USA in this, this and this sections of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library.

They all need to have one or more people reading my articles and sharing them and the links I point to with others in their organization, as part of their own on-going learning and process improvement.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Social Media and Civic Engagement

 My #clmooc friend, Kevin Hodgson, posted a thoughtful article titled "Where Social Media Tumbles into Civic Engagement" in which he discussed an article by Clive Thompson, in Wired magazine, entitled The Social Medium is the Message.”

I added this to a page on Hackpad where I've been aggregating links to articles pointing out the danger and emotional stability of the new President of the United States, #45.  Social and mainstream media had a great impact on the November 2016 election results, and it's uncertain where the trends will lead the US and the world in future years.

What I want to focus on are two things.

1) Writers like Kevin are trying to make sense of what's happening in the world. Kevin's a middle school teacher in Western Massachusetts, and if you read past articles on his blog, you'll see that he's constantly connecting his students to a digital world. He's connected to many other educators, trying to learn from them, and trying to help them learn from each other. Volunteers and leaders of tutor/mentor programs could draw many ideas from his blog, and his network.

2) How can we connect more people to each other via blogs like Kevin's, and hopefully mine, who represent different talents, skills and networks, and who might use what they learn from each other to solve some of the problems we face locally and globally. The political systems we have are just one part of a much more complex network of problems.

The concept map at the right is a visualization of the graphic at the top of this article. In both I'm focusing on "who" needs to be talking to each other, via social media, blogs, face-to-face events, etc. so there is an optimal mix of talent and communities interacting.   The concept map at the right shows "networks" like faith groups, business, hospitals, universities, government, philanthropy, etc.

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.

"Talking" means "reading" and "reflecting", not just "verbal interaction" or typing and sending your own thoughts into the on-line universe. 

When we say "It takes a village to raise a child" each of these networks represent portions of the village who need to be devoting time, talent, ideas, and resources on an on-going basis to solving the problem. They need to be interacting with each other to figure roles to take and places to provide their support.

The graphic at the top of the page is actually an interpretation of the graphic below, done by one of the interns from South Korea, via IIT, who have worked with me since 2007.  The two figures in the center of the graphic represent people like Kevin, who posted an article, and like myself, who share the article in an effort to reach a wide range of people and draw them to Kevin, to Clive Thompson, and to a deep well of other articles and ideas.
I spent much of yesterday watching the 20th Year Celebration of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, held in New York City and hosted by America's  Promise.  You can watch the videos and get more information at this link.  As I watched, I engaged on Twitter with others who were also watching, using hashtag #recommit2kids.  If you do a search for that you'll see a day-long stream of Tweets, inducing mine.

Last evening I attended the 250th weekly meeting of the ChiHackNight group, which is described as, Chicago's weekly event to build, share & learn about civic tech.  I used #chihacknight hashtag to share this event to my social network, and used the group's Slack channel, to share the #recommit2kids event with this network of technologists.

I shared some of my graphics, including the one above, in the #recommit2kids thread, in an effort to engage with others who are also concerned with the well-being of youth, with the hope that I could connect and be part of the thinking and planning of thousands of others, to influence on-going actions that draw needed talent and resources to youth serving organizations in every high poverty area of Chicago and the rest of the US and the world. Click this link and see many images I've shared on Twitter in the past.

Yet, while much is being broadcast out to the world, we don't know who is actually looking at what we're sharing, or if the mix of people who need to be connecting are actually in the conversation.  

I gained about 25 new followers yesterday, but not all were from #recommit2kids or #chihacknight.  That's a small percent of the total number who were Tweeting yesterday.   

I used this graphic on this page and in this ppt presentation.  I'm not only interested in connecting a network of people and organizations who will use time, talent and dollars and the ideas we each share, to change the future for kids born or living in high poverty, but am interested in how we keep people engaged, and grow the network over a period of years.

 And when I write "In the conversation",  I mean they are following blogs by people like Kevin and are reading the articles, digging into the links to read what he's reading, and then posting their own articles, like I am, to respond to his article, and to try to engage others in efforts that create a more just, equitable, safe and sustainable world for everyone.

Kevin's blog is just one that I follow.  I host a list of blogs on this section of the Tutor/Mentor Library, and have begun creating a list on Inoreader, inspired by another #clmooc member, Terry Elliott. You can click here to see #clmooc network blogs that I'm following, including Kevin and Terry.

So, if you've read this far, thank you.

How do we get from "here" to "there"?
I'm concerned with how social media is being used and the negative impact it can have. However, I'm also interested in its positive potential for connecting people who care about the same issue, and who can be the "small group of thoughtful people who change the world"... for good, not evil, purposes.

Finally, I'm interested in connecting with data-science and visualization talent, such as people who attend ChiHackNight,  who will create tools, like NodeXL, which I describe here, that can be easily used to map participation in events and conversations, so we can do the analysis of "who's here, and who still needs to be engaged".  

