Monday, December 10, 2018

Can you Help Me Help Youth In Chicago and Other Cities?

Below is text and images from a letter I've just mailed to people who  have made financial contributions to support this blog and the work I have been doing for the past 25 years. I hope you'll read and respond.

Happy Holidays, from Dan Bassill and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC .. Dec. 2018

Dear Friend of Youth,

It's the Holiday Season and I hope you and your family will enjoy all of the blessings that this season brings to many, but not all people in America.

This is the 25th Year Anniversary of forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep this available in Chicago and to try to help similar models grow in other cities. I've been sending you updates, asking for your support, in the seven years since then.


Once again I am reaching out to people who have supported my efforts to help K-12 youth in high poverty areas of Chicago and every other city in the country have access to well organized, mentor-rich programs. In the photos above, I keep saying “Read my Blog”. The address is http://tutormentor.blogspot.com

My aim is to provide ideas that others use to build systems of support for kids in poverty, and to serve as a model that you and others duplicate, telling the same stories, to people in your own network, expanding the number of people looking at these ideas and using them to build strategic support for k-12 youth.

For 35 years I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, so developed a deep commitment to the potential of well-organized, mentor-rich programs. When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the goal was to build a database of existing Chicago programs and a library of information and ideas, then find innovative ways to draw more frequent attention to tutor/mentor programs as a way to help kids and a way to get more people involved. Borrowing from my work in advertising with Montgomery Ward, the goal was to draw more customers (volunteers, donors, media, etc.) directly to each program in the Chicago region.

I had no idea of how difficult this would be, yet I persist with the commitment of “If it is to be, it is up to me..and YOU!

The graphic at the right is similar to many that you'll find in my blog. It shows my role as an intermediary connecting people who can help to an information base, including a list of Chicago youth programs in places where help is needed. This is part of a four-part strategy that I launched in 1993 and still follow today.

Ever since starting the T/MC in 1993 it's been difficult helping others understand what it has been trying to do. Part of the challenge is that philanthropy encourages competition among non-profits. Few work together to generate the resources that would help great programs grow in more places. In addition, few in leadership roles have ever taken the time to build a database of programs and then use it in on-going efforts intended to help every program get the resources each needs to be successful...the way that corporations support multiple stores reaching customers in many locations.

That's why I keep repeating "Read my Blogs!" If you read the articles consistently, you'll understand what I'm trying to do, and you might help find others who want to bring these strategies into their own leadership efforts.

I'm celebrating a 25th Anniversary this year. With your help in the next few weeks, I'll still be doing this in 2019

We all want a world where all kids grow up safely and reach their full potential. In a huge city like Chicago that means people with different skills and resources need to be working together at three levels:

1. at the organization level, supporting different youth serving organizations;
2. neighborhood level, making sure programs are reaching all the kids who need help; and
3. at the city/regional level, making sure ALL high poverty neighborhoods have great programs.

Getting people involved in shaping and sharing this message is just one of many challenges. The concept map at the left is part of a library of visualizations that I've created since 2005. You can view it at https://tinyurl.com/ChallengesFacingYouth-TM

This map shows that poverty has many entry points, many challenges. That means that people who are donating time, talent or dollars are working in many different, but often disconnected, efforts. The competition for resources at every level is fierce, meaning consistent long-term solutions are difficult to find in many places.

During the past year I've continued to add new links to the web library at http://tinyurl.com/TMC-Library and continue to maintain a list of Chicago area non-school tutor/mentor programs at http://tinyurl.com/TMI-ChiProgramLinks  I've also continued posting strategy ideas on Scribd.com and Slideshare.com, which I then point to in my blog articles.

I spend time each day sharing these ideas in social media channels and trying to connect with people from Chicago and around the world who might use these ideas to help needed programs and services grow in all places where kids need help moving through school and into adult lives.

I continue to offer free advice to any who request it, while also looking for ways to earn income from sharing what I know. I still have not figured how to make that work. Nor have I found 3 or 4 people who would share the vision, and responsibility, and form a new non-profit Tutor/Mentor Connection. Thus, I continue to look for contributors who will help fund my efforts. I'm still not able to offer you a tax deduction, since I don't have a non-profit status.

There are two ways for you to offer financial support.


