Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's Wish. Awards for Strategic Business Investment

If you've visited this blog I hope you've also visited the Mapping for Justice blog. This one provides a broader range of information and ideas intended to engage more people in support of organized, non-school programs that connect youth and volunteers in muti-year efforts. The Mapping for Justice blog focuses narrowly on the use of Geographic maps and visualizations.

During the last two months of 2014 I've posted a series of concept maps, like the one at the left, that illustrate strategies I hope are adopted in many places, that support the on-going growth and distribution of tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

During the January National Mentoring Summit, several businesses will be recognized for their "outstanding contributions to advancing quality mentoring opportunities for young people". At the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service , to be held in October 2015, the Corporation for National and Community Service provides this Award of Excellence to businesses with outstanding corporate volunteer engagement strategies.

In many articles on this blog I've used graphics to show the 12 years it takes for a youth to go from first grade to 12th grade, and the need for on-going operating support to organizations in every poverty neighborhood who have strategies to help youth succeed in this journey. I've pointed to challenges facing non profits, resulting from an inconsistent flow of operating dollars and an almost non-existing advertising budget, which makes it extremely difficult for high quality tutor/mentor programs to realistically be operating in every poverty neighborhood of any city.

Thus, my wish for 2015 and beyond is that awards be given to companies who form teams of volunteers who research ways their company can engage employee talent and company resources to provide on-going flows of talent and dollars to support youth serving organizations who show strategies aimed to help youth move through school and into careers. Such teams would use the maps I've pointed to here, and on the Mapping for Justice Blog, as part of their own research. Maps like the one below can be used as study guide, or to stimulate thinking on the benefits to adopting such strategies.

In this Shoppers Guide I show some indicators that I feel should show up on the web sites of non school, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs. As I talk to my peers I encourage them to create their own strategy graphics and blog articles, showing the challenges they face and encouraging business to support them, and all other, youth serving organizations in the city where they operate.

Companies might use this Role of Leaders PDF as a guide for launching internal teams.

I'd like to see a similar guide showing indicators that would appear on business web sites, showing a CEO commitment to engaging company resources in strategic, on-going efforts to help more kids move through school and showing strategies the company is applying to mobilize more and more resources and distribute their influence to all locations where they do business or where employees live.

If companies from every industry and profession were encouraging volunteer involvement in neighborhoods throughout the city, programs from throughout the city might be able to show a greater diversity of volunteers and funding. Using Social Network Analysis tactics every program might begin to publish graphics similar to this, showing the different jobs/careers modeled by volunteers within their organization, or showing sources of operating resources, technology, talent and ideas.

Finally, my 2015 wish includes a hope that one or two investors/benefactors will step forward and put their name on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, with a major contribution and long term commitment. This strategy map shows what I've been building and all the different places where investment is needed to do this better than I've been able to so far.

I recognize the vast amount of information I've provided in 2014 and in past years and that while my visualizations make sense to me, they may not make sense to others who've not spent as many years thinking about this as I have. Thus, I encourage you to invite me to your company or organization (for a small fee) where I can spend time talking with you about any of these articles or graphics.

Happy New Year to all who read these articles. Best wishes to you, your families and the people who serve in your own efforts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Commitment to Chicago area youth. Need more leaders.

This was the editorial from the April 14, 2014 Chicago Tribune, following another weekend of violence. I've been collecting news articles like this for more than 20 years, with a goal that I'd some day have the ability to put these into book form in ways that the aggregated total would show that the way we've tried to solve this problem in the past has not worked, and that new ways need to be innovated.

This was the front page of the October 15, 1992 Chicago SunTimes. I've used this often in this blog to remind myself, and others, of the daily commitment many of us need to make to help youth in areas with high concentrations of poverty, poor schools and youth violence, have a non-school support system, anchored by well-organized, consistently funded volunteer based tutor/mentor programs.

Every December since I started writing this blog in 2005 I've posted articles focusing forward into the next year. I hope you'll read some and share them with others.\

Dec. 9, 2014 - Building Influence. Building Networks

Dec. 26, 2013 - Connecting a Million Minds around Complex Problems

Dec. 21, 2012 - New Year's Resolution for Helping At-Risk Youth

Dec. 26, 2011 - Creating a Service and Learning Organization that Mentors Kids to Careers: 2012 Resolution

Dec. 22, 2010 - Networking, sharing information, collaboration

Dec. 17, 2009 - Network Building for Inner City Youth

Dec. 29, 2008 - SunTimes 'Stop the Killing’ Special Report misses opportunity

Dec. 16, 2007 - Building Networks of Purpose

Dec. 26, 2006 - National Mentoring Month - Who Mentored You?