If we're not doing that we can create a tsunami of participation in on-line conversations and still not influence the changes that make life better for all.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Reflection - What Does "Tower of Babel" Story Mean For Today?

Tower of Babel story. 
Yesterday thousands of people marched in cities across America to demand that President DT release his tax returns. As I followed this on my Twitter feed, I also saw a story about four major famines taking place in the Middle East and Africa. Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, will die as a result.

At the same time I'm following the war of words being waged by our President, with North Korea, Russia, China and other countries and I read articles like this about the potential devastation of a nuclear war.

Many eyeballs on some of these stories. Too few on others. And these are just a few of the tragedies and pain spread throughout the world as Christians celebrate the Easter weekend.

I created this concept map last year to point to a variety of web sites that were showing places around the world where people are suffering for a variety of reasons. I see maps as a form of bridge. People can go through the maps to the different places where other people need help.

With so many problems in so many places, how can we attract enough people to all of the places where these problems are concentrated. Can any of these be solved?

In 2011 I wrote an article about the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. I'm not a Biblical scholar, so I did some searching and came up with this web site that provides a number of Tower of Babel articles worth reading.

As I look at all of the problems facing the world, I think of my own efforts to mobilize people and resources to help kids in high poverty areas have the range of supports they need to be more successful moving safely through school and into adult lives with jobs that enable them to live free of poverty.  

I keep trying to attract a few eyeballs every day to focus on this problem.

This concept map illustrates that there are many problems that challenge all families.  People living in poverty areas have fewer resources to overcome these challenges.  Each spoke on this map represents a challenge families face. Making one service available for a short period of time, in a few places, really does not work, since the other problems still persist.

The story of the Tower of Babel was written more than 2000 years ago. It's a story about how people tried to work together to solve a complex problem. And they failed.

This is the text from Genesis 11:1-9

"Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.' And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them

Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.' Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:1-9)

I highlighted nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them because this is where I struggle in my thinking.  If just a small percent of the people in the world focus on helping kids in poverty, much can be done.  If a similar small percent of people focus on each of the other issues, much more might be done.

Connecting and coordinating efforts so all of the nodes on the concept map are connected and learning from each other, has the potential to show that no problem is impossible to solve.

However, in the Bible story, GOD said "let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech".

Everyone understands the problem differently, and the words we speak have different meaning, based on different life experiences.

Does the story of the Tower of Babel mean that the GOD that many worship really does not want people to find ways to work together to solve the suffering and potential disasters to the human race that we are facing?

I don't want to believe that.

Read the articles I've written over the past 10 years about networks, network building, learning, innovation and collaboration.  Maybe there's a way to connect and put more eyeballs on each of these problems and use our technology to connect with each other.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Organized Mentoring - a Service Learning Opportunity

I've often heard volunteers say they learned more from being involved with mentoring and tutoring than they think the kids did.

I've tried to build this into mentoring program strategy for more than 30 years because I feel that  until more adults from beyond poverty become deeply involved, and willing to sacrifice time, talent and dollars, for many years, we just won't have enough well-organized programs doing all that needs to be done to reach kids in high poverty areas with organized non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning, and to stay connected all the way through school and into work and adult lives.

Below is a video I created this week, to show an animation created by an intern working with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2011.   This was originally created using Flash Animation, and is an update of a project originally done by another intern in 2007. Since browsers no longer support Flash animation, I've created this and a few other videos to archive the work, and keep them available to future users.

My focus is on the middle of this figure eight graphic. The information I host in the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library can be used by leaders of any organized youth program to help volunteers be more effective, on-going, tutors and mentors.  It can also be used to arm volunteers with information, ideas, and tools that they take back to their friends, family, coworkers, business, etc. to evangelize the tutor/mentor movement and encourage others to be involved, not only as tutors and mentors, but as tech support, accountants, lawyers, marketers and donors who help build and sustain strong programs in more places.

On this page is a PayPal button that you can use to provide some badly needed dollars to help me continue to maintain and share the ideas I've been aggregating since the early 1990s.

This video is one of many projects that can be found on this page.  I hope you'll view these and use them in group discussions and planning that supports the growth of needed non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in poverty areas of the Chicago region and other cities.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Understand the Chicago Urban Agriculture Landscape

In October 2015 I wrote an article about urban agriculture and suggested that non-school, site-based, tutor, mentor and learning programs throughout the region could include some sort of urban agriculture activity as part of their mix of programs.

This week the Philanthropy Club of Chicago hosted speakers representing the Walter S. Mander Foundation and the Wendy City Harvest Program of the Chicago Botanic Garden, who introduced me to a much larger ecosystem supporting urban agriculture in the Chicago region, and a central intermediary organization called Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA).

I encourage you to browse the web site, paying special attention to these two pages.

Chicago Urban Agriculture Directory - The description on the page says "It includes partial lists of Chicago area farms, gardens and urban agriculture-related organizations, services, blogs, listservs, reports, guides, and other resources."  While I maintain an extensive directory of information related to helping kids in poverty, this page is an equally expansive list of resources for those interested in urban agriculture, which should include leaders and volunteers from youth tutoring, mentoring programs in the region, and their donors.

The Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project (CUAMP) - The web site says, "this is an ongoing collaboration between individuals, organizations, businesses and institutions that seeks to inventory and map urban agriculture across the Chicago Metropolitan Area. It includes everything from small residential gardens to commercial urban farms. With an interactive map and directory that link to detailed profiles for each growing site, CUAMP aims to provide the public with a comprehensive and constantly evolving look at the state of urban agriculture in Chicagoland."

I have been hosting an on-line map-directory of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs for more than 10 years, with the goal that people use the map to identify and support existing programs, and to help new programs grow where they are needed.  In this article I showed how libraries could be hubs supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs in different areas.

The Urban Agriculture Mapping Project is designed for a similar, but much broader set of goals. For instance, restaurant owners looking for fresh produce could use the maps to find urban farmers located near them. Community development leaders could work with neighborhoods to use vacant land for urban gardens. City planners and social justice advocates could use the maps as part of an on-going effort to provide jobs and career opportunities for people in areas with high rates of unemployment, high poverty and high crime.

A similar type of analysis could be used to connect  urban agriculture projects and advocates with site based youth serving organizations in different parts of the region.  At some point in the future one category on the Urban Agriculture map might be something like "agriculture tutoring/mentoring sites".

There's huge potential for jobs, careers, public health, urban development, etc. within the urban agriculture sector. I encourage you to take a look at these resources and share them with others who might be interested.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Flash Animations by Interns No Longer Easy to View - Workaround Needed

If you browse articles on this blog, dating back to 2007, you'll see a variety of visualizations, like this one, that use Flash animation to communicate a strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and since 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC). You can also see these on a different blog, focused on work interns have done to aid the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Unfortunately, as time goes on older technologies are no longer supported and that includes Adobe Flash.  To view these in the format they were created you need to download a swfplayer which you can find at this link.

I've created a video, which you can see below, to show the project for those who don't want to download the swfplayer. I've also added some comments updating status of Tutor/Mentor Connection.  To see the project shown above, and others, visit this page.

Over the next couple of weeks I plan to record all of the projects created with Flash animation so they remain available to help people understand the strategies I launched in 1994 to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city like Chicago, and to help each program get on-going resources that help them build mentor-rich strategies that help kids who start in these programs when in elementary school, be starting jobs and careers with the help of people they met on their journey through school.

Thank You! to Interns
At the same time, I'm trying to show that students and volunteers from middle school, high school, college and non-school programs in Chicago and other cities could be creating their own visualizations of Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies and share them with leaders in their own communities who need to provide the time, talent and dollars to make mentor-rich programs available.

I've coached interns using this on-line forum on  I invite you to look at the conversations and work done over past years.  As with the changes in technology, Ning moved from being a free site, to a moderate-cost site to a more expensive site over the past few years.  I've not been able to generate consistent revenue to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection via my current Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC structure, so don't know if I will be able to continue the Ning site past this coming year.  The annual fee for 2017-18 is $600. If you'd like to help pay that fee, use the PayPal button on my personal "gofundme" page to send a contribution.

If you're a student, volunteer or educator who might want to help with this work, introduce yourselve via the comment box or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

President's Summit for America's Future - 20 Years Later

USA Weekend 4-25-97
This month is the 20 year anniversary of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future event, which was held in Philadelphia. While the build-up leading into this event was to focus attention on the 13-15 million kids living in poverty (read President Clinton's speech, in which he says "There are 15 million young Americans in need, and we should not be satisfied until we have touched the life of every one of those 15 million American youngsters."), the follow-up since then, led by the America's Promise organization, has focused on the many needs of all kids.

I was one of 10 people representing Chicago at the 1997 Summit, in my role as a 22-year leader of a volunteer based tutor/mentor program hosted at the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago, and my role as founder of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), created in 1993 to help mentor-rich non-school programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods.

In addition to my selection to be part of the Chicago delegation, the Tutor/Mentor Connection was selected as a Teaching Example by the event organizers, and invited to be one of 50 organizations hosting display tables at the summit.  In the months following I created a ppt presentation to share the "master plan" of the T/MC. I updated that PPT and put it on Slideshare last year.  One page is shown below.
The T/MC included at least two innovations that made it different from other intermediaries. First, our goal was to help every existing non-school tutor/mentor program get the talent, ideas and dollars that would help each become better every year at connecting youth and volunteers and ideas in long-term career-focused efforts.

This is innovative because in philanthropy and government funding, each organization competes with every other organization for a limited pool of resources. There are only a few winners in most grant competitions.  Only a few organizations with high profile leadership or located in high profile areas are able to consistently attract enough of the resources they need to build strong organizations and provide constantly improving services. This competition affects smaller organizations serving poverty populations more than other types of non profits, such as arts, universities, hospitals, etc. where those impacted or who benefit come from wealthy, as well as, poverty areas. See articles focused on challenges of non profits.

