Thursday, November 29, 2012

Building Network of Support - 2013 and beyond

Since 1975 I've been leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program connecting inner city youth in Chicago with volunteers from many different companies. I did this as a volunteer from 1975-1990 while I held full time advertising jobs with the Montgomery Ward headquarters. I did this from a non profit structure from 1990 to June 2011 and was able to raise more than $6 million from friends, family, believers, local foundations, etc. I've been trying to continue this from a LLC structure over the past 18 months, but have not yet found a strategy that generates enough to earn a salary of pay the costs of operating.

If you've read some of the articles I've posted since 2005 you'll see that I'm aggregating a wealth of information and trying to build a growing network of people who will take some time to read, reflect, discuss, then apply that information in actions that support the growth of programs that enable inner city kids and workplace volunteers to connect on an on-going basis.

You'll also see articles about geographic mapping, which enables us to look at all of the high poverty areas in Chicago where tutor/mentor programs are needed. And, you'll see articles about network building and social network analysis, which enables us to understand the growth of the network over time, as well as the talent and diversity of the network.

You'll see that this problem of concentrated poverty and the ideas I share affects every city in the country, not just Chicago. Thus help can come from many places and the tools and ideas can be applied in many places.

I created a page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute site with articles about social capital and social network analysis. I added the graphic below to one of these articles today. This shows my Facebook network and was created using a new SNA tool called FriendsGraph.

Today I found an article on The Chronicle of Philanthropy site titled 5 Qualities That Bring About Social Change

Here's a quote from the article: Alberto Ibargüen describes five common qualities in people who produce social change: figuring out what needs to change and then showing the vision, courage, knowledge, and tenacity to make things better.

Of those qualities, tenacity is the most elusive—and the most valuable, says Mr. Ibargüen, chief executive of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

"Social change takes time," he says. "It's one of the biggest problems I find with the cycles of philanthropy. We tend to work as organizations that have calendar years or fiscal years, and social change doesn't work on those schedules."

Over the past 20 years I've been trying to create change in how tutor/mentor programs are supported and thus the distribution of high quality programs in more places. I've had many people support me in the past, but need that help even more as we head to the future.

I hope that over the next 30 days a growing number of people in my Facebook, Linked in and Twitter networks will take a look at the work I'm trying to do and will provide some financial support to help me do it. Over the next 12 months I hope you'll add talent and time to the financial support so we can enter 2014 with a new organization that is better able to generate revenue and has more owners to carry this vision forward for the next 30 years or more.

Visit this page to find a PayPal where you can add your financial support.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Leadership from Pro Basketball Team

I've written a series of articles showing how sports teams can mobilize volunteers and donors to support tutor/mentor programs in all parts of Chicago.

This video by the NBA Memphis Grizzlies Foundation is a fantastic example of how a sports team can promote mentoring.

I hope to work with college and pro teams in Chicago to help them create videos like this and add into them a "chalk talk" where they show how others need to take on roles that support mentoring programs in different neighborhoods, just like the front office, boosters, fans and owners support college and pro teams.

If you're with a team in Chicago or another city and want to help develop this strategy please contact me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Resources to Support Tutor/Mentor Program Growth

In late 1992 myself and six other volunteers decided to create a non-school, volunteer based tutor/mentor program to help Cabrini-Green area youth entering 7th grade get the consistent adult mentoring and learning support needed to help them finish high school six years later with momentum heading them to college and careers.

At the same time this group adopted a more ambitious goal (as if the first were not difficult enough!). We said, let's find a way to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in all parts of the Chicago region so that each program has a greater chance to succeed at the work they are doing. We named that the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

The presentation below shows resources that have been innovated in the years since then. Most are still a work in progress because of the lack of consistent or significant investment in this effort. This PDF shows the Decade of Challenges and accomplishments achieved despite of these.

Tutor/Mentor Institute - Resources to Support Collective Efforts

Despite challenges, including the creation of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in July 2011 to continue this work, these resources are all in place and available to help youth programs in Chicago and to stimulate thinking in other cities.

As we head to the holiday season and 2013 I invite volunteers, business partners, universities and financial supporters to add your talent, time and resources to help these resources stay available in Chicago and grow in the impact they have.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Conference Focuses on Youth in Poverty

I hosted a 38th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago on Monday, Nov. 19. There were close to 20 workshops presented by volunteers from different youth organizations and businesses, including one offered by Nathan and Carrie Harris who lead the Tutor/Mentor Summit group in Indianapolis.

During the noon hour a panel discussion talked about mentoring and the challenges youth face. This was organized by TW's Ministry, who first attended a conference almost six years ago.

