Sunday, February 26, 2017

Oscars Tonight. Take a Look at Tutor/Mentor Videos From Past.

Tonight the world will tune in to a celebration of movie making, and I'm sure I'll be watching, too.  As you view this, think of where each of these actors and movie makers got their starts. Also listen to the social, environmental and political activism built into films, and into acceptance speeches of winners.

If you've time today, I hope you'll look at videos interns have made in past years, helping me tell the Tutor/Mentor Connection, T/MC strategy story.  Then look at a few videos I made. Think you can do better? I'm sure you can. In fact, I hope you'll try.

War on Poverty video - by Kyungryul Kim from South Korea.



This video was created,  drawing from this PDF presentation from the Tutor/Mentor Connection library (note: since 2011 T/MC has been operated by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. Same goals and strategy. Different tax structure. Same lack of funding.).



The PDF presentation began as this blog article, written in 2008.

From 2005 through 2016 I've hosted interns from various colleges at the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC sites. I've encouraged them to read articles on my blogs, then created their own interpretations. You can see five pages of presentations done by past interns at this link.

I tried my hand at creating videos in 2010 and 2011. I posted a few of these on Vialogues recently so I could annotate them and show changes in my organizational structure and contact information. Below is one.



Earlier this week, Janice Cho, Design Director at DevMynd Software spoke at Chicago Hack Night, about human centered design.


Among the list of tips she offered was one talking about how 'what it looks like' matters, and creates a positive or negative first impression.  In a 1998 Chapin Hall case study of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, the writers commented on the "low budget" production quality of our materials and said that many potential supporters might not look, due to the lack of "professionalism" in the printed materials and due to the lack of a high profile spokesperson.

Without money to hire talent, or volunteers to provide talent, this has continued to be a handicap, which persists through 2017.

All of my blog articles are an invitation for big and small, local or national, leaders to adopt the ideas and strategies as their own.

Thus, as you watch the Oscars, think of ways you might become a producer, writer or actor, communicating the strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, through use of your own talent, time and dollars.


This article appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1994 showing my goal of creating more frequent attention drawing support to non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in Chicago's high poverty neighborhoods.  That's still needed.

Can you win your own Oscar for doing this work?



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sports and Violence in Chicago - Solutions Needed

Yesterday my Twitter feed encouraged me to take a look at a series of articles being written by Rick Telander, a long-time sports writer at the Chicago SunTimes.



I did. I found a powerful, emotional story about the struggles of young men playing on the basketball team of Orr High School.

On January 30th I saw another story, this time by a Chicago Tribune sports writer, which I wrote about here.

These guys are writing about violence that has been taking place in Chicago for more than 30 years. Every so often it gets feature attention, as it is this week in the SunTimes.

I'm very familiar with Orr High School. I drove by it almost every week for three years as I was taking teens home after tutoring sessions at the Cabrini Connections tutoring program I led from 1993-2011.

Our program was located near Cabrini Green and over the years as kids moved from that neighborhood, to other parts of Chicago they continued to come to our program. Thus, a few kids lived West of Orr High School and since I lived in Park Ridge, I took the Chicago Avenue route on my way home, and dropped these kids off where they lived.

We had some great conversations along the way!

I've used the graphic at the right often to show the long-term support that non-school programs can offer to teens. I'm shown on the right with Tangela, who was also in the photo on the left, when she was in 7th or 8th grade. She's now living in the suburbs, working, and raising her own kids. We're still connected via Facebook. She sent me a small contribution to celebrate my 70th birthday last December, and to  help me continue doing this work.

The articles Rick Telander is writting are part of a 5-part series. I've only seen two so don't know how the series will end.  However, I hope he transitions from talking about the boys and the basketball team, to talking about what it takes to build great sports teams, and how the same type of support is needed to build great non-school tutor/mentor programs.  I've written a series of articles with athletes and celebrities in mind, which you can read on the "sports" tag on this blog. I'll add this one.