1) Make a birthday gift. I'll be 72 on December 19th and invite you to make a “Birthday Gift” contribution using the PayPal button at http://www.tutormentorconference.org/birthdaywish2018.htm




2) Make a 25th Year Anniversary Contribution to my FUND-ME campaign. click here

If you cannot make a contribution, please read my blog articles and share them with others.

If you use Twitter, Facebook or Linked in, please connect with me, which helps people in your network find the information I'm sharing.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support this work in the past.

If you'd like to talk to me, email me at tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net to arrange a time to talk by phone, Skype or in person.

Happy Holidays to you and your family,






Daniel F. Bassill, D.H.L.
Tutor/Mentor Connection, 1993-present
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, 2011-present

Mail contributions to Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303, Chicago, IL 60654

Find me at:
http://www.tutormentorexchange.net
http://tutormentor.blogspot.com
http://mappingforjustice.blogspot.com
http://tutormentorexchange.wordpress.com


Connect with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook  (click this link to see nice video of my past year, created by FB)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Can we imagine a future without traditional schools?

Last week I stumbled upon a Twitter chat which includes school superintendents from the Chicago area. I added the hashtags #suptchat and #k12prchat to my hashtag map, with the goal of going back this weekend to review all of the posts.

I'm glad I did. I'm not through my review but found this post:



I followed the link  and read this article, titled "School’s Out: Who Takes Responsibility for the Education of Young People?"

The article uses words to visualize an idea that I've used graphics to communicate. What I was seeing in my mind was the graphic at the top of the visualization shown below.  It shows the community of people surrounding kids as the grow up and lead their adult lives.  The spokes lead to different work/life experiences which offer different forms of learning and career opportunities.


In the lower part of this graphic I show a map of Chicago, with poverty areas highlighted. To the left of this is a circle, representing "all the knowledge in the world" that is available to young people and adults.  To the left of that circle and in the smaller circles below, I visualize the idea of gathering people together to discuss this information, and to learn how such learning is less available to kids in high poverty areas due to the lower diversity of people with different types of jobs, careers and incomes.

Thus, the goal of the discussion is to find ways to make this type of a learning environment more available throughout Chicagoland, Illinois, the USA and the world, so that at some point you could look at maps and see a distribution of mentor-rich learning opportunities distributed like Christmas lights on a tree. Hopefully, no spaces are left uncovered.

This is one of many articles where I show uses of maps.

Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) 
I first created this graphic in the 1990s to visualize the type of non-school tutor/mentor program I had led in Chicago since 1975 and to show a program design that others might duplicate.

At this link you can see this idea in more detail.

Below is another Tweet from the #suptchat thread.  Twitter chats enable people from schools, non-school organizations and all sectors to engage in conversations that focus on the well-being of youth, families, our communities and the world.


We just need to find ways to draw more people, from more places into these conversations.  That's why I've encouraged people hosting events and chats to create participation maps, like the one shown below, which is for the 2017 #clmooc, connected learning group.


With participation maps we help people connect with each other. We also enable a conversation of "who's here, and who's missing".  For instance, if you zoom into this map, you'll find few people from the Chicago region and other metros, which serve large numbers of low-income kids.  The data can encourage discussions of why, and what can we do about it.

The #CLMOOC group has been going since 2013 and their web site is a rich archive of ideas for helping people connect and learn from each other. Here's an activity from 2016 under the heading of "What if we Cultivate Connections and Strengthen our Networks",

To me, this is part of the learning that is available to those who spend time connecting and looking for ideas.

That's what I have been doing since I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975.  Initially, I built a library of books and tutoring ideas and encouraged volunteers to use this to support their own work with kids.

In 1993 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I began expanding this library, while also building a list of Chicago non-school tutor and/or mentor programs. Then I shared this with others, via a quarterly print newsletter, and bi-annual conferences.

In 1998 I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site, and in 1999 the Tutor/Mentor Institute web site. Both enabled visitors to connect with a wide range of information, ideas, program models, philanthropy resources, and more.

I'm still doing this, but without a non-profit organizational structure or reliable revenue stream. Thus, I share this FUND ME campaign page, inviting any who have read this far to make a contribution to support this work.




Monday, December 03, 2018

Exceeded Word Limit on LinkedIn - Here's my question


I posted this map, and started writing a message in the Non-Profit Network Group on LinkedIn, and when I was ready to hit "send" found that I had vastly exceeded the word limit.  So, I'm posting the question here.