Nearly 60 different organizations were represented so our total participation of 70 people really represents more than 6,000 people who their organizations touch. Since one of the panel members was from Chicago Public Schools and another was from the Chicago Police Department, we could estimate an even larger reach. You can see the list of attendees on line.

In today's Chicago Tribune Karen Lewis, head of Chicago Teacher's Union is quoted saying "We cannot fix what's wrong with our schools until we are prepared to have honest conversations about poverty and race," Lewis said. "Until we do, we will be mired in the no-excuses mentality (that) poverty doesn't matter. Poverty matters a lot when you are teaching children who are distracted by their lives. Poverty matters a lot when you are teaching children who have seen trauma like none of us in this room can imagine."

I've written articles and pointed to research over and over for many years with the same message. I feel that volunteer involvement in well organized tutor/mentor programs can expand the number of adults who get personally involved and then are willing to do more to support programs that reach youth in the neighborhood and in the non-school hours.

I'm sure others are interested in the same issues as I am but until we can connect in on-going learning, relationship-building and innovation efforts aimed at building the infrastructure to support youth programs in all poverty neighborhoods, too little will happen to change what supports kids have in non-school hours. This map shows many of the organizations I reach out to and invite to the May and November conferences.

As you celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and count your blessings I hope you'll take time to read some of the articles I've written and search the Chicago area Tutor/Mentor Program Links library to find one or more programs that you can support with a donation.

I hope you'll also look at what I'm trying to do and support me with some much needed cash. I'm not a 501-c-3 organization. I'm a 'no profit' social benefit volunteer-enterprise that connects people and ideas and focuses on helping youth programs reach kids in all high poverty neighborhoods.

The people I seek to help don't have much money to pay me for what I do. Many of the people who participated in Monday's conference were only able to pay $20 to attend. I hope others who are giving thanks will give help. Take a look at this page and see what your support can help me continue in 2013.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shouldn't Leaders throughout Chicago be Looking at this?

I created this graphic to share my thinking and try to find others who are thinking the same way about ways to help kids living in poverty areas of Chicago and other big cities. As you look at this I hope you'll also look at some of the pdf essay's I've posted in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library.

I think it would be hard to find people who don't see a value to helping kids connect with adult mentors in formal or informal settings.

If that's the case, then shouldn't we need to be looking for ways to expand the number of kids living in high poverty areas and/or dysfunctional homes who have extra adults and extra learning and enrichment opportunities in their lives.

In a big city like Chicago it's difficult for adults who work in downtown or suburban jobs to connect informally with inner city k-12 youth. Thus, there is a need for structured programs operating in the non-school and after work or weekend hours to support connections of youth and adults, and keep these connections going for months and years.

If we agree with that shouldn't we make an effort to know what programs are already operating and help them get the talent, technology, training and operating resources to constantly improve how they do this work?

Once we agree that organized tutor/mentor programs are needed to connect youth and mentors, tutors and extra learning, and we agree that efforts should be made to help each program get the operating resources they need, shouldn't we be looking at maps of the city to see if we have programs for each age group (K-12) in all of the places with high poverty, high violence, and high concentrations of poorly performing schools? Shouldn't we be looking for ways to borrow ideas from existing programs to help new programs start in neighborhoods with no programs or without programs for certain age groups?

If you agree with this thinking, can you help me find and connect with business, faith, political and philanthropic leaders, as well as other non-profit tutor/mentor program leaders, who are already trying to innovate more effective ways to help tutor/mentor programs reach youth in more places of the city and suburbs?

I host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May and November to bring people together for this purpose, but these are not being used by leaders in business, faith, political and philanthropic as part of a planning, innovation and marketing effort? They could be. So far that's not happening.

The next conference is this Monday, Nov. 19. If you're one of those people who embrace this progression of thinking, there's still time to register and attend. If you can just come for one or two workshops just pay the $20 scholarship rate. Stay as long as you can and then let's connect on-line or in one-on-one meetings after the conference.

If you know of other places where this thinking is taking place on a citywide scale, please share that. Maybe we can provide some ideas that would be useful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Why attend Tutor/Mentor Conference, Another Video

This is another video created to show why leaders participate in the May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences held in Chicago.

Conference Capacity from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

The next conference will be Monday, Nov. 19 at the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. There's still time to register. Email to ask about group rates.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why Attend Tutor/Mentor Conference: Video

This video shows four leaders talking about why they participate in Tutor/Mentor Conferences held in Chicago.

