Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, Nov. 19 in Chicago

Collective effort needed to keep attention focused on Volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs while nation focuses on Storms, Elections, War.

One goal of the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference has been to build public attention for volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs leading into the year-end holiday philanthropy period. No single organization has the resources to build a public attention campaign that can compete with corporate and political advertising and natural disasters like "Sandy".

I've been bombarded by political ads for past few months. Today I'm listening to live reporting of Hurricane Sandy while I'm networking and sharing ideas to support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs throughout the Chicago region. Over the past decade there have been all sorts of man-made and natural disasters that make if difficult for small non profits to draw attention and resources to support their efforts.

I've organized the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months since May 1994 in order to a) bring programs together to learn from each others; and b) build greater public awareness that helps each program attract volunteers, operating dollars and other resources they need to stay in business.

The next conference will be held on November 19, 2012 at the Metcalfe Federal Building, 77 W. Jackson Blvd, Chicago, Il. Please add your support to this public awareness effort by participating in the conference, or by connecting on Twitter, Facebook and/or Linked In.

See the conference agenda
: http://www.tutormentorconference.org/agenda.asp
All speakers are volunteers and we thank them. If you are a presenter, please check the time I have you scheduled for and make sure you have registered and your name shows on the attendee list.

See speaker and workshop presenter bios. Send me corrections if you'd like me to update the description I have for you: http://www.tutormentorconference.org/speakers.asp

Register and add your name to the attendee list so others can see you are participating. Go to http://www.tutormentorconference.org/RegistrationStep1/index.php

As you register, add yourself to this conference map: Click here. Adding yourself to the map enables others to find and connect directly with you and your organization. It also enables groups in the same zip code to connect and work together to build support for their organizations.

Come early. Plan for security check in. Plan for extra time with the security screening in the lobby of the Metcalfe Federal Building. Don't forget to bring a photo ID.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Expanding network of support for kids

Wow. I just watched the Chicago Bears pull victory from the jaws of defeat after playing one of the worst games I can remember them playing.

What's this got to do with helping inner city kids? For the past few months millions of dollars and countless TV, Radio and print advertising messages have told us why to elect one person or another for national, state and local elections. Yet after the election we won't be any further than we are now in building a system of non-school supports for kids living in high poverty.

I've been sharing some of the PDF essays I've written over the past decade in my blog posts. This one focuses on network building.

Ideas for Expanding Network of People Working for Social Benefit

During the coming week I'm going to continue to reach out through Facebook, Twitter, Linked in any my blogs to connect with others who are trying to increase the flow of needed resources to all of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago and other cities.

I hope some of these people will participate in the Nov. 19 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference or connect on Twitter at #tmconf_chi. I hope some will provide talent and dollars to support my efforts. I hope some will want to take ownership of these ideas in the coming years.

This graphic shows the talent and skills I hope to connect with in my network-building over the coming week. If you can help let's connect.

We can snatch victory for inner city kids and volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs from the jaws of those who seem to be ignoring them.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Understanding Violence

I support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs because they can connect people who don't live in high poverty neighborhoods with youth and families who do. The longer the volunteer is involved the more they begin to build a personal connections, an empathy, and an understanding. This is an essential step for building and sustaining the types of investments of time, talent and dollars that might some day reduce the growing violence in our inner cities.

This video is part of what we need to look at to try to understand the root causes of this violence.

If this concerns you and you agree with me that volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs can help build bridges of understanding between poverty and non poverty neighborhoods, support the Tutor/Mentor Conferences that I host in November and May.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Small neighborhood-based NPOs with very tight budgets might consider adding a line item they shy away from….

This article was contributed by Mary Gerace who will be sharing her expertise at the November 19 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago:

Small neighborhood-based NPOs with very tight budgets might consider adding a line item they shy away from -- namely, several productive hours of carefully chosen consulting services to assist them either in general or on a specific project. If you’ve never tried it, are unsure if it’s worth the expense, or don’t know any consultants suitable for your program, here’s an opportunity for you if you’re in the Chicago metro area.

On Monday, November 19, at Tutor/Mentor Institute’s Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, we will offer an opportunity for you to  meet one-on-one, free of charge, for a half-hour session with a marketing/publicity/special events consultant. And that consultant is me, Mary Gerace. My firm, Mary Gerace Enterprises, is a 10-year-old Chicago company specializing in marketing, publicity, events and in-kind donation solicitation for small nonprofits with modest budgets and small staffs. It’s my privilege to “give back” to my community, and I consider inner city youth mentoring essential to our democracy's success. Visit me at www.marygerace.net. Learn more about the November 19 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference -- and schedule your consultation slot -- here: [ http://www.tutormentorconference.org/agenda.asp ]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What is Your Network Doing to Help?

