Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Engaging youth during Covid19 time at home

this graphic from
Genius Hour post
Earlier this week my #clmooc friend Sherri Edwards, a retired educator from Washington State, shared a link to an article titled "How You Can Support Genius Hour at Home".  I took a look and found it to be a creative way to engage student learners. So I'm sharing it.

In my email I received a message from a 10th grade student at Walter Peyton High School in Chicago. In response to Covid19, he and other 10th grade students have created Connect Chicago, "as a place to build friendships, supplement learning for CPS students, and improve the daily lives of those in need during a time of difficulty."

I agreed to help draw attention to their site, which I'm doing with this article, and my May 2020 email newsletter.


Open links under each
graphic - click here
As I learned about the student group at Walter Peyton I sent back an invitation, which I've also given multiple times to the #clmooc network of educators, and others, to engage students in learning the Tutor/Mentor Connection 4-part problem solving strategy and apply the process through their own actions.

At the right is a cMap I created to show some of the projects student interns have done in the past, which should be starting points to inspire what future students might do.

I shared this invitation last week, in this article.


Over the past few weeks I've seen dozens of articles showing how Covid19 has a greater negative impact on low-income people and people of color.  Here are just a few:

From The Economist: 4/27/2020 Closing schools for covid-19 does lifelong harm and widens inequality

From the World Bank: 4/15/2020  Poverty and Distributional Impacts of COVID-19: Potential Channels of Impact and Mitigating Policies

Human Rights Watch: 3/19/2020 US: Address Impact of Covid-19 on Poor

From Forbes: 3/29/2020 - 3 Ways Low-Income People Will Feel Heavy Impact Of Covid-19 Aftershocks

From the Shriver Center for Poverty Law: 3/23/2020 COVID-19 – Crisis Advocacy for Systemic Change

From Policy Link: 4/29/2020 - COVID-19 and Race Commentary

Anyone can do a web search and find dozens of similar articles. 

I've been aggregating articles that show inequality, racism and poverty in Chicago and America for many years in this section of the Tutor/Mentor library in an effort to make  it easier for people to find this type of information.

Description of 4-part strategy
Step 1 of the 4-part strategy that I've followed since 1993 involves collecting information and making it available to others.

Step 2 focuses on building greater daily public awareness so a growing number of people look at this information. Step 3 involves helping people understand the information in the library and learn how to apply it through their own actions.

Step 4 is the result of the first three steps. People apply the information in specific  places in a long-term effort to help kids move from poverty to jobs and lives beyond the negative grasps of poverty.

Students could be aggregating links to articles showing the negative impact Covid19 has on people in high poverty areas, then could be creating their own projects to share their understanding of the problem with others.

Look at ways students might communicate what they learn. click here
If you read the Genius Hour article imagine  how ever step could be applied to learning more about poverty, inequality and race issues in America and the world and actions each student could be taking throughout their lifetime to reduce these problems.  Think of how my 4-part strategy might align with the steps shown on the Genius Hour article.

Find your passion.
start here

There are other issues that students might research. I created the graphic at the right a few years ago to show how some of these issues are presented in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and others show up on my race-poverty map.

None will be solved in a short time. All require the on-going and growing involvement of people throughout the world.  What better time to begin that journey than now when kids are not in school and educators and parents are looking for ideas to ignite their passion for on-line learning.

The more students read about the problems, look at work done by other students, and think through how they would communicate this through their own work, the more some will build a deep commitment to solving these programs and a life-long commitment to doing the work.

Connect people who can help
to places where help is needed.
What I add to this process is an on-going role of connecting people who can help (resource providers, volunteers, media, etc) to the information base, then directly to places where help is needed, using maps to assure a distribution to all places, not just a few high profile places.  This vision reduces the role of the "middleman" in deciding "who gets help" and increased the responsibility for resource providers to educate themselves and choose who to help, based on what they learn, and what a service organization shares on their website. 