Rick used a map in his first article, to show incidents of violence around Orr High School.  I have been using maps since 1994 to show where tutor/mentor programs are most needed, and where existing programs are located, with the goal that leaders, volunteers and donors will seek out programs in areas featured in the media, and become part of the long-term support system making each program great, and helping kids grow up safely.

I created two map views of the area around Orr High School.

This first map view was created using a new map list that I created in early 2016.  You can zoom into a section of the city and see locations of non-school programs, and can click on the icon to see who the program is. In this case the Kelly Hall YMCA is the closest to ORR, but there are not many programs in the area. See this map at this link.  I also maintain a list of these programs in my web library, with links to program web sites. Thus, if you visit this link, and search for a program by name, you can find it's listing, and open it's web site.


In 2004 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was able to put its list of programs on line, in a searchable directory which you can find here. In the program survey which was first launched in January 1994, we asked what type of program was offered (pure mentoring, pure tutoring, or combination tutoring/mentoring). We also asked what age group was served (elementary, middle school, high school) and what time of day the service was offered. These are all searchable categories in the form below.  Thus, if a parent is looking for a program for a middle school student, they won't want to look at high school, or elementary school programs. 


In 2008 we were able to add a new interactive map-directory to this service.  The map below is also a view of the area around Orr High School.  This map adds color overlays to show poverty levels around the school. It also shows schools on the Illinois State Warning List (2008), which included Orr High School.  It includes locations of non-school programs in the area (green stars). And, it includes locations of assets (banks, universities, hospitals, drug stores, faith groups) who should be working together to help programs in this area be the best in the city, and the world.   You can double click on any of the green stars and go directly to the program's web site. You can click on any of the asset icons and see name and location. You can build a map like this by going to this link.  Here's a PDF showing how to build your own map view and story, using the Program Locator.

If leaders want to fill poverty areas of the city with programs serving each age group, they first need to know what already exists, using the directory as an analysis tool. That's been the primary purpose of the Directory and Program Locator since 1994.


Here's the problem.  The data on the Program Locator is out of date. It's not been updated since 2012 and the poverty layers use 2000 census data. The schools shown on the map are from 2007 and 2008 lists.  I was operating as a non-profit, leading a site based tutor/mentor program and the Tutor/Mentor Connection when we built the program locator, using a $50,000 donation from an anonymous donor. Unfortunately we were a victim of the financial crisis, and lack of civic and political leadership support, so we ran out of money to keep updating the program locator by 2010 and in 2011 the Board at the non profit I was leading decided to no longer support the Tutor/Mentor Connection. I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 in an effort to keep the T/MC going in Chicago and to make it available to other cities.

I'm still trying. I've not found partners, investors, or others who are as committed, or passionate about this as I am. I'm running out of money and out of time.

I created Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in the weeks following this 1992 Chicago SunTimes story, which demands responsibility from everyone to solve this problem.  Because of Cabrini Connections, Tangela and hundreds of other Chicago teens have had support from an extended network of volunteer tutors, mentors and friends. Because of the Tutor/Mentor Connection youth programs in Chicago and other cities have been connected to each other, and to ideas they can use to build and sustain great programs.  Countless numbers of parents, volunteers and donors have been able to find tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods because of this service.

However, too few people, businesses, foundations and other leaders have devoted time every day to building and sustaining great non-school programs in EVERY high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities, thus, there are too few support systems with a long history of helping kids like the boys at Orr High School have a safe journey through childhood and into adult lives and responsibilities.

Want to know more? There are more than 1000 articles on this blog and more on the MappingforJustice blog.  Read a few every week. Share them with your network. Tweet them. Post them on Facebook. Create your own graphic interpretations, just as interns working with me since 2005 have done (see intern work).

Set up a reading club, a study group, a research team. Visit this article and apply the learning steps it suggests.

I hope Rick Telander and other writers build this call to action, with links to places where people can find more information, in all of their stories.

For many years.

Additional reading:

*See map stories created by Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1990s - click here

* Map stories created between 2008-2011 - click here

*Visit Tutor/Mentor Institute Library and read strategy presentations - click here

* Invitation to Universities to adopt Tutor/Mentor Institute - click here

Thursday, February 16, 2017

If we don't learn from mistakes of the past we are certain to repeat them.

