Friday, January 31, 2014

Creating a Super Bowl of Attention

I posted this graphic on my blog in April 2013. It expresses a lot of ideas. So I thought I’d try to break it down into components.
Here is same graphic, but with numbers on different parts. In the paragraphs below I’ll show the meaning.

First, the goal of this graphic, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is to help high quality, long-term, site-based tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty neighborhoods. This section of the Tutor/Mentor web library includes dozens of research articles that show the impact of poverty, indicating the potential benefits of mentor-rich programs.

Second, if we want mentor-rich programs in more high poverty neighborhoods, then we must find ways to increase the flow of needed resources to all programs, and keep this consistent for many years. To do that we need to influence what the donor and resource provider do, not just what programs do.

I’ve been following the National Mentoring Summit via a live feed for the past two days and posting comments on Twitter. There are about 800 people at the Summit, and between one-, and two-hundred subscribed to the live feed.

In one of the featured discussions yesterday, David Gregory, Host of NBC's Meet the Press, was a speaker. @davidgregory has over 1.6 million Twitter Followers. Justin Bieber @justinbieber has 49 million followers. @MENTORnational has only 3663 followers. As of yesterday @tutormentorteam has almost 1600 followers.

These are “attention gaps” we need to close and we cannot do that without more consistent, and strategic, support from business, public leaders, media and other potential resource providers.

Let’s look at this chart closer:

A tutor/mentor program supports a connection between an adult volunteer with a youth living in an area where indicators show extra adult support and learning activities are needed. NOTE: many mentoring strategies are nor primarily focused on youth living in high poverty. However, there is much research showing that for youth living in high poverty the non-school hours offer risk if not filled with positive learning activities and that there are too few resources in most neighborhoods. The Tutor/Mentor Institute's primary focus is helping mentor rich programs reach youth living in high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago.

There are a wide variety of formal mentoring programs, and many youth are involved in informal mentoring. This New Report: The Mentoring Effect, shows that too few youth are engaged in formal mentoring.

This is one graphic from my web site illustrating a need to support youth for many years. On you can find more graphics like this, which point to a long-term result, which is when kids have made the journey from first grade through high school, post high school learning, and into jobs with family level wages or better. Our aim is to help youth programs build strategies that support this long-term goal.

This graphic is intended to illustrate the infrastructure needed in every tutor/mentor program. Most people, including youth and volunteers, don’t see the work it takes to recruit and retain youth and volunteers, and find the operating dollars and other resources needed to build an ongoing program. See this graphic at this link.

I’ve piloted uses of maps since 1994 to illustrate the need for tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago. Without the maps donors and media focus on a few high profile programs, or a few high profile neighborhoods. You don't get a distribution of resources to all of the neighborhoods, or all of the programs, which need consistent support.

The oil well graphic indicates the need for programs to help youth from birth to work. See more maps at

Most efforts to support non profits, including tutor/mentor programs, share ideas that help programs improve themselves, and their operations. This concept map shows a section of the Tutor/Mentor Web library that represents a college of resources that tutor/mentor leaders could draw from to be better at what they do.

However, most smaller programs are so overwhelmed and under financed that they can't draw from this information for on-going learning as much as they need to. This section of the library should be read by business leaders, donors and policy makers. It shows challenges facing non profits.

As the Iceberg graphic demonstrated, every program has common needs for a wide range of talent. Few have the money to hire all the talent they need or purchase the best technology and other tools needed to run a high quality business.

This is where we need to grow. Business leaders have tremendous expertise in building chains of stores operating in multiple locations. I wrote about Polk Bros recently, showing how advertising and sales promotion were used to draw customers to stores. On Pinterest I show many graphics that illustrate the role of business and professionals could take to draw needed resources to volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs all over the city. I created this “Virtual Corporate office PDF” to illustrate the way volunteer talent in many companies and industries could be mobilized and focused on supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs throughout big cities like Chicago.

