Monday, July 27, 2020

Examples of Remote Learning

Over the past few months school and non-school programs have had to move their activities on-line and it's been a struggle and learning experience for almost everyone, including students. That will likely continue into the fall. Below I point to two videos where two groups from Chicago are describing their on-line work this summer.

Lyric Opera Empower Youth Program

Lyric Opera - ChiHackNight
Last week's ChiHackNight featured a presentation by Crystal Coats and Angela Hamilton, who lead a creative Empower Youth program at the Lyric Opera.  Their presentation begins at the 9 minute mark of this video.

As I listened to Crystal and Angela I could feel the passion they have for supporting the teens in their program and in my mind visualized a map of the Chicago region with icons in every neighborhood representing people like them working with youth.

Project SyncERE - video
Project SYNcERE  - link - virtual programming in engineering education.  At the right is the MyChiMyFuture webinar featuring Project SYNcERE.  In it you can hear Jason Colemen and Emily Constantian describe the challenges they faced this spring as they moved their learning on-line and find examples that you might include in your own efforts.


You can also find discussions of remote learning on Twitter.  Below is a Tweet from a #RemoteLearning conversation.


While the two examples above show how Chicago non-school youth programs are reaching student learners, they also are models that I hope others are learning from. If you search Twitter or other social media, you'll find similar presentations from other organizations, and possibly some people who are aggregating these, making them easier to find.

Shaping EDU
Last week my friend Paul Signorelli, who I met through the ETMOOC in 2013, posted this article, describing a week long summer camp "that will convene a global community of education changemakers to push the creative envelope for how we serve students and advance learner success." This was hosted by the Shaping EDU program at Arizona State University.   While the live event is over, the archived videos are still available.

ACT Holistic Framework
In another conversation from last week, an Acacia Fraternity brother who I met recently on LinkedIN sent me a link to the ACT Holistic Framework page.

The graphic at the left is from a short video that I found on the home page. It's one of many animations in the video that visualize the birth-to-work learning needed to help youth prepare for adult lives and future jobs and careers. I encourage you to visit the site and view these videos.  It's a vision many need to share.

my birth to work graphic
At the right is my own "mentoring kids to careers" graphic, which I've been using since the 1990s.  It's not nearly as creative nor is it animated, but it focuses on the same need for a pipeline of age-level supports that need to be consistently available to kids in every high poverty neighborhood.

While the first two videos show ways to engage youth and adults, the second two links that I point to are intended to engage adults in an on-going conversation aimed at creating better learning opportunities for kids in every zip code, rich and poor, that help them build the skills and habits that the ACT Holistic Framework communicates in such a creative fashion.

Learning circles
I aggregate links to these articles in my web library and share them via this blog, my email newsletter and social media, to encourage others to use them in their own on-going learning.

That's the idea shared in the graphic at the left, created by an intern from South Korea about 8 years ago.  Learning circles consisting of people who share common backgrounds, the same geography, and/or the same goals, need to be digging into these knowledge libraries on a regular basis.

If you think of all of the information in my library, blog and websites as SCRIPTURE, then there should be big and small groups all over the world digging into this information every week.

If you think of it as CURRICULUM for a PhD in HELPING KIDS, then it's content that you need to read, review, and then discuss with others.

knowledge networkers needed


Today my journey through Twitter led me to this article, talking of ways companies can get employees and customers engaged with the United Nations' Global Sustainability Goals (SDGs).

The graphic from the Tweet below was also in my Twitter feed today.

This article talks about the role of "knowledge networks".  That's what I've been describing for many years and supporting with the library of ideas I've been sharing on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website.

Goal: Helping kids through school
In the pre #covid19 days we talked about school and non-school learning opportunities. Now we need  to add virtual, where learning is open 24 hours a day. 

However, the goals remain the same. We need to innovate ways to create and sustain more and better learning opportunities for ALL kids living in poverty and kids with disabilities. 

If you take time to look at any of this, thank you.  If you take time to share what you're looking at, with a Tweet, a blog article or a video, you've become part of this knowledge network. 