We launched a survey in 1994 and published a first Tutor/Mentor Programs Directory in May 1994, as we hosted the first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago, in an effort to connect programs on our data base with each other, and with others who were needed to help mentor-rich programs grow.

The Directory organized programs by section of the city and coded them by age group served and type of program (pure tutoring, pure mentoring, combination tutor/mentor) and included maps showing this information.

We used the public attention generated by events like the conferences to draw more interest and support for tutor/mentor programs listed in our Directory. This link shows print media stories that resulted from this strategy.

T/MC commitment to using maps to show all the areas where mentor rich programs are needed has been a second on-going innovation.  Businesses have been using maps for many years to identify locations of customers and places to put retail stores and sell merchandise and services.  Businesses use central office strategies to help every store be great at what they do to attract and retain customers and sell more and more merchandise every year.l

The Tutor/Mentor Connection applied this thinking, based on my 17 years working in corporate advertising with Montgomery Ward. We not only mapped locations of programs and demographics of poverty, but created overlays showing businesses, faith groups, hospitals and universities spread throughout the city, who we feel should be proactive in supporting the growth of non-school tutor/mentor programs in areas where they do business or where employees and/or customers live.

I've shared this use of maps in many ways, before and since the 1997 Summit.  Below is a letter I wrote to the Chronicle of Philanthropy in May 1998.

Chronicle of Philanthropy, Opinion Letter, May 1998

Unfortunately almost no leaders in business, higher education or philanthropy ever responded with consistent support to help me build this mapping capacity and create map stories on an on-going basis that would draw attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas of the Chicago region. Those who did, were lost in the aftermath of 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. However, part of this was also my own inability to recruit volunteers who could put the map-making into a realistic, budgeted, business plan that I could pitch to funders or investors.

With help from an graduate student intern from India, and IIT in Chicago, we created an interactive, searchable, on-line Directory in 2004, then with an anonymous 2007 $50,000 donation, we re-built our in-house GIS mapping capacity, and with help from a tech team based in India, we created an on-line, map-based program locator in 2008.

In this article you can see examples of using the map views created with the Program Locator.  At this link you can see a map gallery of map-stories created from 2008-2011 by our in-house map-maker.   We ran out of money to keep building the program locator in 2009 and by 2011 we had no funds to keep our map-maker on staff. I've not been able to update the Program Locator since 2013.

I mentioned my inability to put together a realistic business plan and cost estimate. I was in a meeting in 2008 with a wealthy technology innovator from India and had the opportunity to show the Program Locator which we were building at that time. He leaned forward, showing interest, then said "How much will this cost?"  I gave the worst answer possible. I said, "I don't know. I've been building this with volunteers and scraps of funding."  He turned to others at the table, and said "We can build this ourselves."  I don't know if he ever did.

One other innovation of the T/MC was that I began to put all of my ideas and the Tutor/Mentor Directory and Library on-line in 1998.  This mid 2000's article about "web evangelism" describes the internet as a "pull medium" available to anyone in the world who is seeking ideas for reducing poverty and inequality.  It describes the strategy I'd been implementing since 1998.

I fervently believe that rich and powerful people, as well as everyone else, has the potential to find and embrace the ideas I and others have been sharing on-line..... if they take the time to look.  

While people all over the world have found my sites, including the anonymous donor who gave $50,000 in 2007, too few people of influence have found it and reached out to ask "how can I help you?"

Chicago still has the same problems of poverty, segregation and inequality that were reasons for forming the T/MC in 1993. Thus, leaders who help re-build the T/MC strategy and lead it using their own talent and resources, might have more impact over the next 20 years than I have had over the last 20 years.

I've not been invited to the 20 year anniversary of the President's Summit, which will be held in New York City, and could not go if I was, due to lack of funds.  I'll participate on-line with articles like this and by nudging the network on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Arne Duncan, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and US Secretary of Education, will be honored at the event for his work. I first met Arne in 1994 and last met with him a few weeks prior to his selection as CEO of Chicago schools. At that meeting I reviewed the T/MC strategy and asked for his support, which he pledged.

Barack Obama was a speaker at the May 1999 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.  I met with Michelle Obama a few years earlier when she was at the University of Chicago.

I was never able to enlist their support for the T/MC strategy, then, or in the many years since then.

Paul Vallas, who was just named interim President of Chicago State University, was a T/MC supporter while CEO of Chicago Schools. He spoke at a couple of the T/MC conferences in Chicago and at press conferences launching the annual August/September Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment campaigns. During his tenure, CPS provided partial funding for the T/MC Conferences and purchased copies of the printed Directory.

As Vallas, Duncan and former President Obama return to Chicago and it's problems, perhaps they will reach out and offer new interest in the T/MC strategy and a new level of support.

However, as I wrote above, anyone can find and read these articles. Anyone can help re-build the T/MC in Chicago, or build a version of this to help reduce poverty in other cities.