If programs are consistently supported, and are constantly learning from each other, and engaging all of their supporters in efforts to constantly improve the organization’s impact, they should be able to show on their web sites many indicators of their value and impact. This pdf illustrates some of the things a “shopper” should want to see when looking at a tutor/mentor program’s web site.

Teams of volunteers from business, universities, high schools, etc. could help programs collect and share this information on web sites, and could provide some of the advertising support needed every day to encourage more people to look at these web sites and provide support to help one, or many, programs grow.

As a result of this support there should be many programs with a long-term history and the ability to posts murals like this, showing youth and volunteers who have been part of programs in the past, and who are still connected to those programs today, while helping programs provide services to the next generation of youth.

Now, when you look at this graphic, do you understand what it is showing? Can you share this with people in your own network? Take a look at this blog to see how interns have been creating visualizations and new interpretations of graphics like this. Start a project at your school, or in your church or in your tutor/mentor program, where youth and volunteers create their own interpretations, focusing on your own community and/or school neighborhood if you're not in Chicago.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Super Bowl, Mentoring Summit, State of the Union

This weekend about 130 million people will watch the Super Bowl. 30 second TV ads will cost over $2 million each.

Today I'm following workshops in the National Mentoring Summit, being held in Arlington, VA. I attended the past two years, but this year I'm following on-line and sharing with my Twitter feed.

A couple of days ago millions of people listened to President Obama's State of the Union. I followed on my PC and connected with many via live Twitter discussions during the day.

In the next few weeks millions will tune into watch the Winter Olympics.

Millions of dollars in advertising are being spent to attract fans to these events. Who is spending that kind of money to attract supporters to youth tutoring and/or mentoring programs?

While all of these sports events may make us feel better, and feed the economy, and make the rich richer, my goal is that by posting messages on Twitter and other social media today and next week, I can attract volunteers, donors, partners and/or investors to the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, web site so more people will become involved in on-going learning, idea sharing and brainstorming that improves the distribution of talent, dollars, technology and ideas and leads to more and better k-12 tutoring, mentoring programs in more of the places where they are needed.

What would it take for millions of people to be tuning into the Mentor Summit, or reading articles on blogs like mine on a monthly basis? What leadership is required?

This photo illustrates why it's important to attract some donors to support our work. This was taken more than 20 years ago when these kids were participating in the tutoring program hosted at the Montgomery Ward complex in Chicago. Today, many are connected to me on Facebook. With enough resources, we could be advertising a "Mentor Reunion" event and and connecting more and more of our alumni with programs and each other via a variety of social media platforms.

What this illustrates is that "connecting a youth and volunteer in a tutor/mentor program is only the beginning. Keeping them connected to each other, and the program, is an on-going process" that must be continuously funded if the youth will experience the real benefit of an expanded social network consisting of people who don't live in poverty, and who hold jobs in many different industries, when they are adults. This animation created by one of our interns that illustrates this concept.

I use maps all the time to illustrate that constantly improving, mentor-rich programs are needed in hundreds of neighborhoods. Every program needs the same resources to connect youth and volunteers and keep them connected and growing.

I don't have the dollars to have an ad on TV today, or any day of the year. Yet, unless we can attract the same number of fans to our web sites and events, we'll never achieve the goals the President set out in his State of the Union address.

There are nearly 200 Chicago youth serving programs on this list. They all need consistent support, and challenges to learn from each other and constantly improve.

Note that throughout this article and most of my blog articles I include graphics to illustrate ideas. I encourage other leaders in the youth development, mentoring, tutoring and workforce development fields to develop similar graphics and include them in their own web sites. Many of these were created by interns, demonstrating that youth in schools and non-school programs could be building skills while also learning leadership and communications strategies that are needed to build strong, on-going organizations.

