Thursday, May 30, 2013

39th Tutor/Mentor Conference since May 1994 - Next week

Next Friday, June 7, I'll host the 39th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference since May 1994. The goals of the conference have not changed. We want to bring people together to share ideas, build relationships and increase support for volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs reaching youth in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. This page describes the conference, and this the strategy.

I've written about the conferences often in the past and I encourage you to browse some of these to see the consistency of what I've been doing, and the difficulty of attracting the resources and business partnerships needed to increase the long-term impact of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the conferences.

However, maybe you've not asked, "Why did one small group of volunteers launch the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1992, when they were also launching a new site based program to serve 7th to 12th grade youth living in Cabrini Green?" Take a look at the presentation below to see the logic behind this strategy.

How and why one small NPO in Chicago launched strategy to help all peers in same city. by daniel-f-bassill-7291

While we faced the same challenge each year of finding resources to support the Cabrini Connections program, we invested in the Tutor/Mentor Connection and attempted to help every tutor/mentor program in the city get the resources each program needs to constantly improve.

Why? First, we realized that every neighborhood needs these programs, not just the neighborhood we were serving and that no leader was trying to help mentor-rich programs grow in every poverty neighborhood.

Second, we also realized that no small non profit can attract all of the resources it needs to do everything that needs to be done to help its youth move successfully through school and into college and jobs. Unless the city developed leadership to support the operations of every program, including Cabrini Connections, we'd not have the resources we needed at Cabrini Connections either.

While this strategy supported the two-part Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection for almost 20 years, our inability to attract -- AND KEEP -- commitment and leadership from the city, CPS, the business and philanthropy community, or to build a business model that would generate revenue for our ideas from other cities, along with the inability to keep leadership on our own board of directors committed to this two-part strategy, led to a split of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in mid 2011.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue to support the conferences and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and to continue to look for ways to support the growth of this strategy in other cities. At next week's conference we'll have people from Indianapolis and Baltimore. In the social media world we have people from all over the world looking at what we're doing.

I continue to point to Cabrini Connections, and over 150 other non-school tutoring and/or mentoring organizations in the Chicago region, via the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and the Chicago Programs Links Library.

I hope to see you at the June 7 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference or connect with you on Linked in, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or some other place where we can talk of ways to help close the gaps between rich and poor by getting more people who don't live in poverty personally involved in the lives of young people who do.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mapping Strategies to Help Youth in Poverty

I'm working on a presentation that I plan to deliver at the June 7 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference which will be held at the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. Since this is Memorial Day and we're honoring those who gave their lives for their country, perhaps my use of maps will resonate with those who understand how important maps are to fighting enemy forces in many locations, along with how important logistics and supply systems are to making sure our forces are well supported in all of these different places.

Perhaps you can help me.

The map above is one of 13 I've created using the Interactive Tutor/Mentor Program Locator showing different parts of Chicago, and the community areas within each map area. Using data provided by Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance, I've shown the number of youth, age 6 to 17 in each community area who are living below the poverty level. I've also shown what percent of the total youth in the age group this represents. Thus, there are 5,023 high poverty youth in Humboldt Park, and this represents 47.8% of the total youth age 6 to 17 in that community area.

It would seem to me that if donors, policy makers and business leaders were looking at this they would say "We need a lot of tutor/mentor programs in that area, just to serve a majority of those youth." I've been trying to maintain a directory of non-school tutor/mentor programs since 1993. Thus, on the map, the green stars represent any organization that I know of that offers some form of volunteer based tutoring and/or mentoring during the non school hours. If you go to the interactive Program Locator map, you can zoom into this area, click on the green stars to see who the organization is, and even go to their web site if they have one. You can also sort by age group served and type of program to build a better understanding of how many youth in each age group have access to tutoring/mentoring in this community area.

You can build your own map, showing poverty overlays and poorly performing schools (from 2007 and 2008 information.

Furthermore, you can build a map showing "assets", which are businesses, colleges, hospitals, faith groups, expressways, etc. within that community area. They are assets because they could be working with tutor/mentor program organizers to help each program borrow ideas from others in Chicago and around the world, so they are constantly improving their ability to transform the lives of youth and adult volunteers who join these programs. More than half a million people travel through poverty neighborhoods every day as the transit from their homes in the suburbs to their work in the LOOP. Imagine getting more of those people involved in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in neighborhoods with large numbers of youth in poverty. This PDF provides some instructions on building your own map.

