Saturday, February 17, 2024

Locating places with persistent poverty

My Twitter feed brought a new report to my attention this week. It's titled "Persistently poor, left-behind and chronically disconnected" and was written by Kenan Fikri who I've been following for a while.  (I'll use Persistent Poverty to refer to this report in the rest of this article.)

The map below was what caught my attention.  It shows areas of concentrated poverty in six Ohio cities.

I wrote about this on the Mapping For Justice blog a few days ago. You can read that article here

Today I zoomed into the interactive map shared on the Economic Innovation Group website to look more closely at different parts of the country where some of my #CLMOOC educator friends live. 

This map shows Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

This map shows Kentucky and Tennessee

This map shows Washington State

This map shows Chicago, Milwaukee and the area surrounding Lake Michigan. 

This map shows Washington, DC and Baltimore

What these maps show is that the places of concentrated, persistent poverty, are not everywhere. They are small parts of big cities like Chicago, or big states.  The mapping  platform is interactive, so you can look at other places and you can zoom in to the neighborhood level.  

Below is a screen shot showing the abstract describing the research where I found these maps.  

The abstract shows a focus on social networks and social capital and says "these problems tend not to resolve themselves naturally".
I've used maps since 1994 to try to draw attention and resources to high poverty areas of Chicago to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow and stay connected to youth and volunteers for many years.

Below are two images that illustrate this commitment:

The first is the front page of the 1995 Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs Directory.  The map's shaded areas are places of concentrated, persistent poverty.  In the Directory, I listed volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs and provide contact information so parents, volunteers, donors, media, educators and social workers can find them.  View PDF of the Directory.

The second is my Total Quality Mentoring graphic.  This shows the goal of connecting youth living in high poverty areas with volunteers from different places and backgrounds, as mentors, tutors, activity organizers, friends and coaches.  

View this PDF to see my vision of leaders from different industries using their own time and talent to mobilize volunteers and donors to support tutor/mentor programs in different high poverty areas of Chicago. 

The role of intermediaries.  The graphic below shows the role the Tutor/Mentor Connection has taken since forming in 1993, and that the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC has continued to support since forming in 2011.

Read articles posted on this website since 2005 and the Mapping for Justice blog since 2008, and the site since 1999, and you'll see the information I've aggregated and shared to support efforts to help build and sustain mentor-rich programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other places.

The maps showing persistent poverty in America show other places where an information-based intermediary like the Tutor/Mentor Connection is needed.  My graphics and articles show the active role the intermediary needs to take to draw users to this information, help them understand it, and help them apply it to bring volunteers and dollars to every youth serving program in every high poverty place, for many years.

Colleges and universities in every city and state could create tutor/mentor connection research programs do duplicate the work I've piloted since 1993.  This PDF shows this goal.  All it takes is for one, or two, wealthy alumni to provide the money to pay for such a program, along with a dedicated faculty member who wants to lead this for the next 30 years or more. 

I've shared this story for many years. Every city needs people doing the same, for as long, and reaching more people.  Learn from my example. Borrow from my files Create your own libraries, blog articles and visual essays. 

Or, accept that we'll still have areas of persistent poverty 30 years from now.

You can find me on social media at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and more places. Find links here

At the right is a 1994 story from the Chicago SunTimes, showing how I traded my advertising job at the Montgomery Ward corporation to lead a tutor/mentor program.  The teen in the photo is now the mother of two college age boys, holds at least one MBA, and is a successful business woman.  That was our goal when we launched our program.

That can be the future for many kids living in high poverty areas, if you'll help organized, on-going, tutor/mentor programs reach them.

Do you value what I'm writing? Make a small contribution to help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute,  LLC. visit this page

Monday, February 12, 2024

Multiplying Good - Map the Network

Over the past few months and years I've seen many posts on social media, showing a professional athlete's support for mentoring. During last week's Super Bowl I saw players from each NFL team nominated for the 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, given for outstanding community service. You can see them here.

It's great to see the generous, community-focused, work these people are doing. 

As I watched the NFL Honors program I posted this Tweet.
It shows a map of Chicago with high poverty areas indicated.  It was signed in the mid 1990s by eleven retired professional athletes to indicate their support of an "Adopt-a-Neighborhood" idea that I began promoting in the 1990s.   

As I looked at the many posts about athletes supporting mentoring, and the NFL Honors videos showing athletes supporting many different efforts in their communities I wondered if anyone had tried to create a web library, and/or concept map, building lists of athletes/celebrities from every sport, focused on specific issues.

Below are two examples of what I am thinking about.