I hope that many will use the articles on my blog and web sites as starting points and will share with me work that they and their students are doing. I'd be happy to talk with anyone about this idea.  Connect with me on one of these social media sites

4/30/2020 update - here's article from Denver Post Hispanic students disproportionately lack internet access. The problem is not limited to Chicago. click here

As we look at problems, look at paths to solutions, too.

5/3/2020 - How to Create Real Lasting Change After Covid-19 - RSA article. click here

5/3/2020 - Design for human and planetary health: a transdisciplinary approach to sustainability - click here (as you read this think of how this thinking might begin to be learned by kids, as early as elementary school)

5/3/2020 - The High Schooler Who Became a COVID-19 Watchdog - Fead about the high school  junior who recognized the Covid19 crisis in December 2019 and built a web site to aggregate information.  This is EXACTLY the type of student initiative and talent I think needs to be inspired and released in schools across the world.  click here to read article

Monday, April 27, 2020

Using concept maps in planning path past Covid19

A week ago I wrote this article, about an on-line conversation that I was part of. We tried to do another last Friday, but I could not get my mic and video to work, so on Saturday morning I used a different computer and even with a couple of glitches, was able to share information about using concept maps to create a visual  understanding of complex problems along with visual blueprints showing work needed to reach solutions.

Here's the presentation:

powered by Crowdcast

During this hour long chat with Valerie F. Leonard I was able to talk through the ideas I shared in this blog article.

Any can be the YOU in this graphic,
Toward the end of the session I pointed to this graphic, emphasizing the need for some people to view the video, then to write their own interpretation and share it with friends, family, co-workers, etc.

When those people do the same the ideas spread and reach more people.

Covid19 has revealed the ugly reality of poverty and inequality. Only when more people get involved in trying to understand the problem, and how other people have already been trying to solve it, can we get enough people involved to support needed solutions in all the places where maps show concentrations of poverty.

Thanks Valerie Leonard of NonProfit Utopia for bringing me into this conversation and helping me share these ideas.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Reaching out to Universities - A Virtual Learning Opportunity

With colleges and k-12 schools closed across America, and the world, educators and parents are struggling to find motivating on-line learning activities.  Well, I've been sharing such an activity for more than 20 years. Maybe desperation will be the fuel for inspiration.


On-line learning
Below is an invitation I wrote in 2016.  As you read this (I hope) think of how students can work individually, or in teams, to learn what the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute has been trying to do since 1993. 

What am I talking about?
Look at this blog, started in 2006 by Michael Tam, an intern from Hong Kong. Browse articles since then and meet all the different interns who have spent time at a computer, learning about the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, then sharing what they are learning through videos, animations, visualizations and/or blog articles.


Imagine your students doing this research and communications. Imagine a page on your web site sharing what they learn. Imagine you hosting ZOOM conversations where students and community members talk about what they are learning, like I did last week with students from Roosevelt  University.  Covid19 has highlighted the poverty and inequality in our country and in the world. 

Will we just talk about it, or will you create a student learning activity that creates current and future leaders, who map where the problem is, who is working to solve it, then creates on-going, student-generated, public education that draws more needed resources into each of these areas?


So here's what I wrote in 2016:

Here's a graphic that I created a few months ago in preparation for a meeting with some students and faculty at DePaul University in Chicago.


From top to bottom it illustrates a vision of creating youth serving organizations that help urban youth move more safely and successfully through school and into jobs and careers. It compares the planning to that involved in building tall sky-scrapers, where many talents are needed, much financing is needed, and where you work from the foundation to the top floor over a period of years.

The map in the middle illustrates that there are colleges and universities in different parts of Chicago (or other cities) who are full of student, faculty and alumni talent, and serve as anchor organizations able to support the growth of long-term tutor/mentor programs in the area surrounding their universities.

The last two graphics illustrate that while it takes daily effort by many people to build and sustain one, or many, youth serving organizations, this is just one issue that people are concerned with on a daily basis.,

Thus, part of the role of student teams on universities is to mobilize leaders who will focus their talent and resources on the youth development slide of the pie, while also connecting, sharing and drawing ideas from groups working on other problems, in other places.

