Thursday, July 30, 2015

Does your Tutor/Mentor Program Have a Written Plan?

School starts in a few weeks and every volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago and the country is beginning to send out appeals for volunteers. I've created this list of Chicago program links and this list of Facebook pages for Chicago area programs so that prospective volunteers, students, and even donors, can shop and choose programs to support.

I created this image many years ago to illustrate that we all have a common goal, but that there are few building libraries like I do, with a goal of leading marketing and public education programs that draw more volunteers and donors to all of the different programs in Chicago and help each use these resources to constantly improve.

Today I don't want to write about volunteer recruitment. I want to ask if each program has a written plan, or calendar of weekly activities, showing what the volunteer will do from September through next June and how they will support students and volunteers so more stay connected throughout this year and into next year.

I started writing an annual plan in 1977 and updated it every year from then till 2011 when I stopped leading a single program. With a written plan you don't start from scratch each year, you just repeat activities that worked in the past, with little improvements that you hope make them work better. You add new ideas that make sense (when you have the funding and talent to add them). You delete things that don't seem to work.

Here's the 1989-90 written plan for the program I had led from 1975-1992. This program had a nearly 175 active volunteers by 1980 and 300 by 1989 so there were many veteran volunteers who could be recruited to take leadership roles. This program had only 3 part time college students as paid staff. All leaders were volunteers with full time jobs at Montgomery Ward and in other businesses in the Chicago region.

Here's the calendar of activities from a program I led from 1993-2011. This program started with 7 volunteers and grew to have 80-100 active volunteers each year from 1998 to 2011. While a few became long term, this was too small a base for many to take on the type of committee roles in the earlier program, thus, a small paid staff took on more of the organizational roles.

Planning should be a year-round process. By August, most 2015-16 plans should be in place and the work is now focused on recruiting students and volunteers and doing the screening, training, matching and orientations that enable students and volunteers to be meeting weekly by late September. However, if you think of year-to-year growth, the planning calendar shown below may be useful to you.

Planning Calendar for Volunteer-Based Tutor/Mentor Programs by Daniel F. Bassill

This calendar is one that could be adopted by any tutor/mentor program in the country. I hope many do and that they create written plans and share them on their own web sites so that others can learn from them and so that volunteers, parents and donors can have a deeper understanding of the work you do to help their kids.

This is long-term work. The program at Montgomery Ward started in 1965 with just a few volunteers. It took 15 years to reach a point where an extensive volunteer-based committee structure could be put in place. It took another 10 years for that to mature. The second program I led started with 7 volunteers in 1993 and grew to average 80-100 a year. Since we were a non-profit we were able to raise money and pay a small staff to take on roles our volunteers did in the earlier program. Due to space limits it was never able to grow beyond 80-100 volunteers thus did not reach the size which enabled the first program to build such an extensive volunteer involvement structure.

However, both of these programs have been working for decades. The graphic showing Thomas Edison illustrates that it's really hard to build and sustain an well-organized tutor/mentor program and keep it going for 20 to 50 years. However, it's even more difficult for a city to build and sustain such programs in all high poverty neighborhoods.

This is the challenge I and the Tutor/Mentor Connection began focusing on in 1993 and that I now continue to focus on via the Tutor/Mentor Institute,LLC. Browse other articles on this blog, the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and other blogs, to see ideas for helping well-organized, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of urban areas like the Chicago region.

I think every major city in the world has areas of high poverty, just like Chicago. Thus a T/MC strategy would work in these cities, too. That means the people who help build and sustain the ideas I share could be located in different parts of the country or the world and the work done in each city from year to year could be inspiration motivating what happens in every other city.

Let's connect if you agree with this.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monthly newsletter - please share

I've been using print and email newsletters for more than 20 years to share information and ideas that others can use to help build and sustain constantly improving, volunteer-based, tutor, mentor and learning programs in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. Here's the link to the current newsletter, which I sent today.

This graphic illustrates the goal of this blog, my newsletters, and my web sites. Each reader has the ability to share these ideas with people in their own networks. Each reader can lead a discussion within their church, business, synagogue, college and family network, building greater understanding of poverty, inequality, and ways volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs increase support for kids living in high poverty while also growing the empathy and involvement of people who don't live in poverty, but become personally engaged through their involvement in an on-going tutor/mentor program.