The next is Monday, November 19 at Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. Still time to register!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cabrini-Green: What You Don't See. 1990 Video

In December 1988 during the annual volunteer gathering of volunteers from the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, I was telling one volunteer about my goal of having a book written to tell the story of the 25 year growth of the tutoring program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago. The volunteer, Sara Coover Caldwell, said "Why not make a video?"

Being a corporate advertising manager at Wards I realized the high costs of creating videos so responded with a bit of pessimism. Sara said, "I can do it. Let me put together a plan."

She came back a few weeks later with a budget of nearly $30,000, for talent, equipment, materials, editing, etc. all donated by friends of hers, along with a production schedule.

I did not realize at the time how much my life was going to change over the coming year. In January of 1990 my wife announced we were going to have our first child. In February I was called into a VP office at Wards and told that I no longer had a job with the company.

In late February, or early March, this video was shown on Channel 11, WTTW in Chicago:

By April 1990 a plan to convert the volunteer-based tutoring program into a non profit Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc. was in place, and in October 1990 while my first daughter was being born, I was filing papers for our 501-c-3 tax status so we could begin raising money to pay for my salary and a staff to operate the continued efforts of the tutoring program at Wards along with an effort to help similar tutor/mentor programs grow in other parts of the city.

In 1993 that effort became the Tutor/Mentor Connection. In 2011 that became Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Much has changed since 1990 but I'm still connected to Sara and many of the youth and volunteers who were part of the Montgomery Ward and Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc as well as those from Cabrini Connections, which Sara helped me launch in October 1992.

What has not changed is my belief that volunteers from different workplace backgrounds can become deeply involved in tutor/mentor programs and the lives of inner city youth and that some volunteers will use their talent and time to help such programs grow. This video created in 1989-90 by a volunteer demonstrates this potential.

Now we only need leaders from business, politics, religion, education, etc. to embrace this idea and help build an infrastructure where such programs are operating in thousands of locations around the country.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mapping Participation. Help Build the Network

If you’ve been reading articles I’ve written you’ve seen many talking about network building and collective impact. I’ve been working at this for more than 35 years.

One way I’ve attempted to bring people together is through the May and November conferences I’ve hosted in Chicago since May 1994. This graphic is one of several that show the mix of participants at 2008-2009 conferences. See more conference maps here. You can see that there are not many from business, faith communities, political leadership, media or philanthropy.

Below is a different map. It shows different intermediary organizations in the Chicago region focusing on the well-being of youth. See map here. Every time I host a conference I send invitations inviting representatives from these groups to participate.

This next graphic is a map of one section of my web library. Each of these nodes points to a page with dozens of links related to that topic. When I host a conference I'm inviting representatives from each web site I link to in my library to participate. And I'm pointing anyone who reads my blog and/or attends the conference to visit these web sites and learn from the information they share.

This next graphic is a map of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago built using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. This map shows businesses in the area. Another version shows faith groups. The green stars are a few of 170 different locations where various forms of youth mentoring and/or tutoring are being offered in the Chicago region.

This graphic shows kids and tutor/mentor programs as the hub of the wheel. The spokes lead to each industry in the region, as well as faith, civic, social and political organizations.
At each spoke the ROLE OF LEADERS should be to encourage members to become informed, and then involved, in efforts that help improve the community wealth by helping more young people from throughout the region have the level of adult support they need to move through school and into adult responsibilities.

These maps show WHO we are trying to connect with and WHO is responding to our invitations by participating in the tutor/mentor conferences.

I’m not the only one hosting events in Chicago that bring people together to focus on helping kids. However, I don’t know of many who are using maps and network analysis tools to show who is coming to their events and to connect those people to each other so they can work together after the event. I don’t know too many who point to a map like the Program Locator with the goal of driving volunteers, donors, talent and other needed resources to each program, based on what the web site of the program describes as the work they do and WHERE they do it.

This is a Google map that I’ve added to the Conference web site. As people register they can add themselves to this map and put their web site, Facebook page and profile on the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum.

If we can get more leaders from different sectors connected to each other, through the conference I host or events they host, we can help existing organizations get the ideas, talent and dollars they each need to constantly improve the work they do and we can help people in different neighborhoods where too few programs exist get the ideas and resources to build new programs so we reach more k-12 kids.

We can use our network analysis maps and Google Maps to show who is reaching out to connect and help others while at the same time providing a tool to help people connect with each other. As the number of nodes on the maps grow we will be demonstrating that more people are working together.

Over the past few months more than $2 billion was spent trying to get someone elected to be President and to other public offices. I would like to hope that money will lead to more and better non-school tutor/mentor support systems in high poverty areas of Chicago but I think bringing people together who do the work of building and financing these programs is more likely to achieve that result.

