Sunday, January 19, 2020

How I'll spend MLKing Holiday

View map here
While many will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday by attending prayer breakfasts or visiting schools and/or community organizations to paint, clean or do special projects, I'll spend the day at my computer, looking at my list of nearly 200 non-school tutor, mentor & learning programs in the Chicago region.

I'll refresh my knowledge of each program, make sure the link works, and try to make sure the program is still operating. That part's not always easy because many don't have the resources or commitment to constantly update their web sites.

Then, as I review program websites I'll Tweet a few so others will be encouraged to look at them, too, and possibly become a volunteer or donor or do something else that helps each program grow.

Anyone can duplicate my role
The graphic at the right visualizes what I've been doing for the past 25 years.  I maintain a library of information, including maps showing where poverty is concentrated, and a list of Chicago non-school youth tutor/mentor programs. I share this on my web sites and point to it through my blog articles, and my social media efforts.  My goal is to draw help directly to programs in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region, so that each program is learning from each other, and they all have the talent and resources needed to constantly improve in how they help kids through school and into adult lives.

I wrote about the this in 2018 and in previous years, such as here, and here.   Here's what I wrote last year

The type of articles I write on holidays are the same type I write other days, because the work of raising kids, and of building great youth tutor/mentor programs, is work that requires daily investments of time, talent and dollars.

Imagine if millions of people had been spending time each day since the 1960s doing what's needed to reach youth in high poverty areas with support needed to help them through school and into adult lives.

view map  here
Imagine if millions were spending time reading about the challenges facing people of color, and people living in high poverty, so that they did more to remove those challenges, in all parts of the country, and the world, not just in a few places. 

The concept map at the right is one of a collection that I host at this link. Take some time tomorrow, or on another day, to look at each one and follow the links to the information they point to. Bring them up in a classroom, study group, or learning circle, as thought-starters for more and more people.

view video


If you're going to an event or to work on a service project tomorrow, take some time to view this video, before or after.

Every time you do service you are learning, or prompted to learn, about the people you are trying to help. Think of ways you can share that with others so in the future they offer their help, too.

I look forward to connecting with you on one of these social media channels tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Building Public Attention and Support

At this week's #ChiHackNight gathering at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago students from the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago presented information about a Million Neighborhoods project which you can view at this link.

Below is a Tweet from @miurbanchicago that was shared during their presentation. Great use of live Twitter!
Below is a screen shot from the Million Neighborhoods site showing all the areas of the world which they have mapped thus far. You can zoom in to the neighborhood level for many major cities (this will be slower on older computers).

Million Neighborhoods Project
I had seen this site a few months ago and reached out to make a connection, and also encouraged them to present at ChiHackNight.  As I listened to this presentation last night my two questions were,

1) how will they teach people to tell stories, over and over, to draw viewers to the map from each of the cities that are featured; and 

2) how will they help people in these areas get enough computer power to easily zoom in and out of the map platform.  It worked great at the ChiHackNight session, hosted at the Braintree headquarters in Chicago. It's much slower for me using my old PC in my home.

Interns spend time learning about CC
and Tutor/Mentor Connection

I led a two part Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection non-profit in Chicago between 1993 and 2011 and have continued to lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 2011 via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  

While we had college interns often between 1994 and 2005 we did not have them consistently writing blog articles or creating videos and visualizations to show what they were learning until 2006 when our first intern from Hong Kong joined us. We continued that practice every year until 2015.

See intern work - click here

I created this graphic in 2018 to highlight the work of interns from South Korea, India and Hong Kong, which largely consisted of creating visualizations and videos. They were all encouraged to use a blog on the Tutor/Mentor Connection Ning.com site and this Intern blog launched by Michael Tam in 2006 to reflect on the work they were doing and what they were learning.

However, I've not given as much attention to the work done between 2007 and 2011 by four Public Interest Program Fellows from Northwestern University.

Northwestern University Public Interest Program - click here

We began the fellowship partnership in 2007 and for the next four years we had one NU graduate work full time at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection each year, helping us operate our youth program and helping us support other programs in Chicago via the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the bi-annual conferences that we hosted.

Each one was encouraged to write a blog on a regular basis, reflecting on what they were learning and sharing our vision and strategies.  At this link you can find four articles that highlight some of the writing that each of these NU alumni did.  I encourage you to read each of these, then go to their individual blogs and read more.