Unfortunately, it's not too late to offer your help.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Archdiocese of Chicago Commits to War on Poverty

Yesterday Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago launched a new campaign to reduce violence in Chicago neighborhoods. Below is the video showing this announcement. Listen to the commitments that are being made.

What I heard was a commitment to a) increase awareness; b) increase capacity of local organizations; c) build partnerships with others who should be involved; and d) seek new approaches.

Since the late 1990s I've been sharing a strategy for faith communities to help reduce poverty and violence in Chicago, through support of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in all poverty neighborhoods.  See it in this presentation.

Note the use of maps, and the intent to enlist every faith group in this effort, not just the Catholic Church. From 1995 through 2003 the Tutor/Mentor Connection organized a Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign to mobilize volunteers and build support for all non-school, volunteer-based, tutor/mentor programs in the region. Read campaign history here and see a manifesto signed by political, business and faith leaders, including Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The goal of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (now led by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC), was that each congregation create a learning circle, which digs into information on T/MC web sites, and uses the list of Chicago area programs that I've maintained since 1994, and map-based Program Locator, built in 2008, to support the growth of existing programs in different neighborhoods, helping each one become great at what they do to help kids through school and into jobs and careers, with a network of adult support that is created via the strategies of the tutor/mentor programs and is supported by people from congregations throughout the Chicago region.

I've been collecting, mapping and sharing ideas and strategies since creating the T/MC in 1993. (see article). I shared these ideas on web sites since 1998 and in printed newsletters from 1993 to 2002. I've shared them on this blog since 2005.  Step 2 in this four-part strategy is focused on building greater public awareness and involvement in efforts that help kids in all poverty neighborhoods have non-school support systems that help them come to school better prepared to learn, and leave school after 12th grade better prepared for their adult lives.

In my articles and strategies I focus on new ways to attract philanthropic and volunteer support for youth serving organizations in every poverty neighborhood. In this article I describe my thinking and point to an article about "web evangelism" that encourages leaders to borrow from strategies used by the faith community for over two thousand years.

When I describe the formation of learning circles in religious communities, I'm not describing something new, or revolutionary. Every week in thousands of locations a faith leader reads a few passages from a very large book, then encourages members of the congregation to get together in small groups to discuss the meaning of this passage to them and their lives.  No one is expected the read the Bible or the Koran in a few days. It takes a life time of learning.

The links in my web library points to more than 2000 other web sites that help you understand the needs of high poverty communities and also help you see work being done in some places that could be duplicated in other places. This blog has more than 1000 articles. The MappingforJustice blog has many more. There are more than 60 PDF presentations in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library.  These articles focus on the on-going application of time, talent and dollars, in many locations, that is needed to help kids entering first grade today be entering jobs and careers in 20 to 25 years.

This information is not intended to be digested in a single session. It's intended to be read and discussed on an on-going basis.  It's intended to encourage people to go forth and do service, then to gather and share what they did, what they learned, what works, what does not work, and what could work better if others were helping. Then, go back and apply what was learned in a continuous cycle of service and learning.

Faith congregations are ideal incubators for this process because every person siting in a congregation works in some company, college, hospital or government agency, and knows many others who work in the same places.  Thus, each week they can take what they learn, and share it with others, so more people get involved.

Unfortunately, the leaders who signed the campaign manifestos between 1998 and 2002, and others since then, never made an effort to reach out to get to know more about the ideas and strategies I've been sharing, or to offer to help me do this work.

I keep trying to change that.  I do so with no source of revenue except my monthly social security check, a shrinking retirement savings, and donations made by a few supporters.  

Here's a letter I wrote in 1999 to one of the billionaires in Chicago. It's similar to letters written to many leaders over many years.

There are thousands of faith based congregations in the Chicago region, each with powerful leaders like Cardinal Blase Cupich. I welcome a conversation with one or all, with the goal of having the ideas and resources I share become part of their own thinking and planning.

I invite you to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and make it work better than I've been able to, with a continued 20 to 30 year commitment, which I have demonstrated.

Introduce yourself below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Use Website to Communicate Youth Program Design

 I point to nearly 200 Chicago youth serving programs in the links section of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site.  On many web sites there is a list of services, and tutoring and/or mentoring might be included. On others there is a page on the web site with a message something like this.
School-Age is a program that provides educational support, cultural enrichment, and recreational development activities to student ages 6 - 12. It’s open five-days-a-week and full-time during the summer and on school holidays. The program is for low-income parents who are either working, in school, or job training.
Other web sites seem more fully devoted to youth tutoring and mentoring, and the first page on the web site uses photographs of youth and volunteers to signal this purpose. Some provide a great deal of information showing program design, history, alumni, etc. Others show far less information.

What I see frequently in the youth development field, and on Chicago programs' web sites,  is an emphasis on the act of "tutoring" or "mentoring" or arts, technology and/or video making,  but not a strategy that weaves those acts into a long-term web of support that helps kids in poverty areas move through school and into careers.