In November of 2016 I began reading a book written 2400 years ago, Thucydides' history of "The Peloponnesian War" which traced 23 years of war between Athens and Sparta and other Greek city states.  As I read the book, my understanding was increased by reading scholarly comments on Zenpundit.com by others who were reading the book at the same time.   I used my yellow marker to highlight passages that I felt relevant to 2017 and later transferred some of these to a Hackpad, which I used to write my own summary, which was posted here.

Then today, I viewed this ESRI storymap, about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War 2.  It's a powerful story of a mistake and injustice made in the past.

Earlier today I saw a post on my Twitter feed, saying 
"If we can change our worldview, we can change the future". 
That was a post by Harold Jarche @hjarche and drew my attention to a video titled "Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview".  As I started watching I wanted to take notes and decided to put the video on Vialogues, so I could comment as I viewed the video, and so others could do the same.



At the 12:06 point in the video the narrators begin to show how behavior is influenced and modified by the environment around us.  At the 18:26 point in the video the 1970s Stanford Prison Experiment was discussed, which showed how easy it might be for American's (or others) to repeat the sins of Nazi Germany or of the Japanese Internment Camps.

If you look at the notes I posted the Thucydides hackpad, you'll see a link to an article titled "State of Power: All Change or No Change. Culture, Power and Activism in an Unquiet World."  Within that is another article titled "There is no such thing as Western Civilization" (referred to a "Plato to Nato" in the host article).

From T/MI network building article
I read these and I hope some of you take the time to do the same. We're at a crossroads. It will take the efforts of a few passionate, dedicated people, to identify problems and innovate and implement solutions.  These people must find ways to connect with others, locally and globally, who are working toward similar goals.

This Building Networks of Purpose PDF is one of may that illustrate how this has been my goal for almost 20 years.

In the current political climate there are many, myself included, who fear that in a few years, in the worst case scenario,  many of us might be residing in new US based internment and concentration camps.  In an even worse case, we might tip the balance of nature and destroy the environment, and our ability as a human race to survive.

Neither of these is pre-destined.

If you're at a university, or considering making a major gift to a university, consider establishing a Tutor/Mentor Institute on your campus.  These two PDF show goals of such an effort.

* Forming a College-Based Tutor/Mentor Connection - click here
* University Tutor/Mentor Connection. A Vision. - click here

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"So You're Trying to Duplicate What Kids Have in Affluent Areas!"

I led a non-school tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975-2011, serving inner-city youth from the Cabrini-Green area.
This is the graphic one of my volunteers was looking at in the 1990s when he turned to me and said, "So You're Trying to Duplicate What Kids Have in Affluent Areas!"

Yes. That's what I feel a mentor-rich, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning program can try to do.

I've written about this many times in the past, but was prompted to write again today after reading an article titled, "I look like a self-made millionaire, but I owe my success to privilege."

Same challenges. Different resources.
Since 2015 I've posted articles about a book written by Dr. Robert Putnam, titled "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis", where he shows that affluent youth have growing advantages that are not available to low income youth of any race. I created this concept map to illustrate this.  If you're an African American living in poverty, you have even more challenges to overcome.

In the graphic at the top of the page I show a small map of Chicago in the lower left corner. This is to emphasize the need for well-organized, long-term, tutor/mentor programs to in all high poverty areas, serving a growing number of youth from first grade through high school and beyond.

That's the type of support affluent families and communities offer their kids. Since families in  high poverty areas struggle just to put food on the table and pay rent, and deal with outside influences such as violence, crime, racial discrimination, etc., it's up to people who don't live in poverty to help make needed programs available, and keep them available for many years.

So where are leaders talking about this?  What are the challenges? What are the Tipping Points?  I've spent over 30 years thinking about this. Below is one of many presentations that share my ideas.



If we want well-organized, on-going, non-school tutor/mentor and learning programs to reach youth in high poverty areas of big cities, rural areas and reservations, we need to be building libraries of information, which I have been doing, and then using that information to train leaders who will staff these programs and who will support decision making among businesses, foundations and government policy makers.