Universities are critically important in this process because as we move through 2016 and into future years, there still is no body of knowledge that everyone draws from to build and sustain youth serving programs in high poverty areas that last for 10-30 years and show on their web sites the impact they have had over that many years.  Imagine if there were no thousand year history supporting architecture, engineering and the building trades, but that anyone who wanted to build a building, first had to figure out what talent was needed, and had to build training programs so the talent had the skills needed to build the building. Imagine them doing this while also trying to find the funding needed to develop the talent, and spread it to all the places where tutor/mentor "buildings" were needed.

I've created a huge library of ideas and information, with links to over 2000 other web sites, who each link to many thousand of additional web sites.  Working through this information will take years of study. Universities could make this a degree-earning process and provide manpower to support organization growth at the same time. Below is a presentation that outlines my goal. If you're connected to a university, or looking to put your name on a building at your alma mater, I hope you'll make this your mission.



I've written more than 1000 articles on this blog since 2005, and tagged most of them so you can view multiple articles focused on a similar idea. The tags are listed on the left side of this article. Below that are links to other web sites that contain additional information and resources.

--- end 2016 article ---


universities in Chicago
At the right is a map of Chicago, showing poverty areas, and university locations, created in 2008 by Mike Traken, who worked at the T/MC for 3 years (until the money ran out).  My goal since starting the T/MC in 1993 was that universities in every part of the city would have T/MC strategies, focusing on the area surrounding their university.  See Mike's map & article here.

Furthermore, my vision was that these universities would actually connect and share ideas and what they were learning, so each could have a growing impact on helping end poverty in the region.  

I've posted 77 articles on this blog since 2005, focusing on universities and roles they might take. This will be number 78.  Since every big city in the world has pockets of concentrated poverty, and universities, my invitation extends to the world. 

It's 2020 and that's still my hope.

Enjoy your reading. I'll look forward to hearing from you.

PS:  I just talked with Michael Tam a few days ago on Facebook. He's living in Hong Kong and serves as a curriculum development officer in the education bureau of the government. This is an example of the long-term connections I seek to foster.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

After Covid19: Visions for the Future

Have you ever had an experience, where you just randomly dropped into a conversation, and found it to be one of the best you've had in a long time? It happened to me on Wednesday, April 15. I knew that Valerie Leonard was hosting a ZOOM conversation at 2pm that day, and recognized some of the guests, but I was not certain I'd have time to join in. Then at 1:45 pm my day opened, and I went to Facebook, found the link, and you can watch the video to see what we talked about.



This was one of the best one hours that I have spent on-line in a long time. Let me introduce you to the participants.

click to enlarge
Oscar Rivero, Ronan Perennes and Marcela Calderon are students in a marketing class at Roosevelt University in Chicago, which is led by Valerie F. Leonard, who also is the founder of a consulting platform called Non-Profit Utopia.

Oscar is from Mexico and Ronan is from France (and was in Paris while talking with us in the ZOOM meeting.) Marcella is from Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb.  If I get a link to the class blog I'll post it here in a few days.

click to enlarge
To the right is a screen shot showing other participants. Valerie had invited Shelby Parchman, founder of InUrban Strategies, LLC and Xavier Ramey, CEO of Justice Informed, LLC., to be guest speakers, then posted the invitation for others to join in.  Mike Trout, founder of the YMEN Chicago youth organization in the North Lawndale community on Chicago's West side joined in, as did Will Chatman, Program Manager for YMEN.  JP Paulus of DoGooder Consulting also participated, along with myself.

Mike introduces Dan Bassill

The first part of the meeting was introductions, and when it came to my turn, my mic was not working.  After a short silence, Mike Trout spoke up, saying "I could almost speak for Dan", and he did. Open the image at the left or listen to the video to see Mike's intro of me.

I first met Mike in the early 1990s when he was forming YMEN. In the late 1990s we had a conversation where he said "At first, I did not trust what you were saying, but after seeing you repeat your message over, and over, I really believe you."  You can see that from his introduction of me. Thank you Mike!

