Monday, June 30, 2014

Connecting network. Building Relationships.

The video below is from a Google hangout this morning, with Terry Elliott, who I met last year when I began following the Making Learning Connected MOOC. That is repeating again this year and following a comment I posted a week ago, Terry invited me to connect this morning in a Hangout. I hope you'll take a look.

I've been reaching out to share ideas and learn from others via on-line communities since I started using the Internet in 1998. This is part of a process of learning and network building that I feel is essential to expand my own effectiveness, and expand the range of non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reaching youth in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

This relationship-building is a process. In the final part of today's interview, Terry said that when I first started posting on the CLMOOC he and other organizers were not sure if I wasn't just a spammer. Over time Terry began to dig deeper to see how what I was posting was related to the goals of the group, and that led to today's interview.

I started participating in discussions on the Skoll Foundation's Social Edge platform in 2005, and over the years have built strong relationships with a few people. Here's a discussion led by Charles Cameron, who I started connecting with in 2005. As a result Charles was a speaker at the 2010 Tutor/Mentor Conference I host in Chicago.

I first connected with the Webheads group in 2004, and in recent years that has resulted in on-line sessions like the one today. Here's a link to a discussion with Vance Stephens in 2012. This link points to an archive of many interviews and videos I've been part of.

I've participated in MOOCs for the past few years and believe that MOOCS are one strategy for building a deeper understanding of all the ideas I share on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, as well as a larger network of people who help share that information and apply the ideas in more places.

I post links to these MOOCs, and to articles about "how to create a MOOC" with the goal that others will step forward to organize MOOCs and communities of practice aimed at helping mentor-rich youth programs grow in more places, using the ideas I and others share from our own experiences.

Thanks Terry for taking time to get to know what I was offering the community and for inviting me to share my ideas in today's hangout.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Deeper Thinking about Strategic Philanthropy - Join in

There's been an interesting conversation about 'strategic philanthropy' taking place on Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Center for Effective Philanthropy and other places.

On Monday, June 16 I received a White Paper from the Donors Forum of Chicago, titled: "A Commitment to Full Cost Funding" which includes solid recommendations to funders that I hope readers will share.

I posted some ideas about how philanthropy can better support non profits here, and I've built a library showing challenges to non profits at this link.

If you believe in the value of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and understand that long-term connections have the most impact, what keeps you from helping mobilize resources to support the on-going operations of programs in every part of the Chicago region? That's what Dan Cotter is doing with his weight lifting. He's been raising money to support tutor/mentor programs in Chicago for more than 10 years. He's not asking for metrics and outcome statements. He knows that without the operating funds, good programs cannot be available, and good programs cannot stay good.

For great programs to reach youth in more places, people in every sector need to be learning more about ways to help, and talking to other people about ways they can help.

See how Mark Carter is using his blog to engage his followers in this discussion. See how Betsey Merkel of I-Open in Ohio is using her blog to expand this discussion. If you do the same, you can help expand the network of people looking at this information, and acting consistently to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in places where they are most needed.

If hundreds, or thousands, of resource providers reach out consistently to support constantly improving youth tutoring, mentoring and learning programs, they will reach youth in more places, and grow their impact, on youth, and the volunteers who get involved.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Can World Cup draw attention to poverty, not just to sports?

So now another mega sports event is capturing the attention of millions of people, not just in the USA, but around the world. In some of the coverage of the World Cup, I've seen stories about the poverty in Brazil. But these stories are fragmented. They fight for attention.

I've been creating map stories for nearly 20 years in an attempt to draw people into a discussion of solutions.

What can we do to create a "World Cup" like focus on forums where people build a better understanding of poverty and environmental issues, and of potential solutions that could be implemented in more places if resource providers were doing as much to support poverty fighting teams as they do to support sports teams?

I attended a Veteran's event in Chicago last week, where the issue was employment of vets. As I took notes, I scribbled an idea, which I converted into this graphic:

When I describe mentoring, I'm talking about organizations that bring together a wide range of volunteers with youth who live in neighborhoods dominated by poverty, which means the range of adults modeling a variety of college and career options is limited.
The graphic I created at the Veteran's event suggest that if young people became part of an extended network of adults BEFORE they entered the military, they would have the support of that network AFTER they left (and while they are there).

Here's an article I posted showing how veterans might become staff and volunteers in a citywide network of mentor-rich programs, creating jobs for vets and networks of support for future vets.

This type of structure exists naturally in more affluent and diverse communities. It's a structure that needs to be created and sustained in high poverty areas. While a few people might see this on my blog, or when I post it on Twitter, that's not the type of viewer mass that is needed. It's no where close to how many are following golf, basketball, soccer and baseball this weekend.

Which leads to the question, and the challenge, of engaging resource providers as on-going partners and supporters of mentor-rich programs in more places.

There's been an interesting conversation about 'strategic philanthropy' taking place on Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Center for Effective Philanthropy and other places.