This concept map shows organizations in Chicago who serve as intermediaries, supporting multiple youth-serving organizations who provide specific types of support, such as STEM, Arts, tutoring and/or mentoring.  Under each node is a link to the organization's website. 

This next concept map shows issues that affect people in every community, both affluent and economically challenged. Note that in the lower left corner I show the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) graphic. That shows issues many athletes/celebrities already support. 

Now, what if someone were creating a map like the first one above, showing athletes and celebrities in each major city, and/or the foundations they support.  For instance addiction and drug abuse is on my map and it affects rich and poor people, in some similar ways, but in many different ways.  Many athletes have adopted addition as their cause.  A map like the one above would show all of those.

A map like the one below would have links to web libraries, or other concept maps, that aggregated this information from every city across the country.

Here's a page from my library, showing links to websites with information about Black history.  This could be a list of athletes/celebrities who focus on addiction and drug abuse, or self esteem, or mentoring, or any of the many different issues shown on my concept map and the SDGs map.  It could be focused on a single city, or nationally and internationally.  

And below, is a concept map showing the categories of homework and learning resources that I host in the library.  

The nodes on this map could be the same as the ones in the Race-Poverty map I show above. The links would point to other concept maps showing athletes/celebrities in different cities who support that cause, and to web libraries that contain lists of websites with the same information.

Why collect this?  To learn from each other and improve work being done.

This should be a no-brainer for sports professionals. Coaches are constantly learning from each other. They have libraries of film that they study to spur innovation and constant improvement.

Why can't something like this support what athletes and celebrities do to help create a better world?

Who could be doing this work?  

This could be a project of students in any school, starting in middle school and continuing to PhD work at a local university.  

I've posted articles in the past about universities adopting the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, which is based on this type of information gathering and sharing. 

I hope you'll read some of these and that local sports stars will also take a look. Maybe the NFL, NBA, WNBA or another sports business will provide the funds for this research and will host it on websites where they honor athletes for the good work they do.

Maybe an award will go to those doing the best work of aggregating and sharing this information.

Like the idea? Share it.  

Skim through articles I've posted in the past about the role athletes and celebrities could be taking, beyond the good work they already do.

Connect with me on social media and let's talk about ways we can use information to support problem solving.  You can find links to my social media platforms on this page.

If you value the ideas and information I'm sharing, please make a contribution and help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC


Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Letters-to-the-Editor. Was Anyone Listening?

Have you ever submitted a letter to a local or national print media outlet and had it published?  When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 one of our main goals was to increase the number of media stories drawing attention to volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in Chicago. 

This graphic visualizes our goal. 

We created quarterly events to draw programs together and draw volunteers and donors to our Directory and list of Chicago programs.  These motivated local media to write stories about our events (see list here) and that built our reputation as an "expert" and led to media coming to us for quote in stories they were writing.  

However, another way to get our story into local newspapers was to "write it" myself, as a "letter-to-the-editor".  Below I'm sharing some of those.

Chicago Tribune - 10-29-1995 - open PDF to view

Chicago Tribune - 12-7-1995 - Open PDF to view

Chicago Tribune 9-3-1997 - Open PDF to view

Chicago Defender 4-1-1998 - Open PDF to View

Chronicle of Philanthropy 5-21-1998 - Open PDF to View

Chicago Tribune 4-30-1998 - Open PDF to view   The same letter appeared in the Chicago SunTimes on 4-30-1998 - Open PDF to view

Chicago Sun-Times 4-12-1999 - Open PDF to View

YouthToday - July 2000 - Open PDF to View

Ecumenical Child Care Network Newsletter - 2001 - Open PDF to view

Daily Southtown - 3-30-2001 - Open PDF to view

Directions - 3-3002 - Open PDF to view

Youth Today -
January 2003 - Open PDF to view

Crain's Chicago Business - 4-12-2013 - Open PDF to view

By 2000 I was spending much more time on the Internet, connecting with people and ideas from Chicago and the world.  I made less effort to write Letters-to-the-Editor because I was sharing the same information on my website, in email newsletters, and on-line eMail discussion groups.  

Below is a message I posted on October 2, 2000 in a digitaldivide list hosted by Open this PDF to read my post and others in that discussion.  I'm still connected to some of these people today. 

In each of these letters I'm sharing ideas that other people need to implement.  That's more difficult than doing the work yourself, but I've never had much money to do everything that needs to be done, and frankly, the whole strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been to provide information that others can use to build the "Village" needed to help more K-12 kids born, or living in high poverty areas, of Chicago and other places, move more successfully, and safely, from birth-to-work.

I have been doing this since 1975 when I became the volunteer leader of the tutoring program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago and needed other people to help me.