I've been piloting uses of maps to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas of Chicago for the past 20 years. Here's a recent blog article where you can learn more about this.

A map can show demographic information, or indicators, visualizing where a service is needed. Overlays can show existing service providers within the map area. If someone is collecting the data, this can be shown in layers, such as age group served, type of program, etc. I've been trying to do this since 1993. See the search page we built in 2004.

Using this, leaders in the map area could be building an understanding of the level of service available from this type of program. For instance, in the map I've attached one Chicago community area has 7127 kids, age 6-17, below the poverty level. If an afterschool tutor/mentor program served 100 kids, that neighborhood would still need about 35 of these programs, just to reach 50% of the kids in that area. (Most tutor/mentor programs do not serve that many kids.)

Just building a flow of resources, talent and ideas to help existing programs grow is a challenge, so helping additional programs grow represents an even larger challenge. This is especially true since most of the existing programs are competing with each other for scarce resources.

That's an introduction. 

Are any of you involved in this type of planning and program development process in your communities? If yes, can you point to blogs like mine where the process is being described and supported? It's never been supported in Chicago, and I've found few examples of maps being used as part of an effort to reach more kids with needed services, in any city. I look forward to hearing from any who might be doing this.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Need and Potential of Non-School Youth Programs

I keep encouraging readers to engage on Twitter. Here's an example of why I feel think this is important.  I connected with Tony Brown, ED of Heart of LA today, and he shared this Tweet, and video, with me.


If I did not use Twitter daily I would never have found this. 

As I listened to Tony many images from my articles came to mind. Here's one.

Create virtual corporate office to help mentor rich programs grow - read
I focus on actions required to make mentor rich programs like Tony is describing available in more places. Those are not just what volunteers and non profit programs leaders do. They are what resource providers, business leaders and policy makers also need to do.

See work interns have done.
When I connect with people like Tony I  invite them to browse my blogs and web site to see the ideas I've been sharing for the past 25 years.  I know how frustrating this is, because there are so many ideas on my sites.

Thus, I point to work interns did with me between 2006 and 2015, which you can preview in this concept map. Tony and others can recruit students from local high schools, colleges and youth programs to dig into my ideas, then share what they are learning and how those ideas can be applied in LA, Philadelphia, Houston, Detroit, London or any other city, just as interns working with me have done.

I have been sharing these ideas with the goal of becoming a consultant and partner with people who are trying to help youth support systems form in different places.  If you'd like my help please connect with me at @tutormentorteam on Twitter or post a comment here.





Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#GivingTuesday - Ideas

It's the annual GivingTuesday (#ILGive) in Illinois and hundreds of non-profit organizations are using email, web sites, social media and a variety of other tactics to try to attract donors.

Good luck to all.

Below are a few thoughts for this day.


First, youth tutor and mentor programs are competing with a wide range of other important causes for limited donor attention and dollars.  My efforts for the past 25 years have been to create a greater daily frequency of stories talking about where and why tutor/mentor programs are most needed, ways to help them (time, talent and dollars), and ways to find out what programs are operating in different parts of the Chicago region.


I've been plotting locations of Chicago youth tutor and/or mentor programs on maps since 1993. In 2004 we were able to create this on-line search page, to help you find programs, based on what type of program (pure mentor, pure tutor, combination tutor/mentor), age group served (elementary, middle,  high school) and location.   Then in 2008 we created this interactive map that provided the same search feature but showed the entire Chicago region.

Those have not been updated since 2011 due to lack of funds, so I created the map shown above in 2016, to provide information about existing youth serving programs. Visit this page to see the map and my list of programs.


I've also created this concept map, to help people find youth serving organizations, based on the lists I maintain, and based on lists others are building.

If I had the talent, time and money, I'd create a #GivingTuesday map, showing which of the tutor/mentor programs in Chicago were running campaigns today via #ILGive or other platforms.

This map from 1990s
In addition, I'd be reaching out to schools, non-school organizations, faith groups and others, to teach them to create story maps, that follow negative news with maps showing where the news event occurred, and stories of why things like this keep happening, and ways tutor/mentor programs might help make a difference. Such stories would then point to existing programs in that area, and to assets, like businesses, colleges, hospitals and others who could help programs grow. Here's one example.