Dec. 23, 2005 - Spread Holiday Hope and Holiday Cheer

If you look at articles I've written in other months of the year, you'll see a consistency of messages. I firmly believe that until more people are writing similar stories, using common information libraries, and for the same purpose, we won't build the momentum needed to make great tutor/mentor programs available in all poverty areas, or keep them their and constantly improving as they help kids move from first grade to first job.

If you're writing stories like this, and have been doing it for as many years, let's connect.

I've been trying to find a way to fund the work I've been doing since forming Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011. I've not had much success so I'm spending less than $20,000 a year when I really should be spending more than $1 million a year to implement the 4-part strategy shown in this concept map.

If you want to help me do this work, on an incremental basis, become a sponsor for the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, or make a "HOPE and Opportunity" contribution that is an investment in the work I'm doing.

However, if you'd like to make this your legacy, and put your name on the door, please reach out to me at tutormentor2@earthlink.net

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Building Influence. Building Networks.

I frequently see this quote from Margaret Mead quote in my Twitter feed: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

However, have you done much thinking about what the membership of this small group looks like? Of how they might help you?

To answer the second question first, a leader is constantly seeking to influence the actions of others. If you have an idea for solving a problem and realize you can't do it all by yourself, the first thing you need to do is begin reaching out to invite others to become involved in the work. I posted this article about "intentional influence" a few weeks ago. I hope you'll read it.

Once you realize you need help from others, a map showing the type of help you need could be helpful.

The map below is one I created many years to to serve as a worksheet in my own efforts to build this "small group of people". I've shared it often because I think others could also use it to show the wide range of talent and skills needed to launch a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program and keep it constantly improving (good to great) for many years.

If you were to do a survey of people helping you now, and categorize them by talent, or by areas of influence, would your map show you have all the skills you need, along with the civic reach needed to get your message to resource providers, media, policy makers, etc? If you're not sure what I'm talking about, read this article titled "Building Philanthropy Capital to Fuel Good to Great". Toward the end of the article is a link to a Stanford Social Innovation Review article titled Increasing Civic Reach.

Most small non profits don't have all the talent they need, not at the beginning, and not as they mature. It's why so many, including the ones I led, struggle so much.

I started Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1992 with six other volunteers. I had been leading a volunteer based tutor/mentor program for the previous 17 years, but was only able to draw a few of the people from that group into support for my new effort, so my initial mail list was about 400 people.

By 1998 that was up to 12,000 people. This was before I began to build an internet community. The graphic below is a worksheet I developed in the mid 1990s. Here's an article I posted on the Cabrini Blog in 2011 with this graphic. Here's the same graphic in an article on the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum.

This worksheet is useful because if you ask someone to give you 5 names to add to a mailing list for an event or a newsletter, they struggle to come up with five names. One reason may be that there are so many people to choose from. If you use this worksheet, you can look at each sub category, such as family, neighbor, college, etc. and look for one person who might be interested in knowing more about your ideas. One person from each category represents 8 to 10 people. As I did this in the 1990s I began to add groups of people, like my college fraternity brothers from the years I was at Illinois Wesleyan.

If you use email, or a printed newsletter to tell stories of your work, why it's important, what you accomplish, how people might help you, some from your network may offer their own time, talent and resources. However, if a few pass on this message to their network, you may reach friends of friends who have an even greater potential to help.

Even with the worksheet motivating others to map their network and constantly reach out asking for support is difficult. People don't like asking friends or family for money. That leads to the next steps in this strategy.

Because of my background with the Montgomery Ward corporation in the 1970s and 1980s I often draw analogies from those experiences. For instance, I think of a mentor-rich youth organization as a "retail store for hope and opportunity" which needs to have a variety of age-appropriate learning and mentoring experiences that motivate youth and volunteers to participate weekly, and for multiple years. Here's one article where I explore this idea.

If you think of a single program like a Walgreens, then my web sites serve as a "shopping mall" or a "department store". When you first visit a new store, or mall, you just take a walking tour, visiting the different shops so you know what's there. Later you go back and take more time browsing the stores that were most interesting to you. Thus, if you set up a web site with information related to your mission, or the problem you're trying to solve, your blogs, social media, Twitter and other forms of daily communication serve as "advertising" intended to draw people to your ideas.

The Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection.org web sites serve this purpose. This PDF essay shows information a youth tutor/mentor program might want to have on their web site to show shoppers what they do and why they should be supported.

This last graphic is one that illustrates your role in facilitating the involvement of a growing number of other people. Over time, this can result in many people, with many different talents and a significant level of civic reach, working to help you make a difference in the world.

If you'd like to have me visit and talk to you about these ideas, or others shared on my blog and web site, let's find a way for me to do that.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

What's on your book shelf? Ferguson? Race? Poverty? Philanthropy?

If you're like me, you have stacks of books, publications and magazines in your home or office that you've collected and set aside for "future reading". While my home library includes books on history and science fiction, my work library includes books on innovation, mentoring, poverty, youth development, leadership, etc.

This image is from a small collection of my library in my office on the North side of Chicago. Between 1993 and 1999 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was hosted at the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago and we had lots of space. Thus, we had a huge collection of publications and information files about Chicago area tutor/mentor programs. I also maintained a media clip file, of stories from local media.

However, we all know that once an article is printed, it's out of date. Thus, since 1998 I've been building a much larger library on the Internet than the one in my office. I host it on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and I point to ideas from all over the world. Because I point to the web sites hosting those ideas, people looking at these ideas are also exposed to the web libraries hosted by others. It's a vast network of knowledge available to everyone.

This map is an outline of just one section, where I post research articles and publications related to the challenges facing youth living in high poverty neighborhoods.

The purpose of this library is to support innovation and constant improvement. If program leaders, volunteers and donors can look at what people do in one place that seems to be working, they can expand the range of ideas they have to improve what they do in their own location...as long as they have the talent and resources to apply those ideas.

I created this illustrated essay to show how this information could be used by many to influence actions of others.

Using Ideas to Stimulate Competition and Process Improvement - Concept Paper by Daniel F. Bassill

I was contacted yesterday by a program leader looking for articles mentors could read
that are related to some of the high profile media stories, such racial profiling and police shootings, domestic abuse, child abuse, etc. I was preparing an email response, and thought I'd just share that response here with more of you.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection web library has sub sections, and within these are sub-sub sections. One section titled homework help, has many ideas volunteers might look at for engaging their students. In this section there's also one focused on Black History, with links to some sites that could be used to develop discussion and activities.

Another section has the title of Law, Justice, Housing, Poverty and Prevention. Each of the sub sections have links to web sites that volunteers can visit to expand their thinking on issues affecting the youth they work with.

Another section focuses on research, which is also divided into sub categories focused on education, dropout prevention, social capital, mentoring and tutoring. The links I point to usually point to even more links.

I suggest that one activity any tutor/mentor program could undertake is to encourage a small group of youth and volunteers to go through the site, doing a deeper dive into the information. As they do this, they can create presentations that share sites they find valuable with the other youth, volunteers and staff in the organization...or with the larger community. I've been encouraging interns working with me to do this. This is an animation I made to introduce this concept.

New Assignment. A Quest. by tutormentor1 on GoAnimate

Video Maker - Powered by GoAnimate.

I've had interns from different colleges going through my web sites and library to create guides for users. Here's a video showing an animation created in 2009. Some of the links may be broken in this, but it illustrates work that can be done.

My library has been built over 40 years, starting with hard copy information
, then moving to the internet in 1998. It was created primarily as my own "book shelf", providing ideas I could use to innovate better ways to recruit youth and volunteers, keep them connected, and have an impact on both groups. I've constantly borrowed ideas from others, and one complete section of the web library focuses on collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, etc. These are ideas that not only apply to tutoring/mentoring, but can be applied to many work/life situations.

Since I operated as a non profit from 1990-2011, one section is focused on philanthropy, and shows challenges that need to be overcome if high quality, long-term youth programs are to be in more places, reaching more youth.

I'm constantly adding to the library, and links often break. If you identify a broken link, send me a note. If you are building your own web library, with information that relates to my library, send me a link and I'll add it. I don't need to gather all knowledge in my library. I only need to point to knowledge that represents "all we need to know" to help well-organized non-school programs connect with youth in high poverty areas, and stay connected as those youth grow up and become adults.