Thus I hope that if you've read this far you'll go a step further to help me AND to help the people leading volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and in other cities. PLEASE share this with people in your network and encourage them to attend the November 19 conference AND add themselves to the conference map and attendee list so others know they were participating and can connect with them.

We’re all in this together, aren’t we?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Make your Vote Count.

I just finished casting my vote in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. While the candidates at the top of the ballot were important, I also paid special attention to the retention votes for judges and followed guidance of the Chicago Bar Association and Chicago Tribune to reject six judges who are rated unqualified.

Where ever you are I hope you'll cast your vote today and that you'll also look for the list of judges who keep getting reaffirmed in office because not enough people take the time to vote for their rejection.

I won't tell you who I voted for because after the election I need support from who ever is in office for strategies that build stronger non-school support systems for kids living in high poverty neighborhoods.

After spending more than $2 Billion on the elections I'm not sure any politician has money in the bank, but all of those advertising and media companies, as well as the political consultants who make a living off of the election process, have become wealthy off of the elections. The money that went to them could be devoted to supporting intermediary organizations in every city and state, like Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, as well as the hundreds of local tutor/mentor programs operating in every city.

Think the politicians will help make this happen? Think again. We need to raise our collective voices to draw daily attention to the work we're all doing, so more people find reasons to give their time, talent and dollars.

I've launched this conference map to show participation in 2012-13 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences. Anyone attending the conference is encouraged to put their name on the map. Thus, if you see the name of a political leader, business or religious leader, that would indicate that they are showing some interest in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in their district and in the Chicago region.

Perhaps by the time the next election comes voters will be educated to look at maps like this to help them decide if the incumbent or the challenger is actively involved in helping youth in their district

While the election campaigns spend billions of dollars, I have trouble raising a few thousand to support the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences that I have hosted every six months since May 1994, and the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator that I've made available to Chicago for more than a decade.

If just one of the major donors who paid for campaign ads would become a sponsor of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC I could do much more between elections to bring people together, support them with good information, and point them to high poverty neighborhoods and tutor/mentor programs operating in those neighborhoods.

I hope you'll help me find this support.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

We Want Same Outcomes for Youth. Collective Effort Needed.

We all want same outcomes. We want more youth to stay in school, be safe in non-school hours, graduate, and move on to 21st century jobs and careers.

This graphic is one of many that I’ve created to help communicate ideas and strategies. You can find more here and in each blog article I’ve written since 2005.

If we do our work well, and for many years, we will have alumni providing their own testimonial to how a tutor/mentor program has helped them. This video is from a 2010 year-end celebration. The speaker first became involved with this organization in the early 1990s.

Year-End Dinner 2010: Tangela Marlowe from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.
I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in July 2011 to keep doing this work in Chicago and to help other cities apply these ideas.

I hope you’ll read the rest of this article and share my thinking with others.

If you’re a volunteer, investor, parent or donor, what indicators should we look for when we try to evaluate weather or not to become involved with a program? If you’re a community leader, how do we make sure enough programs are available in all of the places where they are needed?

To support the growth of tutor/mentor programs in many places I’ve created a library of links to articles showing the challenges non profits face in offering long-term programs that reach youth early and stay with them through high school and even into college and adult lives.

One of the primary challenges volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs face is that most research and resources devoted to education is focused on what happens at schools during the 6-7 hours they are open every day for 9 months a year. This graphic illustrates a need to focus on building more mentor-rich youth supports in the non school hours, especially in neighborhoods of high poverty where too few of these resources exist.

I think we need to expand the number of people who are taking responsibility for youth growing up. This graphic illustrates the responsibility of the “village” for helping kids through school and into jobs. Mobilizing the resources of the village and pointing them to schools AND non-school organizations in all high poverty neighborhoods represents a huge challenge.

I’ve spent the last 20 years looking for ways to overcome these challenges so that constantly improving tutoring/mentoring programs could reach youth in more places.

Part of my vision is to create an adult education strategy that would reach people who don’t live in poverty, but who benefit, along with kids and families, from the work done by tutor/mentor programs. I’ve seen how effective marketing and advertising has created demand for fast food, internet services, PCs, ePhones and all sorts of consumer products.

How can we create the same customer support for non profits and social benefit organizations working with youth in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities?

Can we educate donors, volunteers and parents to look at a map of a city that shows where tutor/mentor programs are most needed as the first step in deciding what programs they want to help?

Once you pick a zip code and determine what programs are in that area, what do you need to see on the youth organization’s web site that indicates it has a vision and strategy that over time, and with consistent support from volunteers and donors, shows it can reach the result we all want?