UPDATE: On Monday, June 16 I received a White Paper from the Donors Forum of Chicago, titled: "A Commitment to Full Cost Funding" which includes solid recommendations to funders that I hope readers will share.

I posted some ideas about how philanthropy can better support non profits here, and I've built a library showing challenges to non profits at this link.

So how do we attract just a fraction of the attention devoted to sports, entertainment and other time-consuming activities so that more people are spending time looking at this information? How do we increase the number who are talking about these ideas over water coolers and on social media, like they talk about yesterday, or tomorrow's, sports event? How do we bring team owners, investors, philanthropic leaders into the same discussion space?

I'm participating in a Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc) , which started on June 5. Online events like this are a step toward bringing more people together. Some of the ideas shared focus on engaging youth, and making learning a game. If more people are looking at these ideas, more will begin to innovate ways to bring people together to solve problems.

However, until we have sports celebrities helping draw people to these forums, we'll have too little attention, and too few participating. I share some ideas on this on past articles.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mapping strategies. Building Shared Understanding

Over the past few months I've been building an understanding of a new concept mapping software (KUMU), by following its use in the Systems Thinking World. I viewed this video today:

In the video is a graphic of an iceberg. After viewing that I searched for a post I'd made in the past, using an iceberg graphic that had been created to show the infrastructure needed to support youth and volunteer connections in organized, non-school tutor/mentor programs. I've included the text of that blog article, written in 2012, below.

I've been using concept maps to show strategy, and in 2011 created this Debategraph outline, to show everything we should be thinking about in efforts to help kids living in high poverty areas get the extra support needed to move through school and into jobs.

I've so much information on my web library that most people have a hard time understanding what's there. I created this concept map to show a "learning path" that people might use to go through the information.

Once you view the video above, the one below, and the iceberg graphics, I hope some of you will help me find some volunteers and/or college study groups who might want to help me build a Kumu version of this learning path, and videos that describe each step of the map.

Here's the article from 2012

This video is one I've discovered as a result of connecting with a Systems Thinking World group on Linked in.

In the video is a graphic that looks like an Iceberg along with a graphic showing a problem solving process. I've used this graphic to show the range of skills/actions that need to be embedded into a tutor/mentor program in order for it to have a growing impact on the lives of kids, volunteers and communities.

This graphic includes a map, illustrating that great tutor/mentor programs are needed in many parts of Chicago. It also includes an inverted pyramid which illustrates steps communities need to go through to build enough support and u understanding to generate the resources that enable each program to have the skills/talents shown in the above graphic. And it shows a need to connect people from beyond poverty with the information being shared and with programs in different high poverty neighborhoods.

I'd like to find volunteers, interns, researchers, Phd students and partners who can convert my maps and charts and essays into systems thinking diagrams and videos so that we might gain grater understanding and support for the ideas.

Want to help?

12-28-18 update - Systems Thinking Model: The Iceberg - related reading for the ideas posted in this article. click here

Friday, June 06, 2014

D-Day and Planning

As you read about D-Day and the sacrifices soldiers made seventy years ago, I encourage you to think of the planning that enabled the landing, and the massive buildup of supplies needed to support the landing and the push into Europe in 1944 and 1945.

Then, spend a few moments viewing this video, created for the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC by Kyungryul Kim, an intern from South Korea. His video provided a new interpretation of the ideas presented originally in this PDF essay, which shows strategies needed to build and sustain a wide range of youth serving organizations reaching k-12 kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

Yesterday morning I attended a symposium in Chicago, focused on employment of veterans. In the evening I attended a reception hosted by the Civic Consulting Alliance which "takes on projects with the potential to make a big difference in our (Chicago) region."

I met several people in each event who have talents, skills and networks that could adopt the ideas in the video above into their own efforts, and who could communicate them more effectively, and with greater influence, than I can. Together we could build a better information base to support social/economic problem solving. We could create more frequent communications, serving as advertising to draw needed resources to all of the organizations working in Chicago to solve the same problems, but in different places. We could generate thousands of small group discussions, like those that take places in faith groups each week, where people dig into the information and learn ways to become part of a solution distribution system, which looks very much like the distribution of supplies needed to support troops who landed on Normandy 70 years ago.

Our social sector needs this type of support. It does not exist.

I hope some will take a few moments to view my blog and ideas and will want to find ways to connect.

In this blog article I introduced people I met a few weeks ago, showing how they had the talent to create visualizations and communicate ideas more effectively than I do. I felt the same way as I passed out business cards yesterday.

Here's an example of how Betsey Merkel, who leads the I-Open network in Ohio, has used her blog to communicate my ideas. Here's an article on Kelly Fair's blog, sharing my ideas.

The video above is just one of many presentations created by interns working with me since 2005 and the two blogs I pointed to are just a few examples of how others are amplifying the ideas by communicating them in their own networks.

As you view more on this page I invite you to consider how you might communicate these ideas and support the planning and infrastructure needed to help solve, complex, long-term problems created by high concentrations of poverty and great gaps in wealth and opportunity.