In the presentation I'm working on I'm trying to show how the organizations, youth, families and assets in the neighborhood might learn to use these maps. Most tutor/mentor programs serve fewer than 100 youth on a regular basis. Most don't have a sophisticated marketing team or high profile board members, thus they struggle to get the basic operating resources essential to building strong organizations. Thus, if a neighborhood has 1100 youth, it would take 11 programs to serve 100% of those youth. If you look at the maps for each community area, you can see that many neighborhoods have only a few programs. If you look at the web sites of the existing programs, you will see that some are well organized, and some are loosely structured.

If you were a business team at a big company, you'd be looking for ways to help each of your stores become the best in its area. Thus, if communities can build teams of volunteers from their tutor/mentor programs and their asset base, these teams could be working to find better ways to build a supply system that ensures that each program has the resources it needs to support the youth and volunteers it serves.

Here's what I wrote in the presentation:

If each organization offering tutoring/mentoring will show on its web site how many youth and volunteers are on its active roster, and what type of tutor/mentor service they offer, as well as what age group they serve, this information can be aggregated to show how many youth in a community area are being served.

Thus, if you look at the map showing West Ridge, on the far North side of Chicago, you’d find one organization, yet but 3,191 youth between the age of 6 and 17 living below poverty level. Using the interactive tutor/mentor program locator you can add layers, showing poorly performing schools, and you can refine the list of programs to show specific age groups.

This information shows a clear need for volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the area, based on poverty levels. Donors should be willing to support the existing organizations and provide funds to help them constantly learn from others and improve what they do so each might be considered “best” in what it does to help youth and volunteers connect and stay connected.

This information even shows more programs are needed, especially close to the two schools shown to be on the State of Illinois Poorly Performing list.

Leaders, volunteers, youth and parents in the neighborhood can use this information and the Tutor/Mentor Connection schedule of events, to reach out to potential resource providers and leaders who have facilities in the community area to educate them a) why tutor/mentor programs are needed and, b) ways they can be consistently engaged in supporting the growth of mentor-rich programs in each community area.

While such groups can meet at the neighborhood level and in on-line, they can also meet at events that connect stakeholders from different parts of the Chicago region, and with others from other cities, creating a greater public awareness that supports the on-going effort of each program in each neighborhood.

Through this process we educate leaders who use their visibility to help increase the flow and distribution of resources needed for ALL tutor/mentor programs in a region to operate.

If leaders are seeking tutor/mentor programs based on where they are needed, based on number of youth living in poverty, the choices of who they support are limited by who operates a program serving youth in that neighborhood. Can we educate more donors to look at your web site, see where you are, who you serve, and what you do, then decide how much and in what ways they want to help you?

Does this make sense to you? Could you write this in a different way that would describe the use of these maps to support a growing number of youth tutor/mentor programs in neighborhoods with a large number of youth age 6 to 17 living in poverty? If you want to try, just send me your revised text at tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net.

If you'd like to see all of the maps I've created for this presentation, register to attend the June 7 conference, and keep watching this blog post for updates.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Violence as a Contagious Disease

I've written about violence in the past and often struggle to define mentoring as a strategy to end violence. I encourage you to view this TED talk featuring Epidemiologist Gary Slutkin, MD, founder of Cure Violence. If you lead a volunteer based tutor/mentor program, encourage your volunteers to view this and to share it with their friends, co-workers, family, etc. As you do look at the way Dr. Sltkin talks about using maps and the three strategies he deploys.

I've posted a number of articles related to this. One of these points to an article I wrote in 2007 titled: Reframing School Dropout as a Public Health Issue

Gary Slitkin is in Chicago and I've had him on my mail list since the mid 1990s. I've met with Tio Hardiman who is with Gary's organization. I've tried to show how mentoring can not only provide specially trained people who intervene to keep kids from dropping out of school, but can also increase the number of people who build personal connections and have empathy and understanding of the problem, and who then are more willing to use their own time, talent and dollars to help support interventions such as Cure Violence, or tutoring/mentoring and other non-school youth engagement and workforce preparation activities.