During the introductions each of Valerie's students told a bit about who they are, where they came from and how they were all connected through the soccer program at Roosevelt, where Oscar is head coach, and through a youth soccer program in Pilsen, where all three are involved.

Xavier Ramey - TED Talk

I had heard Xavier Ramey speak at several events in the past couple of years, and you can get to know him better in this TED talk

He led off his part of the ZOOM meeting saying “The situation we're in now is a moment of harvest, and of planting, as well. We're harvesting what we planted together before, such as shadowy social safety net.

What excites me is that “so many people who have been alarm sounders; seeing now how they are organizing, and asking,  What can our economy look like?”

After the introductions Valerie led the group into a conversation about socialism, pointing to comments Oscar had made during class a few weeks previous.

The next 30 minutes focus on student and panel member thoughts on this topic.

Oscar said,   “A lot of people stigmatize that word, Socialism, and confuse it with Communism. They entail different systems.

It's about balance. What capitalism could do with some socialist ideas that people have."   We need to revisit our ideologies and come up with ideas better than we had."

Marcella said, “For the most part if you already didn't start ahead, then you will never get ahead.  It's important for people who recognize that things can be done differently and that the only option isn’t to keep doing things the same,  is to be morphing that and sharing it with people who don't want to believe that's the case."

Ronan said, In France, much different than what's happening in United States, because we're already a much more socialist country"


Since my mic did not work I was typing my comments into the chat box on ZOOM. Valerie read this post:

“I'd love to hear student thoughts of how marketing tactics could be applied to building public will needed to remove the stigma of socialism.”



Xavier and Mike focused on the idea of "American Individualism".

Xavier led of with:   At the core of this is the question of American individualism.  What we're being pressed on right now with Covid19, is the reality of our community commitments to one another, meaning public policy, government, social sector programming, and these types of things, the “community” stuff, the “not my personal family, not my personal friends, the what we have together if we commit to one another, has shown that it has a lot of gaps.   The value of our public relationships is so shallow that it can't provide for everyone."

Mike and Xavier have talked about this for many years. I asked Mike if Xavier had ben part of YMEN and he said "Xavier was a student in YMEN starting in 6th grade and stayed involved through his college graduation from DePaul University. A year after he graduated college he returned to YMEN to join our staff as the Director of Development and Marketing. Where he worked for 5 years before joining the team at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago."

This long-term connection of youth with a site-based program is exactly what well-organized, consistently funded youth tutor/mentor programs can foster. It's what I've been working to help make happen across the Chicago region since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.

Mike added this to the ZOOM conversation: 

You got this American individualism which manifests on a bigger scale as American nationalism.

If we'd only learn from other countries who do things in a more communal and in a better way.

As you bring up models outside of the the American construct, you kind of go against the visceral reaction  that we have as Americans that say “no, no, we're the greatest country! How do you get people to acknowledge that other people out there are doing it better, and we need to learn from them.

There's a visceral reaction to word socialism. You can't market your way out of it. 

We need a different word, like the word justice, something for all."


ENOUGH - Educate yourself

I've only pulled a few snippets of conversation from this hour long session. There's much more.  
I hope the students who participated, and others who view this, will take time to write and share their own reflection.  My #clmooc friend Terry Elliott, a college professor in Kentucky, has been trying to help me find a way to pull video clips from the master video. I've not been able to do that, but perhaps someone else who writes about this will succeed.

In the closing ZOOM meeting thoughts Shelby said, What are you doing now to do something post-covid? It's a good time to take a step back and think more clearly about what this world looks like, and how do you navigate that world?

We already have socialism. It's a bad word. But we already have it. Any time someone gets a check from the government, that's socialism.

Oscar added some closing thoughts when he said 

At the end of the day I think we have lost track of our humanity.

And like what true values of humanity should entail. Why are we in this world?

If you don't have a spirituality, forget religion, but just a spirituality of what a human being should be thinking of and what his purpose is in this world, then you start seeing people have that, like “its just about me and my community", and being close minded. 

