Saturday, January 31, 2015

Veterans Summit - Ideas

On Friday I attended a summit titled "Chicago Mayoral Candidates Veterans' Summit." The invitation said, "Together the Teamsters Military Assistance Program and Veterans Housing and Employment Assistance, NFP have joined with so many veterans leaders and cordially invite YOU to participate in a Veterans summit. Our Summit will be a driving force to demonstrate the 2015 Chicago Mayoral candidates responsibility to us."

When I attend meetings, conferences, etc. I am constantly taking notes on what I'm hearing, but also visualizing how this fits with my own efforts, questions I have about what's being said, and opportunities for the future. I've countless files and binders with these notes. Some times I convert some of my ideas into new graphics, and blog articles. You can see an example here.

This time I'm trying something different. I scanned my raw notes into a PDF and uploaded them to my GoogleDrive. You can see them here. If you view these, you'll see on page one, a graphic similar to the one at the left. I see the role of the organizers and partners in yesterday's meeting, as intermediaries who are trying to connect people who can help with veterans, and places who are helping veterans and their families.

If that's the case, creating a structure similar to what I've been building, which I describe below, would support their efforts.

Tutor/Mentor Institute - Learning Network Strategy by Daniel F. Bassill

This PDF describes this graphic.
Since this group is composed of veterans, I feel many would relate to this graphic, and the problem solving strategy it visualizes. Visit this page and see how an intern created a video to share these ideas. Youth working with veterans could be helping communicate their ideas and strategies.

Step 7 focuses on building public commitment to generate long term support for efforts that are distributed across many organizations, in many places, for many years. This article on network building emphasizes how much the Veterans' community, and others, such as the tutor/mentor community, need to build growing support for their efforts. One of the panel members talked about how the 40 people in the room represented almost 60,000 total supporters. The 600-700 visitors to my blog each month represent many thousands more.

I've already sent a follow up to a couple of the panel members and hope that other veterans who read this article will want to help me in my efforts, and help the veterans community in what I feel is an equally important effort.

I've used this graphic often to show how communities need to support youth living in high poverty, or without enough family support, as the move from birth to adult lives and careers. I feel that if the veterans' community were to embrace this they could be building networks of support for youth before they enter the military that would already be in place as they leave their service.

I look forward to sharing my ideas and helping the veterans community because they will be helping me in my efforts if they adopt these ideas.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Making Sense of Tutor/Mentor Connection Articles

I created this Learning Path concept map several years ago to help people navigate the information I've been collecting for more than 20 years. The goal was to help more people understand, embrace and adopt these ideas in their own efforts to help inner city kids move from birth to work with the help of volunteers and organized non school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.

Over the past two weeks, Wona Chang, a South Korean student intern from IIT in Chicago, has spent about five hours a day looking at this concept map, and following the links to see where they lead. Yesterday she posted the presentation below as a new path that people could follow to learn what is available to them via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection.

After creating the presentation using Prezi (no longer available) she created a YouTube video with the information.

This version was the English Language version. Wona also created a version in Korean, so that people from South Korea could view it and perhaps adopt some of the ideas to apply in South Korea and Asia, or to become sponsors supporting Tutor/Mentor Connection type intermediaries in US cities where South Korean companies are selling merchandise. (2017 update- the Prezi versions are no longer available).

Visit the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum to see how I've coached students to do this type of work over the past 9 years. I believe that students from different parts of Chicago, or other cities in the US, or the world, could be creating similar presentations, focused on applying these ideas in high poverty areas of their own countries. Or they could apply the four-part strategy to collecting information about any other economic, health, environmental or social issue that they want to help solve.

If you'd like to be involved in creating such presentations, or become a sponsor to help with this work, connect with me on one of these social media sites.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Birth to Work Requires New Thinking on Resource Flow

This is National Mentoring Month, and the final event will be the National Mentoring Summit being held in Washington, DC. I've attended in the past and there are great speakers and many valuable workshops.

I'm not able to attend this week, but hope to still influence some of the thinking that goes on, with articles like this and others I've posted for many years.

In the graphic above I show a photo of kids from Cabrini Green in Chicago who I met when they were in elementary school and just starting participation in the tutor/mentor program I was leading. I also show the photo of one of them many years later as a alumni who has finished college, is working, and has taken time to speak to current students. The photos are part of an image showing the work some people, like parents, teachers, mentors and tutors do to "push" kid through school. I can't tell how often I've said to my own kids, "If you'd just listen to what I'm saying your life would have many more opportunities."

The graphic also shows what I feel business leaders need to do to "pull" youth through school and into jobs and careers. All youth need this help. Some kids who live in more affluent areas have more people opening doors to them as they grow up. They also have fewer people modeling negative career aspirations.