If you're a university and want to co-host this library, or set up a curriculum to teach students and alumni to navigate the library, and use the information in their own actions, please connect. If you're one of the people featured in the philanthropy summit issues of Forbes, and want to put your name on this library and use if for your own purposes, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Involve Youth: Thanksgiving Message

Over the coming week millions of people throughout the USA will gather with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings of living in this country. However, a small percent of citizens don't share many of those blessings because they live in high poverty areas of big cities and rural parts of the country.

I've been blessed to be able to lead volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 where inner city youth and volunteers from many different backgroundsconnect on a weekly basis throughout the school year, with a goal of transforming the future for both groups of people involved. I've also been frustrated by how difficult it is to find the consistent operating dollars needed to sustain on-going, constantly improving programs.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC kin 2011 to help draw needed resources to every non-school tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region, based on the way corporate office teams at big companies like Montgomery Ward (where I worked from 1973-1990) help stores grow all over the country. At Wards I had an annual retail advertising budget of over $250 million to reach out to over 20 million people a week with invitations and motivation to shop at our stores.

As the leader of a single tutor/mentor program, and the leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I had almost no money for advertising, yet the need to attract attention and resources was the same. Thus, as I've created a list of Chicago youth organizations, I've also enlisted volunteers and interns to help build the public awareness of our work.

The Thanksgiving graphic above was created by one of our Cabrini Connections students in 2009. Visit this blog and you can see two graphics created as part of a technology club led by volunteers.

I've had interns from various colleges working with me since 2005, creating visualizations with the same goal. I think youth in many programs could be creating visualizations, videos, blog articles and other forms of "advertising" that could be drawing the attention of potential volunteers and donors on a daily basis, not just during Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays.

If you're doing this kind of work, and showing it on your web site, please send me the link so I can give you attention and help you attract needed resources to your organization, while inspiring others to duplicate your efforts. While you're thinking about this, and counting your blessings, I encourage you to visit this Illinois Gives Big event web site, and browse the list of organizations that you can support on December 2, 2014. Many of these are also listed in my list of Chicago youth orgs. They all can benefit from your help as we move into 2015.

While we don't have traditional advertising we have tremendous talent within our youth and volunteer networks who could be helping attract support to tutor/mentor programs so that every year when we give Thanks, more people have something to be thankful for.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Use of Concept Maps to Show Strategy

Since October 25 I've been posting a series of articles on the Mapping for Justice blog, illustrating my uses of concept maps to show strategies leaders can adopt to build and sustain mentor-rich organizations helping kids living in poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

These articles, and most on this blog, illustrate the role intermediaries can take to support multiple organizations doing similar work, but in different parts of a large geographic region like Chicago.

Throughout these articles you'll see a constant focus on drawing needed resources (talent, dollars, technology, ideas, etc. directly to each organization already operating and to neighborhoods where more are needed.

Any business leader knows that without a constant flow of operating and innovation resources the business cannot grow, or survive. I continue to seek a few leaders who will add their support, talent and leadership to the ideas I share on these blogs and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site.

If you'd like to help, or learn more, connect with me on one of the social media sites shown in this link.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mentoring: One Size Fits ALL? No.

I've been connected to MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership since 1995, before they were THE partnership. I've followed the growth of mentor support networks in many cities, and today received the announcement of the launch of the National Mentoring Resource Center hosted by MENTOR and funded by OJJDP.

I've been trying to use visualizations, like the one below, to show that while every youth needs a mentor, youth living in high poverty areas of big cities need mentors, and a lot more that volunteers can help bring to a youth and his/her neighborhood.

The new Resource Center has a What is Mentoring page. I wish it, along with MENTOR and others who focus on mentoring as part of a strategy to improve the well-being of youth and adults, would create a graphic like the one above, that shows the different types of mentoring, and then shows strategies that focus more narrowly on those types of mentoring.

During the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference last week I encouraged people to do a Google search for the words "tutor mentor" then look at the images. Then do the same for MENTOR, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and any other well known mentoring strategy you know of.

Do the same for the word "tutor".

I'm the only one who seems to be focusing on mentoring as part of a set of actions that help youth move from first grade through school and into jobs, or at least the only one providing visualizations to illustrate how long this takes and how funding and leadership needs to be provided for many years, not just one to three year grant cycles.

I'm also one of the few who consistently uses maps to illustrate that constantly improving, growing, programs need to be reaching youth in every high poverty area of a city. If MENTOR would create it's own set of graphics, perhaps we could begin to build a conversation that focuses on the different needs of kids, based on where they live, and based on what other needs they have.