Instead of only myself, or a few others trying to increase attention and resources for all  programs in this sector, there could be hundreds of people doing this daily, which I think would help make events like #GivingTuesday much more effective for those who are trying to raise money today. 
Make this a year-long effort

While I use my blog as a teaching tool. I really don't have the money to keep the program locator on-line as a model for what others might build, or help me build.  Nor do I have advertising dollars and/or professional talent to help me reach more people with my articles.

Thus, as you decide who to support today, or tomorrow, or next month, click on this page and look for ways to help me do this work. 

One of the major challenges I'm facing is that since 2011, I've not operated as a 501-c-3 non-profit. I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I started as part of a non profit in 1993, alive for Chicago and as a model for other cities.  I keep seeking partners, benefactors and/or volunteers to create a new non profit, but have not found any willing to take on the work done over the past 25 years, but have not found the few needed. 

So, I'm a social entrepreneur, with a wealth of ideas, seeking support to keep sharing these with the world.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Doing the impossible. Influencing Donors and Providers

I've been creating visualizations to share ideas since the 1990s, thinking a picture is worth a thousand words, and you can see many in my blog articles.  The one featured in this article is one of the most important.

I try to draw ideas and resources
to every youth program in Chicago
When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 my goal was to duplicate advertising strategies that big business use to motivate people to shop at their stores.  I needed to find a way to do this without the money available to most companies to do this work.

On one level, I've been sharing information that people directly involved in youth tutor/mentor programs can use to help build on-going programs that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers.

At the same time, I've been sharing information intended to influence donors to become more proactive in supporting youth tutor/mentor programs already operating, and in helping new programs start where more are needed.

Below is a graphic that you can click into to see these influence steps.



Both paths shown on this graphic are important.  I think influencing people who don't live in poverty to provide a consistent flow of time, talent and dollars to programs serving youth and families in poverty is going to be just as difficult as it is to influence the people leading existing programs, or starting new programs, to look past what they have already been doing, to new ideas of what they should be doing,  if the goal is that the kids in these programs today are in jobs and starting careers when they are age 25 or older.

I first used this graphic in this 2014 article.  Browse this list and read more articles where I use this graphic. Can you apply this in your own efforts?

However, there's also a third level of influence involved. Since forming Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I've tried to influence volunteers and donors to provide the talent and dollars both parts of our youth support strategies needed each year.  And, since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, I've continued to try find this support each year.

It Takes A Village - see map

It's never been easy. It's been much more difficult since 2011. 

The concept map at the right is titled "It Takes A Village" meaning, people from every different sector of life in the Chicago region, or any other part of the country, should be involved in helping all kids move through school and into jobs and careers.   With this in mind, many could be joining me in trying to "influence" actions of others. 

If you're doing this, or trying to do this, I'm trying to find and connect with you on Twitter, LinkedIN or Facebook.

This also means that many people could also be helping me do this work. 

If you've read this far I hope I've influenced you to visit this page and send a contribution to help me continue this work.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

"These Relationships Really Matter" - review of mentoring research

Below is a podcast interview with mentoring researchers David DuBois and Carla Herrera, who reached out to youth from the 1990s Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BBBS) research by Public/Private Venture and tried to determine long-term impact. Below the podcast are some of my own thoughts on this.



In the early part of the podcast David DuBois talks about the lack of long-term research, and ties this to the lack of consistent, long-term funding of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.  This is what I've been focusing on for past 25 years.  The rest of the podcasts describes efforts to find the 1200+ youth who were part of the 1990's study, and to try to determine how/if participation in this mentoring affected future work, education, justice system involvement, etc. It was a huge effort that resulted in survey responses from about 300.  Rather than me trying to provide a summary, I encourage you to listen.

All programs need same resources

While the research done by P/PV focused on the BBBS program, I've been building a database of all organizations in the Chicago region who include volunteer based tutor and/or mentor involvement as a core part of their strategy. Then I've tried to increase the frequency of media stories, and social media mentions, of all of these programs, with the goal of drawing needed resources though my database and directly to programs.

This is part of a 4-part strategy developed in 1993 and still followed in 2018.

I still don't find many who do this. While the use of map-based directories is growing, most of this is intended to "help people find programs" and not to help build an understanding of service levels and program distribution, or to help improve the flow of needed resources directly to all of those programs, not just BBBS or other high profile programs.