In the newsletter I point to the Making Learning Connected MOOC, which is a model that could be duplicated to engage thousands of people with the information and ideas shared in my newsletters. I don't have the resources to organize this myself, but seek to be a partner and content resource for those who might organize a MOOC like this.

Happy reading! I look forward to connecting and providing a valuable service to you.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Build With Me - Continuous Process

Tuesday I posted this article, filled with graphics inspired by fiends I've met in the Making Learning Connected MOOC. This morning I was encouraged to see this post, by Terry Elliott.

Terry added a range of comments to my first graphic.

He also added comments to my concept map showing knowledge flow.

I commented on Terry's post, and suggested reading this article on the I-Open blog, showing some of the influences that led me to where I am today.

Then I used Terry's graphic to add some additional comment to the knowledge flow map.

My additions emphasize that the roles of building and maintaining this knowledge base, increasing the number of people who view it, and facilitating understanding, is a role many people in many places need to take. Terry and CLMOOC participants who are re-mixing these, or Tweeting them to others, are taking that role.

Watch how this continues to unfold by browsing articles on the CLMOOC home page, or search for #CLMOOC on Twitter. There's even a Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Visual Tilt-a-Whirl, a Carny Ride of Systems Thinking - Ride With Me

Terry Elliot, who I first met during the 2014 Making Learning Connected MOOC, posted this "Visual Tilt-a-Whirl" statement as an introduction to a July 19th Faceblook post. He included the graphic below, and a link to his blog, where he describes the graphic.

Terry's graphic was remixed in a blog article by Kevin Kodgson, which included a series of graphics created first by one writer, then the other. Then another #CLMOOC participant, Tania Sheko, used her blog to write a review of the interactions between Kevin and Terry, and showing how these were part of a series of visualizations presented this past week as part of the systems thinking discussion hosted by the CLMOOC.

One of the graphics Kevin produced during the week focused on race and poverty. I wrote about it last Saturday.

There have been so many articles and versions of graphics that I decided to create a few slides to share some of these and to show how my own participation is intended to connect my network, and people who are working on issues of poverty, education, workforce development, inequality, etc. to the CLMOOC and similar MOOCs that I've been part of.

So here's the first slide..

And here's the second...

And a third...

And a fourth...

And a fifth...note that in this slide I point to an article by Jeffrey Keefer, which took me on a deep dive into ACTOR NETWORK THEORY

In the sixth slide I express my hope that writers like Terry, Kevin, Tania and many others who are part of the CLMOOC, along with students in their classrooms, will look at the graphics I've created, and why I've created them, and that they'll use their own creativity to give new meaning, or attract new viewers, to these articles.

In a seventh slide I show that interns have been doing this type of work for the past 10 years.

I put these images on my page, and added a collection of graphics from my collection, that I hope people will look at, think about, and try to re-mix in ways that the people in their own networks will look at the ideas and become personally engaged.

Find more photos like this on Tutor/Mentor Connection

I'm not as skilled a writer as many of the people I meet in these MOOCS, or who I point to in this list of blogs in the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library. I'm not a graphic artists, or a technology expert. Thus, the articles I've posted here and in other spaces since the early 2000s are like pebbles in the pond, intending to create ripples that attract others who will cast their own, heavier pebbles, into the same pond.

The graphic below was created more than a decade ago by someone I met in an on-line community, well before Facebook came into being. I'm still using it, in presentations like this, to illustrate how our collective efforts can cause greater ripples, and waves or response, than anything we can do on our own.

In the second slide above I point to this CLMOOC map. If you zoom into any of the major US cities, like Chicago where I'm from, you'll only see a few others on the map. This does not mean that people from these cities are not following or participating, but it does indicate that there are far more people who could be connecting and learning from each other than are now participating.

The MOOCs that I've been part of for the past three years focus on learning, looking for ways to more effectively engage k-12 learners. I focus on adult-learning, looking for ways to more effectively engage adults who don't live in poverty and who do live in poverty in deeper learning, reflection, and innovation, that creates and sustains strategies that reach youth in all high poverty neighborhoods with long-term programs that help more reach adult-hood safely, and with the skills, habits and networks that enable them to live their adult lives beyond the grasps of deep poverty.

These MOOCs are a model for such connectivity, and people like Terry, Kevin and many others who are spending time creating stories and visualizations, are examples of what others could also be doing.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Mapping Race-Poverty-Inequality Discussion

This week in the Making Learning Connected MOOC (#CLMOOC) the topic has been 'systems thinking'. I encourage you to browse the discussion for yourself.