Almost all of the articles I've written have been intended to expand the number of people in business, religion, politics, etc. who are becoming strategically involved, meaning on a daily and weekly basis, in helping volunteer-based, non-school, tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other urban areas.

In many articles I point to newspaper stories or new research which shows where and why these programs are needed. In other articles I point to maps and an Interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator that anyone can use to connect with over 170 existing organizations offering various forms of tutoring and/or mentoring in the Chicago region. The same maps can also be used to understand what neighborhoods are under served. They can also be used to identify businesses, hospitals, colleges and faith groups who share the same geography and could be working collectively to support the growth and constant improvement of programs.

In the past couple of years I've been focusing on Social Network Analysis concepts. How do we know who is in our network? How do we assure that we're reaching people who have time, talent and resources needed to assure success?  Last spring one of my interns created a map showing the growth of the Tutor/Mentor Connection network. This graphic is from this report which shows how the forum has grown from 3 people in 2007 to over 400 in 2012.

Recently I was able to use the same Gephi.com software used in this analysis to look at my network on Facebook.  This image is from that analysis.

Using the Gephi.com software I was able to zoom into each of the major groupings on this map to take a closer look at who was part of each cluster and how they are connected to each other.  One thing I was looking for was evidence that people in my college, family or tutor/mentor program networks were connecting with people in my other networks who share ideas on social innovation and problem solving through regular on-line interaction.  I created a PDF with some of the maps from this analysis. You can see it here

Over the past weekend I was introduced to another SNA tool that enabled me to map my Facebook network.  This graphic shows the major groupings of my friends. It's similar to what my Gephi.com analysis shows.  As with Gephi.com this Network Graph allows me to zoom into each cluster and learn more about who is connecting to others and who is connecting from one major grouping to another.   What's exciting is that anyone using Facebook can create their own map just by going to https://apps.facebook.com/challenger_meurs.

In both sets of maps one feature I've been looking for is evidence that youth, volunteers and staff who were connected to each other in past years because of the efforts of an organized tutor/mentor program are still connected to each other.  By clicking on a node in the network I can highlight an individual and see their connections.  This shows a student who was part of Cabrini Connections from 2001-2007 and has now graduated from college is connected to former volunteers and staff.

If tutor/mentor programs were doing network mapping like this and can demonstrate that many youth and volunteers are still connected, long after the donor money was spent to build the initial connection, can we demonstrate a longer-term impact of that donation, and can we provide different ways for donors to value the impact of long-term tutor/mentor programs?

All of these maps and the articles I write have little value if too few people are looking at them.  I've created other maps showing the talent needed in my own efforts, as well as in the operations of most volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.  See this graphic at http://tinyurl.com/TMC-Talent-needed

This shows that many talents are needed.  My Facebook network has more than 860 friends. My Linked in network has over 1000 friends. This network includes people with all of these skills.  Furthermore, the people who my friends are connected to may be people who have influence, power, wealth and additional talents that can influence the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities.

This graphic illustrates how I'm constantly communicating ideas and information to people I know, with the goal that they are passing the information on to people they know.  If this happens continually we eventually reach people who have the talent, wealth, civic reach and commitment needed to build and sustain a long-term system of extra supports for kids living in high poverty areas.

How do we know if this is happening? How do we know what members of our networks are doing to help?

In 2000 Steve Roussos, a volunteer and friend of the Tutor/Mentor Connection,  created an on-line documentation system that would enable people to document actions they took to support the mission and strategy I've outlined in these blog articles and in this 4-part strategy pdf.

In 2007 this was rebuilt in its current format by a volunteer from Baltimore working with a team in India.  Over 1600 actions have been documented, mostly by myself.

Imagine how much more could be accomplished if just 10% of the people I connect with in social media, or through the Tutor/Mentor Conferences I hold in Chicago every six months,  were documenting what they were doing each week to support the growth and quality of non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities.

We represent an army of untapped potential. 

I've created a page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site which points to research and other information about Social Network Analysis. I hope some of you will help recruit talent and dollars to help us expand on this work. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Using Twitter Chats to Expand Network

I've been writing articles on this blog since 2005. Prior to that I published a printed newsletter every four months from 1993-2001 and sent it to a growing list of people, maxing at about 12,000 by 2001.

The goal has been to reach a growing number of people who would use these ideas to support the growth of non-school, mentor-rich programs that support youth as they move from first grade to high school graduation, post high school learning, and  ultimately jobs and careers.

Without advertising to spread this information I have to rely on networking efforts and social media.  Recently I've begun to participate in Twitter chats. You can do this by searching for any term then following people who include a hash tag (#) to the same search term. For instance a few weeks ago while NBC and Public Broadcasting were hosting discussions about the dropout crisis, you could have followed the discussion using #amgrad or #EdNation. 

That's one way.