If this interests you let's connect on Twitter, or Facebook, or the Tutor/Mentor Conference Help build teams of volunteers, donors, political leaders, etc. who help build great tutor/mentor programs in every neighborhood where they are needed.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Changing Education Paradigms

I've been taking part in a Deeper Learning MOOC, #DLMOOC, which started this week, and one member shared this RSA Animate video by Sr. Ken Robinson. I've posted some other videos by RSA Animate in the past and would love to have the capacity to communicate my ideas as effectively.

This week the National Mentoring Summit will be held in Arlington, VA. While I attended the past two years, this year I'm going to follow via the live stream and see if I can connect with more people than I was able to when I was part of a crowd of over 700 people. I will be posting some comments on Twitter, using #2014NM.

Here's an article I wrote in October 2005, following a White House conference on at-risk youth. In this article I wrote:

"Finally, what disappoints me even more, is that there are too many people holding conferences that draw attention to significant issues, are not using the Internet to encourage contact, networking, interaction and engagement among the people who attended and those who might have just heard about it in the media. "

I'm please that MENTOR is offering the live stream and encouraging Twitter interactions, but I'm not sure how much individual tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, or around the country, are encouraging their youth, volunteers, staff, Directors, donors and other supporters to connect in on-line learning events during the same period as a smaller group of people are connecting in some part of the country in an expensive, face to face event.

The ideas shared in the Deeper Learning MOOC, in the RSA Animate video, and in the Tutor/Mentor Web Library, need to be part of on-going learning, supported by a wide range of facilitators who work on-line, and/or in thousands of individual locations. We all want our kids to grow up safely, and be able to hold jobs, be responsible citizens and have happy lives. But to help some kids get from "here to there" we need to have a lot more people connected to each other, and to ideas and resources that are needed to support the progress of kids through school and into work and careers.

During the coming week, and for the rest of the year, I'll look forward to connecting with more people who are sharing ideas and using the information to build stronger, mentor-rich, support systems for kids.

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Video by Intern shows Power of Small Change

This video was created over the past two weeks by SunjoongYoo, who is a winter 2014 intern of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in Chicago.

This is one of many visualizations created by interns since 2005. It's also an example of the type of project students from many place could be doing in an on-going effort to create more and better non-school learning, mentoring and job training opportunities for youth living in high poverty neighborhoods.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Without Effective Leadership Same Problems Continue

Yesterday I wrote an article pointing out how the Polk Bros retail stores used advertising to build attention and draw customers to their stores, and how they used events, sales promotions, give-aways, etc. to motivate customers to buy something when they came to those stores.

I also told of my participation in a DEEPER LEARNING MOOC, #dlmooc, connecting more than 1000 people. Last January I participated in an Education Technology and Media MOOC (#ETMOOC) and this week participants like Paul Signorelli, have written reflections showing all the benefits of participating.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with a goal of helping constantly improving, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach youth in more places. In this 4-part strategy map, you can see that step two of the strategy is to increase the frequency of media stories that would lead to greater volunteer and donor support of growing tutor/mentor programs.

One strategy to achieve this goal was to create map-stories following negative news stories in local medial.
These are a few examples of map-stories created in the 1990s. If you browse through articles on this site tagged 'media', 'maps' or 'violence' you will see many more examples, created in the 2000s. Visit the Mapping For Justice blog and you'll see many more examples of maps used to draw attention and resources to areas with high crime and violence, high concentrations of poorly performing schools, and high violence.

The result of this campaign should be maps that show more programs in more places, along with charts showing programs like the Lawyers Lend A Hand to Youth growing in more industries, and growing the amount of money and volunteer involvement from their industry on a year-to-year basis.

However, that has not happened. Why?

I can not find evidence that any leader, from any industry in the Chicago region, has devoted consistent advertising resources to draw attention to tutoring/mentoring, and to draw volunteers and operating dollars to programs throughout the city, or to programs near places where they do business, or where employees or customers live.