Instead of saying "Mentoring Works" we should be saying "Mentoring works for specific groups of young people and adults if the right strategy is in place."

This is not intended as a criticism of MENTOR or any other mentoring organization. I wrote this Defining Terms essay almost 15 years ago with the same goal in mind.

I'm sure others could create a better visualization of the different types of mentoring needed, as well as the different strategies that work best for different populations. If someone already has done this, please share.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Value of Intentional Influence - SSIR series

I've been reading, and commenting, on a series of articles on the Stanford Social Innovation Review site, titled The Value of Intentional Influence.

I hope you'll spend some time reading these, then browse back through blog articles I've written on this site, and the Mapping for Justice site, and look at some of the printed newsletters I was sending to 12,000 people in the 1990s.

Here's a graphic that illustrates my goal of influencing what resource providers do, along with what tutor/mentor program leaders do, so every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities is filled with great, or constantly improving, non-school programs helping kids move through school and into jobs some day in the future. In this article you can see how I posted this in a blog, then one of my interns from IIT and South Korea, converted it to a video on YouTube.

This is one of many graphics I've created to emphasize the role everyone, or anyone, can take to influence the actions of others.

I've been trying to influence what people do since I became a mentor, then leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1973-1975. Actually, I started earlier in college when I was in a fraternity and tried to influence new freshmen every year to join the fraternity. When I came to Chicago in 1973 it was to become a retail advertising copywriter with the Montgomery Ward corporation. For the next 17 years my daily focus was creating advertising that would influence people to shop in one of the 400 retail stores we had in 40 states.

At Wards our annual retail advertising budget in the 1980s was close to $250 million. In the past 20 years my advertising budget has been close to zero. I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with no money and seven volunteers, and with a primary goal of creating a new youth serving programs to help 7th graders in Cabrini-Green move through high school. I've never had more than $150,000 in a given year for everything the Tutor/Mentor Connection was trying to do, even though my focus was the third largest city in the USA.

Thus, my ability to influence what leaders in industry, philanthropy, media, politics, sports, religion, education, etc. do has been limited, even though writers like John McCarron of the Chicago Tribune recognized the vision I had as early as 1995. See article. In the past three years, as the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC has been my organizational structure, the dollars I have available to influence people has been even less, yet my time has grown since I'm no longer also responsible for leading a non-school tutor/mentor program with 80 pairs of teens/volunteers meeting weekly.

If you want to help youth born in high poverty neighborhoods move from birth to work you need to make a daily effort to influence what others do to provide the talent, operating dollars, technology and ideas to schools and non school organizations working with youth and families in high poverty neighborhoods.

If you want to help me do this work you can go to this page and make an investment in my work. Or you can contact me and explore ways you can become a partner, or even an owner, sharing this influence building effort in your own community.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Follow up to November 7 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.

The 42nd Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference since May 1994 was held last Friday. Between 80 and 90 people attended.

Several people took photos, which I'm aggregating into an album.
Here are links to a few albums and stories I've already received. I'll update this blog as I receive more:

JP Paulus of DoGooder Consulting posted photos here.

Steve Sewall wrote this article and posted photos here

Valerie Leonard, posted this article.

Cheryl Howard-Neal posted on the Illinois Mentoring Partnership Facebook page, "Great seeing everyone at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference today. Lots of great information and a wonderful opportunity to network with other mentoring and tutoring programs. Many thanks to Dan Bassill for organizing and hosting this event."

Jordan Hesterman of Becoming We the People, who is a co-organizer of the conference, posted this comment on her Facebook page.

See conference photos posted by Jordan Hesterman on 11/17. See Twitter Storify created by Jordan.

Darryl Allen of The Mentorship Institute shared this photo of myself and Cliff Wright, Jr. and wrote "It was pleasure to participate and present at the Tutor/Mentor Conference - November 7, 2014. I found the participants very engaging and informed on a variety of topics. The presenters were passionate and knowledgeable in their particular disciplines."

As I receive pdf copies of workshop presentations I'll post them on the agenda page for the conference.

Thank you all who attended. While the next conference will be held on May 8, 2015 at the Metcalfe Federal Location, I hope to connect in one-on-one meetings with those who attended, and those who follow via social media, to talk of strategies that will help make volunteer-based non-school tutor/mentor programs more effective, and available to youth in more places. Just contact me to schedule a meeting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day. Service. How Much is Required?