The best people in the world have to look at how others do t hings.

I think there's much to think about from this conversation. I believe I and most working Americans have been brainwashed since birth, by nationalist and capitalist, self-interested parties.  Here's a few articles from my web library that might stretch your thinking.

* America's Hidden Philosophy - When Cold War philosophy tied rational choice theory to scientific method, it embedded the free-market mindset in US society

* America's Long (unaddressed) History of Class - click here


* 'Democracy In Chains' Traces The Rise Of American Libertarianism - click here


See work like this - here
The ENOUGH graphic and this "Is that ALL?" graphic were both created by interns who worked with me between 2006 and 2015. You can see these and other work on this page.

My role in the ZOOM meeting was to focus attention on the on-going communications and public education and engagement efforts that will be needed, by many people, reaching millions of other people, in order to create a world we want in the future.

The projects done by interns who worked with me are models of what other students (and adults) could be doing to share ideas and connect with others.  There is little costs involved. It just takes time.

The video above could be one of your first projects.

Thanks for reading. Let's find paths that take us forward together.

PS:  Yesterday as I was working on this article I received a call from Nathan Harris, who lives in Indianapolis. Nate started attending Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences around 2000 and that led to IUPUI tech department rebuilding the T/MC website in 2006 and hosting it through 2011. It's still hosted by the tech department head, but on a different server.  This is just another example of the long-term connections I keep trying to help grow from many youth programs in Chicago and around the country, like the YMEN program in North Lawndale.

Nate called to ask how I was and to tell me he and his wife Carrie were sending a small contribution.  If  you click this link, you can do that too.

Update 4-21-2020 - there will be many articles written on "what to do after Covid-19". Here's one from the Democracy Collaborative titled "Owning the Future: After COVID-19, a new era of community wealth building"






Monday, April 13, 2020

Mapping Sections of Tutor/Mentor Web Library

During April-June 2020 the web library on the www.tutormentorconnection.org site was updated to a new hosting format. I've built this library since late 1990s, and it has more than 2000 links divided into four major categories, with about 25 sub categories. 

Below are some concept maps that you can use to find information in various parts of the library.

This concept map shows resources that can help parents, volunteers and donors find youth tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

The Chicago Programs link on this cmap still works.

The links on this concept map all point to external data mapping resources.

Create your own map stories using any of these data platforms.

I created this concept map to provide links to sites people can use to make decisions in upcoming elections.

Most links in this map  point to external sites. A few point to the T/MC library.

I've been using some of my blog articles as "mini-libraries" for topics that I don't focus on extensively in the main tutor/mentor library.  I created the concept map below to aggregate links to several articles that serve this purpose. Open any of the links, then scroll to the bottom of the article and find many updates pointing to external sites.

Open map at this link

Here's another concept map that focuses on public health resources.

Most of the links on this map point to external sites
These are just a few of the concept maps that I've created since 2005. You can find the entire library at http://tutormentorexchange.net/conceptmaps  Take some time to open them all and then use them to support your own learning, or to support learning by groups of people.  Create your own to aggregate information related to issues important to you, or your community.  

On each map is a "help me" button. I depend on contributions to keep these maps on-line and updated and to do all I do every day to connect people with ideas that they can use to build mentor-rich systems of support for youth living in high poverty areas.

Here's the link to a page where you can use PayPal to send a contribution.



Friday, April 10, 2020

Easter - Looking Back. Looking Forward.

We all carry heavy burdens.
When Jesus was spreading his message did he understand how difficult it would be to change the hearts and habits of people throughout the world so everyone would have a sense of hope and opportunity? I'm not sure that was even his purpose, but I'm not writing with a goal of debating different religious history or philosophy.

I picked this graphic because it shows the heavy burden carried by anyone who works to provide hope and opportunity to oppressed people in the world, or who seeks to close the gaps between rich and poor, or reduce the greed and corruption in government and formal institutions of power.