I can not find evidence that the current, or former mayor of Chicago, or any alderman, state elected official or county president, has led a weekly, yearly campaign, intended to draw needed volunteers, dollars and technology resources to the tutor/mentor programs operating in various Chicago neighborhoods. Even the occasional public declarations of support for Chicago's kids don't work like a Polk Bros ad to draw attention to tutor/mentor programs all over the city, and to motivate people to volunteer time, or give operating dollars, to support existing programs, or to help new programs start in neighborhoods with great need, but too few programs.

This Village Map shows that people from many sectors need to be involved in helping kids grow up and be prepared for 21st century jobs. If leaders post on their web sites what they do to build successful tutor/mentor programs, using maps to show where they are helping, and charts to show how many volunteers, dollars are involved, and how that grows from year to year, we could put links on the village maps to their web sites.

When we show leaders in every sector, leading a Polk Bros type advertising campaign, over a 10 to 30 year period, we will begin to see the number of mentor-rich programs grow in more places, and we'll begin to see more stories of how young people were helped through school and into a job by a mentor and/or a business.

Until that happens we'll continue to have media stories showing tragedy and high profile people, but not ending with a "call to action" that points to places throughout the city where help is needed and where people can get involved.

What's needed to support this data collection, map making, etc.?
How can youth take a meaningful role? Let's meet to talk about this.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lessons from Polk Bros – Power of Advertising!

On January 8 I attended the Polk Bros Foundation’s 25th Anniversary. I wrote about that in this article.

While leaving the event I was given a copy of a book titled “I Bought It at Polk Bros: The Story of an American Retailing Phenomenon”. It’s available on Amazon. Free copies might be available from the Polk Bros Foundation.

This is the story of the growth of a Chicago retail giant, starting with a very, very small appliance store, in the 1930s. It’s the story of an immigrant family, and the vision of one man, Sol Polk, the company’s founder and president until he died in the 1980s.

This story resonated with me because from 1973 to 1990 I held retail advertising management positions with the Montgomery Ward Corporation, a competitor of Polk Bros in the Chicago market. Being part of the advertising department, I and the writers, artists and production people who worked with me, were constantly frustrated by how the merchandise people would change ads often, and frequently at the last minute.

In reading about Sol Polk’s commitment to advertising, and how he watched competitor ads and made last minute changes to TV and Radio scripts and print ads so Polk Bros could have a lower price, I recognized what was happening in my own company, and how savagely each business competed for customers every day.
(This is the front cover of one supplement I created for the Automotive Department at Wards)

So what does this have to do with volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring? I led the tutoring program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago from 1975 to 1990, as a volunteer while holding advertising roles with growing responsibility. By the early 1980s I was in charge of creative development of all national print advertising.

Thus, leading a volunteer program with 200-300 pairs of kids/volunteer meeting weekly, and virtually no paid staff, was a real challenge.

I learned very early that there was no way to provide enough training to volunteers to solve every problem they would face as a tutor/mentor. All kids were different. All volunteers were different. They all were constantly changing.

Thus, I began to borrow from my advertising experiences to share ideas and motivate actions within my volunteer world. Every week I created a one or two page “newsletter” which included tips for tutors, announcements of weekly activities, and an encouragement to dig deeper into our resource library to understand why the tutor/mentor program was needed, and ways volunteers could support the overall program’s growth.

Initially my “mass communications” was a mimeograph machine to make copies, and my own two feet to pass out these copies each week to our volunteers. The format for making copies changed as we moved to desk top publishing and copy machines in the 1980s and 1990s, but what really changed was the Internet becoming a place where we could host ideas that any of our teens, volunteers and donors could find them. By 2002 I was sending a weekly email newsletter to our volunteers, and a monthly email newsletter to all of our supporters.

While this works within a single program, if you have the time to create a newsletter, and to research ideas that you would put into it, not every program has people who can do the design, writing, formatting, publishing and distribution of electronic communications.

What’s more significant, motivating people to read the communications weekly and dig deeper into the research, and to form small groups to discuss the ideas with peers and other volunteers, is a challenge that still has not been solved.