We also had interns from other universities work with us during this timeframe and you can see a full list, with links to some of their work at this link.

The important message is that they did this on a regular basis, week after week.  That's what I've been doing, too. I've been writing articles on this blog almost every week since 2005. That's a model for what I've asked interns and my staff at Cabrini Connections to do.

Share what you learn
This  graphic visualizes this strategy.  As interns get to know the Tutor/Mentor Connection, they are sharing what they learn via their blogs, videos and visualizations with people who read their blogs, usually friends, family and others in their network, with the goal that some of those will become informed, and then share the ideas with even more people.

This is the answer to Question 1 that I posed to the Mansueto Institute.  To build greater attention enlist student and volunteer bloggers and social media partners to be "story tellers" and "sense-makers". The Mansueto Institute is part of a powerful university, which means many students could be taking a role, learning about the Mansueto Institute data and platform and then sharing that information with others.

They also could be teaching youth at high schools and colleges in every city that they are mapping to take the same role.

Network Building 

This is also part of the answer to Question 2.  If we consistently  share what we're learning, and some people in our networks share what they learn with people they know, we eventually can reach one or two people with wealth, power, talent and/or influence to do things we can't do because of our own limited capacity.

In this case improving internet access in high poverty areas of the world is an essential step in opening doors to all the knowledge that is available on the Internet, including the maps on the Mansueto Institute web site.

I've applied this strategy to helping expand the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute's visibility. It applies in many sectors.  It's even being applied by Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang on Twitter, as volunteers tell others about his ideas.

If you're at a university, high school or youth serving organization and want my help thinking through these ideas just reach out to me on one of these social media platforms.

If you want to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC please visit this link to make a contribution.




Monday, January 13, 2020

Bringing Old Posts to Life

I've written this blog since 2005 with more than 1000 articles. Many from the past are relevant today and to any who are trying to build systems of support that include the non-school hours, school hours and volunteers in organized #tutor #mentor programs. While people can skim the blog I doubt that many take the time, so I use my Tweets to try to draw attention to older articles.

Here are a few I posted today on my @tutormentorteam Twitter account:





Here's another



And another



And another


I've written many articles encouraging universities and/or high schools to create student leadership groups who study my blog articles, websites, and Tweets, and then create their own interpretations of what I'm saying.  Here's a video showing some student interns who have done this in the past.




Visit this page and see a collection of visualizations created by interns between 2006 and 2015.

Imagine finding a collection of student-created presentations like this on a high school, college and/or fraternity web site in the future.  That's my goal. Let me know if I can help you.


Monday, January 06, 2020

Annotate with Me.

I've pointed to the Connected Learning #clmooc group in many of my blog articles. That's where I first learned about web annotation, where you read an article or view a video, then highlight passages that resonate with you and comment on them in the margins of the document.

Here are two recent examples.

In December 2019 the #Marginal Syllabus group posted an article titled "Miles Morales: Spider-Man and imagining the cannon for racial justice".  In this article "Mario Worlds and Cody Miller argue that to disrupt racial hierarchies we must purposefully disrupt the canon of literature." You can join in at this link.

Then, last week, Terry Elliott, a professor from Western Kentucky, sent me an invitation to read his blog, and join in viewing and annotating a video by Alison McDowell, titled "What will Ed Reform 2.0 Bring? Data. Data. Data." .

Terry wrote,  "It is an understatement to say that her blog, Wrench in the Gears: A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Digital Curriculum, is a revelation."

Terry posted the video in Vialogues at this link. You can scroll through the comments on his blog, or join in the annotation yourself.

What first drew my interest was Alison's use of LittleSis maps to show networks of people, companies and investors who she was identifying and writing about in her blog articles. I shared two in this Tweet.

Then I started to dig into Alison's blog to build a better understanding of what she is writing about. I found that she has one of the same problems I have with my own blog. There are many, many articles and most are long, with many embedded links. It's difficult for people to go through all of this, or to figure what we're focusing on.   So I went back to 2016 when she first started writing to see if I could learn the root purpose of her efforts. Here's one article that I read.

I won't try to describe these two annotations, but will only urge you to spend some time reading both, and building your own understanding of the content, and the power of group annotation.

Alison introduced herself to me with this Tweet.


I don't really know much about what Alison is writing about or have an expertise about the issues Mario Worlds and Cody Miller are describing.

