Friday, February 26, 2016

What Bernie and I have in Common

I posted an article on my Linkedin page today, talking about what Bernie Sanders and I have in common, and focusing on the work millions of people need to do to help either of our visions for America become a reality.  I hope you'll read it and share with friends, co-workers, and the rest of your network. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Use Maps in Planing. Think Long Term.

It's a new week, meaning new opportunities to influence the thinking of people who are concerned with the economy, inequality, poverty and democracy in America.  Below are two sets of images I hope will stimulate your thinking.


Browse various articles on this blog, and the MappingforJustice blog and you'll see maps used over and over to focus attention on all of the areas of Chicago where a wide range of support is needed to help youth born today be starting jobs/careers in their mid-twenties.   There are many on-line mapping platforms that people can draw from to create their own map-stories and strategies. 

It takes a long time

View the strategy presentations in my web library and the articles that focus on leadership, planning and network building.  

For instance if you read this article, you'll find a copy of a 1993 Chicago SunTimes article talking about poverty, saying,  "Chicago neighborhoods that were poor 20 years ago are even more entrenched in poverty today because the city lacks a comprehensive battle plan". 

If you browse some of the articles I've posted over the past few weeks you can see how I encourage others to look at the stories I write, then rewrite them in their own blog articles.

I'm not an elected leader, celebrity, CEO or rich person. I'm just someone who got involved 40 years ago mentoring a 4th grade boy from Cabrini-Green and has stayed involved every year since then. As I became leader of a single program in 1975 I had to start every year thinking "how do I make this work?"  Rather than just drawing from my own small pool of experience, I began to reach out to borrow ideas from others. As I did that, I began building a list of who I was learning from, which became the library of links that I have hosted on-line since 1998.

I started communicating strategy ideas in printed newsletters in the 1980s and through the Tutor/Mentor Connection, between 1993 and 2001. I started this blog in 2005. 

I point to other people's blog articles in this section of the web library. I point to other people's ideas for collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, etc. in this section.  I point to challenges facing non profits in this section

It takes time to dive through all of this information. It should. It takes four to six years to go through college. As the news stories I point to indicate, it will take decades of consistent effort to move America to a better place than it is today.

We need to find ways to inspire leadership at many levels to keep this movement alive for that long.

Thus,  I'd like to be pointing to hundreds of blogs and web sites which post articles, visualizations and maps, similar to mine (or borrowed from mine) showing their own strategies, maps, and web libraries, and pointing out how long we need to stay involved in order to maximize our impact.

If you're writing these, post your link in the comment section..

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Unleashing student talent -- ongoing effort

Yesterday I and three others, met with a group of students who are part of the DePaul University Center for Writing Based Learning. Representatives from Gads Hill Center and 826 Chi talked about their youth serving programs and ways volunteers can get involved.  A representative from Story Studio talked about writing classes for adults, and roles for volunteers and interns.

I shared this PDF, showing how students from DePaul and other colleges could be duplicating my work, helping make well-organized tutor/mentor programs available in more places, so that more volunteers could reach urban youth with tutoring, mentoring, writing and learning activities.

For those who are interested in investigating this, I encourage you to read the text below, which I first wrote in 2010 to support the work of a class of first year-students at DePaul.

This fall an Explore Chicago class at DePaul University is learning about the gaps between rich and poor in Chicago, and the availability of tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods. As they learn, they are sharing this information on blogs like this one, which talks about tutor/mentor programs in the Austin area on the far West Side.

Another group talks about the far South Side, and another talks about the South Shore area. You can also read about the Near North, the Northwest Side, and the Southwest Side of Chicago.

I've written about roles universities and their alumni could take in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in different parts of the city and suburbs. Imagine if the marketing, journalism and even one or two fraternities from each university duplicated this as an on-going project. Over a period of years their understanding of tutor/mentor program need and availability would become more sophisticated than that of most leaders in the city, and their ability to draw resources into the neighborhood to help each program grow would also surpass that of any current elected or business leader.

Even high school students could take on this role. Instead of being a victim in a poorly performing school, students could be leaders and advocates demanding that the adult world deliver the resources that are already available to kids in other neighborhoods.

If you take on a project like this, and use the Tutor/Mentor Connection as a resource, like the DePaul class is doing, just let us know so we can coach your progress the way we're doing with the DePaul group, and with other interns and volunteers who are writing about tutoring/mentoring and the T/MC on the T/MC Ning Site.

Once you've looked at the blog articles written by DePaul students in 2009 and 2010, consider doing similar work, but as an on-going project, that continues for many years and makes your web site a destination for yourself and other alumni and students in future years.