Another is to find a platform that supports Twitter Chats. I started using http://tweetchat.com about a year ago. So to follow a discussion on a specific topic I log in, post the topic I want to follow and begin to participate under a URL like http://tweetchat.com/room/bmaforum

The benefit of this is that you don't need to put in the hashtag when you post a comment. Every comment you post shows up in the thread, along with comments of everyone else who is participating in this chat.  By following this you can identify others who care about the same things you care about and reach out to them via direct messages, by following them, or by visiting their web sites and learning more about what they do.

This is all part of an on-going network-building process that I apply every day in my efforts.

Here's a list of hastags for chats that I follow. I keep this list so I can go back to different conversations from week to week to see if new people are posting messages and to post new messages myself so more people are looking at the ideas I share on this blog, my web sites, or in the May and November conference I host in Chicago.

#tmconf_chi  (Join chat on November 7, at 1:30-2:30 CST, hosted by Alyssa VandeLeest of ProsperPR.com (Twitter handle @alyssaLvan).

# Socialchange



Obviously there are an unlimited number of chats you could follow. However, I focus my time on building a network of people who work together to solve a deeply entrenched social problem - poverty in America.  If that's what you're interested in I hope to connect with you in one of these chats. If you'd like to add to my list please post new search terms (related of course!) below.

My Twitter handle is @tutormentorteam

Friday, October 12, 2012

I've not forgotten Dantrell Davis. Have you?

Today in the Chicago Tribune you can find a half-page story by Mary Schmich titled "Dantrell Davis shouldn't be forgotten.   If you don't know the name Dantrell was a 7-year old boy shot to death in Cabrini Green as he walked to school in October 1992.

At the left is the front page from the ChicagoSunTimes of October 15, 1992.  The headline says "7-Year Old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".  I've kept this page in my office as my own reminder and I've posted it in my newsletters and blog at least once a year to remind everyone else.

Mary Schmich has written about life in Cabrini Green for almost 20 years. Her stories are emotional and focus on the struggles and triumphs. However, like most stories in the major media, they don't focus on all of the neighborhoods in Chicago and the suburbs where kids live in fear of violence and attend poorly performing schools.  The don't point to databases of tutor/mentor programs, like the one I host, where volunteers, donors, public leaders, etc. can learn about existing programs working to help kids succeed in school and avoid gangs, or where there are neighborhoods of high poverty, but few or no existing non-school tutor/mentor programs.

It's been 20 years and not enough has changed to improve the lives of youth in poor neighborhoods.  One story in one newspaper on one day is not enough. Stories that don't point to on-line discussion forums, libraries of deeper information, or call on people to volunteer time, talent and dollars TODAY, and every day, tug on the emotions but don't move people to action like a good 50% off Sale at a local retailer does.

Anyone can look at maps of Chicago to see where poverty is concentrated, where poorly performing schools are located, where incidents of violence occur most frequently.  Using the Program Locator or Chicago Program Links library you can identify nearly 180 youth serving organizations who each constantly seek operating dollars, talent, leadership, volunteers and public attention.

If you are want to remember Dantrell Davis pick a neighborhood near where you live or work, or along the route you travel as you go from home to work and adopt a tutor/mentor program. Use the information in the Tutor/Mentor library to build your own understanding of what these programs do, how they differ and how volunteers and donors and third-party supporters can help each program constantly improve over many years of YOUR consistent support.

Dantrell Davis was 7. He would have been 27 now. Because he lived in a high poverty neighborhood he might still be needing people from Chicago's extended business community to serve as mentors and to open doors to jobs and careers for him. Or he might need the same people to be operating a tutor/mentor program in one of Chicago's neighborhoods for his own kids to be enrolled.

In yesterday's article I quoted General Colin Powell as he called on business to become strategically involved. He said "This isn't charity. You're doing it in your own self-interest."

I also pointed to a Wiki Page with quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel .  One says "Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments."

We all have personal power to change the world. Unleash yours.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

General Powell - "This isn't charity."

I encourage you to view this video interview of General Colin Powell by Tom Brokaw which was part of the Education Nation Summit held in September 2012.

In this you'll hear General Powell say "This isn't charity. You're doing it in your own self-interest." and "We're not asking you for charity. We're asking you to invest in your own future."

Sounds like the message I've been sending to business leaders, volunteers and donors for the past 18 years.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Last night I attended an event at Northwestern University where Peter Edelman, author of "So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America" talked about his book. Meet Dr. Edelman and hear his views at this site. During the event I posted some of Edelman's comments on Twitter, under the hashtag #sorichsopoor.

In his final comments Edelman said "Our democracy is in danger." He concluded by paraphrasing a quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel,one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century, when he said "We are not all guilty, but we are all responsible."