I'm hosting a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on June 7. I hope some who have looked at Dr. Sltkin's video and understand the importance of intervention and edcation efforts in areas where maps show high concentrations of violence, youth drop outs, gangs, etc., will try to attend so we can build 2013-14 and beyond strategies that get more people involved and make these interventions available in more places.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Building Future Leaders - Mikva Challenge

I attended an event at the headquarters of Chicago Public Schools on Monday evening where teens from around 26 Chicago area middle schools and high schools shared posters showing leadership projects they had developed and lead at their schools over the past year. I was really impressed with the work some of these teams did.

As I sat with the group of nearly 80 teens and another 20-30 adults it made me think of the annual year-end dinners held at Montgomery Ward in the 1970s and 1980s and at Cabrini Connections each year from 1993 through 2011. These dinners brought together youth, parents, volunteers and alumni to celebrate work done in the past year and to focus on work that needed to be done the next year and for many more years if youth entering 7th grade today were to be graduating from college eight to 10 years from now.

When I hosted these events I often stood in the back of the room and just watched the event unfold. I knew that without the work I had done every day for many years none of the people in the room would be there and the lives that have been transformed would not have been touched.

I think that the leaders of Mikva Challenge must feel the same way when they hold these events.

During the final part of the event there was a period of reflection where teens were invited to offer comments. I captured a few of these that I'd like to share.

"If we all come together, even though we're from different schools, we can make things happen."

"I promise to get more people in my school and community involved."

"It gave me more confidence in speaking in groups."

"Without Mikva Challenge I wold be involved in my community I'm connected with. With this program, "I'm off the streets."

I encourage you to visit the Mikva Challenge web site and learn more about events being held this week and work the organization does.

Then look at articles like this and maps that I share. Imagine if every neighborhood had one or more volunteer based tutor/mentor programs serving elementary, middle school and/or high school students, and if a map like this showed flags, indicating that each program had youth leadership teams similar to those at Mikva Challenge.

Volunteers and donors can help make that happen. So can young people who look at what students are doing in Mikva Challenge and other youth leadership programs and who decide "The buck stops with me" and begin to do the organizing and team building needed to bring such programs into the school or non-school programs that they are part of.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Violence,Drugs and Mentoring - Chicago

Editor note: after writing this I was contacted by Maxine Williams, who led a tutoring program at the church shown in this video. Visit this link to see Maxine's story. She and an alum from her program will speak at Friday's Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago.

This video, titled "The War In Chicago" was shown on CBS TV's 48 Hours Program. It shows that solving the problem of poverty and violence in Chicago must address issues facing youth in affluent areas as well as in poverty areas. Look at the video then let's talk.

If you look at articles on violence and media that I've written since 1993, you'll find graphics like this

This was the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1992 after 7-Year Old Dantrell Davis was killed while walking to school. The "demand it now" and "its everyone's responsibility" editorial did not last very long and as we can see from current events, we've not found solutions yet to this problem.

I have heard the "Enough is Enough" message for many years, and have posted my own set of recommendations that might lead to more involvement of people in the city and suburbs.

This problem has been in Chicago for more than 20 years. Why have there not been more strategies that successfully reduced drug use, while providing youth in poverty more alternatives than drug dealing and other illegal activities.

I support mentoring as a strategy because it engages youth and volunteers in weekly one on one and group learning. The youth learn from the adults, but the adults learn from the youth and the programs they are part of. If volunteers stay involved multiple years some build a deeper empathy, and a greater personal involvement.

I don't just write about mentoring or tutoring. I focus on what needs to be done to support strong organizations operating in neighborhoods with high poverty and/or high drug use. Think of this graphic of a healthy tree. It's root system is healthy. If it were not, the tree would not grow.

I've piloted a use of maps to follow negative news stories with reports that attempt to draw volunteers and donors into neighborhoods where the violence takes place. See map-stories created in past.

If the money spent to solve this gang, drug, violence, poverty, jobs and workforce readiness problem only funds new programs in a few parts of the city, where is the money that builds strong organizations needed to enable these new programs to flourish? In a few years, new programs are old programs, but kids are only a few years older. They still need the support these programs might offer. However, if the funds dry up because some new program is being funded, the organizational effectiveness is reduced.

As we educate volunteers and build more personal empathy and involvement we need to innovate new ways to attract attention and draw operating and innovation resources into all of the places where we need to fight this battle.

Had the Mayor, President, business leaders and others supported the growth of mentor-rich programs in more places since I began advocating for this in 1993, there would be more programs and there would be thousands more adults engaged in this discussion, with a personal interest.