Then view this video of a Google Hangout held last Thursday morning, connecting me with Terry Elliott, who teaches at Western Kentucky University, and Simon Ensor, who is a teacher at a university in France.

My hope is that students from DePaul and other universities will dig into the information on my web sites, including work previous interns have done, then will begin to create stories of their own that duplicate what I've been doing for the past 20 years to raise greater visibility and draw more consistent resources to non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs operating in Chicago and other cities. Each story or video should end with a "call to action" pointing people to this list that I maintain, or to similar program directories maintained by others.

Furthermore, as students begin this work, I want to encourage them to connect with others, in Chicago and in universities throughout the world, to share ideas, provide reinforcement, and encourage duplication of this activity in more places. See article.

This is all part of a 4-part strategy created since 1994.  While some students will begin to write stories, others need to begin to build directories showing what tutor/mentor programs operate in the area they focus on.  Others will begin to build web libraries, pointing to resources programs and students can learn from.  Others will begin to track activity and create maps like the one above, that show who is doing this work, and connect them with each other.

Over time such work can expand to include students from all parts of a university, as well as alumni and faculty and community members, creating a true "village" of people working to help the youth in the neighborhood go more safely and successfully from birth to work.

I'll look forward to reading what others write about this.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Never Give Up - Expanded Role for Consultants

I've used this graphic for many years to illustrate the intermediary role I take, trying to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty areas, by connecting them directly to resource providers, ideas, peers, etc.  Notice, the blue box is not directly between these two groups, but below.

There are literally thousands of experts, consultants, etc. who sit on the green arrow, in between those who can help and those who need help.  For the most part, they charge a fee for their services, so only those who have money to pay the fee benefit from the help that is offered. 

Many of those who serve as consultants have web sites showing how they teach leadership skills, team building, problem solving, systems thinking, etc.  Few show on their web sites how the skills they are teaching are applied over a period of years to help one, or many, organizations solve the complex problems which they were created to solve.

Below is a concept map I created last year to point to many of the data-indicator web sites that I've learned about, and that I share in my web library

If you click into many of these sites you'll find an extensive library of maps/data that  shows where a problem persists, which is where organizations should be focusing their efforts, and where resource providers should be applying their aid.

I use a wheel graphic to illustrate that the sum-total of problems in a city represents the wheel, and the individual components are slices of the pie.  I created this after looking at the Boston Innovation Hub for many years. The Innovation Hub is a resource of the Boston Indicators Project, which I point to with a link on the concept map.  They don't use the pie chart as much, but do point to 10 indicator areas representing major issues important to people in Boston.  

I use the same image to illustrate the age-appropriate supports youth living in high poverty areas need to more successfully, and safely, move through school and into jobs and career.  Programs that support this strategy need to stay engaged with a youth and many volunteers for 10-20 consecutive years!

I was inspired to write this article by how Brandon Newton has been re-tweeting my @tutormentorteam Twitter posts.  I visited his web site today and saw a variety of inspirational messages, including "never give up" and "it won't be easy".

I can relate to that.  I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011. I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011. That's where many of my ideas, including the graphic above, originated. 

While I've amassed a huge library of information and ideas that has been visited by more than 1 million people since 1998, and while I've received much praise for my efforts, I've not been consistently supported by donors, volunteers, civic leaders or business.

While several thousand inner city youth came through the programs I led, and I'm connected to many of them on Facebook and Linkedin, these programs were never fully funded.  

I'm still at the bottom of a huge mountain, looking up at where I'm trying to go.  However, I've not given up and every day represents and opportunity for someone to say "Let me help you."

I'd like to be able to visit web sites of consultants and see a similar pie chart, with a shaded area highlighting the causes they are committed to solving, and where they provide their talent and time, to help "those who need help" and "those who can provide help" connect with each other in long-term efforts that apply the ideas of the consultants in creating solutions to the problems they focus on.  Such web sites would contain case-studies and process review sections where they make transparent the work they are doing to solve the problems their paying clients are trying to solve.

They might respond "How do I stay in business if I give my time/talent away for free?"  I've heard others say "I don't do nothing if I don't get paid."  

Maybe that would make them partners with those who need help in trying to attract the support of those who can help

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Share the Love. Change the World. Make it Better for All.

This graphic was created by two interns from South Korea during a a seven week internship in 2012.  I wrote about it and included a link to the animation in this article.

I was prompted to write today's article because Sunday will be Valentine's Day.  This article from the DePaul University Center for Writing-Based Learning includes it's own message of Love heading into this weekend.  Another article, by Simon Ensor, a professor in France, communicates the same idea and points to ideas I've been sharing at the Tutor/Mentor Blog.