All of these images are part of an archive that I've built over the past 50 years.  I've been able to put a large part on my Google drive as I've down-sized and had to through original copies away.  

My wish is that a research group from a local, national, or international  university will take ownership of all of this information and then teach young people what I was trying to do, and how to do it better.  There still is so much that needs to be done. 

That wish could come true if a major donor were to provide the money for a university to build such a program, and name it after the donor.  If you've any ideas, please reach out.

You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media platforms. You'll find links on this page

If you've appreciated what I'm sharing and what I've been trying to do, please consider a small contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  Click here

Saturday, February 03, 2024

Understanding Issues

Last Sunday I posted an article showing a new page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website, where I'm hosting visual essays that I've created since the late 1990s and updated often since then.  

I've added two more pages since then. Page 2 is shown below. 

Visitors can find these if they look at the list of topics on the left side of the website.  The visual essays are shown at the bottom of the first set of topics, below the link to the concept map page and the T/MI Theater page.

The topics in the first section are intended to support a progression of thinking that leads to more and better volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reaching youth in high poverty areas.  Thus, at the top of the list is "Understanding Issues"

When you first look at this list, you'll only see "Understanding Issues and Benefits" which is shown in orange in the above graphic.  When you click on that link a page will open with several sub-topics.  

However, if you look at the side bar, you'll see that there are sub-topics listed. These include a PDF essay titled "Defining Terms" and "Strategy Visualizations by Interns".

When you open the page you'll see work done by interns between 2006 and 2015 to interpret Tutor/Mentor strategies and share them via videos, animations, blog articles and visual essays.  And, on the left side, you'll see three sub topics, showing two more pages of visualizations plus a page of videos created by interns.

There's a lot of information here, and I'm concerned that much of it is hidden by the way sub-topics are presented on the side bar.  

All of this is part of Step 1 in the four-part strategy map shown below.  It's a constant effort to keep this information updated and to add new links to the library on a regular basis.

Getting people to look at this information is an even greater challenge. I've never had advertising dollars or support of high profile celebrities thus too few people even know this resource exists. Thus, if you share it with people you know, you're helping do the work of Step 2.

However, Step 3 is equally important.  We need to find ways to help people learn what's in the library.

We need to help people learn to use that information to support the growth of existing youth tutor/mentor programs and to create new programs where more are needed, by borrowing ideas from existing programs, not by constantly starting from a limited knowledge base.

That's why the work interns did was so important. They were helping other people learn what was in the library and on my websites.  It's why I keep urging readers to help find universities who will create a Tutor/Mentor Connection curriculum and grow new leaders of individual programs, and of intermediaries who collect and share information and help draw attention and resources to all of the programs operating within specific geographic regions like Chicago.

I hope you'll help.

Thanks for reading this. You can connect with me on many social media platforms. You can find links on this page.

If you appreciate the work I'm doing please make a contribution to help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  Visit this page

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Visual Essays Created Since 1990s

In 1990s I started using desktop publishing to create visual essays showing the strategies of the tutor/mentor program I was leading and of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

I began putting these on the website in 2000 and have added to my list, and updated my presentations, on a regular basis since then.  

In 2011 I started sharing these on platforms like and, as PDFs, so I could track visit counts.  I updated most of these in late 2023.  

I'm sorry to say that since these sites no longer are FREE they fill my presentations with advertising, which, unless you are a paid subscriber, makes them difficult to read.

Thus, over the past few days I've set up a new page to share PDFs that I host on my Google drive. You can view some on this page 

I hope you find these easier to view and that you'll apply the ideas to helping kids in Chicago and other cities.  The only way I'll know they are being read is if you post them on social media and if you make a contribution to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Use the PayPal on this page and leave a comment, such as "I love the visual essays!".  

Monday, January 22, 2024

30 Years Later. New Year. Same Goals.

On the lower left side of this blog you can see a list of years that I've written this blog, starting in 2005. This shows articles written each month, of each year. Thus, you could look at January in past years and find reflections that I've posted, like this one that says "What the heck am I trying to do?"

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program from 1975 to mid 1992 (while holding full time retail advertising management roles with the Montgomery Ward corporation), which connected 2nd to 6th grade kids from the Cabrini-Green homes with volunteers from Montgomery Ward's corporate headquarters and many other Chicago companies.

We created Cabrini Connections as a strategy to help kids who aged out of the first program after 6th grade have support through high school.

We launched the Cabrini Connections program in January 1993, meeting with 5 teens and 7 volunteers on Saturday mornings in the day room of St. Joseph's Church on North Orleans Street in Chicago.   Our volunteers had backgrounds in video production so our weekly activities centered around improvisation, as a form of relationship-building.