Herchel also said "All it takes is one person… and another… and another… and another… to start a movement"

This has been what I've been writing about for years. Network building is the process of adding one person, and another and another....until at some point you have an army. The process of network building can be enhance by a greater flow of talent and dollars.

When General Powell said "This is not charity" I take it to mean that you don't just look for organizations with a 501-c-3 tax-exempt designation to support. You look for organizations that have a long-term track record and a vision of community building that focuses on building and sustaining constantly improving "birth to work" support systems in all the places where they are needed.

Follow the command of General Powell and the advise of Abraham Joshua Heschell and provide the talent, time and dollars needed to help me build the social problem solving platform I describe on this page.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reaching More People

Last October I began posting articles like the one below on Scribd.com in order to give me a better count of who was looking at these and to try to encourage readers to go back to articles written in the past that are still relevant today.

I've been creating these articles since the mid 1990s to visualize my ideas. I've posted them on the Tutor/Mentor Institute site since the early 2000s. While some people have contacted me asking to use them, I don't get a good tracking of web visits from the library on the T/MI site.

By mid November 2011 I was seeing that the number of people reading this was growing and I predicted that at the end of one year I'd have recorded 25,000 reads. The count today is at almost 27,000 and that's with no advertising support at all.

Economic inequality: The real cause of the urban school problem

Now that I'm headed into a second year I hope that a few advertisers, volunteers and potential partners will look at ways they can help me produce these essays in video, animation and other formats to even more people look at them.

At what visit count do I have to achive before an advertiser/benefactor would want his/her name listed as a producer on the credits page for these projects? If I can attract funding I can enlist people with more writing and creative talent than I have and these presentations will have greater impact and growing readership. That means more visibility to sponsors and partners.

Interested in helping? Connect with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/TutorMentorInstitute/

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Networks and Social Innovation - Recommended

Through my Facebook network I've connected with a wide range of innovative thinkers. One who I follow frequently is Giorgio Bertini, who hosts a web site with many articles related to complexity, networks, social change, etc.

I encourage you to read this article titled "Networks and Social Innovation for Resilient Systems"

I set up a new page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site focused on Social Network Analysis. It will serve as a central resource to point to the many other places where network building and information sharing is taking place.

As you read this read some of the articles I've written about network building, learning and Networking.

In the final section of this article, the author writes: "If a social innovation network has too few institutional entrepreneurs, it may be deactivated if one entrepreneur is lost."
My goal for the next 3 to 10 years is to expand the number of leaders who adopt and embrace the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC so that the work I've done over the past 35 years won't be lost when I'm no longer around.

I shared this vision with the long-term leader of a high profile youth organization in Chicago during a meeting yesterday, saying we need a beneficiary who is ready to give $25 million or more to his alma matter to devote that money to building the Tutor/Mentor Institute so we can capture the collective wisdom of many leaders who have devoted their lives to helping youth and make that wisdom and experience available as knowledge that future generations might use.

If you want to associate your name with this vision I'd be happy to hear from you.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

High School Leadership Project Opportunity

Students in different zip codes could be taking on a leadership role that helps build resources needed by youth in every high poverty neighborhood.

Community Information Collection: A Shared Effort

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

If Obama or Romney start asking this question...

I was reviewing the essays on my site with a new follower who I met on Twitter today and he pointed to the graphic below and said "That's a really important question."

I've included this slide and versions of it in many of the essays I share here and here, but don't think I've posted it on the blog before.

We don't know all of the answers for what it will take to assure that every youth born in a high poverty neighborhood is starting a job/career by his/her mid twenties, but if leaders are not asking the question we can never build up enough answers.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Who Else Taking this Role in Chicago Region?

This Slideshare presentation shows the role I've been trying to take for over 20 years to make volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs available in more high poverty neighborhoods of the Chicago region.

In 2010 a team of NetImpact volunteers compared the Tutor/Mentor Connection to mentoring partnerships in other cities and states. This PDF was the preliminary report.

If you work in the corporate office of Sears, WalMart, Walgreens or any other corporation with multiple stores all over the country you are supporting your branch locations with central office resources, including advertising. This is what I've been trying to do via the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Since we don't have hundreds of millions dollars for a central corporate office, we need to create a 'virtual corporate office' where many people take on roles that normally are provided in the headquarters of big corporations.

All of us working with youth are in the same general business of helping kids grow up and prepare for adult lives and responsibilities. Attracting strategic business involvement to support our efforts would serve the self-interests of every sector of the business community. We need their help in many ways, and many places.

It's obvious that I'd not had nearly the level of capital needed to achieve the goals I've set, yet even with the few resources that have been available each year I've built a powerful platform that is not duplicated in many other cities.

If you'd like to help build this, and then use it in your own city, contact me.

If you know of others who are doing the same work in the Chicago region please introduce us and invite them to participate in the November 19 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. Or send me invitations so I can be part of their events.