As we see more and more how the impact on drugs ruins the lives of kids in affluent areas, we should be able to address the self-interest of more people who don't live in poverty and in the past only provided token charity to support inner city youth programs.

If you're interested in this, join me at the June 7 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, or at one of the on-line forums I host on Linked In, Facebook, Ning and Twitter.

In the CBS video the mayor of Chicago is heard saying: "We cannot afford not to do it". If these are not just more political rhetoric perhaps the Mayor will take some time to think of his role as a network builder and ways he and other leaders might use some of the maps and ideas I've been sharing. And while I hope the political leaders will use this information, this solution requires involvement and leadership from business, faith groups, universities, young people and civic, social and service organizations from throughout the region.

It only costs $80 to attend the Tutor/Mentor Conference and a few hours of your time. The city and suburbs have been spending millions if not billions of dollars to fight this problem.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

My Map Making History

I posted a story today on the Mapping for Justice site showing how my map making passion began in 1993. I hope you'll take time to read it. The article at the left is from a 1994 Chicago SunTimes article.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tell Us About Mentoring and How to Start

I spent an hour in a Google Hangout today talking with Sam Yoo who is a senior at Georgia Tech and Joon Kim, who is a college graduate living in Korea. Sam is trying to start a mentoring program connecting undergrads with alumni. We met through Facebook via a Mentor Collaboration Virtual Platform hosted by Sam. Today we met in a Google Hangout where I shared ideas about mentoring and ways to start and sustain a mentoring program.

This information can be used by anyone, in any city. If you'd like to connect, I encourage you to join the Tutor/Mentor Forum and consider attending the spring or fall Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago. The next will be June 7 at Metcalfe Federal Building.

Monday, May 13, 2013

This map of Chicago is same for ALL of us

I've been creating maps like this one for almost 20 years in an effort to mobilize on-going support from volunteers and leaders in every sector of business, religion, media, entertainment, education and leadership.

The goal is to support the actions of third-party leadership, intermediaries, and network-builders who would mobilize the resources that every volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region (or any other urban area) needs to constantly improve their impact on youth and the volunteers who become part of their organizations.

I've created graphics like this to illustrate the role leaders can take in pointing people in their networks to programs in different places. See more of these in my library on Pinterest. Read other articles in this blog, or in this library of articles on Scribd to see how these graphics are included in information I share on a regular basis.

I've hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months since 1994 and have been featured in numerous media stories, like this Crain's article.

It seems logical to me that if we want to provide extra help to youth in high poverty neighborhoods, we need places in the non-school hours where youth can connect with volunteers, technology and extra learning. If we agree that this is true, then we should find hundreds of leaders in the Chicago region writing articles like mine, pointing to maps like mine, with the same goals of helping every neighborhood have great, and constantly improving, tutor/mentor programs.

If that were happening the conference I host on June 7 at the Metcalfe Federal Building would have more than 200 attendees rather than the 70 to 80 who have attended the past few conferences.

If leaders from every sector had been sharing the role of network-building with me for the past 20 years, we might have network analysis tools showing thousands of people from every sector involved in on-going learning and working like a "virtual corporate office" to support hundreds of different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities. I was at a Great Cities event at UIC almost 10 years ago where issues of poverty were being discussed. Someone asked "If this has been going on for so long, how come so little has changed." The speaker gave an answer that I've heard often.

He said "Too few people really care."

Is the logic model I share unrealistic? Share your comments. Why are so few leaders mirroring what I do, pointing to maps of Chicago the way I do? Or pointing to the maps I host on my web sites?

If you agree with the logic, why not come to the June 7 Conference and begin to work with me and others on a 2013-14 school year calendar of events. When we get to the conference in May/June 2014 we should be celebrating the work others are doing to help build a city of constantly improving youth tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.

View Interactive Program Locator, Map Gallery and PDF showing how to make your own maps.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Building an Empathic Civilization

Here's a RSA Animate presentation I hope you'll take time to view.

After you watch this I hope you'll also view this interview between myself and Edwin Rutsch who created the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

I believe that well-organized volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring, arts, technology and career focused programs can connect volunteers who don't live in high poverty neighborhoods with youth and families who do in an on-going process that transforms the youth and the adult, and possibly the community.

