Thursday, June 13, 2024

What if political candidates did this?

I've used this graphic, or versions of it, for 30 years to show my commitment to helping volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in all parts of the Chicago region attract needed resources. These include: volunteers, public visibility, operating dollars, training/learning (ideas), technology and leadership.

I and six other volunteers formed Cabrini Connections in late 1992 with the goal of helping teens who had aged out of a different program that I had led from 1975 to 1992, continue to receive mentor and tutor support through high school. 

We realized that one more small program serving a few teens could make a life-changing difference to them, but would have little impact on the city of Chicago, where over 240,000 kids lived in high poverty areas.


So we decided to split our efforts, and any money we could raise, and created a second program that would help every existing tutor/mentor program (including our own) grow, and would help new programs form where more were needed.  During 1993 planning we developed a strategy, and gave this program a name.

We called it the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC).  In 2011 I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the T/MC going in Chicago and help versions of it grow in other cities and countries.  

The T/MC had a four-part strategy, shown in this concept map.  

Step 1 focused on collecting information that anyone could use to help tutor/mentor programs grow, and to help kids in high poverty areas move through school and into jobs and careers.  

Step 2 focused on building public awareness, drawing more consistent attention to the information in the library, and to each tutor/mentor program in a list of programs that we started building in 1993. 

Step 3 focuses on helping people understand and use the information in the library. This could be volunteers, students, parents, educators, business, media, program leaders, policy-makers, researchers, etc.

Step 4 focused on  helping people use the information from Step 1 and Step 3 to develop actions that helped programs get the consistent resources each needs to operate, innovate and stay connected to kids and volunteers.

Over the past 30 years I've built a huge library, and used concept maps, like the one below, to show what's in difference sections.  

This is information anyone can use, in any part of the country where there are areas of concentrated, persistent, on-going  poverty.  

So with billions of dollars being spent in this election season, why can't every candidate have a page on their website that points to libraries like mine and encourages supporters to volunteer, and donate, to organizations working to improve the well-being of people and planet.

That might be wishful thinking. Too much to ask.  But, that's what I do.


Last week I received an invitation to the 60th birthday of Leo Hall, who I first met in the fall of 1973 when I was assigned to be his tutor/mentor.  We've stayed connected for over 50 years, which is one of the motivations I have for helping organized programs build and sustain similar connections.

Here's another reason. This is a message I received on LinkedIn today from a former volunteer.  He wrote: "I was so glad to come across your profile, and see that you're still making a difference for Chicago youth. I'm still fighting the fight for Philly youth. And it all started with the Cabrini program in '92--a life-changing experience I'm forever grateful for."

Over the past 30 years I've received numerous thank you messages from former students and volunteers, parents and leaders of other tutor/mentor programs.  I've begun to share some of these via past newsletters and correspondence, that I'm putting in my Google Drive.  I keep looking for someone who will care about this information and will bring it to a university, where it helps future leaders learn to duplicate what I've been trying to do.

If you're still reading, thank you.  Please share my posts.  Someone you know could be the person who takes this forward for the next 30 years. 

Please connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (x), Instagram, Mastodon, etc.  Find links on this page.

Finally, if you can spare a dime, visit this page and make a contribution to help fund my continued work. 


Saturday, June 08, 2024

Browse the archives. Apply the ideas.


Since January I've been posting articles that share newsletters, yearbooks, maps, media stories and other archives from my 50 years of leading a tutor mentor program in Chicago and trying to help similar programs grow in more places.

As you go through this weekend, and the coming weeks, I hope you'll take time to scroll through past articles, or hit the archive, history or newsletter tabs at the left, and read past articles.

In an ideal world you'd be able to find a handful of blogs like mine in every place with concentrations of persistent poverty, with articles that stretch back 10 to 20 years or longer.  

That may not be what's happened in the past, but it could be in the future, if individuals and groups will read my articles and create and publish their own versions, using multiple formats, not just text.