Here's another graphic, also created by the 2012 intern team. Song Me Lee wrote this article, to show how the graphic was created, and to show what she'd been learning during her internship.  I encourage you to look at all of the messages posted by Song Me during her internship.  

On this page of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site I post a list of interns from 2006 till 2014, with links to articles they wrote to introduce themselves at the start of their internship, and then links to final reflection articles.  Some provide more information than others, but all show an intent that the intern learn new ideas and new skills from working on their projects.

As I've interviewed students for these internships I've emphasized that one of my goals is that these students continue to stay connected to the Tutor/Mentor Connection library of ideas and to each other, so that in future years they become a community of people who help each other, and who apply these ideas to making the world a better place.


I created this presentation to show a goal of having student-led Tutor/Mentor Connection-type teams growing on high school and college campuses throughout the US and the world.  Anyone who takes a few moments to view my blogs and then shares what I'm writing about, as Simon Ensor has done on his blog, is providing inspiration and motivation for one or many people to take this roll.

I'm still waiting for the first university or high school to adopt this strategy, and for the first corporation or benefactor to endow it with 10 years of funding, but as they say "Rome was not built in a day."   

I created this concept map to illustrate this vision. If you start writing about my ideas and/or creating your own visualizations, share the link in the comment box and I'll add you to this map.

Better yet, create your own map, and add my blog articles to it.  

Through the collective effort of many, we'll gather the bricks needed to build the "Rome" of this vision.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Catch an Idea. Pass it On. Build the Network.

My friend Terry Elliott, a professor at Western Kentucky University, saw one of my Twitter posts, in which I shared a link to the concept map at the left. 

If you've followed my blog, you'll recall that Terry and I met through a Making Learning Connected cMOOC, and exchanged some visualization ideas last July in this article. We've continued to exchange ideas since then and Terry has repeatedly taken time to go through my stories then share them on his blog. I hope more people take this role.

Based on the map I shared via Twitter, Terry created a new version, which you can see below, and in this page on his blog. 

If you click on the image it will open in another screen, large enough for you to read what Terry wrote.  If you open Terry's blog you'll see that he imported the image from his Google drive, which enables you to zoom in and out, without needing to open a new window. I've not figured that out yet, but part of this idea exchange is a constant exposure to new ways of communicating an idea.

Toward the end of his article, Terry says "I hope Daniel revisits those fields".  I did. My response is the graphic shown below.

I said, "Me Too!" to Terry's hope that more people would do new versions of my map.  I also added a graphic from this page, showing work interns have been doing since 2007 to create new interpretations of the ideas I've launched.  I also included a graphic that illustrates the potential that any of us can have a powerful affect on many other people as we go through our lives, if only we will make the effort.  That graphic is from an article I titled "How Can One Person Change the Future?"

In the article I posted yesterday, I included a map of the world, illustrating the goal of having youth in schools, universities, faith groups and tutor/mentor programs located in many different places, creating their own versions of these graphics and articles, with much greater talent and energy than I've every been able to put into this. I outlined an idea for this on my planning wiki. It just needs a sponsor and partners to make it happen.

I'm attending a reception tonight in Chicago to meet the new President of Illinois Wesleyan University, which is from where I graduated with a history degree in 1968. In 2001 IWU, then led by Minor Myers, Jr., awarded me with an honorary PhD for the work I had done up to that point.  My hope is that a group of students and facility from IWU will join in on this exchange of ideas and purpose. 

Thank you to Terry Elliott and others who are already amplifying the ideas I share. You're providing a road map that makes it easier for others to follow.

I hope Daniel revisits those fields and replants them and husbands them in different ways.   - See more at:
I hope Daniel revisits those fields and replants them and husbands them in different ways.   - See more at:
I hope Daniel revisits those fields and replants them and husbands them in different ways.   - See more at:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Focus on the WHY and draw more people into your youth development efforts

Last April I included this 1993 Chicago SunTimes story in this blog article, pointing out that we were trying to reduce poverty 20 years ago and we're still trying today.

In the late 1990s I attended an event hosted by the Great Cities Institute at UIC, where the focus was on poverty.  At the end of the event, one student asked "If this has been a problem for so long, and we've spent millions of dollars to solve it, why is it still with us?"  The speaker responded "Too few people really care."

I started leading a tutor/mentor program in 1975 and every August I began a new school year by recruiting volunteers to become tutors/mentors, including some who had been volunteers the previous year or more. As I recruited volunteers, and student participants, I also had to figure out how to keep them involved from September through May of the next year.