Share your ideas with me on one of these social media platforms. Let's see if we can help make the world a better place for everyone.

For those interested in helping fund my work, please visit this page and use PayPal to send a contribution. 


Friday, July 17, 2020

Digging Deeper into Social Capital Thinking

Expanding networks - bridging
social capital
I've used graphics like this for many years to visualize the idea of a site based youth tutor, mentor and learning program where inner city kids connect with volunteers from a diverse range of career, age, geographic and religious backgrounds.

Over the past 20 years I've come to understand this as a form of bridging social capital, where youth form strong and weak ties with people who they don't regularly connect with through their own family, neighborhood or school.  For kids in high poverty areas this type of support system can be significant in helping them through school and into lives not dominated by poverty. Here's one article where I talk about bridging and bonding social capital.

How do networks change over time?
As I learned about social capital, I also learned about social network analysis, which is a process of mapping networks and showing strong and weak ties.  I began to look for people who might help me apply this in the tutor/mentor program I led from 1993-2011, in an effort to demonstrate social capital as an outcome that donors might value and support.

In 2010 I was able to recruit some college interns and support from a leading SNA expert, Valdis Krebs, and set up this group on the Tutor/Mentor Connection Ning site to develop this capacity. Here's one blog demonstrating work that was done. Unfortunately this group did not continue beyond a few months and I've not found anyone doing this work since then.

Thus, I was delighted to find this article from The Christensen Institute on my Twitter feed.

A Four Dimensional Metric for Measuring Students' Social Capital - read more

The Executive Summary of this article starts by saying, "Social capital describes students’ access to, and ability to mobilize relationships that help them further their potential and their goals like skills and knowledge, relationships offer resources that drive to opportunity."

The Executive Summary concludes, saying, "By intentionally measuring students’ social capital, education systems can start to build an evidence base for closing the social side of opportunity gaps and ensuring all students are supported equitably in their path to economic prosperity."

I put this article on Hypothes.is so I could  highlight passages and add comments in the margins as I read it, which I did.  Then I shared it on Twitter and encouraged my #CLMOOC educator friends, including Terry Elliott, to read it with me.

See Tweet here
What I have come to really appreciate about Terry since we first met in 2013 is that he goes far beyond what's asked in cases like this.  He not only started reading the article, but created a thread of thoughts which he posted to Twitter, using Wakelet as the format.  Then he also posted his thoughts on his blog.

I wish many would take as much time to dig into information I share then to make these ideas available to others, with their own commentary.  Thank you, Terry.

Terry's perspective was a bit different from mine.  He offered concern about "more measuring" of students, and about privacy issues.  It made me step back and think more about how I was thinking.

The map/graphic below is from a PDF that I call "Defining Terms: Tutoring. Mentoring. Same words. Different Meanings."  I use the map to show that my focus is on kids living in high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago, who don't have as many ties to people who work in different types of jobs and careers and who have attended college and have advance degrees.  An organized, community-based, tutor/mentor program can help make those connections, or build social capital, but the programs need to be available near where kids live and consistently funded.


Because of the challenges of finding consistent dollars to support the tutor/mentor program I led, and of donor demands that programs show measurements of social or behavior change or academic improvement to get funding,  I've always been looking for a different outcome of these programs, that donors might support.  That outcome is: social capital.

For donors to see how organized programs that support multi year participation by students and volunteers from diverse backgrounds, there  has to be some form of measurement to show if social networks grow as a result of program participation. That's why the Christensen Institute article resonated so much with me.

However, most schools in America are not located in high poverty areas. Some have very few kids from low income neighborhoods.  Their students have naturally occurring support networks provided by family, community, church and a rich platter of school and afterschool activities.  Building "bridging social capital" for kids in these schools is not a high priority.

However, does that mean understanding and measuring social capital is not important?  In every school there are kids who are "left out" or "in the margins". Would a network analysis exercise help teachers and social workers identify these kids, and help them build stronger support networks? What would be the benefits of that?