While many businesses will receive recognition as outstanding leaders in support of youth mentoring during this week's National Summit, I'm not certain how many devote dollars to "research and development" efforts aimed to support the actions their companies do to help youth from multiple locations move through school and into jobs and careers, or to understand how their encouragement and support of volunteer involvement helps develop and retain the talent of their current employees. Thus, my hope is that this and other articles stimulate that thinking.

I posted an article on the Mapping for Justice blog, titled, R&D for Business Support of Tutor/Mentor Programs, and included this map, along with two others, to guide business leaders as they dig deeper into this information.

I hope you'll share this with people you work with, who are mentors, or who are decision makers within big and small companies. In the ROLE OF LEADERS pdf shown below, I encourage company leaders to appoint a "get it done" person to lead their R&D effort, since that is someone who looks for opportunities rather than someone who might be protecting a limited philanthropy budget.

Role of Leaders - How CEOs can help inner city youth from birth to work by Daniel F. Bassill

If you'd like to connect with me to discuss the ideas I share, just connect with me on one of these Social Media pages.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Follow the leader! He raised $350k to send inner city kids to Harvard

I received a link today to a story showing how the ‘Humans of New York’ blog raises over $350K to send New York inner-city kids to Harvard" This was sent by Timothy A. Cavell, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas via the mentoring listserv hosted by David DuBois at UIC in Chicago.

I've used the graphic above for several years to illustrate how individuals and organizations could be raising money from people they know to support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in different parts of Chicago (or other cities). This article illustrate's what's possible. I hope thousands of creative people read the article and seek to take a similar role. I've pointed to the Lawyers Lend A Hand to Youth Program in Chicago since 1994 because they've been raising money from lawyers and friends to fund tutor/mentor programs. Perhaps by looking at this example some lawyers in the city might be inspired to higher levels of giving and/or fund raising.

By sharing this article on my blog, I'm creating an archive. I can come back to this story over and over to show what is possible if creative people simply decide they want to help youth, by helping tutor/mentor programs grow. Perhaps someone else will say, he can raise even more than $350k. Great.

In the article below I illustrate the potential result from aggregating examples of the good things people do to support inner city youth and organized tutor/mentor programs that serve these youth and connect them to volunteers from many different backgrounds. Some could even be people who raise money to send them to college. Others might raise money to pay the operating costs of the programs that connect kids and volunteers.

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

I've been building a web library for nearly 20 years. This link goes to a page that shows the four sections of the library and this link goes to one of many articles that describes what's in the library.

In my own efforts, I'm not looking for examples of people who raise money for a program they are part of, sitting on a board or being a volunteer, although those examples should be celebrated. I'm looking for examples of people who are not directly connected to a single program, but recognize the need for funding, and innovate ways to raise money, or mobilize volunteers, to support multiple programs throughout a big city like Chicago. Just raising money for highly visible programs is not going to help smaller less visible programs in different neighborhoods get the operating funds each needs to grow to become great and well recognized programs.

I'm always been just a small organization, and since 2011 I've operated alone, so collecting and organizing all that needs to be collected and organized is far beyond my capacity. However I have a vision for what should be collected, and ideas of how youth from many places could be contributing to the library, and helping people find and use what the library contains. Contact me at tutormentorteam on Twitter or email me at tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net if you'd like to pick my brain or even take future ownership of my own library.

If you have stories to share showing the good things people are doing, please post links in the comment box below.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Media Strategy for Community Problem Solving

It's National Mentoring Month, so at the left is a photo of myself and Leo Hall, who I first connected with as his mentor, in 1973. He celebrated his 50th birthday last August, and invited me to the celebration. He wanted to thank me for my influence in his life. While I was there, I thanked him for letting me have a part of his life, and of thousands of other young people and adult since then.

If you've followed my blog, and the Mapping for Justice blog, you've seen that I've followed media stories of violence and poorly performing schools in Chicago with efforts to influence how leaders and volunteers support the on-going operations of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities.

I've pointed out, with articles like this, that the problems we face in 2015 are the same ones we've faced since 1990 and earlier.

Last week I read this article, Why Journalists Don’t Seem to Care About the Tragic Massacre in Nigeria, which compared the lack of attention being given to thousands of murders and kidnappings in Nigeria to the attention given to the killings of less than two dozen people in France.

I've pointed out the lack of long-term focus from media, philanthropy, business and media in many past articles. My friend Steve Sewall, has written a long article describing this problem, and a proposed solution. I hope you'll read it.

What's missing in Steve's recommendation is a "call to action" that works like retail advertising to draw readers directly to information directories and maps that they can use to find tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities to whom they can offer on-going talent, ideas, operating dollars, and other forms of support.

I've had interns working with me since 2006, who create visualizations and blog articles that help others understand the ideas I've been sharing. This morning I talked with my current intern about the role of "influence building" that leaders need to engage in daily if they want their agenda's to have the public support they need.