Yesterday Kevin Hodgson posted this graphic on his blog to show how a discussion of racism might be visualized. This prompted me to write this post, because I've followed this conversation about race, poverty and inequality for more than 20 years through my leadership of a tutor/mentor program serving inner city, primarily Black, k-12 youth.

Recently I created the map below (see actual map) to visualize my understanding of this issue:

What this shows is that people in affluent communities face many of the same issues and challenges in life as do people in poverty areas. As Robert Putnam pointed out in his book "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" (see my article), kids and families in affluent areas have a lot more resources to help them overcome their problems. In addition, kids and families in poverty areas, have many negative influences and challenges that are not present in high poverty areas.

Here's what I am struggling with. I've used this graphic for many years to illustrate a goal of helping kids in poverty areas move through school and into jobs, careers and adult lives free of poverty. To me this is the vision Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was envisioning. This is something that mentor-rich, long-term, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs can influence.

However, when I follow the #blacklivesmatter, #ferguson, #baltimoreriots discussion on social media, and review reports such as the 2014 “Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement”, (see my article), I don't see a clear picture of what the future would look like if we did achieve all of the goals people are talking about.

That's why I'm excited about the systems thinking going on in the CLMOOC and the article Kevin posted. I think one of the huge challenges we need to overcome is getting people who don't live in poverty, but who face huge challenges in their own personal and work lives, to spend quality, on-going time, thinking and reflecting on the problem and potential solutions, as well as what "victory" would look like.

In Kevin's blog I posted a comment encouraging him and other educators, faith leaders, business leaders, etc. to create their own concept maps, showing their understanding of this problem, and their path to a solution. I hope in the future we'll see thousands of these, and that each year they will become more and more sophisticated, and closer and closer to something that unites people from every sector and every part of the country (world) in this discussion.

I do not have an answer to this problem. What I do have is a library of other people's ideas, my ideas, and research, that anyone looking for an answer can use to expand their own thinking. As groups of people are looking for solutions I think that MOOCs and on-line libraries can encourage deeper learning, more reflection, and the opportunity to exchange and compare ideas. We can learn from each other. We can build greater support for solutions that seem to be working, in all the places where they are needed.

If educators begin to engage youth in this type of problem solving when they are in elementary school or middle school, and keep them engaged as they move through formal schooling, they will have more time, and more ways, to dig deeper into the vast libraries of information that is available to them. I think the way I do because I've spent 40 years working with inner city kids and leading a tutor/mentor program. Unless others spend years, even decades, involved in this learning, it's not likely the solutions will be as broad and complex, or as well supported, as they will need to be.

If we can do this focused on race, poverty and inequality, perhaps we can do the same addressing other complex problems, like the environment, religious differences, political differences, etc.

9-8-2018 update - I'm reading and annotating an article, using that was shared by Simon Ensor via Twitter. The title is: PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED: FREIRE MEETS BOURDIEU. 

It prompted me to create a new concept map, combining two graphics shown above. Take a look.

Open map at this link
My purpose of creating this is two fold: 

a) show that each of these challenges needs solutions that are consistently available as a youth grows from pre school into adult lives; in all of the places where kids live in concentrated poverty

b) my Twitter network includes people from Egypt, Scottland, France and other countries. I'm not sure if my map fits for  youth in other countries. Thus, I'm encouraging people to create their own versions.

I included a Help Me button. Visit this page and help fund my work.

Friday, July 17, 2015

How To Engineer Serendipity - Support Volunteer Engagement

Last September I posted an article under the headline of "Developing Talent: Unlocking the Passion of Employees" which I wrote after reading an article published by Deloitte.

Today one of my Facebook friends posted this article titled "How to Engineer Serendipity". It talks about the billions of dollars big business spends on innovation and how many companies are spending tons of money to enable employees to rub elbows with each other in informal settings.

In this blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site I've constantly encourage corporate leaders to support strategic involvement of employee volunteers in organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, because of the way these programs expand the network and skills of people who get involved, and stay involved for many years.

Below is one of many presentations I've posted, showing ways volunteers can support the growth of tutor/mentor programs that transform the lives of kids AND VOLUNTEERS who get involved.