As you listen to this podcast, I encourage you to visit this 2007 article that I posted on the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum and follow the link to a Public/Private Ventures brief, titled Mentoring, Policy and Politics, written by Gary Walker, president of P/PV.

I wrote "In the report, Walker concedes that the BBBS results research are limited. “Though the impact findings are real and impressive, in fact they apply only to the 18 months after mentoring began … thus “we have no scientific evidence that mentoring turns lives around.”

He also shares that it’s not the most at-risk youth who are likely to be in traditional BBBS type mentoring programs. He writes, “Mentoring’s strengths, based on experience and data, are generally in the 8-through 13-year age range, and concentrated on 9-11-year olds.” As Walker states “They are youth with responsible parents or teachers who want to connect them with mentors”, not the youth who are most in need of mentors and more extensive adult support."

In the podcast DuBois talks the duration of matches in the original research about how the length of mentoring matches has increased in the past decade. Since this lack of long-term research, or on-going funding of programs, has been an issue since the mid 2000s, why have we not yet convinced donors and government funders to provide more consistent funding to programs in more places?

In the concluding minutes positive results from the follow up research were discussed and Herrera tells how the survey responses of many show that "these relationships really matter".

Computer Lab at
Cabrini Connections
I've receive similar feedback often from alumni of the tutor/mentor programs I led between 1975 and 2011. Here's a 2013 comment from one alum.

I joined Cabrini Connections in 1999 and was recently reminded of the positive impact that it had on me. It profoundly impacted my relational abilities.

I recall Cabrini Connections being a third place for me; it was my home away from home. The staff were beyond friendly; they took an interest in your life. My tutor exemplified this value as well. His name is Larry.

Larry volunteered after work hours to help me with my homework. This was his only official commitment. However, he excelled beyond that and taught me more about life. A short list includes challenging me to strive for higher goals, do things economically, and instilling confidence in me. Now, I am am event supervisor and do volunteer work with a church. I have to talk with people routinely and I have the confidence and drive to excel in this. In part, because Larry believed in me when I was a teenager.

Larry and I still talk from time to time despite that he now lives in Costa Rica. We Skype and chat on facebook. He still supports and challenges me occasionally like the friend he has become. Thank you Larry.

My path since 1990s.

While I was closely connected to the National Mentoring Partnership in the mid-1990s I've never been an affiliate, or a part of their research process, partly due to my own lack of resources over the past 25 years and partly due to a broader focus on "mentoring as part of a larger strategy" and narrower focus on site-based non-school organizations that provide volunteer based tutoring/mentoring and a variety of learning and enrichment support to k-12 kids living in high poverty areas.

Different types of mentoring
Yet I regularly share ideas with David and other researchers via the listserve David has hosted since the mid 2000s (partially based on a Yahoo Tutor/Mentor ER Group (Evaluation and Research) that I launched around 2004 after David participated in one of the Tutor/Mentor Conferences I hosted in Chicago.

One recommendation is that an effort be made to inventory all of the different programs operating to classify them by who is being served (age group, economic level, social/emotional need, workplace etc) and by type of strategy (community based, school based, non-school site based, informal, etc.)

Chicago Hospitals
T/MC map
Then, plot this on maps that show layers of information, such as this map created by Tutor/Mentor Connection in late 2000s. It shows Chicago boundaries and expressways as the bottom layer, then shows poverty and poorly performing schools as the next. Then it shows locations of existing non-school tutor/mentor programs, from the survey we had done since 1994. Finally, it also shows assets, who could be helping programs in different parts of the city grow. In this map hospitals are shown.  The goal is that each hospital create a research and planning team that builds a map like this for a 2-3 mile circle of neighborhoods surrounding the hospital.

We put our directory in an on-line search page in 2004 and launched an interactive map directory, with these layers, in 2009. Unfortunately, the financial crisis of late 2000s cause us to lose financial support to continue updating this, and ultimately led to my need to create the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011. I've not been able to update the Program Locator since 2013.

So far, I don't find others duplicating the 4-part strategy, or the program locator, in Chicago or other cities.  Nor has anyone with wealth, doing research, leading a hospital or business, or university,  read my blog articles and sent an invitation saying "let's meet" or offered to become a benefactor to support this work.