In the concept map shown below I  point to articles written about my work, by people I've met over the past 10-15 years.  
I'd love to have a version of this where I'm pointing to media created by others, that duplicate messages I've put in my blog articles and past newsletters.  Share the link in the comment section if you're doing this, or on social media.

Visit this page to find my social media links.  Visit this page to help fund my work. 

Thanks for reading, and sharing, my articles. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Saving our digital history

I've posted many articles that point to archives of work done at the Tutor/Mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011 and of the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993. They are part of over 1200 articles posted on this blog since 2005, which have thousands of embedded links.

Thus, when I read articles like this from the NiemanReports site, titled, "Saving the First Draft of History", I pay attention. 

Just last week I saw another article, from the Pew Research Center, titled "When Online Content Disappears".  The subhead in this was "38% of webpages that existed in 2013 are no longer accessible a decade later."

The first article is an interview with Mark Graham, director of the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.  I've used it often to find links to articles in my blogs where the links have broken.  I've also used it to show web pages from Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, created as early as 2000.  

This is a topic that should be of concern for all of us. The two articles clearly emphasize what's at stake. We've come to depend on the Internet so much for collecting, sharing and storing information and history, we've overlooked the danger of it all disappearing.  

A thousand years from now people will know about ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, and even William Shakespeare, but may not know anything about the years from 1990 to 2050 or later....because nothing was preserved!  

Obviously, this concerns me on a personal level. 

I have been trying to find people who would help preserve my history and continue my work in future years.  Out of my vast network of family, friends, college, work, fraternity, tutor/mentor, connected learning and social enterprise people, there must be a few who will take on that role.

Reading these articles and others like it, is a starting point.  I've added the links to this section of my library.  

If you know people who are discussing this, and finding answers, please introduce them to me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and/or other social media channels.  This needs to be a worldwide discussion.

I found the post titled "Saving the First Draft of History" on this Twitter post. That might be a good place for you to join the conversation.

Sunday, June 02, 2024

Thanks from 2006 and 2024

In past articles I've tried to draw attention to volunteer-based Chicago youth tutor, mentor and learning programs who I see sharing their stories on social media.  That leaves out some programs that have been around for many years, but don't use social media regularly.  

Inspired Youth is one.  Below is the home page of their website

I was reminded of this today when I received a question on Mastodon from Jayne Cravens, who has been a consultant to volunteer-based organizations since 1996.   She was responding to this 2006 post that I shared earlier today. In it I had mentioned Beth Palmer, who has led Inspired Youth since the 1990s.

Jayne asked me where the stories were featured, which prompted me to search the archives I have placed on my Google drive.   I shared this folder, which has reports from 1995 to 2003 Volunteer Recruitment Campaigns organized by the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

Then I dug a little deeper and found this letter that Beth had sent to me.


This is part of a set of letters and email sent to me between 2001 and 2006 that can be viewed in this PDF.    By coincidence, Beth and I exchanged an email just a few days ago, as she was celebrating her 40 years of leading the Inspired Youth Tutoring Program (and Epworth Tutoring Program before that).

My archives have a wealth of information showing how I've tried to help tutor mentor programs grow in Chicago, while leading my own single programs from 1975 to 2011.  I'd love to make them available to researchers who want to help new leaders grow in Chicago and other cities who focus on information-based program innovation and growth and on helping fill all high poverty areas of cities like Chicago with programs like Inspired Youth and others who I point to from this page on my website. 


Thanks for reading (and hopefully) sharing my blog articles.

As I've digitized my files and past newsletters I've been reminded of how few people have ever seen any of this information. That won't change unless other people begin to dig into the archives and share the work.

You can connect with me on many social media platforms (see links here). 

And, if you're interested, you can also help me pay the bills to keep doing this work. Visit this page for information. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Repeat after me! Try it!

I've been digitizing 30 years of files from the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I and six other volunteers created in November 1992, and launched in January 1993.  