Mentor Role in Larger Youth Development Strategy by Daniel F. Bassill

In another article titled "R&D for Business Involvement" I point to additional reading that business leaders might consider.

If you're already spending billions of dollars to engineer serendipity and develop passionate employees, why not devote a few million dollars a year to strategically support employee involvement in cause they care about and where they will rub elbows with all sorts of other people.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Charity Giving Report reinforces value of what I do

I posted this story last week, intending to challenge how we raise and distribute resources to support youth serving organizations in high poverty areas. Today I posted a story on the Mapping for Justice blog, pointing to a Chronicle of Philanthropy map showing philanthropic giving in every county in the USA.

I hope you'll look at these. Then look at this article from the Huffington Post, talking about the unequal distribution of philanthropic giving, and the impact of major donors, giving to fewer causes.

I hope that Bernie Sanders, Robert Putnam and Robert Reich will devote some of their considerable visibility to focusing attention on this inequality of funding, as a root cause, of inequality of opportunity.

However, I also hope that readers of this blog will devote just 15 minutes a week to reading and sharing my stories, or perhaps a little big longer, to creating their own version of these stories, on their own blog and social media pages.

How does this reinforce my belief in what I do? I'm an intermediary. I'm a catalyst. Every story I write is intended to nudge, influence, and inspire others to duplicate what I do, and share my own strategies and visions.

If I don't take this role, who will? If change is to happen, it has to come from you and me.

It has to come from the efforts of thousands of intermediaries, taking this role every day.

Constant Improvement - Inspired By Others

I've written about MOOCs in the past, and I'm taking part in the 2015 Making Learning Connected MOOC right now. Participants are encouraged to "make" digital images, trying out new tools. Learning from others is part of the fundamental goal of MOOCs like this. I just looked at an article by Kevin Hodgson, with a new graphic. It reminded me of the graphic I've shown at the left.

I've used the image of a "carrot" to represent a "good idea". Someone who is inspired by the good work being done by others, is represented by the "rabbit" who is always looking for good ideas, or better ways to operate. In this graphic, the "rabbits" are the most aggressive innovators. The dogs, chasing the rabbit, are other organizations, who are following the example provided by "rabbits", and trying to use the same good ideas to improve their own organizations.

I've used this graphic to illustrate the goal most of us want as a result of the work we do to help young people, as well as the work we need to do to achieve those results.

In this graphic I compare the innovation and constant learning needed to help schools and non-school youth serving organizations have a long-term impact on the lives of kids (and volunteers) to the thousand experiments that led Edison to invent the light bulb. In this graphic I also try to remind leaders of the resources they need to provide for many years, for light bulbs (great programs) to be available in all of the neighborhoods where they are needed, and for all the years they need to be in place.

I started building a library of research and peer tutor/mentor program information in the 1970s, to stimulate the thinking and innovation of volunteers working with me to build the tutor/mentor program I was leading at the Montgomery Ward Corporation in Chicago. As I created my library, began sharing it with peers, leading other programs. I formalized this information collection/sharing in 1993 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Now I host an extensive web library of information, with links to more than 2000 other web sites, that anyone in Chicago, or the world, can dig into to find "carrots" that inspire their own innovation and constant improvement.

In the pdf below, I show how the information in web libraries can stimulate constant innovation and improvement, if given support by others who take on intermediary roles and champion the work we do to help kids move through school and into careers.

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

Over the past 10 years interns working with me in Chicago have created new visualizations re-interpreting some of the ideas and graphics I've introduced in this blog. See a collection of these here. Kevin created his graphic using an app called Comic Head. I'd love to see others, not just interns working with me, make their own versions of the ideas I share in my blogs, focusing on their own communities and causes, not just Chicago, or volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

I've participated in Making Learning Connected MOOC and others like it because thousands of innovative educators are meeting and sharing ideas for inspiring students. I learn new ideas and ways of communicating from my participation in these events. That's how I've built my web library over the past 20 years.

I hope some will inspire their students to become intermediaries like myself, using the ideas I and others share, to motivate adults in their communities to do the work needed to assure an equal opportunity for the American Dream for everyone in their community, not just those lucky enough to have been born out of poverty, or to be in a classroom with a super inspired teacher.

If you do create a version of one of my ideas, just give me credit and send me the link so I can share it with others.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Comprehensive battle plan to help youth in all poverty areas of city

This is one of many graphics that I've created to communicate the idea of supporting the growth and operations of volunteer-based, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago.