I started inviting tutor/mentor program leaders to gather and share ideas in 1976 and formalized this process when creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I'm still leading that effort, but through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. This was extra work for me, but I did it from self interest. I was learning from others who had ideas and experiences that could help me build my own tutor/mentor program. I was also gaining social/emotional support from people who were facing the same challenges as I was.  That's still true today.

I've created a huge body of information that anyone can read and use, and I've created illustrated presentations (and more than 1000 blog articles since 2005) with the question "What are all the things we need to be doing to help youth born or living in high poverty be starting jobs/careers by age 25?"

I've also piloted an on-going network building strategy intended to engage a growing number of people from all sectors of business, civic, religious and philanthropy (the village) in discussions that aim to generate answers to this question, along with new questions that come from what we learn from each cycle of questions and answers.  I'm constantly looking for new ideas to add to the library and share with others.

Today Simon Ensor, a professor from France, shared a video with me, that I want to share with you.

I identify with this quote from Mike's lecture "I'm a co-knower among students and other learners who are asking the same "Why".   

For myself, and everyone else who is concerned with poverty, inequality, social justice and the future well-being of our own kids, as well as other people's kids, focusing on the "WHY" question as a form of motivation for learning and engagement may be fuel for getting more people involved, and finding ways to make solutions available to youth and families in more of the places where they live.

This graphic is the four-part information-based problem solving strategy that I've developed over the past 20 years. I describe it here and in many other places on my blogs.  

The video Simon Ensor shared with me is part of the information I share, (like through this article). It is archived with all the other information I've been collecting, which is STEP 1.   

By sharing this video on my blog, then on social media, I'm trying to make it available to more people who might view the video, and my own strategies, and then share them with others. That's part of STEP 2.

In the video Mike Wesch, an associate professor at Kansas State  University, is facilitating understanding of the ideas in the video, with his students, and with anyone else who looks at the video, or my own blog article.  That is part of STEP 3.

This week I created a new concept map, to illustrate an effort to "know" who was also sharing my ideas with others, and to connect those people with each other.  This is part of the first three steps in the four-part strategy.

However, it also demonstrates a part of Step 4, which is that maps can show where poverty is most concentrated, along with other indicators that show negative impacts of poverty.  Maps can also show what organizations are working in those areas, and serve as a resource that volunteers, parents, social workers, donors and business partners can use, to reach out and help each of those organizations become the very best at helping youth move through school and into jobs.

If we have better information (step 1) and more people looking at it daily (step 2) with greater understanding of where, why and how to get involved (step 3) then more people will proactively visit lists showing the different youth serving organizations operating in a city, and volunteering time, talent, ideas and/or dollars to help each organization become the very best in helping kids grow up....without waiting to receive a formal request, or proposal, for help.

That's what I've been trying to do with the maps I've been sharing for nearly 20 years.  

For a dramatically greater number of people to be engaged in this conversation they need to be motivated by their own interest in asking "Why?" does poverty still exist in America after so many years of trying to find ways to reduce it."

I think that if more of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities were engaging their volunteers and students in the WHY questions, we'd have many more people helping us find solutions to the big challenges that face us. 

If more colleges, high schools, civic, social and religious groups had teams engaging others in the "Why?" discussion, even more people would be looking for "where" to get involved.  

For me, engaging volunteers in the "How can we make this work better, and why is it important?" questions was one of the strategies that helped the programs I led grow volunteer participation to 550 a year in one program, and 100 a year in the second. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Is this your Tutor/Mentor Org Planning Process? Does it Involve Youth?

I included the graphic below in an article I posted on January 22

Most of my blog articles include maps and visualizations that focus attention on strategies that make comprehensive programs available in more places.  Do a Google search for "tutor mentor" then look at the images. You'll see a wide range of graphics included in articles written since 2005.

Many of these ideas are communicated using a free cMap tool, or concept map.   You can see this map here.  From left to right what the map is showing is a place-based planning process that starts with creating maps that define the area a group is focusing on, which could be as small as a few blocks. Then add indicators to the map, such as poverty, crime, health disparities, violence, etc. which are all indicators showing a need for a wide range of school, and non-school tutoring, mentoring, learning and jobs programs.  Next, engage youth, volunteers, staff and other stakeholders, including local business, hospital and university people, in a "learning process"

By this I mean that the group begins to look at web sites of other youth serving organizations, in Chicago, and around the world. Look at what types of activities they offer and what impact those have. Look at how they communicate their ideas on web sites, blogs and social media. As your group sees ideas that might be good additions to your own program, build a list, which could be a web library like mine.  In doing so, you archive your list of ideas, or "aspirations" so that you can refer to them in the future, and you can point others to those saying "this is what we need to be doing here".