Influence both sides.
I created this graphic a couple of years ago. If we want kids in poverty to move through school more safely and into jobs and lives free of poverty, we need to influence what non profit leaders and staff do, and we need to influence what business, foundations, government, etc. do.  Read the article.

I've spent 40 years thinking of ways to recruit adult volunteers to be tutors, mentors and change agents in the lives of  urban youth. I've been writing articles and sharing them via printed newsletters and Internet for 23 years.

I don't expect anyone to instantly grasp what I'm describing. It's only by spending time reading, reflecting, and creating your own visualizations, over and over for many years, that others will build a shared understanding.

That means the learning needs to begin while future leaders are still in middle school!

I keep searching for partners, benefactors, universities, etc. who understand the long-term work that needs to be done in order for well-organized, long-term programs be be reaching more youth in high poverty with support systems that give these youth some of the same "privileges" as affluent White kids grow up with.

If you want to help please reach out to me.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Little Friday Motivation - You Gotta Swim

Below is a video that was in the final panel of a Terry Elliott presentation that I just finished viewing. Click here and you can see the 20 slides and collection of music that Terry uses to comment on a blog article posted early this week by Simon Ensor. Terry is in Kentucky. Simon is in France.

Take a look. Take a listen.



Thanks Terry. Thanks Simon.




Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Helping Kids Through School Requires On-going Effort

The Chicago papers continue the daily reporting of violence in the city and now the new President is adding his own ideas on the problem and solutions.

Mentoring and non-school youth serving programs have been offered as solutions, but too few are talking about the many years of support it takes to help a youth move from elementary school through high school and into a job and career out of poverty....and how long it takes to build a great, well-organized youth program.

I've created dozens of graphics to illustrate ideas I share in this blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute,LLC web site. I'll show a few here.  In the above graphic I show 7th and 8th grade teens who were part of the tutor/mentor program I formed in Chicago in 1993. At the right is a photo of one of those kids, who, after college, came back to talk at a year-end dinner.  She and I and many of the other kids and volunteers are still connected on Facebook...nearly 20 years after we first met. That's what I mean by long-term tutor/mentor programs.

Below is another graphic, that focuses on the planning process needed to make programs like the one I was leading available in hundreds of locations.
I compare this process to the planning generals do to win wars.  They use maps to show where the enemy is, then plan strategies that put our troops, with better weapons and training, and better support systems, in places where the enemy is concentrated.   In this analogy, volunteer tutors/mentors and paid staff of non-school tutor/mentor programs are our 'troops". They need to be in every high poverty area of Chicago and its suburbs, and need to be well trained and supported.

At the far left on the above graphic is STEP 7, which is the work needed to build and sustain public will, and consistent funding, to fight the war in every location where poverty, lack of jobs, lack of hope and opportunity, lead to violence against others and violence against self.

I encourage you to view a concept map with this graphic, and a presentation that explains the seven steps.  Then look at this video, which was created by an intern from South Korea.  Think of ways you, or your students, might communicate these ideas to your network.

The next visual is one created while Barack Obama was President.

Building great tutor/mentor programs, and the public will needed to finance them and provide an on-going flow of volunteers, is a huge, and on-going challenge.  I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with the goal of building greater visibility and a better flow of volunteers and operating dollars to tutor/mentor programs in all poverty areas of Chicago.  Not having many dollars to advertise, the T/MC created quarterly events which drew programs together to learn from each other and created media attention at key times a year. By repeating these events year-after-year the goal was to build a larger level of support.



In 2010 two interns from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago, created Flash animations that showed the quarterly event calendar. In 2011 I created a video to record the animation.  Recently I put this video in a Vialogue, where I could offer comment and update contact information.  It's a place you can also view the video and start a discussion.  These are another example of how students and volunteers can learn new skills, while communicating ideas that mobilize community support for tutor/mentor programs or other needed services.


We're at a very difficult time in US and world history. People are marching in the streets to protest a dramatically new form of political reality and there are many important issues that require attention, and public will.