I think of non-school volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs as a potential "learning distribution system", like a retail store, with a wide range of age-appropriate mentoring and tutoring and experiential activities, made possible by volunteers from different work/life backgrounds and a consistent flow of flexible operating dollars.  Such programs are needed in every high poverty neighborhood.

A few years ago I created a presentation that I titled "shoppers guide" to show some things that I think parents, volunteers and donors might want to see on a youth tutor/mentor program's web site, to help them decide whether or not to get involved with that program.  Here's the presentation:

I created another presentation, titled "Virtual Corporate Office", to show how volunteers from different industries, trade associations and universities could help programs build a mentor-rich program design, and communicate it effectively on their web sites.

In most of my presentations and many of my blog articles I use GIS maps, showing where comprehensive, long-term, tutor, mentor and learning organizations are needed, based on high rates of  poverty, segregation, crime and violence, etc.  While there are a few really well designed programs doing great work, programs in every poverty neighborhood need to be great, and constantly getting better.

For that to happen businesses and other assets in a neighborhood, and in the city, need to form teams of volunteers who work to help programs become great, by working to help employee volunteers and corporate dollars become involved as long-term support systems.

I attended a presentation yesterday where the President of a Chicago business emphasized the importance of leadership commitment to partnerships with youth serving organizations.  In this Role of Leaders presentation I emphasize that commitment, but also show how this can lead to the growth of an employee led team of volunteers who work to engage the company, and its industry, effectively in support of youth programs that have long-term career-focused strategies.

In many past articles I've focused on the need for leaders in every industry, university, hospital and faith group to make a long-term commitment to help kids move through school and into careers.

A version of this concept map should be shown on the web site of every leader who makes this type of long-term commitment, and supports the four-part strategy needed to make great programs available in more places.

The Mayor of a city, and Governor of a state, should be the number one cheerleaders, recognizing leaders who make this commitment and show it on their web site, and arm-twisting others who don't take a similar role.

Hosting a list of youth serving programs is a huge challenge, but it's really only the first step of building an information base that helps us understand the different types of youth serving programs available to youth at different age levels, in different zip codes.  I've reached out to people in business and  universities over and over for many years, seeking others who would dig into the list of youth programs I host, and build a deeper level of understanding about what's available in Chicago (or other cities) and what more is needed.

That type of research is still needed, in Chicago, and in other cities. 

I'd be happy to help you walk through the ideas I share on my web sites.  If more leaders take the roles shown, more youth program web sites will begin to show a comprehensive theory of change, a long-term program design, and alumni who are now working as a result of support the program provided during k-16 years.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What is Segregation Costing Chicago?

I started building a library of ideas in 1973 as I began my first year as a volunteer tutor. I used the ideas to figure out what to do each week.  Then, in 1975 when I began to lead the volunteer program at Montgomery Ward, I shared the ideas with volunteers and other leaders, so more people would help build a great program.

In 1993 when we launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection, the library was a core part of our strategy. I shared ideas to help other programs grow, and to help leaders from business, religion, universities, etc. develop proactive strategies that help programs grow in every poverty neighborhood.

I've have several cost of poverty articles in this section of my web library.  This week a new cost of segregation in Chicago study was released, and I've added it to the library. Here's a link to the story as it appeared in The Chicago Reporter.

I hope you'll read the story, then I hope you'll share it with others, in an effort to build a growing network of people who are concerned, and who take actions that help bring mentor-rich non-school programs to youth in highly segregated neighborhoods, while connecting those youth and their families with the resources of the greater Chicago region.

I'd be happy to act as your guide.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Take a learning journey through Tutor/Mentor web library

In 2010 a volunteer who was looking at the resources of the Tutor/Mentor Connection wrote a blog article titled "Thinking like Google", in which he compared the T/MC to Google. He wrote,

It occurred to me that this forum is essentially modeled on a similar format as Google's. a) looks for information, or content, and people relevant to the cause of tutoring and mentoring; b) organizes, analyzes, and archives that information for future reference; and c) utilizes those references for targeted advertising campaigns, social networking, grant-writing, and the like. Even more to the point, this forum is a way of attempting to grow the idea of tutoring and mentoring to scale, or to a point where it "tips".

I've built a huge web library and I've created a variety of PDF essays over the past 20 years that are intended to help people learn ways to support the growth of volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in high poverty neighborhoods. While I point to these via email newsletters and social media, I've been looking for new ways to introduce these concepts.

How about a WebQuest?  How might I motivate students and adults to take Michael's advice and begin to journey through my web library, and as they do, share what they are learning with people in their own network, so they begin their own journey through this information.

Several years ago I began to learn about WebQuest and I created an animation to introduce this concept. You can view it on YouTube

Here are a couple of other animations introducing students to a web quest.

Making a map, class assignment, animation.

Doing a web quest.

Interns were on this journey for short bursts of time every year between 2006 and 2015.  Here's a page that shows work interns have done in the past to guide people through this information.