The goal is good (well organized, constantly improving, consistently funded) programs reaching youth in more high poverty neighborhoods, and helping more of the kids they reach move successfully through school and into adult roles and responsibilities.

In the essay below I show how cities need to draw talent and resources from the business community, colleges and a wide range of assets, who would serve as a "virtual corporate office" supporting the growth of programs the way businesses support the growth of multiple stores in Chicago and around the country.

Virtual Corporate Office: Strategy for Helping Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs Reach Youth in More Places. by Daniel F. Bassill

I'm trying to find others who take this role, or find leaders who will support the work I'm doing to fill this role. The map at the right shows intermediary organizations operating in the Chicago region.

Visit their web sites. See if you can find maps, visualizations and strategy essays like I show on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, that would show how they are trying to fill all high poverty neighborhoods with a wide range of needed programs helping kids through school and into jobs.

My goal is twofold:

a) find a few investors and supporters who will provide the dollars and talent to enable me to continue to share these ideas, and to build and sustain tools that support the work of many people helping many programs grow.

b) find ways to encourage others to fully adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, and bring it into their organization, with my coaching over the next few years, or until they understand it and can lead it better than I do.

Since every major city in the country (and the world) has pockets of concentrated poverty, similar to Chicago, I feel that the Tutor/Mentor Connection* strategy could be adopted by leaders in many cities.

Contact me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN if you'd like to explore helping me share these ideas.

*What is difference between Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC? The T/MC was created in 1993 to help tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods and operated under a non-profit umbrella until 2011 when the strategy was discontinued by the founding organization. I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to provide a structure and source of revenue to keep operating the T/MC in Chicago and to help similar structures grow in other cities. I'm still trying to find a way to make this work.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Haunted By The Lost Chance To Save A Life

I saw this article in a LinkedIN group today, and posted a response, which ended up being too long to be accepted. So, I'm posting the response here.

Sadly, this is a story that could be told in every major city. I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago in 1993 to build a master directory of volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs, with the goal of helping existing programs get resources and ideas needed to constantly improve, while helping identify areas where there were no programs, or no programs serving specific age groups. Over the years this Directory has been used less by city business and philanthropic leaders as a planning tool (which was the intent) and has served more as a resource people in schools, libraries, social services, etc,. could use to locate programs in different zip codes. This led to frequent calls which would go something like this:

"BBBS, Blue Gargoyle, (or someone else) says you can help me find a mentor or tutor for (my son, my nephew, my client) who really needs a mentor because (several reasons listed)."

These are emotional calls of people who are searching for help.

I ask what is your zip code? As soon as I hear the response I know in many cases that there are no programs in the area, or too few, or existing programs are not as well organized as programs in some other areas. When I give that response, there is a deflation at the other end of the call. I go on to say, "Use the information on my web site" to encourage your alderman, faith leaders, businesses, etc. to fill the void by borrowing ideas from programs operating in other neighborhoods and other cities.

Usually, this is not well received, but I respond, "They are your kids. If you don't do something to get programs started, who will."

In those cases where the zip code did have programs we printed the list from our directory and mailed it to the caller, providing contact information so they could call and interview the program to see if there was a fit.

Since 2000 we've not done this as much as we've pointed people to an on-line directory where they could search to find contact information for existing programs. You can see this how the program locator is supposed to work, looking at this PDF. Since the actual program locator is not working right now (due to lack of funds) this list of Chicago programs, organized by sections of the city and suburbs, provides the next best resource.

My frustration comes from the fact that no one in the city, in philanthropy, in business or media, was consistently helping my small organization maintain this resource. It also comes from the difficulty of sustaining this for the past 20 years, despite massive financial failures, terrorist attacks, wars, natural disasters, and politial leadership that is more focused on re-election than really solving problems.

In addition, few of the other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago were actively helping us build visibility that would lift up all programs in the city. While the Mayor attended one, or two of the 1990s Tutor/Mentor Conferences, the city never offered help. Insted, they city invested thousands of dollars in the mid 2000s to build their own program locator directory, which is no longer on-line. They did not even come to us to ask "what did you learn from your effort" or better yet, "Could we help you make your directory better, or keep it going?"