Since this was a two-part strategy I created two versions of the print newsletters we sent from 1993 to 2003. One focused on our own Kids' Connection tutor/mentor program, serving teens in the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago. We called that NEWSLINK.  The other focused on what we were doing to help all programs grow, including our own. We called that T/MC REPORT.

As I've digitized these I once again was reminded of my on-going effort to recruit others to deliver the exact same messages, through their own newsletters and media. 

Below are some pages from a few issues of the NEWSLINK newsletter.  You can click on the image to enlarge and read the text.  Or you can open the link and look at the entire issue, including the page I'm sharing.

Winter 1996 NEWSLINK - open PDF

In the "President's Message" I wrote, "Chicago won't change the bleak prospects for these children, and Chicago's future, unless it provides a comprehensive range of "birth-to-work" programs that reaches ALL of these kids --- in school, and after school --- and in every neighborhood, not just Cabrini-Green."

The rest of the information on this page shows the "1995 Kids' Connection action plan". 

Spring 1997 NEWSLINK - open PDF


I wrote this in the months before the 1997 Presidents' Summit for America's Future, which drew leaders from every state and was chaired by five living Presidents of the United States.  

In it I wrote, "Wouldn't it be  nice if all of these companies making pledges would look at a list of programs already operating in the communities where they do business, devoting just a percent of their new commitments to programs already operating.  Not just the big well-known programs, but the programs that are grass-roots efforts, operating in churches, social service centers, at business sites and libraries.  Think of how important these helping hands could be to the success of students we are already working with."

The rest of this page has messages from high school seniors who had been with our tutor/mentor program since it was launched in January 1993.  I'm still connected to them via social media.

Jan-Feb 1998 NEWSLINK - open PDF


The heading was "DUPLICATE WHAT WORKS".  The subhead was "What will it take for youth groups in every neighborhood to look like the Quantum Opportunities Program (QOP)? How can businesses, foundations and communities help?

Open the PDF and read the suggestions I offered, then read more about the Kids Connection program. See the page with notes about alumni. See how we include information about the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

Feb - Mar 1999 NEWSLINK - open PDF


Under the two maps I wrote "No general has ever won a war without a good map, and better "intelligence" than his opponent.  Yet in America's effort to help at-risk kids move from poverty to careers, few leaders are using this powerful tool."  

Open the PDF and read about Kids' Connection activities, our 3rd Annual Film Festival,  use of technology, and more.  

Feb - Mar 2001 NEWSLINK - open PDF


I've included two pages from this issue. The first is the back page of the newsletter, with a heading of "Where there is suffering, there is duty." This was followed by "With these words, President George W. Bush launched his leadership of this great country.  Over the next four years we'll learn if these were just good sound bites, or if there is a sound strategy and commitment behind them."

Then I wrote, "We cannot wait to find out. We each have a leadership role to play."

The second page continues this article and on the bottom page uses a network-building graphic that I've used over and over in past newsletters.   Above the graphic I wrote, "OUR GOAL is to recruit leaders who will use their own "bully pulpit" to focus on-going attention to tutoring, mentoring and school-to-work learning programs in every poverty neighborhood and to Internet-based information models which these programs can, and should, use to constantly improve the outcome of their work.

In the rest of this issue you can read about the Kids' Connection first annual reunion, our Black History exploration, the annual video festival and more.  

Read more 1993-2001 issues of NEWSLINK - open this folder.  Then open this folder and see copies o the T/MC REPORT newsletters.  As you look at these remember, the funding was raised by the people who were also raising funds to operate our single Kids' Connection tutor/mentor program. 

In most of my newsletters I've encouraged others to read and share my messages.  I want to dig a little deeper into this.

First, these show ideas I was sharing more than 20 years ago!  If you read past blog article you'll see I'm still sharing them. 

Second, very few people actually received these newsletters. In 1993 our distribution was 400 people. By 2001 it was about 12,000.  That's still just a whisper in a crowded city.  That means if you are reading this now, you're seeing information that is "NEW TO YOU".