That's why I hope a few people will spend time reading this article, follow the links, and think of ways you and others can help build public will and support for needed, mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in high poverty areas of Chicago, other cities and rural America.

At the same time, I hope that this planning process will be used in other sectors to mobilize talent and resources needed to find solutions to complex problems, and to find ways to make America a great place to live and raise families for people throughout this country and for those who see this country as a place of hope, opportunity, freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Program Design - Supporting Long-Term Mentor-Youth-Org Connections

Kevin Hodgson's blog 2-4-17
I follow Kevin Hodgson's blog because he's constantly sharing ideas that he applies in  his Western Massachusetts middle school classroom, and in his networking and learning with others via the Internet.  He posted the graphic at the left today, showing how students in his classes had been creating a dictionary of words they invented for nearly a decade. He wrote that
"this year's class of word inventors weren't even born when the first class of inventors began making up words in 2005"
This is a practical application of a strategy I feel should be in place in every volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, as well as in K-12 schools and universities.  I used this graphic to describe the strategy in the mid-2000s as I was trying to implement it in the tutor/mentor program that I was leading.

In this concept map I show a goal of building habits of learning, using the organization web site as a place find and share information and ideas, not just while students and volunteers are active, but in the years following their involvement.  You can view the map here and read an article where I described it here.

I don't know if Keven's goal was to build habits that motivated his students to continue to come back to see what's happening in his classroom, or to look for ways to help current students move through school and into jobs, but his site is a stepping stone toward such a goal.

How does this apply to helping kids living in poverty connect with a wider range of adult support? Look at the graphic below which I created in the mid 1990s to describe the program I was leading in Chicago.

Total Quality Mentoring - Mentor-Rich program design
This hub and spoke design could be a model for every child, showing the adult support and learning experiences needed to move safely through school and into adult lives.  It could also be the design of a tutor/mentor program, showing how the program draws volunteers from many career and work fields together as tutors/mentors and leaders. It could also be used to show the types of learning and enrichment the program makes available to its members.  It could be used by city leaders to show the type of programs they are trying to help grow in all poverty areas of a city. It's also the design of a classroom, with the teacher as the hub. It could also be individual students, who are the center of networks of peers.

The "It takes a village to raise a child" statement can be turned into program design, and strategies, aimed at drawing students and volunteers together in long-term relationships.

What Kevin has piloted, and what I'm showing with the concept map above, is an effort to build habits of learning and sharing, using a web site, wiki or some other on-line library and forum, as a place to get and give information, or to get and give help, far into future years when the student becomes an adult and part of the network of adults who are helping each other, and helping younger students rise up the pipeline from birth to work.

I've been applying this strategy in my own efforts for many years. At the right is a graphic showing former Cabrini-Green area students and volunteers who I've worked with since 1973, who I'm still connected with on Facebook (in 2012). Here's a PDF with this and other network analysis graphics.

Kevin has been maintaining his platform for over 10 years and has had to move it to different platforms as technology has changed.  How many volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs have been in business for ten years?  How many have databases of former students and volunteers and/or are using those to share information that helps alumni continue to grow in their lives,  while also engaging alumni in work that supports the school, the program, and the young people coming up?

Kevin has been able to do what he does, and I've been able to do what I do, because we've been consistently involved for many years.  I focus on drawing talent and operating dollars to non-school tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas because if they can't keep a core group of people involved for a decade or longer they can't build this type of learning network.  If you're a champion of mentoring, or concerned with urban poverty, inequality and violence, this should be something you focus on.

I don't know who reads my blog among the many programs I point to on this list of Chicago programs, or this list of programs from beyond Chicago.  I do know that many of those I'm trying to connect with, and help, don't make an equal effort to connect with me.  Just looking at the Twitter list of organizations and people who don't follow me back illustrates this.

However, when I see people in other states, like Terry Elliott, paying attention to what I'm writing, I am encouraged to keep sharing these ideas.  I hope by sharing links to their work others will make an effort to duplicate some of these ideas.