Since 2011 I've not had the funds to do more than try to maintain the information on my web sites. The technology and data on my program locator needs to be updated, but I've no money to do this and no technologists offering to help. I've continued to host Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, but participation has been shrinking as others host their own mentor training and/or networking events.

I've used concept maps to show many of the intermediary organizations focusing on the well-being of youth in Chicago. I don't know any with a graphic on their web site showing a year-round strategy like the one I've piloted, and none are reaching out to say "can I help you do this, so WE can do more to help make high quality tutoring, mentoring and learning opportunities available in more places.

Yet, every week the media feature stories of lives lost. Just today a letter to the editor in the Chicago Tribune told of a solution to violence launched in Los Angeles in 2002. In this the writer said "We challenged city officials, educators, drug counselors, violence prevention specialists and gang-intervention activists, to devise and coordinate short- and long-term strategies and programs to expand recreation programs, increase spending on jobs and skills, training and at-risk mentoring programs."

This is what I've been doing with whatever resources I've had available and what I encourage others to do. Look at my web site and see how maps and graphics are used to focus on all the neighborhoods of a city where these types of supports are needed, and how they encourage support for multiple years, even decades.

Anyone who shares the passion that Rich has shared in this "Haunted by the Lost Chance" article can use the information on my site, and other sites, to build a comprehensive system of supports for kids in high risk neighborhoods. Anyone can spend 15 minutes a day looking at Twitter, Facebook and Linked in and liking or forwarding articles that encourage others to get involved.

Many, many, more need to share this concern and end each day looking in their personal mirror to say "what have I done today to help solve this problem."

Monday, July 06, 2015

#blacklivesmatter - Take Actions

This was the lead image on Sunday and Monday TV and print media news, shouting out another weekend of violence in Chicago. One media story reported that on a per capita basis, Milwaukee had more violence last weekend. This is a problem of urban America, not just Chicago.

This is a graphic I've shared often over the past five years. If we want to end the violence, do the planning. Get other people involved. Here's one version of this story.

In many of my articles I urge planners and activists to use maps. This one shows Humboldt Park, where this shooting took place, and other West site communities, with the number of kids age 6-17 living below the poverty line in each area. Humboldt Park has over 5,000 kids in this category, representing nearly half the youth population in this community area. See maps of all Chicago community areas.

My goal is that planners use this information and other resources on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site to identify and support existing non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in the area, while helping new programs grow so that a larger percent of the kids in the neighborhood are involved.

Anyone can take a leadership role of inviting people to come together and look at this information. Whoever does this needs to think like an advertiser and evangelist. People don't come together just because someone said "come". It takes many invitations, and a willingness to work with whom ever does come, so the network grows over time.

Youth can take on this role by creating map stories following negative news. This article is a map-story. Visit this section of the blog and skim the articles. You'll see many map stories. Any could be duplicated and done better by talented teens and volunteers in different parts of the Chicago region, or in other cities.

Unless people in every part of the Chicago region take this role, focusing on the different areas where poverty and violence are most concentrated, but connecting with others via online media, conferences and one-on-one networking, we'll see stories like this in 20 years, saying "nothing has changed".

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Looking Past Current Funding Crisis to Future Challenges

If you read the local Chicago papers, the financial mess in Chicago and Illinois means there's not going to be enough money available to fund Chicago Public Schools, resulting in staff cuts and class sizes increasing. There's also going to be a cut in state funding of non-profit youth serving organizations, meaning staff cuts and lost of services. With all of this weighing us down, I'd like to try to stimulate some future thinking.

I've used this graphic often to illustrate the three time frames when youth need support from caring adults (school day, right after school, evening, weekend, summer). This also emphasizes the responsibility we have of helping kids move through school and into jobs and careers, not just high school graduation.

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago for more than 35 years. Our sessions were held from 5:15 till 8pm, when workplace volunteers were available. In the Cabrini Connections program (1993-2011) we tried to recruit kids in 7th and 8th grade and keep them coming back until they finished high school.

This means we needed to find money every year to pay the bills. That was always a challenge. The graphics below illustrate this challenge.

There's a tremendous amount of wealth in Chicago, and the US, but much of it is not yet being focused on helping build and sustain great learning and mentoring opportunities in high poverty neighborhoods, reach kids at school, and in the non-school hours.

If these graphics resonate with you then let's find places on the Internet, and in Chicago, where we can begin to connect and look for solutions.