If you share the messages in the newsletters, it will be NEW TO YOUR NETWORK AND COMMUNITY!

I want you to create your own blog, podcast, videos, PDF presentations, newsletters and websites where you literally repost my articles, with your own introduction and call-to-action.

If you're a former student you could start by saying, "I'm (name). I was part of the tutor/mentor program from (years). It made a big difference in my life. That's why I'm going to be sharing these messages.

Then use the text from what ever article you're looking at and post it in your blog, podcast, video, etc. with links to the www.tutormentorexchange.net website and blog. 

If enough people do this, over-and-over, for the next 20 years, there will be more programs helping kids through school and into lives free of poverty, in Chicago, and in other parts of the USA and the world, AND MORE VOLUNTEERS AND DONORS REACHING OUT TO HELP THOSE PROGRAMS. If someone aggregates links to these stories, the collection will serve as inspiration for even more people to do the same.

Imagine a concept map like the one below, with links in each node to people who are sharing stories like this - open map

This shows key talents needed to build a tutor/mentor program. If people from these professions are sharing stories, they are recruiting people like themselves to get involved.  A version of this could be created for every city in the world!  Doing so would be one step closer to getting these people to connect, share ideas, and work to reach more people and help more kids. 

Doing this over-and-over is the essential commitment. In advertising we understand that it takes multiple impressions just to get a potential customer's attention. Then even more, to motivate him/her to consider buying our offer.  

To help kids from first grade through high school a program needs to be able to stay in business for 12 years!  No program starts great. They grow to be great, over a period of years, and with a constant investment of ideas, talent and operating dollars.

Instead of this being dependent on one person, it will be the vision of many.  Furthermore, over time you will no longer need to repost my articles. You will be creating your own!

Read the "a New T/MC' articles to learn more about my search for new leaders to re-energize the Tutor/Mentor Connection and help versions of it grow in every city with pockets of persistent poverty.

Thanks for reading.  Please connect with me on social media (see links here).  

If you're able, consider a contribution to help me pay the bills. Visit this page








Thursday, May 23, 2024

Honor those who gave their lives

Next Monday America will honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country.  Open the "Memorial Day" tag on this blog, you'll find many stories I've posted in the past. I hope you'll read some of them. 

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

At the right is a graphic that I've used to focus on doing the research and planning that gets us from "here", or where we are now, to "there", or where we want to be in the future.   Find it in this article.

As you look at this, I encourage you to read this article about "Project 2025" which is the playbook Republican strategists have in place to reshape America if they win the Presidency in 2024.   Even if they lose in the November 2024 election, ultra conservative groups will continue to push this agenda.

Is that what our men and women in the Armed Forces gave their lives for?  

Amidst all the parades, picnics, ballgames and family celebrations, find time to do some reading and reflection.  While I hope this leads some to support strategies I've shared since 1993 to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach K-12 kids in every high poverty neighborhood of America, I hope all will learn more about the threats to the kids I focus on, and to women and girls, and to the basic freedom to worship however we choose, within a pluralistic democracy. 


Thanks for reading. Please share my articles in your networks and follow me on social media networks (see my links here). 

If you can help me pay the bills, please look for information on this page





Saturday, May 18, 2024

What's your personal learning network (PLN) look like in 2024?

Over the past 15 years I've written many articles about personal learning networks (PLN) and about social network analysis, or mapping networks. Below is a graphic from one of those articles.
In that article I wrote, "We all have networks. Most of us don't spend time segmenting our network into family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. then look for ways to tell them "I'm involved", yet if more people did that on a regular basis, more people would be giving time, talent and dollars to support youth tutor, mentor and learning programs and that might reduce the number who get involved with gangs and end up on the wrong end of a gun."

In another article I used the concept map shown below.


I created this concept in the mid 2000s to visualize my goal of helping students and volunteers, at the tutor/mentor program I led in Chicago,  build personal learning habits, drawing information from the Internet, and the wealth of people you can meet there if you spend time looking. 

