Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Help Me Celebrate 72nd Birthday

It's my 72nd birthday on December 19. I'm also celebrating the 25th anniversary of creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993.

I invite readers to help me celebrate, and keep the T/MC vision alive with a gift to my Birthday Fund

Thank you for your help.

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:

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.