I served in the Army from 1968 to 1971. I did not do anything special. I was in South Korea my final year. I was awarded the Army Commendation Medal in my final month. That's nothing compared to what millions of men and women in the US Armed Forces have sacrificed to keep this nation free and strong.

Yet, as the photos above show, my service did not end in 1971 when leaving the Army. By a strange set of circumstances I became a mentor working with a boy named Leo in 1973, then leader of a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program in 1975. In 1993 I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with a goal of helping well-organized, ongoing, non-school tutor/mentor programs be available to youth like Leo in all high poverty areas of Chicago. Since 1998 I've been sharing my ideas on the Internet since every major city in the world has small concentrations of poverty where youth grow up without hope for the futures that so many other children take for granted.

In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in an effort to continue the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and support similar intermediary groups in other cities. Since I'm now approaching age 68, my goal has also been to find a place that would continue the work I've been doing in future years.

I just hosted a 42nd Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference since May 1994 and in August, was an honored guest at Leo's 50th birthday celebration.

I've written articles about service and heroes often in the past, often during national holidays like Veteran's Day. I keep asking why people won't sacrifice huge amounts of time, talent and dollars to make America a better place for all families to raise children, not just celebrate the sacrifice men and women give when they fight America's battles on foreign soil.

From 1990 to 2011 I operated under a 501-c-3 tax status, and was able to raise nearly $6 million from companies, foundations, family and friends to support the Cabrini Connections program and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Never with any consistency. Since 2011 I've been doing the same work, but under an LLC tax status. I've reduced expenses to bare bones, under $20,000 a year, yet I've operated at a financial loss each year since 2011 due to my inability to find investors, partners and/or supporters who share the same vision and purpose I share in these article, and are willing to support it with time, talent and dollars.

In 2011 I created this "HOPE" graphic, asking supporters to provide funds to support my continued efforts. You can still do that via this page.

Later I created this graphic, saying "If companies can put their name and logo on race car driver uniforms, why won't they do the same for social innovators and people working to create a better future for people in our world?" Read more about this idea.

Unfortunately, while I've had many people praise my work, I've yet to find consistent revenue to operate in the black, or an investor who will designate $25 to $30 million to create a Tutor/Mentor Institute on a college campus, or as a stand-alone organization.

If you're able to help figure this out or make the connection, please do it as your own act of service on this Veteran's Day.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

What Does Knowledge Based Problem Solving Mean?

I attended an event yesterday with about 200 other people, which was focused on making Chicago a better place for kids to grow up. Great speakers, including one from UCAN who hit the nail on the head when he said, "We need consistent funding, and we need if for 10-15 consecutive years."

When I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the mission was to "gather and organize all that was known about successful non-school tutor/mentor programs and to apply that knowledge to expand the availability and effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region". Read it here.

I've attended events like yesterday's for more than 20 years. With 50 people in the room few get to talk, or express deeper understanding of problems or solutions. Even in breakout sessions, the person taking notes does not capture, or communicate, most of what was said. I remember when the Wallace DeWitt Foundation was giving out huge grants to cities in the early 1990s. The decision making was based on what people could bring to the table from their own experiences, not all the information that was available to them. I think that's still the case.

I've often tried to explain the purpose of the information I collect, by using the analogy of a "hospital operating room" where the operation is performed in an amphitheater where hundreds of others are watching. I found this graphic in a Wall Street Journal ad, and it communicates the idea visually.

I hope you'll follow this progression of thinking, because it applies to helping cities like Chicago solve complex problems.

1) At the start of the "operation" two people are bent over a patient (a problem like violence?). As long as the expertise they both have is enough to do the operation, they continue. (This photo is from an improvisation workshop in spring 1993, during the first year operations of the Cabrini Connections program I founded and led until 2011.)

2) However, as usually is the case, something occurs where the two doctors on the floor, don't know the answer. They say to the audience, "Do any of you know how to solve this problem?" Someone says "I do" and they join the two on the floor. As this continues to happen, new ideas are brought to the operation and the group on the floor grows.

3) At some point, no one in the amphitheater knows the answer. However, someone says, "I know someone who does know the answer. I'll find them and invite them to join the group." Once that happens, the operation continues.