This graphic is one of many that shows the role of intermediaries, or third party actors who are committed to solving a particular problem. Every time you encourage someone you know to look at one of my articles, maps, graphics, etc. you are expanding the network of people who support youth in well organized, constantly improving, tutor/mentor and learning programs. You are part of the solution.

When I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I recognized that long-term problem solving, such as helping youth from birth to work could never succeed as initiatives led by elected officials. No matter how well designed a project is, elected leaders keep changing. Thus, the consistent, long-term support I've always sought had to come from investors/partners who understand the strategy I was proposing and were willing to support it, as their own commitment, for one or two decades.

I've not found that support, yet I've found enough to still be sharing this idea more than 20 years after launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection with the help of six other volunteers who were also launching the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in Chicago at the same time.

Here are some additional articles to read:

Building Super Bowl of support. (Jan 2014)

Expanding the Network - Decade Long Effort

Network Building - Talent Needed

Visit this page and see how interns have communicated these ideas. Youth in schools, non-school programs, colleges and faith groups could take this role, pointing to tutor/mentor programs in their own city or neighborhood, with a shared goal of building the on-going flow of resources needed to reach youth with high quality programs that help them move from birth to work.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who Shares the Passion for Building the Infrastructure needed to help social organizations have greater impact?

I attended the Chicago Hive five year celebration last night and heard CEO Sam Dyson say something like, "If you're serious about helping kids you need to be serious about mobilizing the resources needed."

Earlier in the day Dan Pallotta sent me an email asking me to look at a Boston Globe article showing his efforts to revolutionize how philanthropic organizations are funded. I've written about Dan's work before and adopted this to my own vision. See article.

The day before I attended a Generation ALL Chicago event, where leaders talked about mobilizing stakeholders from all parts of Chicago to focus on building great public high schools in every neighborhood of Chicago.

Then this morning I responded to a consultant who coaches businesses on volunteer engagement, with an email showing my own "dream". I finished by saying since this is the day everyone's honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it's appropriate that I share my own vision and dream: Here's what I wrote:

---------------------------------------- The recent outrage about unequal coverage of the tragedy in Nigeria vs the tragedy in Paris show how difficult it it to attract people (and donor) attention and keep it focused for any length of time on places where help must be consistently provided.

I've maintained a newspaper clip file going back into the 1970s with articles on education, poverty, race and violence in Chicago. I'm digitizing those articles over the coming year and as I do I'm finding article calling for action from the 1990s to solve problems we still have not solved 20 years later.

In my blog articles and on-line networking I'm looking for people who express a passion for solving this problem, and who are willing to work with me to find others, and to innovate actions, that can create a reach and daily frequency of messages that draw support to non profits and social entrepreneurs the same way business draws customers to their stories, on-line market place and products and services.

I reach out to you because you express some of the same ideas, and in the "food chain" you're closer to the business leaders who need to use their own communications tools to carry this message to the public.

I think I'm older than you, but I think we both have grey hair. I want to leave something in place when I die that I think builds a better future for my grand kids and other people's grand kids. It take money to do this, but even more it takes a shared effort of people who have talents and networks that I don't have.

In another email conversation I shared my vision of having "Tutor/Mentor Connection student-led teams form on college and high school campuses throughout Chicago and in other cities. Here's what I wrote:

I encourage you to browse the articles by interns, at this page.

Each of these interns has spent time learning what the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy is, then communicating it via blog articles, visualizations and videos. If formal "tutor/mentor connection" teams formed on campuses and schools, their first role would be to learn what I'm trying to do, so they can see their role of duplicating everything I do, but focused on a smaller geographic region (around a college or high school) or focused on a specific network of people, such as students, faculty, alumni of a college.

In short, they learn to connect people they know to information those people can use to support places in their neighborhood which are trying to help kids move through school and into careers, via tutoring, mentoring, social/emotional support, jobs training, and a wide range of other activities.

As student teams form, and learn to do this work, they become organizers of networking events on their campus, and at citywide and national events, that connect groups from one campus with groups from other campuses. The Tutor/Mentor Conferences, are just two events out of a 365 day calendar when people could be gathering to share ideas and inspire actions.


I also shared an idea with one of the other organizations building networks of people to focus on violence in Chicago. I wrote:

Your organization is already using its blog to share ideas and spotlight people it works with, and you're using your events to bring people together. I encourage you to read this article, and dozens like it that I've posted since 2005. 

These talk about what it takes to build and sustain great programs in all high poverty neighborhoods. They call on readers to be volunteers, donors, leaders, etc. and to reach out and get more people programs all over the city, which are represented in databases like the one I maintain at

I think your organization and others, such as Chicago Hive, and Generation All, etc., could write similar stories, even better than I do, and with the ability to reach people who I don't reach.