At the same time we started meeting at Wells High School with a small group of high school students who had been part of the first program. 

In July 1993 Montgomery Ward donated space in its corporate office tower for us to operate, and we moved the program there, meeting on Thursday evenings.  That first year we recruited 30 teens. Each year after that we added more 7th and 8th graders until by 1998 we were serving close to 90 teens with over 100 volunteers.  Due to available space, we never grew larger than that over the next 12 years.  I left the program in 2011 and sadly, it is no longer operating.

Last week I received a message from one of the teens who joined us in 1993.  She said, "y'all help me grow in so many ways so I want to say thank y'all for being a great team helping us out in the neighborhood."  

I've received variations of this comment consistently over the past 10 years as I've connected to a growing number of alumni on Facebook who were in elementary school in the 1970s and 1980s and were in middle school and high school in the 1990s and are now adults raising their own kids.

These are an affirmation of the importance of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and why I start each January with a new commitment to help such programs grow in more places. 

When I first started leading the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward in 1975 one of the Vice President's said "Dan, you don't know  much about leading a tutor/mentor program. Why don't you find others in Chicago who already lead programs and invite them to lunch. See what you can learn from them."

That began 17 years of informal leadership in building a network of Chicago tutor/mentor programs and drawing them together to share ideas and work jointly in training volunteers.  It's probably one of the main reasons I stayed involved for as long as I did.

Then, in October 1992, after I left the original program (read The Tutor/Mentor Business, by Sara Coover Caldwell), and was working with a small group of volunteers to determine a next step, a 7-year-old boy named Dantrell Davis was shot and killed on his way to school.  The front page of the Chicago Sun-Times had an editorial demanding action.

This inspired me to create the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

From my previous years of networking with Chicago programs I realized that no one was keeping a master list of all the different volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs in Chicago, thus, no one, other than myself, could invite programs to gather regularly.

From my retail advertising career at Montgomery Ward I had learned how the company used weekly advertising to draw millions of potential customers to our 400 stores, spread across 40 states.

I saw a pattern in which media would occasionally give featured attention, and anger, to a tragic shooting, or a poorly performing school, or a street gang, but that the story only focused on one neighborhood of Chicago, and seldom included a "call to action", motivating readers to support existing youth programs in that neighborhood, and all others in the city,  as volunteers or donors.

And, then, those stories went away after a few days, replaced by other stories.   My advertising career taught me that you need to keep your story repeating over-and-over, to reach more people, and to have a frequency that would capture readers attention, and ultimately motivate action.

None of this was happening in Chicago.  So we spent 1993 planning a strategy that we launched in January 1994 as the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

You can read the 1994 Tutor/Mentor Connection Case Statement at this link.

Each year between 1993 and 2011 I used part of the money we raised to support our own Cabrini Connections program. And I used part to build a library of Chicago tutor/mentor programs and lead efforts intended to help each program (including our own) get more consistent attention and a better flow of volunteers and dollars, while sharing ideas that each could use to constantly improve based on what they learned from their own work, and what they learned from others.

While initially we published our list of programs in a printed Directory, and shared ideas via a quarterly printed newsletter, one of our volunteers built our first website in 1998 and by 2000 we had moved our library and list of programs on-line.  That was a needed strategy as we did not have the money to continue our print newsletter strategy and needed to reach more people than the 10-12,000 we were sending that newsletter to.  

This concept map shows highlights of the Tutor/Mentor Connection's growth.   

In mid 2011 after I left the Cabrini Connections program (long story) I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection available to Chicago and to try to help similar intermediaries grow in other cities.

If you read some of my past January articles you'll find more details of what I've been trying to do and the challenges I've faced to do it as well as is needed.    Here are some other articles that show my 30 year history. 

So as we enter 2024, Chicago and other cities still have areas of concentrated poverty and youth in these neighborhoods attend poorly resource schools and a influenced by too few people modeling a wide range of career opportunities and expectations and too many who model negative habits.

Chicago still needs a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy (even if it's not led by me, or called the Tutor/Mentor Connection). So do other cities.  So I continue doing what I do with whatever resources I can find, just as I started doing in 1993.

Will you help me?

Read some of my past articles, like these about forming a new Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Share my articles with your network.

Help me find a benefactor and/university that will take ownership of my archives and this strategy and teach leaders to do what I've been doing for the past 30 years.

Make a contribution to help me pay the bills. Click here 

Thank you for reading and if you made a contribution in 2023, thank you for continuing to support my efforts.