4) Eventually, a problem will arise that no one knows the answer, or knows anyone else who has ever dealt with that particular problem. Someone high in the gallery says, "I'm starting a PhD course at the local university. I'll look into this and when I find an answer I'll bring it to the group." Several people, in universities, or in business, could be doing research on that problem.

I've been looking for people with experiences and information that could help people in Chicago build systems of support that help youth in poverty move through school and into jobs since I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I'd been doing this informally since I started leading a tutor/mentor program at the Montgomery Ward Headquarters in Chicago back in 1975. Below is a map of the information in my "knowledge" library.

This information has been growing for 20 years. It's been available to leaders in Chicago and other cities for that long. It went on the Internet in 1998. Yet, too few seem to value the role information has to support innovation and problem solving. That means when I go to events where people are gathering to "solve the problem" of education, violence, workforce development, health disparities, etc, few are even aware that my library exists.

The process does not effectively capture the knowledge of everyone in the room, or of others who may be in other cities and countries. Yet anyone could be building a web library, with links to ideas and resources they find valuable, and with links to other web libraries. This concept is outlined in the PDF showing the goal of a "Tutor/Mentor Learning Network" which I've been trying to build since 1993.

The critical idea in this PDF is that since few of us have advertising dollars, we need to take daily actions that draw attention to everyone in the network of information and ideas, not just to our own organization, no matter how powerful we are. As speakers have emphasized over, and over, "No one can solve this problem by themselves."

I've devoted one entire section to collaboration, knowledge management, visualization, innovation, etc. You can enter it via this map. This section could be curriculum for school, or non-school, youth programs, where volunteers from business and universities help youth learn these skills, and learn to apply them in their own efforts.

One set of blog articles that I point to focuses on "online learning, MOOCs, etc." The ideas in these sections can help enhance the process and group is using to solve Chicago's problems, regardless of if the connect with me or not.

Below is another visualization that I've created to illustrate the role knowledge, or work done by others, can take in supporting the constant improvement of work everyone is doing to help youth born in poverty move through school and into jobs and careers.

Using Ideas to Stimulate Competition and Process Improvement - Concept Paper by Daniel F. Bassill

I've hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every six months since 1994 to help draw attention to information in this library, and to encourage people represented by the links I point to to connect, share ideas, and build relationships with each other.

The next is Friday, November 7 at the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago. If you care about the same issues as I focus on, I hope you'll attend. If you have the ability, I invite you to become a sponsor. Help me continue to build and share this knowledge library, and keep it freely available to Chicago and other cities.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brainstorming. Sharing ideas. Influencing Others.

Last week I spent three hours talking with Mark Carter, who leads a small consulting firm in Chicago. We've been meeting about once every two months with a goal of me helping Mark understanding my goals and strategies, so that Mark becomes a leader who shares them with others. After a previous meeting Mark posted this blog article.

In last week's meeting we were focusing on how the Tutor/Mentor Connection could be a project that engages business mentors and high school/college students in ways that help non school volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow, and help youth move more successfully from college to jobs. As we talked I began to scratch out my ideas on a piece of paper. You can see this below.

The ideas this is conveying is that an intermediary could recruit volunteers from marketing, advertising, communications companies who would coach teams of youth who would do pro bono consulting to help non profits gain strategies they could apply to help programs grow. Instead of helping a single tutor/mentor program grow, I suggested these teams could help all tutor/mentor programs in a defined geography. Furthermore, the student/volunteer teams would apply the strategies they develop, on an on-going basis, rather than give them over to the non profit hoping they could find the resources to implement the idea. The four circles in the lower right of the graphic were indicating quarterly events that youth intermediary could organize. New students joining the project in future years would be building upon the work started by previous students, thus the impact on the non profits would grow, as would the impact on the youth doing the capacity building.

I do a lot of idea generating on scratch paper like this. In many cases I then convert the idea to a power point visualization. Here's the same idea, with a new graphic.

I admit that most of my visualizations are a bit simplistic. That's why I've been pleased to have interns from IIT and other universities create their own versions of my graphics. Visit this page to see a collection of visualizations done by interns, and showing the original source of their work.

All of the work I've done since 1993 is intended to influence the actions of others. In fact, if you lead a tutor/mentor program, which I did from 1974 to 2011, you spend every day trying to influence what volunteers, donors, board members, staff, youth and community partners do. I was pleased to find this article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review this past week, which describes "Influence as an underutilized tool for organizations that want to achieve bold social goals."