I've created an information library on the web where anyone can draw ideas to support what they do to make tutor/mentor programs available in their community, and to help these programs constantly improve the ways they engage youth and volunteers in transformative actions. I host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every spring and fall (next is June 7) in Chicago to encourage people to come together, share ideas, build relationships, and find ways to support the growth of tutor/mentor programs in big city neighborhoods.

I share this information every day in one-on-one conversations, via email, via web forums, etc. with the goal that others will pass this information on to people in their own networks and that more people will gather in on-going learning and action planning efforts. I also look for people who will help me in my efforts, and will take ownership of these efforts and ideas in future years.

Please review this graphic. If we believe in the value of connecting extra adults with youth, and we understand the need for organization programs to build and sustain these connections, why wouldn't teams from business, professional associations, media, and other sectors work collectively to support the growth of these programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities.

How do you pass these ideas on? Look at the articles interns have written over the past few years. You can do the same.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Cross Sector Knowledge Networks - Where are they?

Last Saturday I wrote a this article talking about the knowledge base supporting community wealth building, and that which I've created, supporting the growth of youth from first grade to first job.

This is one of many graphics I've created to illustrate the range of knowledge organizations, networks and communities need to draw from in building a system of non-school programs that is more likely to result in more kids finishing school with a network of people helping them find jobs and enter careers.

In many of my articles I've talked about the "village" that needs to be involved helping youth move from birth to work. When you look at a graphic like this village map, you see many different interest groups. They each look at the problem from a different experience perspective, and while they may focus on the same neighborhood, they may not be connecting with people in the youth development and education sector, or the community wealth-building sector.

The idea I've been trying to communicate is multidimensional and I only have one-dimensional forms of communications. What I mean is

a) if you look at a map of Chicago you'll see many neighborhoods where youth and families need more help because of economic and social issues. Thus, we face a challenge of creating a distribution of resources that reaches every neighborhood on a consistent basis.

b) most problems take a long time to solve. Kids entering first grade today will need 12 years of consistent support if they are expected to graduate from high school and they may need four to six more years of support to go through college and/or vocational school and find their first jobs.

c) there are many types of supports needed by youth and families, which need to be available and age appropriate, when they are needed. For instance, if you believe in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs then you would want to be able to look at a map showing that such programs are available in every high poverty neighborhood, with programs offering services to elementary, middle school and high school.

Building an infrastructure that would make this range of programs available across the city, and that would assure that each program is constantly learning from each other, is constantly improving, and has the flow of operating and innovation dollars needed to support constant improvement, is a huge task. Providing a library of knowledge that people can draw from to support their actions would be a benefit. Finding a way to connect the different people involved in mentoring kids through school and into jobs, so they learn from each other, support each other, and work collectively to solve problems that single programs can't solve, would be an even greater benefit. This PDF illustrates the range of talent needed and show how business teams could provide some of that talent.

I've written a lot of articles related to this over the past 8 years and you could use these to support your own on-going learning.

However, what I've described, just applies to the network of people who focus on tutoring/mentoring as a strategy to help improve the economic and social well-being of a community.

There are other organizations focused on other issues, like public health, social justice, workforce development, violence prevention, etc. In Chicago we have a well funded community development network, led by organizations such as LISC. These organizations focus on issues related to what tutor/mentor programs focus on, but I don't see an overlap in how the different organizations connect. This dropout conference map illustrates the range of other organizations focusing on the same issues, but in different meeting space and working networks.

I created the graphic below to illustrate the different networks that might be in any neighborhood, and how they each draw from their own knowledge base to support the work of people in their networks.

In my links library I have sub-categories with links pointing to many of these issue areas. I don't need to build a complete library. I need to just point to intermediaries who are hosting their own library and events that bring people in their sector together.

I think there is a need for people who are building these knowledge libraries and who are trying to draw people to the library and help them use the information to connect with each other. We can do this with links, blog articles, social media space, and by participating in conferences and meetings hosted by each other.

If we do this, we can generate greater public awareness, and provide a wider range of information to the people who come to our web sites and events. By posting our information on maps, we create a planning tool that groups sharing the same geography can use to find strategic reasons to connect with each other in the delivery of services, the hosting of service, the recruiting of volunteers and donors, etc.

We can support the growth of stronger community support networks in each neighborhood and in every city.

Do you agree? Are you sharing ideas like this someplace? Can you communicate this better? Let's connect.