I share ideas and strategies and point to my list of Chicago programs on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site. I encourage all to spend some time browsing the site and try to put the ideas to work in Chicago, or in other areas.   I'd be delighted to become a consultant within your process.

There's a link on the page to my FUND ME campaign and another to my 72nd Birthday appeal. If you value the ideas I'm sharing I'd appreciate your support.



Friday, November 16, 2018

Helping Youth Through School - Do These Ideas Interest You?

If you do a Google search for "tutor mentor connection" then look at the images page,  you'll see dozens of graphics that I've put in articles on this and other blogs over the past 15 years.  You can click on any of those and go back to the article where they were used. Ideally, thousands of people would be doing that.

In this article I'm going to show a progression of ideas, visualized with graphics.  I hope you'll follow along.

The goal: Reaching k-12 youth in all high poverty areas of Chicago, or other regions, with mentor-rich programs that help kids through school and into adult live, jobs and careers.

This graphic is part of this Slideshare presentation

This graphic combines the understanding that building and sustaining great programs in thousands of places is not easy.  Drawing youth and volunteers into these programs and keeping them involved for many years is also not easy. It requires persistence and constant innovation.  It also requires a constant source of funding, to attract and keep talented people involved in this effort.

Comprehensive response to indicators of need, such as high levels of violence in some neighborhoods. 

See this graphic in this blog article
It was just announced that the Youth Guidance Becoming a Man Program, in partnership with Thrive Chicago, and Chicago Public Schools, received a major grant from the Obama Foundation.  That's part of a huge effort that focuses on youth and young adults who are in a high risk "opportunity youth" profile category.

However, unless investment is made in programs that reach youth earlier, to help them through high school and into college or other post HS education, help them aspire to jobs and careers, and help them avoid the negative influences surrounding them, there will always be a new wave of youth coming into the high risk pool. 

Planning needed, in Chicago, and in every other city.

This graphic has been used in several blog articles - take a look
This concept map contains a lot of information.  At the right is the same graphic that was included in the first graphic shown above. Then there are maps, showing high poverty areas of Chicago. All of these areas need great programs reaching kids from first grade through first jobs and on-going careers.

In the middle is a chart that shows stages of planning. Steps 1 to 7 are shown in this article.  Step 7 talks about the need to build and sustain public will, for many years, to mobilize needed resources to make great programs available in many locations.

Maps are a key part of all of the strategies I've shared for the past 25 years.

Open maps, media and violence tabs to see uses of maps
A map shows all of the places in a city where kids, families and schools need extra help. It can also identify potential partners to support youth development and education efforts. And, maps can be used to show the distribution of needed resources, so that planners can adjust marketing activities to draw more resources to under-funded, and under-served areas.

Influencing actions of resource providers, not just non profit organizations. That's the graphic shown at the far left of the planning map, and also shown below.

Steps in this Influence graphic shown in this article
Without providing a consistent, on-going flow of talent, ideas, dollars and other resources to EVERY youth program operating in Chicago and other cities, it will be difficult, if not impossible to build and sustain the needed programs that result in far greater numbers of youth born in poverty areas being in jobs and starting careers by their mid to late 20s.

In one section of the Tutor/Mentor web library I point to articles that show challenges facing the non-profit sector. Toward the bottom left side of this blog I point to a few of the web sites that are included in my library. 

One is the From Poverty to Power, a UK blog, which featured stories yesterday, and today, that show challenges of building comprehensive solutions to complex problems, along with some suggested improvements on the existing system.

I've been trying to find a champion that would support my innovations in this effort ever since launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.   Here's an article posted on PCWorld magazine in 2009 by someone who had spent time getting to know me in the previous years. He included me in a list of people he recommended for MacArthur Foundation Genius Awards.

Not only did I not get nominated, but that was the second year of the financial meltdown of the late 2000s. It's the primary reason that I had to create the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to try to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection available to Chicago.

If you like the ideas I'm sharing, visit my FUNDME page and send me some financial support.  If you're one of the 1% and want to become my benefactor, to assure that these ideas go forward past my own lifetime, then look in your mirror and decide  how, and  how much, you want to help. 

I'm on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN and can be reached at tutormentor 2 at earthlink dot net. I hope to connect with those who understand how important these strategies are.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

12 Months Until Next Veteran's Day. Make Good Use of That Time

While this year's efforts to honor veterans is past, we've 12 months till we do it again. How will  you use that time? 