In the graphic above I described a goal of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC of helping T/MC-type intermediary groups grow on college campuses and in high schools throughout the Chicago region and in other cities. Such groups would duplicate my own efforts, and over time, innovate even better ways to communicate ideas and influence actions that help youth born in high poverty have the support system they need to move through school and into work.

If you'd like to take on this role
, let's connect on Twitter, or in the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum where I coach interns to do this work.

See more of these ideas on past blog articles, as well as in the Mapping for Justice blog.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Countering Pull of Extremists. Street Gangs, Too?

This article, titled "Countering the pull of extremists" was in my Chicago Tribune today. It focuses on the Somali-American community in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Featured is a "local Somali activist" who has been working since 2007 to provide community programs that would offer youth opportunities that help them resists the lure of terrorist recruiters. (Note: I can't find the link to this story on the Tribune web site. If you find it, post in the comment section below.)

Yet, to quote the article "His task isn't easy: The region's 50,000 member Somali community faces high unemployment, with few after-school programs."

Since 2007 this activist has "gone door to door seeking donations for his programs, often without success. He tells his kids "help will come" but they say "people don't care about us. We're just a bunch of poor Somali kids."

He says "few outsiders have paid attention to the growing exodus of young Somalis, leaving the community to tend to its own emotional wounds. "People have been in denial about our crisis"."

I've read articles about youth joining ISIS for a "sense of belonging" that they don't feel where they live.
I've read similar articles about youth joining inner city gangs for that same "sense of belonging" and lack of opportunities in their own neighborhoods. In this section of the Tutor/Mentor Web library you can read more about street gangs.

The same lack of consistent investment in high poverty neighborhoods where gangs are the terrorists seems apparent in the Somali-American neighborhoods where foreign terrorists are the threat.

I did some searching to see what sort of information was available in the Twin Cities and found the following:

This is a map from the Minneapolis Foundation's web site showing areas of high poverty, which are the darker shades on this map.

This map is from Minnesota Compass web site, showing the Cedar-Riverside area which is where high concentrations of Somali-Americans live.

Since I focus on helping non-school tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, I looked for a resource doing similar work in the Twin Cities. This graphic is from the Minnesota Mentoring Partnership web site, shown the map-based program locator they have created. If you compare the poverty map to the mentoring program locator map, you can see that there are a number of youth mentoring programs in high poverty areas. However, if you zoom into the map it does not look like any of these programs are in the Cedar-Riverside area.

I had to use three different web platforms to get this information. The Mentoring Partnership site map does not include demographic overlays showing poverty, or other indicators showing poor schools, violence, etc. which would be indicators that more youth programs are needed in these areas. You need to get that from the other web platforms.

If you look at the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator's interactive map, you'll see this is what I've been trying to build since 1994 to support tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. And if you look at map stories, here, here and here, you'll see how I've been using the maps to draw attention, and resources to all of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago.

I can't find many other web sites or blogs with similar stories, written consistently for so many years, with the same goal of helping youth move through school and into jobs and careers with the support of volunteers in well-organized non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.

I'm terrified of how ISIS and other extremists are recruiting disengaged American youth and how that potentially will grow a new wave of terrorist operating in THIS country.

However, I've also been terrified for the past 30 years of how gang involvement is already breeding a generation of highly armed inner city terrorists and how that could some day change from Black and Hispanic youth shooting each other, and terrifying the people living in their neighborhoods (which is a huge tragedy), to becoming urban terrorists who use the same types of terrorism seen in the Middle East to attack all of those who live beyond poverty and have ignored the conditions many urban youth grow up with.

Unless we have a huge, urgent, consistent and on-going effort to fill poverty maps with a wide range of organizations that provide hope and opportunity and a sense of belonging, I fear what we will face in another 10 or 20 years.

I've hosted this information on my web sites since 1998 and was interviewed in numerous media stories during the 1990s. At this site you can find printed newsletters with this message, which I was publishing from 1993-2001, before I ran out of money to do these.

Since 1993 I've piloted an integrated four-part strategy that includes a map-based directory and web library, as well as a public education strategy that intends to increase the number of people involved in using this information to help youth tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in more places.

This is a strategy that requires many leaders, representing every sector. It's one that can be duplicated in many places, using the name Tutor/Mentor Connection, or using any name you want to call it.

I'm available to help you figure this out.