Busy volunteers, staff members, directors, donors, etc. have many other priorities in their lives beyond their involvement in the tutor/mentor program. Even people paid to do the job spend so much time with day-to-day challenges of supporting youth and volunteers and keeping funds coming in, that there is very little “flexible time” to spend reading and “learning”.

I’ve written about MOOCs in the past year and this week I’m participating in a Deeper Learning MOOC, that engages more than 1000 people from around the country around the topic of “Deeper Learning”, which according to the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, is…..“students engaged in deeper learning—are using their knowledge and skills in a way that prepares them for real life.

They are mastering core academic content, like reading, writing, math, and science, while learning how to think critically, collaborate, communicate effectively, direct their own learning, and believe in themselves (known as an “academic mindset

Over the past week I’ve read several hundred introductions, mostly from educators. What concerns me, is that too few of these are people working in big city school districts, such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Houston, LA, etc. If leaders and thinkers from these cities are not engaged in “deeper learning” how can we expect to bring higher quality learning experiences to inner city youth.

I’ve also seen very few participants in my MOOCs from people who lead non school tutoring and/or mentoring programs. If representatives from programs, and from those who support these programs, are not engaged in “deeper learning” how can they find ways to constantly improve the impact of their programs, or the flow of operating resources and talent that are essential to program improvement?

Sol Polk understood the power of advertising. He also recognized that he could get other people to pay for a large part of the costs of his advertising. The people who manufactured the merchandise sold in Polk Bros stores provided dollars for advertising costs. There’s an entire chapter on this in the book.

In his TED talk, Dan Pallotta talks about the power of advertising, and shows how donors are not willing to pay the costs for non profits to advertise. Read more here.

When I started Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, one of the key goals was to increase the frequency of news stories talking about tutoring/mentoring programs in Chicago. That’s still a goal.

Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC will never have millions of dollars for advertising. Thus, companies, churches, college groups, athletes, etc. need to become our “advertising partners” using their own media, visibility, in-store displays, etc. to build awareness and draw “customers” --- youth, volunteers, donors, etc. --- directly to the different tutor/mentor locations operating in Chicago or other cities.

Polk Bros did not just spend millions of dollars on advertising and promotions without a clear purpose. They ran “sales” and “events” throughout the year, which were intended to motivate customers to come to their stores. VOLUME was the goal of Sol Polk.

VOLUME is also the goal of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. We must dramatically increase the number of people who are thinking about tutor/mentor programs every day, and who are visiting web sites to learn more about where, why and how they can help programs in different neighborhoods of Chicago.

National Mentoring Month is in January every year. Events throughout the month have encourage people to post articles on blogs, comments on Twitter and Facebook. New stories have shown how mentors can change a youth’s life. This needs to be happening 12 months a year, not just in January.

Every story needs to end with a “call to involvement”. A “hook” as Sol Polk would have described it, that motivates a customer to come to a store, or to support a tutor/mentor program in one of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

If you’re an advertising professional, a retail executive, a PR manager, etc. this is a strategy you certainly should understand, and that you can support in your own efforts to help Chicago become a place where EVERY child has the opportunities and support to find work, establish a career, and raise a family out of the grip of poverty.

If you are a foundation established using wealth created by entrepreneurs who started their companies in the early part of the 19th century, why not go beyond giving grants. Why not spend some of your own capital to create “advertising” that draws other donors, volunteers and leaders to support the same programs you are funding?

Few foundation grants provide more than 5% of the total operating costs for any non profit. Many don’t even cover costs of general operations…which is the cost of keeping the doors open and constantly improving. Thus, it would seem to make sense that using foundation dollars (in addition to advertising and sales promotion from others) would help attract more (up to 100%) of the dollars every non-school tutor/mentor program needs to operate effectively every year.