I spent three years in the Army in the late 1960s, serving in Military Intelligence. I'd studied history in college prior to joining the Army, so I understood the role of collecting best available information for leaders to use in making decisions. Over the past 40 years I've amassed a large web library, that anyone can use to build and sustain volunteer-based programs reaching k-12 youth living in high-poverty areas of big cities.

Every November since starting this blog in 2005, and in the months in between, I've posted articles that call on veterans and active duty service men and women to use the skills they have learned to support an "intelligence-based" effort that fills high poverty areas with needed programs, and helps each program get the on-going flow of resources each needs to constantly improve their ability to help youth overcome the challenges of poverty as they move through school and into adult lives. 

I invite others to do the same.

This map visualizes this process. You can find an explanation of the graphic here, and here.


On the right hand side of this graphic I emphasize the use of maps. Unless leaders use maps to show all of the places within an urban area where poverty is concentrated, and where other indicators show a need for extra support, it's likely that strategies will only reach a few places, not every place where help is needed.

Step 7, on the far left, is equally important. Unless we focus on ways to build and sustain public support for this strategy, the flow of resources to all of the programs that need to be involved will be too small and or discontinued too soon. Here's an article I wrote about building public will recently. I hope you'll look at it.

Steps 2 through 6 are on-going, but they involved building a deeper understanding of the complex challenges of reaching youth in all parts of a geographic region with a wide range of supports that help them move through school and into adult lives. This deeper learning extends far beyond understanding how to be a tutor or mentor, or how to organize and lead a youth serving organization.

I encourage you to look at this graphic which shows that affluent people face many of the same challenges as people living in high poverty.


In this book titled "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis", Robert Putnam, see my article, shows that kids living in affluent communities have many more resources available to help them and their families overcome their challenges. Youth living in high poverty communities not only have extra challenges, but have far fewer resources to help them and their families overcome those challenges.


When I describe a Total Quality Mentoring program, I'm thinking of programs where some volunteers take on many roles beyond acting as a tutor or mentor. This PDF focuses on the extra roles volunteers might take to help youth and families overcome more of the challenges shown on the graphic above. There is no limit to what things a team of planners might look at.

TQM programs are learning organizations where youth, volunteers, staff and leaders are constantly reading research and looking at work being done in other programs, with a goal of constantly innovating ways to help youth stay in school and move toward jobs, which means they also are looking for ways to engage a wider range of volunteers who can model different types of careers, and who can open doors to part time jobs, internships, vocational training and college as youth grow up. A TQM program offers a network of support, via the Internet, that can last a lifetime. A TQM program also shares its own ideas, strategies and challenges on its own web site so others can learn from them while they are learning from others.

I don't know how many programs in Chicago, or around the country, actually fit this TQM Program description, and have never had the manpower to do the on-going searching to find out which programs already operating in Chicago have the vision and strategy that heads them in this direction. It's the type of program I led between 1993 and 2011.

Understanding where services are needed, and what types of services need to be available within a geographic area is one challenge that planners and "intelligence gatherers" need to focus on. However, another challenge is to understand the infrastructure that is needed to support effective on-going learning and mentoring within every organized tutor/mentor program. Understanding the different functional roles that need to be filled enables intermediaries, donors and third party supporters help provide this talent, and keep it in place for many years.

I want to end with a though that addresses the talent and manpower needs within the youth serving world. I encourage you to view this presentation and think of how veterans could fill many slots, in many different tutor/mentor programs, and how other veterans working in various industries and professions could support them on an on-going basis.



As planners look for ideas the articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 and the ideas I share in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and library offer an extensive source for deeper learning and inspiration. Building a network of mentor-rich, Total Quality, youth serving organizations that reach youth in all poverty areas of big urban areas like the Chicago region, offers job and career opportunities for thousands of veterans, while also providing a support system that helps more youth move from poverty neighborhoods into a wide range of jobs and careers, including careers in the military.

This year's Veteran's Day celebration is over.  I hope you'll spend time over the next 12 months looking at this and other ideas for ways veterans can continue to serve and make a difference in the world.