This is not something you or I need to have an agreement to do, but it is something I'd be happy to talk with you and brainstorm ways others might take on the same role so more voices are out there every day calling on resource providers, volunteers and other needed talent to become strategically involved in supporting programs all over the region.

As I learn about intermediary organizations in Chicago I've been adding them to this concept map. Click here to see the live version, where you can click on nodes to find web sites for each group.

One role that Tutor/Mentor Teams on campuses would have is to create a map showing organizations and assets in their neighborhood who should know each other and be working together to support youth as they move SAFELY from birth to work. Such maps could be shared on web sites just the way I do, to help each group connect with each other, and to draw donor support to all of the intermediaries on an on-going basis. Generation ALL's leader talked of a 10+ year vision. For that to be achieved, consistent funding needs to be secured.

However, just funding the backbone is not enough. Each of the organizations these intermediaries support also require consistent flows of talent, dollars, ideas, etc. If someone hosts a map of participating organizations, I want to see consistent messages calling on visitors to their web site to go through the map, find an organization, and become a supporter. I point to this list of Chicago non-school tutoring/mentoring organizations all the time and from most of my web sites.

So much for today's soap box. I guess on ML King, Jr's anniversary it's fair for me to share my own "dream".

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Poverty in cities. Not much changed over past 25 years. Why?

"America's Cities are poorer, sicker, less educated, and more violent than at any time in my lifetime. The physical problems are obvious. The jobs have disappeared. A genuine depression has hit cities."

While this quote could have come from a newspaper story in 2014, it's actually from a commentary posted in a 1992 Chicago Tribune, written by Senator Bill Bradley.

One of the activities I've taken over the past 20 years is to build a library of stories from Chicago media which focus on cities, poverty, education and potential solutions. I've been scanning my articles into my computer for the past month, with a goal of trashing my hard copies (or finding a buyer or researcher who wants to take them). I need to cut costs since I continue to have trouble funding the work I do.

I've found a large number of articles talking about problems facing cities, caused by poverty and changes in the types of jobs that are available, and many of them call for a greater commitment.

This article ends with "We will loose our future unless urgency informs our action, passing the buck stops, scapegoating fails and excuses disappear."

We're now 23 years into that future and not much seems to have changed. I attended a Great Cities event at UIC more than 10 years ago, which was focused on poverty and one student raised the question, "This has been going on for over 20 years. Why has nothing changed." The speaker responded, "Because too few people care."

Dozens of articles that I've scanned, dating from 1990 through last year, such as this 1992 front page from the Chicago SunTimes, include this "call to action" yet too little consistent action seems to be taking place. I recognize that people have many issues more important to them than helping a city raise its children, but if America hopes to avoid some day becoming a country where those who have lost hope resort to terrorism to gain attention, it will be too late to reverse this.

As we celebrate National Mentoring Month again, I urge you to support well-organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs. I believe they are one strategy that enlarges the number of people "who care" by how they recruit people from beyond poverty and then support them as they grow their understanding.

This animation shows what I call a "service learning loop" where volunteers who get involved, grow their understanding, then enlist others to be involved, as they repeat their weekly and monthly contact with youth.

For their to be programs that provide this type of support, in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago, it's suburbs, and other cities, volunteers, donors, business partners and policy makers need to find ways to offer consistent support, not just to one or two good programs, but to programs in every neighborhood so they all become good.

My list of Chicago area programs can be found at this link. The map based program locator that I created in 2004 and updated in 2008, is still available, but it's becoming more and more out of date since I've no funds to update the technology so it works smoothly, or to reach out to programs to assure that the directory is as comprehensive as possible.

If you, or your company value the information this offers to people in Chicago, and the model it provides to other cities, I urge you to become a partner, investor/sponsor so this resource stays freely available to Chicagoland.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Making Great Tutor/Mentor Programs Available to More Youth

It's a new year, and and it's National Mentoring Month. I've shared ideas for the past 20 years that I hope are used to help make constantly improving, mentor-rich programs available to youth in more high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. Here's one.

I have two requests.

First, if you're a leader, advocate, funder, or have a similar role, share your own logic model, tipping points, etc. in presentations like this, and on your own web site. Collectively these ideas have more power and potential to influence change than if just myself and a few others are doing this.

Second, if you are committed to helping young people from high poverty areas get the extra adult support and learning opportunities I write about, consider becoming a sponsor of my work. Put your name/logo on these presentations and help me hire the talent needed to upgrade them, make them move effective, and share them with more people.

There are several million young people across the US, and in cities around the world, who could benefit from this support.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Happy New Year!

My daughter created this graphic as a wall mural for the office where she works. I share it's feeling of best wishes to all for 2015.