Who's doing this work?
I found this statement on page 14 of the report, showing that it's still rare to find people doing this type of work:

Although there are sophisticated methodologies to gauge network structure, rigorous efforts to measure the structure of students’ networks remain quite rare in practice.  We found no programs explicitly measuring the structural diversity of students’ networks. The innovative programs we’ve studied are using two main approaches to measure the structure of students’ closer-knit webs of support and friendship and to gauge the extent to which they are successfully diversifying the types of individuals in students’ networks: social network mapping and surveys.

I'm just happy to find someone writing about this.  

Thus, I hope you'll read the article, all 29 pages, and add your own comments and ideas and share with others, just as Terry did.  Maybe we'll find some others who are doing research in this area or have youth program designs that specifically focus on building bridging social capital, as an outcome. 

If you know of other articles please share them with me.  You can find more of my thinking about social capital and network analysis by clicking on those categories in the tabs at the left.  You can also find about 60 websites with information about social capital, in this sub section of my web library.

Speaking of networks. My work is funded by contributions from people in my networks. Visit this page and add your own support, if  you're able.

Thanks for reading.



Thursday, July 09, 2020

Creating Economic Justice - Opportunity for All

The last few months have dramatically highlighted the racial and class inequalities in America. We're seeing changes that we might not have expected in a hundred years, like removing statues of Confederate generals and Christopher Columbus, renaming military bases and generating significant discussions of police reform and transferring funds from traditional policing to social services. 

In this section of the Tutor/Mentor library I post links to sites like Black Lives Matter, How We Rise, and the Poor People's Campaign, where you can learn about these issues and see actions and policy changes that different organizations are recommending.

Helping kids to careers
The issue I've been focusing on is related to economic justice. If we help kids born or living in high poverty move through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers, and support networks, that enable them to live and raise their own children where ever they want, we do much to create economic justice. 

I've created a library of concept maps that visualize commitments, strategies and resources, with this one showing that helping kids to careers means providing a wide range of needed supports at each age level as the move from first grade through high school, college/vocational training into jobs.

View Mentoring Kids to Careers cMap
In the bottom left part of this cMap I show the role that volunteer tutors, mentors, coaches, etc. take, as "extra adults" to help kids access these resources and as a form of "bridging social capital" that provides expanded networks and opportunities for kids living in neighborhoods defined by concentrated poverty.

Building such systems of support and making them consistently available for 20 to 30 years in thousands of locations will require a huge commitment of public will, something this country has little history of success in generating.

This is a graphic that I've used often over the past 20 years to show that the outcomes we all want for kids requires work done at the bottom of this pyramid.  You can find this graphic in this PDF.

Below I've created some images that focus in on different elements of this graphic.  The ideas apply in building systems of support for inner city youth, and for solving any other complex problem.

At the bottom of the pyramid is the knowledge that we draw upon to propose solutions to problems.   While we each have our own personal experiences, and some have studied an issue for their entire lives, most don't have a broad reference base that they draw upon to support where and how they get involved.  Building a knowledge base that supports the decisions of others who need to be involved in solutions to problems is an essential first step. Keeping this up-to-date is an on-going challenge.

I've been building a web library and directory of non-school tutor and mentor programs since the early 1990s. Initially I did this to support youth, volunteers and leaders in the tutor/mentor programs I was leading in Chicago. As I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I began to share this information more consistently with others throughout Chicago.  The knowledge collection role is Step 1 of the 4-part strategy I've led since 1993.  Read more about what I've been trying to do in this Tutor/Mentor Learning Network article.

Competing for attention.  Drawing users to library.  Building and sustaining a library of information and ideas is one thing.  Creating daily advertising and public education that draws a growing number of learners and users to the information is a very different challenge.

Most youth serving organizations don't have powerful marketing teams working to draw attention and resources to them on an on-going basis. Innovating ways that more people take roles in building public awareness and draw viewers to information in the library has been a priority of the T/MC since it was formed. This is Step 2 of the 4-part strategy.

I find too few conversations that focus on this step.  With the Internet we have a growing "Crisis of Attention", which is described in  this article.

I keep looking for conversations where people are thinking about challenges of competing for people's attention in an environment where so many others have far more resources.  I've written many articles focused on "creating attention". Take time to read through them.