Connect with me on Twitter @tutormentor team, or on my Facebook page. Or connect with me on Linkedin.

Monday, June 02, 2014

More Heavy Lifters Needed

This photo shows Daniel Cotter, the incoming president of the Chicago Bar Association, doing some “heavy lifting” to raise money to support volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

Dan sent me information about this year’s lifting event over the weekend and I invited him to write an article that I could share on my blog, and that others can share via social media and their own email networks.

Dan wrote:

"Approximately 15 years ago, I started to compete in powerlifting. My good friend from college suggested I consider it so that my training had a focus and I had specific goals in the gym. I played football in college and the 10 years since I had graduated were not exactly kind to my body. At my 10th reunion, some of my teammates suggested I get back in the gym. I did so the following Monday.

Competing did give me a focus and a mission. Early meets were not great in terms of the weights lifted. But I had a plan. In 2002, I was a Vice Chair of the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association. The YLS had a mentoring program with Working in the Schools. The program required that the participants be available one day a week for several hours to tutor and mentor a Chicago student. I wanted to do it, but had a five year old and a two year old at home. I could not directly participate in the mentoring program.

I was competing in meets. I thought that the idea of raising money like a walkathon or marathon while competing in a meet would help mentoring even if I could not directly mentor. I made the proposal and “Lifting to Lend-A-Hand” was born. The idea was simple – I would solicit people I knew for donations and then lift. The first year, in 2002, I raised $2,600. That was a good raise. Since then, the raise has gone up each year and in 2012, the last time I did the event, I raised $45,000.

Every penny that I raise goes to the Sun-Times Judge Marovitz Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth, which promotes best practice mentoring programs in disadvantaged communities. Since its founding in 1994 by former CBA President Thomas A. Demetrio, Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth has awarded over $1.5 million in grants and positively affected the lives of tens of thousands of youth.

This year will be my 11th and final year of Lifting to Lend-A-Hand. I first publicly announced my goal at the Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth Spring Awards Dinner on April 30. At the dinner, George, a young man mentored through the Urban Life Skills Program of New Life Centers, spoke of how before joining the program he cared little for anyone else. He literally described himself as a “psychopath.” After working with his mentor, he has become a whole new person that “wants to give back.”

With a donation from you, think about how many more young people like George can be guided towards a different path in life.

How does this all work? On July 19, I will compete in a powerlifting meet. The best lift in each of the squat, the bench, and the deadlift will go towards my total “Lift.” You can make a specific pledge, or you can pledge by the pound. Specific pledges can be fulfilled anytime by donating online or by sending in a check with the attached donation form. I expect to lift between 1400 and 1500 pounds total. If you pledge $.10 per pound, and I lift 1500 pounds, you would owe $150. I will notify everyone of the results of my July 19 lifting the following week.”

The question raised to me by Dan Bassill is, “Why do you do this?” The main reason is I have been blessed in my life with the most incredible mentors. My dad was my original mentor and idol. He supported and encouraged me and kept me focused on my education and football, as well as showing what it meant to make sacrifices for family. He and my mom also instilled in me the need to give back. We did not always have a great amount of excess at home, but my parents always made sure to contribute to the betterment of society and support causes.

Other mentors includes teachers, coaches and bosses, as well as people such as Dan Bassill. Dan has a passion for tutoring and mentoring that is seldom matched.

I want to “pay it forward” and give back to the community. Mentoring is a foundation of our nation’s successful future and we need to help ensure the vitality of mentoring programs in Chicago and beyond."

Thank you Dan. We need more people to be like you!

My history with Dan Cotter and the Lawyers Lend A Hand Program goes back to 1994 when I formed a partnership with the Lend A Hand Program, which was then hosted at the Chicago Bar Foundation. This partnership formed with a goal of raising "large amounts" of money from Chicago's legal community to support the on-going operating expenses of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

In 1994 we created a November “Tutor/Mentor Week” to build visibility for programs in the six weeks leading into the year end gift giving period. This proclamation was issued by Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Since then more than $2.5 million has been raised to support the operations of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. The money Dan has raised has contributed to this total.

In 1994 I started publishing a map-based directory showing where tutor/mentor programs are needed, and where existing programs are located. All of the outreach I’ve done since then has intended to recruit leaders like Dan Cotter, who would use their own talents and network to raise money needed by each of these programs to sustain, and constantly improve, the work they are doing to help youth in Chicago area neighborhoods.

This is one of many graphics I’ve created to show that support for tutor/mentor programs needs to come from every industry, business and faith sector, and on an on-going basis so programs can stay connected to youth for multiple years.

I hope you’ll help Dan Cotter reach his goal of raising $100,000 this July. And I hope some of you will make a commitment to duplicate Dan’s effort, or even exceed it.

Here’s a list of Chicago area youth serving organizations. Some are better than others, but most are in areas where kids need help. You can reach out to one or more programs directly, or through your personal or corporate foundation, or in partnership with the Lend A Hand Program.