I started connecting with others using the Internet and e-Mail list serves in the 1990s.  Below is part of a message I posted in 2000 on a Digital Divide list. 


You can read this in my archives - at this link.  It was exciting back then to be connecting and sharing ideas with people throughout the USA and the world.  It's motivated my on-line efforts for the past 25 years.  

I began using Twitter (now X) in the late 2000s and my use has grown since then.  Thus, the change in ownership and policies over the past couple of years has really been discouraging.  

Last week I read an article written by some of my CLMOOC education friends who I first met on Twitter in 2013, titled "Lines of Flight: The Digital Fragmentating of Educational Networks".   For some of you who have been connecting with myself and others on Twitter, this article will be valuable.  

For many others, who have never posted anything on Twitter, or who may have stopped using it more than three years ago, this may not matter to you.

For me, the Internet has been an essential tool to share ideas and try to motivate leaders to take on strategic roles that make volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs available to more K-12 youth in more high poverty areas of Chicago and other places with persistent poverty. 


I created the graphic shown above in 2011. It's intended to show how an idea spreads as your network expands.  The longer you work at this, the farther your reach will be.  I'm still just a speck in the ocean of ideas, which is why I keep asking readers to share my blog articles.

If you're interested in network building and network analysis, dig into the articles on this page

Why is this important?  A couple of weeks ago I posted an article using the graphic shown below.


Our world faces a tsunami of challenges.

Many of the issues on this graphic are directly related to what we do to help youth in high poverty areas via organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.  Other issues are challenges the kids we mentor, our volunteers, and everyone else in the world, are facing now, and will continue to face for the next century.

I've built a web library over the past 30 years to aggregate information people can use to better understand problems, to see how people in other places might be solving those problems, and to find ways to work together to develop local and global solutions.

This concept map shows the role of information in an on-going planning process. 



While much of this work needs to be done at the one-on-one and small group level, the problems are too big and in too many places, for small groups to have much of an impact.

You, we, ME, all need to be connected in one or more on-line platforms and constantly learning from libraries like mine, and each other.  

I've moved from AOL Digital Divide, to Mott Afterschool Lists to  Yahoo Groups, G+, Ning.com, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms over the past 30 years.  If you open the PDF that I referred to at the top of this article you can see some examples of early efforts to map my network and show who I was connected to.   You can read more about network analysis in this series of articles

I don't know what's going to happen with Twitter. I still use it, and encourage others to connect and share ideas there, and in other spaces.  I don't find many who are mapping their networks.  It's something that youth in tutor/mentor programs might learn to do, with help from volunteers. 

If you know of people who are doing this, share that with me in the comment box, or, on social media!

I received a call last week from Leo Hall, who was in 4th grade in 1973 when we first met.  He's celebrating his 60th birthday this year and wanted me to send a video, since he knows that I am not traveling any longer.  I wrote this article in 2014 after attending his 50th birthday.  This article includes a message Leo sent me in 2006.

Also last week, I received a wonderful message on Facebook from a student from the 1990s who ended her message saying, "the rides you gave me, the scholarship to high school, the trips to different places may have been small gestures to you but they meant so much more to me."  

She was living on the West side of Chicago, after moving from the Cabrini-Green area. Our program was located at the Montgomery Ward Corporate office in the Near North part of Chicago.  So, for two to three years I gave her and her siblings a ride home after weekly tutoring sessions, as I headed to my home in Park Ridge.  We had many interesting conversations.  

My own experiences and feedback from former students keep motivating me to reach out and connect with others because I can't do all the work that needs to be done, or have the impact that's needed, for the country to do all it needs to do to help  kids in high poverty areas move through school and into jobs and lives free of poverty, and racism, and bigotry, and all the other problems we, and they, will be facing.

I hope you'll connect with me on social media, or take time to visit articles on my blog and website and then share them with people in your own network.  Small daily actions can make a big difference.

Thanks for reading.  

If you're able to help me pay the bills, please visit this page