For the past month, I've been updating the links on the web library so all are working, and I keep adding new links. I also keep adding new blog articles herehere and here. Some of the articles written 10 years ago are as relevant today as they were then, so while it's important that you subscribe and follow new articles, it's also important that you visit the past and read some of those articles.

Here's a visualization done by one of our past interns that illustrates the goal of supporting groups of learners in many sectors, who each look at maps to determine where youth and families need more help, and what programs are already operating in those areas.....who need constant support to constantly improve and stay available.

The links in the web library point to more than 200 youth serving programs in Chicago and others around the country. They point to research articles and to business and foundation web sites.  They represent a large ocean of ideas you can use to help programs grow, by borrowing good ideas already working in different places, rather than by starting from scratch on an on-going basis.

Most of the links in the web library point to other people's ideas, not my own. This emphasizes the purpose of the library for myself, and others. We can do more by borrowing ideas from others than from constantly starting from the beginning.

However, some links point to my own ideas, which I've communicated with illustrated presentations which you can find in my blogs, and on this page and in libraries at and SlideShare.

Students from around the world could be looking at the web library, and my articles, and could be creating their own presentations to draw adults and other students from their own community into this information, and into actions that lead to the growth of more programs in more places that help kids move through school and into careers.  Visit this page and see how past interns working with me in Chicago have already been doing this.

If you're hosting a web library, and creating visualized articles to motivate people to visit your library and support youth serving organizations in your community, please share your links so others can learn from you. If you're interested in exploring this idea with me, let's connect on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

As Youth Grow to Become Adults Many Supports Needed

This morning my neighbor neighbor reminded me that your success in life "is largely dependent on the parents who birthed you". I added, "and the place where you were born".

It's Sunday, so this is my sermon for the day. I hope those who are spiritual and may have attended faith services, will read my blog and reflect on the blessings they have and how they might share those blessings to help others who were not born to wealth, privilege and opportunity.

I've created a variety of graphics over the past 20 years to try to show the support kids need as they grow up, and how kids in lower income areas and high poverty need help in obtaining a mix of these supports.

This is one that I use often since the mid 1990s. It shows the 12 years it takes to move from first grade through 12th grade, then beyond that until a young person is an adult with a job, and starting a career.

At each grade level a range of supports need to be available in order to safely, and successfully, move to the next grade, and on toward an adult life.

If you enlarge the graphic, and look at the arrow, you see suggestions of age appropriate supports.  You also see a map of Chicago, with dark shading showing areas of high poverty. All of these areas need this type of support system.

Most donors and public policy initiatives don't provide this type of long-term support in all the places where it is needed. Is it possible to change this?

I created the concept map shown below to try to illustrate this better.  Note that at each age level, there are spokes showing a range of supports that need to be available to youth in every high poverty neighborhood. Because of the challenges of poverty, parents are often not able to find these supports, and communities can not offer them. One role of organized, volunteer-based, tutor/mentor programs is to bring extra adults into the neighborhood who will help kids and families get these supports.

I point to web sites of more than 200 Chicago area youth programs, and many others from around the country, and I don't see this role discussed very often, or shown as a strategy of the organization.

Here's another concept map that shows a much broader range of youth and family supports that need to be available in every high poverty neighborhood.

This map shows that kids in affluent areas face many of the same problems as do kids in poverty areas. The difference, as pointed out by Robert Putnam in his "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" book (see article), is that affluent communities have more resources available to help kids overcome their challenges. And kids and families in poverty areas have unique challenges to overcome that are not normally part of affluent areas.  For instance, how many kids in Winnetka worry about getting shot when they leave home and go to school or to a friend's house?

This graphic is from an  animation of one of the strategy ideas I started visualizing in the early 2000s with this PDF.  An intern from Hong Kong created the first version of this in 2007, then an intern from South Korea created this current version in 2010.

This illustrates how volunteers and students could be looking at any of the visualizations and blog articles I've created, then create their own version, using their own talent and creativity.

This graphic was part of a blog article I wrote late last year. It emphasizes the team of support needed to help a youth grow to be an adult, or to help a single tutor/mentor program help many young people, or that a neighborhood leadership team needs to have in order to bring the supports I'm describing into a neighborhood.

In the 'race-poverty" map shown above each issue area requires support from many people, in many places, for many years. Somehow, through the Internet, we need to connect people working in different issue areas with each other, to talk about problems we all face, such as lack of consistent funding, and lack of talent, to support our efforts.

As I write this the Federal budget proposed by the White House is cutting funding for many of these initiatives, creating an even greater competition among each sector to fight to retain their own funding. The result is greater silos of organizations who don't work together to solve problems that are part of a great, interconnected puzzle of poverty.

I met with a small group of African American leaders yesterday and shared some of my graphics via this PDF.  My hope is that a few of these leaders take time to read this, and click on the links to blog articles that illustrate use of these visualizations.  As they do that, my goal is that some of them write their own blog articles, and create their own versions of my graphics and stories, and share these with people in their own network so that a growing number of people begin to understand and support the strategies I've been sharing.