Where are people talking about this? Is anyone hosting a “Deeper Learning” MOOC that engages donors, business leaders, advertisers and shows them more ways to help draw on-going customer support to all of the different non profits needed to enrich a city like Chicago? During the National Mentoring Summit, being held in Washington, DC on January 30 and 31, many of the sessions will be available on line (for $20 fee). Maybe some of us can connect via that forum.

Who wants to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences so they can attract leaders and support this type of conversation, face to face, and via online communities? The next conference is May 19 and sponsors and workshop presenters are encouraged to step forward and introduce themselves.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Understanding and Applying Collective Impact

This Slideshare shows how Collective Impact is defined in the Cincinnati area.

I think a key part in such strategies is the aggregation of information showing who the stakeholders are and expanding understanding of the problems a community faces, along with on-going efforts to connect different groups with each other so relationships of trust and information sharing are developed. It's on this foundation that a group can begin to generate shared understanding and common goals.

This takes time. And it takes significant funding.

Interns help share strategies through visualizations

This graphic is one of many you can see on the Tutor/Mentor Intern blog. It was created by one of two new winter 2014 interns from South Korea and IIT in Chicago. On this page you can view introductions of other interns from past years, and on this page you can see projects they have done to help communicate the strategies and ideas that have been created over the past 20 years by Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

One goal of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC has been to build partnership with universities, high schools and other programs, which unleash students as researchers, leaders, network builders, etc. who duplicate what Tutor/Mentor Connection has been doing since 1993, but focus their effort on their own community and/or neighborhood. If you'd like to get involved just introduce yourself.

In the Four Part Strategy visualized with this graphic, and described in this presentation, we show that aggregated information can be used by many people to support innovations that lead to more and better programs helping youth move through school and into jobs and careers. There are millions of people adding knowledge to the internet everyday, from formal research, information sharing by different organizations, and opinion pieces in blogs, newspapers, etc.

Once this information is released is has a short lifespan, then becomes archived were few people will ever read it. The second and third steps of the Tutor/Mentor Institute strategy involve a) creating greater daily advertising and public education efforts, intended to increase the number of people who look at this archived information; and b) building facilitation teams in thousands of locations, where people who are building their own understanding of all of this information, lead learning groups that help others to build their understand, too.

In this post on the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum, one volunteer wrote, "This forum is essentially modelled on a similar format as Google's. The "In-Forming" Process works something like this:

1. Uninformed people interact with information and become informed.

2. Informed people interact with uninformed people, producing more informed people.

3. Informed people interact with each other.

4. To the point where new information is being passed along to all parties involved, starting the process over again."

The dollars and manpower to create a reach and frequency of daily advertising that would draw millions of people to this information does not exist. Nor do dollars exist for hiring a network of trainers and facilitators. However, just as volunteers in faith groups lead weekly discussions of scripture, student volunteers and interns from thousands of locations could be doing what the interns with Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC are doing, to increase the number of people becoming interested, and helping them become informed, so more people are becoming consistent and strategic in how they help k-12 youth mentoring and tutoring programs become more available to youth in all places where they are needed.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Engage Team In Informal Learning to Support Mentor Program Growth

It's National Mentoring Month and on social media many are showing how they have been involved in a mentoring program and others are telling stories of the impact of mentoring. However, I don't find many talking about strategies that increase the number of programs, the quality of programs, the distribution of programs into all neighborhoods where youth would benefit, or the mobilization of increased operating resources needed to support all of these programs.

I received a paper this weekend via my social media, titled "The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning", written by Henry Mintzberg, who is now Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University. This paper was written in 1994, prior to the Internet providing us the ability to connect, share ideas and innovate ways to solve complex problems.

I hope you'll read it. I've highlighted my own copy to emphasize how this paper relates to efforts needed in making mentor-rich programs available to youth in more places. Here are some quotes from the paper.

"The most successful strategies are visions, not plans."

What the strategy making process should be: "capturing what a manager learns from all sources (both the soft insights from his or her personal experiences and the experiences of others throughout the organization and the hard data from market research and the like) and then synthesizing that learning into a vision of the direction that the business shold pursue."