Building the network. Part of my web library focuses on "who needs to be involved" which includes a directory of non-school tutor and mentor programs in Chicago and around the country and a data base and collection of more than 2000 links that point to others who are involved in some way in efforts to help kids move through school and into jobs and careers.

Getting representatives of these organizations and resource providers together to learn, share, build relationships and innovate shared solutions to problems is what I focus on in this stage of the pyramid.  Unless people in business, philanthropy, faith groups, media, politics, etc. are coming together on an on-going basis, for face-to-face and on-line learning it will be difficult to create and sustain collaborations that help build and sustain high quality youth supports.

In this blog article I show that a "village" of people with different talents and networks needs to be involved helping every tutor/mentor program grow, as well as helping many programs grow in specific neighborhoods and entire cities.    This is part of Step 3 in the four-part strategy.

These first three steps need to be happening on an on-going basis, reaching people throughout Chicago, Illinois and the world. However, they are just the start.

Better information, read and understood by more people, creates a better understanding of what types of youth support programs have the best chance of having a positive impact on youth and volunteers. Better information also helps people understand the challenges involved, which are many.

This needs to lead to actions that support programs in more places. If more of the stakeholders, including resource providers, are looking at this information, they can develop a set of actions that generate a flow of on-going resources (talent, dollars, ideas, technology, etc) into every high poverty neighborhood, to every tutor and mentor program operating in those neighborhoods.

T/MC map created in 2008
It is essential that maps be used to support this process. With a map leaders can focus on all areas of a city where kids need extra help. At the same time, neighborhood groups can focus on their part of the city. Many groups need to be doing this.  With a map we can add overlays that show indicators of need, existing youth tutor/mentor and learning resources, and assets (business, hospitals, faith groups, universities, etc) who could be helping youth programs grow in different areas....because they are also invested in these areas!

I think this is the weakest link in this process. Most programs compete with others for scarce resources. Most foundations use requests-for-proposals and competitive grants and competitions to decide who gets funded. There are only a few winners and many losers. Often prizes and grants are one-time gifts, not repeated from year-to-year.  No business could grow to be great on this type of funding stream. Yet, I see few leaders using maps to show a need to draw resources to all poverty neighborhoods, and to all of the organizations working in these areas.  Few cities have a map based leadership effort, intended to help great programs grow in every part of the city. 

However, if we could solve this problem....

A better flow of needed resources to youth serving organizations (Step 4 in 4-part strategy) leads to more and better programs serving k-12 youth in more of the places where they are needed.  I can't tell you how often people ask about "outcomes" without talking about the work needed to build well-organized, mentor-rich non-school programs.

This leads to the final graphic.

It can take several years for a business to become profitable, or for a youth-serving organization to build the team of staff, leaders, volunteers, parents and youth that makes it a "great" program.  However, that's only the start. If a youth enters a great program in first grade, or 7th grade, it will still take 12 years for the first grader and six years for the 7th grader, just to finish high school!  It will take four to six more years for that young person to move on into adult lives and roles, and to jobs and careers that enable him/her to raise their own kids outside of the negative influences of high poverty.

Long-term; many places
I used this birth-to-work arrow in many other articles, such as this one, which is a discussion of the costs involved in a program intended to create jobs for 32,000 young men in a few Chicago neighborhoods.

I created this 'race-poverty' concept map to illustrate the many other factors that influence life outcomes for kids born or living in high poverty areas.  A few days ago I read an article titled "Why do we keep insisting that education can solve poverty?"


Here's the challenge. As a nation we're not very good at keeping the focus (and flow of resources) on problems and solutions to the time it takes to actually begin to solve the problem.  While this 1993 Chicago SunTimes article includes a map, very few leaders in 2017 are using maps to emphasize all of the places where kids, families and schools need help to aid youth as the move through school and into adult lives. Read more about this.   Read this article about "building public will".
I started this article with this graphic, and pointing to this presentation on Slideshare.