Since I share my stories on the Internet, anyone in the world can read them and take on the same set of actions, even billionaires and people with great personal visibility and influence.  I created the concept map shown below, to point so some people who are already doing this.

There may be others doing this and I just don't know who they are. There need to be people in every city and state in the country, and around the world, who take this role. If you're writing stories about what you see on my blogs, or web sites, please share your link in the comments below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIN.

Or if you've been creating your own maps and graphics, focused on the same problems I focus on, and sharing them on your own blog, let's connect. Maybe we can learn from each other, or at least, try to draw greater attention to each other.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

#ilgive launching spring day of giving - May 31 - are you benefiting?

Based on the overall success of its November Giving Tuesday event, Forefront is launching a spring day of giving, on May 31, 2016. A kick off webinar is scheduled for March 31 at 9am CST.

I wrote about this on November 30, 2017 asking if "all Chicago Youth Organizations Filled their Funding Tanks on Giving Tuesday".

Forefront has been very open and transparent about this event, so the list of participating organizations and the amount each raised, and the number of donors for each, is available, on this page.

The numbers show that of 413 participating organizations, only 7 raised more than $50,000 and only 52 raised over $10,000.  237 organizations raised under $500 for the day, and out of this, 117 raised less than $200.

While I recognized a few Chicago are tutor/mentor programs from my list of nearly 200 organizations, the most successful was Tutoring Chicago (which I led from 1975-1992), which raised close to $13,000.

67 organizations raised less than $100.

That does not put much gas in the tank or fuel very much tutor/mentor program activity.

This does not mean the campaign is a bad idea. It means there needs to be greater innovation to draw funds into more organizations, and to get more organizations involved.  The graphic below is one that illustrates the need for year-round communications, drawing volunteers and donors to youth serving organizations in every poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region, and the state.

It also means more programs need to build a dedicated, enthusiastic, volunteer base and long-term history, which is what TutoringChicago and a few other organizations have done.

When I started leading Tutoring Chicago in 1975 I was also in the beginning stages of a retail advertising career with the Montgomery Ward Corporation, which hosted the program at its Chicago headquarters.  In 1974 the program stated the school year with 100 pairs of 2nd to 6th grade kids and adult volunteers, 90% of them from Wards. However, the program was loosely organized and more than half of the volunteers dropped out by the end of the year without being replaced.  By 1990, the year we turned the organization into a non profit, called Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc., we had 300 volunteer pairs, and we grew from the beginning of the year to the end.

Why? Because of program organization and volunteer support. We created a program that people wanted to participate in.  Only 10% of these volunteers were from Wards. 90% were from nearly 100 companies located in the Chicago region. We had a team of more than 15 volunteers coming to the Near North location from the AT&T location near Naperville!  As Wards had downsized starting in the late 1970s, and closed its Catalog business, many of the volunteers went to other jobs, but they continued to come to the tutor/mentor program. Within a few years, they were bringing their friends and co-workers.

We turned the organization in to a non-profit in 1990 and started raising money, so I could lead the program full time, and we could hire staff. Our volunteer numbers grew to 550 by May 1992 and youth served grew to 440.  More than 60 of the programs core leaders were volunteers, organized into functional teams similar to those working in the Montgomery Ward corporate office, who supported 400 stores throughout the country.

Chicago SunTimes, 10-92
I left the CGTP program in Oct. 1992 and with a few volunteers created a new program serving older youth who had aged out of the CGTP program at the end of 6th grade. We started in January 1993 with 7 volunteers and 5 teens in 1993 and by 1997 had more than 80 pairs actively participating. Due to space limitations we kept this annual number through 2011 when I left the organization.

In 1993, we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with a goal of  helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region.  I continued to apply the ideas learned from working in the corporate headquarters of Wards, and leading one volunteer-based program, in an effort to help many programs grow in many places.  However, I also began to build a library of links to other programs, and other thinkers, so that people in my own program, and in all other programs, could find ideas from more people and organizations than just myself, and my own tutor/mentor program.

I never had consistent support from city leaders and Wards went out of business in 2000.  The last 17 years, starting with the dot-com bubble's burst in 2000, and the 9/11 tragedy, made it more and more difficult to obtain consistent, on-going funding. It also resulted in leadership and staff changes in many of the organizations that I had been building relationships with in the 1990s.  I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC  in 2011 to continue to support the strategy, but have not found a way to finance the work that needs to be done.

Others, have stepped in as intermediaries, covering a broader based of non-profits, like Forefront, or covering a narrower part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection's vision, like a few others are doing. However, I have 40 years of ideas and experiences, which I continue to share via blog articles, on-line presentations and one-on-one conversations and in a monthly email newsletter.

I'd love to share these ideas with others who are working to help kids living in poverty have mentoring paths to adult lives, and jobs, free of poverty.  I also seek others to help me do this work, as I suggested in this article about a "do over" for the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Contact me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.