Easter 2020 arrives in the middle of a global Covid19 pandemic. It affects everyone, one way, or another. But the burden is greatest on those who live in poverty. That burden has not changed. It is greater than before.

Easter 2020 also arrives in the middle of a US Presidential election cycle, where many seek to oust a corrupt and inept President, yet others follow him as though he is the second coming of Christ.

Connecting people who can help
with information, and people who
need help.
It makes no sense to me. But that's probably how many view my own ideas.

I created the graphic at the right in 2011 as I was launching the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, in an effort to visualize a goal of connecting "people who can help" with an information base that shows where help is most needed, and with lists of organizations providing help, who need help themselves.

I spend time daily trying to draw attention to this information, while also trying to maintain the technology platforms where I host the Tutor/Mentor library and Chicago Programs information. Each year the challenge seems bigger, not smaller.

I've written a blog article around EASTER Sunday every year since 2006. While scripture in the Bible, the Torah or the Koran is over 1000 years old, each has a fresh message every time it is read.

Thus, throughout the year I hope those who visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog will look back at past messages, like these Easter messages, and find new meaning and inspiration. As you do, carry them forth, share them, and help them multiply so more share the work that needs to be done.

Regardless of what faith you follow, I hope your burdens are not too overwhelming and that you find others to help you push them away.  I pray that #Covid19 passes you and your family, friends and co-workers without doing harm, and that all recover from the economic hardships that millions are experiencing.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs - After COVID19

I've been collecting information about Chicago non-school tutor and/or programs since 1993 and sharing that information using maps, with the goal of drawing a more consistent flow of volunteers, dollars, technology support, ideas and media attention to each program throughout the Chicago region.

Green icons are youth tutor, mentor programs in Chicago. See map here
I've always had challenges collecting and sharing this information. Keeping the technology platforms working and updated is one of those.  This week the site that hosted my web library and Chicago Programs list became so out-of-date that we have been forced to replace it.  That's a huge challenge for me since I've no money to invest in this work. I depend on a volunteer in Indiana to help.  So far we've transferred my list of Chicago programs, so this information is still available. It will take a few months to update the web library.

supporting students
at Highsight.org
Each green icon on the map above is the location of a youth tutor and/or mentor program located in the Chicago area.  Most of these are site-based, which means youth and volunteers meet at a community location on a regular basis, supported by staff in those programs.

The rest of the green icons are either community based programs, where the volunteer meets a youth at a safe place, or picks him/her up at home and goes to a movie, sports event, library, etc., or they are school based, meaning services are held at one or more public schools.  A few formats are eMentoring, where youth and volunteers connect on-line.

All of these formats have been closed, or greatly restricted, except for the eMentoring or eTutoring (although some of these combined a face-to-face component, which is now closed).

photo from the Montgomery
Ward/Cabrini-Green archive

Many traditional site-based programs have been ramping up on-line connections between staff, students and volunteers. Above is a post that Highsight.org shared on Facebook.  If you visit my TMPrograms list on Twitter, or browse this list on Facebook, you can find similar posts from different programs (but not all) and learn how many programs are meeting the current challenge.

What I want to encourage readers to think about, now, and over the next few weeks, is "How many of these programs will still be operating once COVID19 restrictions are over?"

I don't know of anyone doing a survey of Chicago programs to learn a) how they are responding; b) have they lost funding?; c) have they made staff cuts?; what do they need to re-start once COVID19 is past?


Since so many people are now working at home, and may be getting tired of looking at movies, watching old sports games, or playing puzzles, I suggest that time could be spent looking at the PLANNING articles that I've written over the past 10 years, such as this "Steps to Start a Program" article.

Then, create your own blog articles and visualizations showing your own thoughts about what can be done to help existing programs restart, and help new programs form where they were needed before COVID19, and will be needed even more in the future.

You could also launch a few surveys to ask the questions I posted above, reaching Chicago programs, or programs in other cities and states. As you find answers, please post them in a blog and then share.