I created this list several years ago. Do you agree with it? What would you add?

* Home page features "mentoring or tutoring" with headline words and/or pictures

* Home page has easy-to-find sub-feature of "mentoring or tutoring" with words and/or pictures

* Volunteer involvement opportunity is clear

* Contact information is clear so volunteer or donor can contact program

* Case made for why tutoring/mentoring is important

* Site shows role of tutoring/mentoring in workforce development

* Site shows benefit of volunteer involvement in tutoring/mentoring on the volunteer

* Site provides links to research related to tutoring, mentoring, poverty, education, etc.

* Site links to other tutor/mentor programs in the same city

* Site links to one or more Tutor/Mentor Connection web sites and/or Program Locator

We need many more people looking at this information and discussing these ideas. Where can we gather people who can help (resource providers, talent, media, political leaders, information organizers, facilitators, etc.) with people who need help (programs, clients) and with ideas (research, best practices, benchmarking) so we’re all connected to each other in ways that help youth organizations build and sustain the organizational strength needed to grow to be “great” organizations who can sustain youth/volunteer participation for as long as it takes to help the young person be out of school and in a job beyond poverty?

Furthermore, how can we expand this conversation to one where we’re trying to help all high poverty neighborhoods of a metropolitan region have “great” programs helping youth in each neighborhood work from birth to work?

And how do we sustain the flow of resources and talent to these programs in times when public attention is drawn to more high profile issues, such as elections, tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes and war?

Each of the essays posted in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library, the links in the Tutor/Mentor Library, and the articles in this blog are intended to be starting points and stimulants for discussions taking place in thousands of other places.

You can use these ideas where you are and I might never hear anything telling me that you have found this information useful.

But I hope some of my readers will join me in the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum, on Facebook, on Linkedin, and on Twitter to add your own ideas and vision or to help me develop and share these ideas with more people.

If you're in Chicago come to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on November 19 at the Metcalfe Federal Building and introduce yourself to me and others who will be attending the event. See

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Special Events of Tutor/Mentor Conference

Here are some special features of the November 19 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference being held in Chicago.

Twitter Chat - Nov. 7 - Pre-Conference Twitter discussion. Alyssa VandeLeest, president of ProsperPR will host a workshop at the conference. Alyssa (Twitter handle @alyssaLvan) will also host a live Twitter chat prior to the conference at 1:30-2:30 CST on November 7, 2012 . To submit a question for Alyssa to answer during the chat, email prior to the chat or Tweet them to @alyssaLvan. She'll pick the top three. To join in on the discussion, simply tweet with and follow the hashtag #tmconf_chi during the chat time.

Don't wait. You can post a Tweet today to show your participation. Just use hashtag #tmconf_chi

One-on-One Publicity/Marketing consultation 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 19
Ever wish you could just pick up the phone and call a consultant when you're stumped about something, get the advice, but not an invoice to go with it? Here's your chance. Mary Gerace specializes in marketing, publicity, special events and fund raising for community-focused nonprofit organizations and local small businesses. During the conference on November 19 you will be able to meet with Ms. Gerace for a free half-hour meeting. Bring any questions or problems you'd like to discuss. Read more about this opportunity at

Panel Discussion in formation for Noon Time Frame
A Panel Discussion titled "How do Community Organization Leaders, Community School Officials, Clergy, Congressional {Local, County, State and Federal} Leaders and Community Federal Agencies invest in tutor/mentor programs operating in their own neighborhood and/or in neighborhoods with schools and school districts not meeting State or Federal requirement for Academic Progress" will be held during the mid-day break.

Moderator, Rev. Terry Weston, TW's Ministry

Panel Members (invited):

* Maria A. "Toni" Berrios, Illinois State Representative 39th District
* Scott McFarland, ServeIllinois Commission,
* Sheila Wesonga, Grassroots Community Organizer/Education Activist
* Yvette Moyo-Gillard, Founder, Real Men Cook,
* Rev. Dr. Janette C. Wilson, Assistant Pastor of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church
* Michael Levesque, Leap Learning Systems

See photos from past conferences

Find more photos like this on Tutor/Mentor Connection

One of the goals of the conference is to increase media attention and public understanding of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago region. Over the past 18 years many news reports were done that focused on the conferences and other events organized by Tutor/Mentor Connection. See this and other media stories from past conferences. Click here.
As we approach this conference and move through December we encourage any organization working with youth to work with local media to get their story told. However, while you are building attention for your own organization, provide a final line pointing to the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and saying "Learn more about the need for tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago region and about other programs that also need your support."

See conference goals. Register here.