What my role has been for the past 25 years is an intermediary who recognizes significant information, puts it in a web library, then encourages other people to spend time reading, reflecting, forming their own opinions, then sharing the information with an even larger group of people.

That's what I hope I've done today. 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Looking forward to next decade.

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago more than four decades ago, in the 1970s.  I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty areas of Chicago more than 25 years ago.

four part strategy
 In 2010 I wrote two articles reflecting on the previous decade.

1)  I was still leading the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in December 2010 when I wrote this article.

2) Then I wrote this article saying

We all want to lower the high costs of poverty, improve the quality of the workforce, and prepare young people for successful adult lives. Yet, countless articles show that we’re not succeeding, especially in high poverty areas of Chicago and other parts of the country.


Maybe it’s because we’re not focused on the same goals, and we don’t have a common blueprint?


volunteer recruitment
Looking back even further, here's the first message posted into our Yahoo Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment eGroup in February 2000.  The first goal stated was:

Continue to attract the most individuals to volunteer to be a tutor
or mentor with one of the over 300 programs in the Chicago-area.
Create new sites to reach the most potential volunteers in Chicago
neighborhoods, suburbs and the Loop.


view cmap
Then, I started 2019 with this article, using the title of "What the Heck am I Trying to do?". One of the concept maps was titled "If we want to help kids move from school to careers...." what are all things we need to know and do?

As we enter 2020 and a new decade I'm going to continue to share the same ideas, in as many ways as I'm able.

In the top graphic I posted a four-part strategy that was first developed in 1993 when we launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection.   Below is a concept map that visualizes this as a cycle of recurring actions which I've repeated every year for 25 years and will continue in 2020 and beyond.

four part strategy - click here to open
Open the map, and spend time opening the links on each node. You'll find a cascade of additional maps and full explanations of the 4-part strategy.

read about this - here
The graphic at the left shows a pyramid of actions that can lead to a result we all want of "more kids moving safely through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers".  The pyramid sits on a base of knowledge, which is STEP 1 in the four-part strategy. It's information that I've been collecting and sharing for 45 years, in my leadership of a single tutor/mentor program, and in my efforts to help build a city of well-organized k-12 programs reaching youth in every high poverty neighborhood.

The web library is divided into four main sections, which are shown in the concept map below.  


Open map - click here

Concept maps are layers of information. Thus on each of my maps if you click on the boxes at the bottom of each node, the one on the left takes you to an external web site, and the one on the right opens to one, or more, additional concept maps.

find info about programs - click here
For instance, the green node in the upper left opens to the concept map I'm showing at the right.  For those seeking information about youth tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, or beyond, the links in this map point you to the list of programs I've been maintaining since 1993 as well as to directories maintained by others. If you're a volunteer, donor, parent or youth seeking a place to become involved during National Mentoring Month, this is the resource you would want to know about.

research links - open


If you open the yellow node at the lower left, you'll get the concept map shown to the left. This points to a library of research and resources that I've been building for more than 20 years, showing where tutor/mentor programs are most needed and why they are needed along with actions people can take to build and sustain programs that help youth and adults overcome the challenges of poverty, racism and inequality.

Imagine this in hundreds of
locations of Chicago & beyond
Here are three articles that I've written to help you dig deeper into this library of information.  One contains a list of links to every section of the library as well as to concept maps and visualized strategy essays which I've created over the past three decades.

If you've read this far, thank you. I know there's a lot to look at and understand and that most people don't want to spend the time reading. Yet, for the few who realize that the only way we can solve complex problems is to learn from as many sources as possible, this library is for you.

This is one reason I've continued to seek out high school and university partners who would make the Tutor/Mentor Connection library part of a service-learning curriculum.  Here's one article with that invitation.

I'm 73 now and don't know if I'll be here at the end of this decade, but my hope is that the Tutor/Mentor Connection library will not only still be here, but will be led by many people in many places, with complete updating and rebuilding of much that was created in the past 25 years, but is now rusty and not working as well as needed.  Until then, I'll continue to update the library, maintain my list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs, and use Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Facebook daily to share ideas and connect with a growing network of people who focus on similar issues.


If you'd like to help connect with me on one of these social media places or introduce yourself with a comment.

Thank you to those who sent 2019 contributions to help fund this work. I hope you'll repeat in 2020. Click here to help.