We're now beginning to learn how COVID19 is having a greater negative impact on people in poverty, who are also largely people of color. The closing of schools has reinforced the lack of digital access for people in these same areas.  This new information is being shown on maps. I've been  using maps since 1993 to show the same information.

This is one of my ma[based articles

This information is available in a variety of formats. The motivation to spend time searching for the information, reading, thinking, talking with others, then formulating your own strategies, is what is missing.  Anyone can be the YOU in the graphic below, reading information on my blog, website or that you find in web searches, then sharing that with people in your own network, to get more people involved.

Can you be the YOU in this graphic?
I'm on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. You can find the links on this page.  As you read my articles, please share them, including my @tutormentorteam handle in the post. As you create your own interpretations, on your own blog, share them, too.  As I see your posts I'll learn from your thinking, just as I'm asking you to learn from mine. Together we can get more people to look at this information.

Together we can maybe, maybe, mobilize the people, talent, dollars and votes needed to build mentor-rich systems of support for youth and families in high poverty areas, who will work to tear down the systems of injustice that have been in place since before the founding of the USA.




Saturday, April 04, 2020

Lessons from the Field - Staying Connected

Below is a post from LinkedIn showing how one Chicago tutor/mentor program, Friends of the Children-Chicago,  offers a unique model of providing first grade through high school support for inner city youth, and how they are continuing that support during #COVID19.



I point to nearly 200 Chicago area youth tutor and/or mentor programs in this section of my web library.  Too few of them share their strategies and theory of change on their web site, or via a blog.  Too few are getting researched by media, thus stories like this are infrequent.

Friends of the Children-Chicago is part of a national organization that started in Oregon more than 20 years ago. It has a long history of success.  Technically, it's not a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, since it's mentors are paid, full-time staff members who are supported by the program's headquarters staff in each city. 

In programs where volunteers are the mentors and tutors, the depth of contact maintained with youth and families is far less, yet in many programs maintaining two or more hours of contact a week is normal.  Some keep youth and volunteers involved for many years.  In these programs it's usually a small paid staff who coordinate the work of volunteers and work with youth and families to help them overcome challenges.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) was created in 1993 to build a base of information about existing volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, to share this information with the public, and to help attract volunteers, donors, and ideas to each program. Since 2011 the T/MC has been operated by the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which has the same goals, but a different tax structure.

While we published a printed directory from 1994 to 2002 we launched this on-line directory in 2004. It shows how we attempted to categorize programs by a) type of program; b) age group served; c) time of day service was provided; and d) location (zip code or community area).

View this page at this link
The image above shows the search page of the Program Locator, which you can find at this link.

The T/MC never was well funded, or consistently funded, thus just collecting and updating this information each year for the past 25 years has been difficult. Updating the technology has been even more difficult.  The Program Locator has not been  updated since 2013.

Not having funds meant that many questions that dug deeper to learn what programs were doing, and what impact they were having, ways always beyond our capacity.  At the same time, we never were able to recruit a university or other partner to do needed research, other than in 1997 when the Associated Colleges of Illinois and Human Capital Research Corporation used our list of programs in a comprehensive survey.

During COVID19 that need is even greater.  I really don't know with any degree of accuracy, what the different organizations are doing to stay connected to youth and families during this crisis, nor how their funding has been affected. How many will soon need to lay off staff?  Who has had funding cut?  What programs will close and never re-open their doors?  What will it take for all programs to re-open, whenever that happens? 

It's too early to ask some of those questions.   But it's not too early to be looking for people with market-research skills, and technology skills, who might help plan for the work that needs to be done.

Program Locator - 2008
While the Program Locator has not been  updated, and some features do not work properly, it still is a template and model of the type of platform that is needed in every city. It was designed to provide decision support for community, business and philanthropic leaders while also helping parents, volunteers, educators, etc. find programs located in different parts of the Chicago region. 

Browse articles in this section to learn more about my vision for using maps.

While the original Program Locator is not up-to-date, I continue to maintain an updated list of programs, plotted on a map, which you can find at this site.

If you'd like to know more or discuss ways to help collect and share information, connect with me on one of these social media sites.