"Planners should make their contribution around the strategy-making process. They should supply the formal analyses or hard data that strategic thinking requires, as long as they do it to broaden the consideration of issues."

"Strategic thinking is about synthesis. It involves intuition and creativity. The outcome of strategic thinking is an integrated perspective of the enterprise, a not-too-precisely articulated vision of direction."

"Such strategies often cannot be developed on schedule and immaculately conceived. They must be free to appear at any time and at any place in the organization, typically through a messy process of informal learning that must necessarily be carried out by people at various levels who are deeply involved with the specific issues at hand."

"Strategy making needs to function beyond the boxes, to encourage the informal learning that produces new perspectives and new combinations."

"Strategies can develop inadvertently, without the conscious intention of senior management, often through a process of learning."

"Real strategists get their hands dirty digging for ideas, and real strategies are build from the occasional nuggets they uncover."

"Planners can assist managers in finding fledgling strategies in their organization's activities, or in those of competing organizations."

"Planners can snoop around places they might not normally visit to find patterns amid the noise of failed experiments, seemingly random activities, and messy learning. They can discover new ways of doing or perceiving things."

"Some of the best models that planners can offer managers are simply alternative conceptual interpretations of their world."

Throughout this article there is an emphasis on learning. Within the corporate structure, where people are earning a pay check for their involvement, there is some degree of motivation for deeper learning. Our challenge in the social sector is motivating all those who need to be engaged and involved in on-going learning that leads to better programs, in more places.

I believe that volunteer involvement in a structured tutor/mentor program is a form of adult "service learning". This animation illustrates that belief. Involvement in a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program can be a strategy for informal learning and out of the company-box thinking.

I've written many articles on "learning" in this blog. I hope you'll review some of them in context of this article.

In order to make mentor-rich programs available to youth in all places where they are needed, and keep such programs in place, and constantly improving for many years, we need a commitment by leaders from every industry that supports this process of learning. Read this ROLE OF LEADERS presentation. This envisions a role similar to the planning support described by Mintzberg. It encourages CEOs to advocate for employee involvement in tutor/mentor programs near all places where the company does business, as part of its own employee learning and workforce development.

In the articles on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, we envision a constantly-expanding, source of information, ideas and data that can be used by anyone who wants to help more youth connect with mentors, tutors and extra learning as part of a long-term process of helping kids move from birth to work.

If National Mentoring Month has captured your attention, use this article to inspire your strategic thinking. Through the Internet CEOs, Board Members, policy makers, youth, volunteers and program leaders can connect with each other, and with a wealth of ideas that can stimulate their own thinking of ways to reach youth, expand aspirations and support habits that are needed to compete in 21st century corporations.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Educate your Mentors - Turn them into Advocates

Today is "I am a Mentor" Social Media Day!!! If you've been a volunteer in a tutor/mentor program share your story on places like the Illinois Mentoring Partnership's Facebook page or the Tutor/Mentor Institute's page. As the photo to the left shows, I've been mentoring inner city youth in Chicago since 1973. I've led a program since 1975.

I started building a list and network of peers in 1976 and formalized that into the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. In this role I mentor leaders of other programs, and mentor resource providers so they become more consistent in making the operating dollars, talent, space and other resources needed, available to tutor/mentor programs throughout big cities like Chicago.

Yesterday I attended the Polk Bros Foundation's 25th Anniversary celebration and the keynote speaker was Robert Reich, who was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. I'd never heard him speak before and I was really impressed. During the Q&A session he was asked "where to start" in balancing the need for improving education outcomes while also reducing poverty. He said "Everywhere".

When I created this Four Part Strategy in the 1990s and pdfs like this that say "what are all the things we need to be doing" it was with the idea that unless we addressed this as a complex problem with many entry points we'll never solve the problem.

I spent a few moments this morning looking up Robert Reich. Here's his home page, with an article titled: "Why the Republican's old divide-and-conquer strategy, setting working class against the poor -- is backfiring". Here's a Facebook page where you can engage.