If this article resonates with you, please visit my FUNDME page and make a contribution to help me keep sharing stories like this, while also maintaining the resources on the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC's web sites. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Best Memorial. Make a Better World for All

I spent three years in the US Army from 1968 to 1971, following my graduation from college. I was no hero. I was lucky not to be in a combat zone. I was fortunate to spend time in Baltimore, Washington, DC and in Seoul, South Korea, where I expanded my understanding of the world.

When I returned from South Korea, with my tour of active duty completed, I spent six months working at the Woolco department store in the DeKalb, Illinois area, then came into Chicago and joined the Montgomery Ward company as a retail advertising copywriter.  Over the following 17 years I rose through the ranks and held various management roles in the advertising department between 1980 and 1990.

Leo & Dan - circa 1974
Shortly after joining Wards I was recruited to be part of the company sponsored, volunteer-led, tutoring program that connected employee volunteers with 2nd to 6th grade kids living in the Cabrini Green housing complex, which was located near the Wards headquarters complex where I worked.

I was assigned to work with a 4th grade boy named Leo, and at the end of the first year his mother said to me "He talks about you all the time. You've got to tutor him again next year." I did, and we've stayed connected for the past 45 years.

I've given this 'get involved"
message every year since 1975
At the end of my first year I was also recruited to be part of the committee of volunteers who led the program, then the next year, I was tapped to be the leader. I held that role until 1992 when I and a few others left the original program and formed a new program  (Cabrini Connections) to help kids who aged out of the first program after 6th grade have a support system that helped them from 7th grade through high school and beyond.  I led that until 2011.

As we were launching the new kids program a 2nd grade boy named Dantrell Davis was shot and killed in Cabrini Green and the media headlines were demanding that "everyone take responsibility".  I had been building a list of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs since becoming a leader in 1975, using it to invite peers to connect and share ideas on a regular basis, so I knew that no one had a master database of existing programs, thus, no one could lead an on-going communications effort intended to help great tutor/mentor programs reach k-12  youth in all high poverty areas of Chicago. 

So, as we created the new kids program we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  The graphic below visualizes our local commitment to youth in one program and our global commitment to help youth connect with volunteers in other programs throughout Chicago.
I started trying to find ways of using maps in 1993
Over the past 25 year's I've continued to lead that effort, with various degrees of success in different years, and also with an on-going series of set-backs and struggles, that ultimately led to the creation of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, and a decline in what I've been able to accomplish in the years since then. 

Yet, I still maintain a web library and use my blog and newsletters weekly to draw attention to this information and try to motivate others to take meaningful, on-going roles, in helping youth tutor/mentor programs grow in multiple locations.

I created this concept map to show milestones from 1992 through 2017.  In the upper left corner you can find this link, showing milestones from 1965 to 1992.

1990-present time line - open map
The goal of this work has been to help well-organized, mentor-rich, non-school youth programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities around the country. The strategy applies to rural areas and reservations, too, but with different challenges driven by the size of the geography and the low density of the population and pool of potential volunteer mentors.

I'm writing this the day before Veteran's Day, or Armistice Day, which celebrates the end of World War 1, and the sacrifices service men and women have made in all wars.  I've posted Veteran's Day themed articles most years on this blog. They all focus on what we can do to honor the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in foriegn wars, from many countries, not just the USA.

I have received various awards and recognition for my years of service, ranging from the Army Commendation Medal in 1975 to an honorary PhD from Illinois Wesleyan in 2001. 

However, the best reward is the thank you's I've received, such as this, and this, from kids and volunteers.

I don't find many people who have been in leadership roles at youth tutor/mentor programs for as long as I have been. I find even fewer who have spent as much time every week for 25 years or longer to help youth tutor/mentor and learning programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago or any other place in the country, or the world using the four part strategy I have piloted since 1993.

I keep looking for such people. I also keep looking for a benefactor who will recognize my efforts and provide more than a "thank you" to help me upgrade everything I've been doing, while embedding the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute in one or more  universities and/or think tanks.

Thus, this is my Veteran's Day 2018 message:

Remembering the sacrifices of those who have given their lives, bodies, spirits and loved ones to this country can be best done by making daily commitments to actions that reduce poverty, strife, inequality, conflict and destruction of Mother Earth and other forms of life.

I hope you've read this and will share it with others as you do your own remembrance.

Here's my FUNDME page. I hope you will help me continue doing this work.