Poverty is a complex problem, requiring many different types of resources in the same place at the same time.  If we want more youth to stay in school, be safe in non-school hours, graduate from high school and move on to jobs, careers and adult responsibilities, we need to do the work shown at the bottom of this pyramid.

Moving into fall 2020.  There are many who hope that the Covid19 pandemic and the George Floyd protests will be a major tipping point and that finally, significant change will happen. There are many others, including myself, who fear that in a few months, or a year, a new issue will arise that captures public attention, and this push for equal justice, opportunity and an end to racism will be pushed into the background.

Added to these concerns is the question of how well programs who shut down face-to-face activities in March will be able to re-start in the fall, or whenever lock-down restrictions are lifted. 

In my own work I've never been able to get enough people together for an on-going basis, just to talk about ways we create and share the knowledge I've been collecting with more potential users.    If you're interested in taking a role please reach out to me. You can find me on any of these social media platforms.  I'm available for an on-line conversation on a daily basis.

We need everyone's help.


Can you help me do this work? Visit my FUND ME page and add your support.  Thank you.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Navigate the Tutor/Mentor Library

I've been building a web library since 1990s with one big question in mind. "What are all the things we need to know, and do, to assure that all kids born in poverty in one year are starting jobs/careers 25 years later?

The links in the library point to research, youth programs in Chicago and around the country, and resources needed to build and sustain high quality volunteer-based youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in more places.

In March I was informed that the platform  hosting the web library was corrupted and a new format for the links library needed to be built. That involved manually moving over 2000 links from one format to a new one, then updating my concept maps and library blog to point to the new link addresses.

Today I finished the main part of the job.  I'll never be able to go back through past articles and update links, but fortunately, the two main links, embedded in many past articles, did not change.

Thus, to visit the Chicago area program links section, click here.

To visit t he main library, where you will see a list of categories, click here.

A few years ago I created an article on this blog where I listed all the sections of the library, and provided short TINYURL links to each. I also listed concept maps and PDF presentations that I referred to often and that I had created short links for.  By using this as a reference you can find resources I point to often and I can keep repeating the same short link when ever I refer to a specific resource.  I don't need to keep re-creating short links.

Below is a screen shot of just one section of that article, which points to the short links I've created for the Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs list that I maintain.

This section of the Tutor/Mentor Library blog shows links to Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs.
There's a huge amount of information in this library which means you need to spend time regularly visiting and getting to know what's there and what's useful to you.  I wish I could say there was a section with quick solutions to ending urban violence, or ending racial injustices and income/wealth gaps. They don't exist.  What you will find are ideas that can be part of comprehensive long-term solutions.

I keep adding links and I fix broken ones when they are reported to me.  At least once every two years I go through every section of the library, opening every link, to make sure they work, fix or remove broken links, and refresh my memory on why I added the resource to the library in the first place.

As I do this I often will share the links on Twitter.  Below is an example.


Anyone can do the same. As you look through the library share via Tweets, FB posts, Instagram, etc. what you are finding. That way you help other people find these resources, too.


Thank you to Nathan Bryer for continuing to host the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC library and to the small group of donors who continue to send annual contributions to help me keep this information available to everyone in the world.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Helping Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs Grow

Below is a map of the central part of Chicago on which I've plotted locations of a few youth tutor and/or mentor programs. I've combined it with a graphic showing Twitter accounts of a few Chicago programs. You can find my list of programs and the map platform I used at this link.

I've posted this to illustrate my 25 year commitment to helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.

Yesterday I included the concept map shown below in an article on the MappingforJustice blog, showing the layers of information that were included in a Chicago tutor/mentor programs directory that we started building in the 1990s and put online in 2004.

Layers of information needed on a program locator - click here
Today I had a short ZOOM meeting with someone from the World Economic Forum in Zurich, Switzerland in which I described the program locator layers and how a platform like this can be used in cities throughout the world.  I also told of my goal of finding developers to help rebuild the Program Locator, as open source technology, so the template could be adopted in more places.

Take a look at yesterday's article and look at other articles on this blog, and the MappingforJustice blog showing uses of maps that could be duplicated in thousands of locations.

You can connect with me on any of these social media platforms.  I'd like to hear from you.