As National Mentoring Month motivates volunteers and youth to show their roles in mentoring I encourage all of us to find more ways to educate our volunteers and youth so they become leaders and advocates to solve the problems of the poor and working middle class of America.

During the panel discussion Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Evelyn Diaz, Director of Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services, and Alex Kotlowitz, recognized author, each spoke in glowing terms about the power of mentoring. This session was recorded, so as soon as the video is published I'll put the link here.

Yet few leaders have yet outlined a business strategy to make k-16 mentor-rich programs available to youth in every high poverty and working class neighborhood of Chicago and its suburbs, with the funds and leadership needed to help each program grow and constantly improve its impact on youth and volunteers over the next 20 years.

I challenge these leaders and mentoring leaders everywhere to engage your youth and volunteers in research, brainstorming and visualization activities where a blueprint and strategy for this might emerge and become fully supported by a new coalition of the working class, the poor, and the 1% who care.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Lists of 2013 blog articles - mentor stories

I started writing this blog in 2005, but have led a volunteer based tutor/mentor program since 1975. I first became a mentor in 1973, when I connected with Leo, who was in 4th grade at the time. We're still connected via Facebook.

On Thursday I started posting lists of articles written in 2013. The first list showed how I follow media stories about violence and poverty with my own articles showing strategies to help build tutor/mentor programs in poverty neighborhoods.

While all of my articles support the growth of mentor-rich programs, I've not led a program since 2011 so fewer of my own stories show what is happening on a weekly basis in a tutor/mentor program. I try to coach other programs to tell those stories on their own blogs and I point to their web sites on the list of Chicago area program links I maintain.

Below are five stories with a focus on mentoring, showing how the media draw attention, but don't draw needed resources to all of the places where mentors can connect with youth.

March 17
FOCUS on Mentoring in Crain's Chicago Business - link

Thursday, September 19, 2013
My Mentor. The Father I never Had. - link

Another story about mentor from Dec. 2013 - link

Saturday, September 07, 2013
Start of New School Year for Tutor/Mentor Programs - link

Monday, October 21, 2013
Mentor Role in Larger Strategy - link

Monday, November 25, 2013
How do you tell difference between youth programs? - link

Thursday, December 05, 2013
Social Service Samurai: Dan Bassill This article shows how I'm a mentor to leaders of other programs - link

During January extra emphasis will be devoted to mentoring via National Mentoring Month. I hope you'll read the articles I've highlighted and build groups in your business, faith group, college, hospital, etc. who will look for ways to provide dollars, talent,leadership and ideas to support mentor-rich programs throughout your community. Next January you can tell stories of what you've done as a result.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Stories About Violence - Eight from my blog

Making year-end reading lists seems popular so I decided to make a few myself. Today's list includes stories about Chicago street violence, which I've posted on my blog in the past year. Below are the date, and the headline. Click the link to read the story.

Jan 29, 2013
Last of Four Siblings Killed on Street. What’s Your Reaction? link

May 20, 2013
Violence, Drugs and Mentoring - Chicago - link

June 21, 2013
Mobilize your community assets to fight violence link

July 07, 2013
Mapping Chicago Violence. Engaging Community. link

July 19, 2013
Derrick Rose talks about poverty, violence in Chicago - link

September 16, 2013
Using Street Violence to Sell Newspaper - link

October 30, 2013
Covering Violence in Chicago. Covering the Solutions - link

June 20, 2013
Don't "ride by" poverty. Get involved. link

I've been posting stories like these since I started my this blog in 2005. Similar stories with maps are shown on the MappingForJustice blog.

All of my articles have a common purpose. More people need to be actively, and strategically, involved in providing the operating resources, talent, technology and ideas needed to build and sustain mentor-rich non school learning centers in areas with high incidents of violence, and high concentrations of poverty and poorly performing schools.

If this is your passion, and your commitment, let's connect in 2014.