Then begin to prioritize what you want to do in the coming year, and look for the talent and resources to implement the idea. Once it is launched measure participation and gather feedback so that at the end of the year your team can decide if it wants to continue the idea, how they might improve it, and what other ideas they want to add into the coming year.

This is a continuous cycle of process improvement. It's one that  has greater success if your resources providers, and local assets, are involved in the process with you. When you see a great idea you should not need to write a proposal. The resource provider should be looking at the same idea and saying "how much can I  help?"

See this process described in blog articles like this and this and in presentations like this.  

Encourage your youth and volunteers to create similar articles and presentations describing your own planning process.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Involve Youth in Meaningful Ways

For many years I've heard activist say "involve youth in decision making" since they are the ones you're trying to influence.  Today during the Strengthening Chicago Youth (SCY-Chicago) quarterly meeting, the topic was "Holding Systems Accountable for Violence Prevention".  I offered some reflection on this blog.

Many of the participants at the SCY-Chicago event were passionate about having youth voice involved in meaningful ways.

I agree. But. Making change happen requires many years, and the involvement of many people.

This graphic is a collection of three different graphics, related to the same idea. If we want to help young people grow to become healthy, thriving, employed adults, we need to reach them early and stay connected to them, with a variety of different, age-appropriate supports, for many years.  If the youth was born, or is living in medium income or higher level income brackets, there are many supports naturally available to him and his family, to overcome the challenges he/she will face in growing up and finding a job/career. (see map)

If the young person is born or living in areas of low income and/or extreme poverty, she faces many of the same problems as other kids, but without the same type of naturally occurring supports to help him/her overcome those challenges. In addition, he/she has influences in his/her life that other kids don't grow up with, like hunger, high levels of stress related to violence, many adults without college education, with prison records, with low wage jobs. 

For kids who live in high poverty the support systems that would help them overcome these challenges needs to be built and be available to them close to where they live. Such supports don't just appear. They require a group of dedicated people to launch a program, build it to the point where it is effective at what it offers, then keep it great for many years as young people move from first grade to first job.

Assuming every youth age 14-21 were actively involved today in designing this system, they will be adults between the age of 30-40 before the first kids entering first grade today will be entering jobs and careers in their mid 20's. That's assuming great programs in every neighborhood were made available by next year. Not likely.

Thus, while youth need to have their voices involved, the system they help create needs to be one that will keep them continuously involved, engaged and contributing time, talent, dollars and votes, to solutions, for the rest of their lives.

 The Internet offers a platform for such "stickiness" but I've not yet seen any magic pill that builds the type of learning habits and personal accountability that will get people from both sides of the poverty gap consistently connected for a lifetime of learning and involvement.

Which leads me to this. During 2016 youth will be invited to write letters to the next President, via a program led by the National Writing Project and the Bay-Area PBS station KQED. Read this blog article to learn about this opportunity for young people to voice their ideas about what the next President (and local elected officials) need to do to end violence and create greater opportunities for youth in America.  

I will post notes from today's SCY-Chicago meeting once they make them public. If you've written a blog article, with your own theory of change, or strategy maps, then please share your link in the comment section, or share it with me on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Use NodeXL data to build network focused on common goals

Last September I saw a post on Twitter and followed it to a NodeXL map, that created a visual history of conversation around specific Twitter hashtags, over a defined period of time. I created a map, then wrote a tutorial on how to  use NodeXL in this blog article

Last week the National Mentoring Summit was held in Washington, DC, with nearly 1000 people from around the country participating. While I've attended these in the past (see articles here and here), I didn't have the money to attend this year. So I participated by following some of the sessions via a live feed, and by interacting using the #mentoringsummit2016 hash tag.

If you've read any of the articles on this blog you'll know that my goal is to connect the entire "village" of people who need to be involved making needed tutoring, mentoring and learning organizations available in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.  To do that, thousands of people need to be connected to each other, to information the can use, and to individual locations where youth and volunteers connect in organized programs.

Intermediaries, such as the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, can help establish these connections. That's why I'm writing this article. It's what I do every day.

While conferences that gather a thousand people are great, and offer dozens of workshops to learn from, the reality is that you can only attend one workshop in each time frame, and in a big group, you only meet a few people, and get to ask one the most.

Thus, I'm committed to online learning and network building as a way to connect with more people, and dig deeper into information that's available.  See articles I'ved tagged as MOOC and Learning

Thus, my work last week intended to build my own list of Twitter followers, and visitors to my own web sites, but to help others build their own networks at the same time.

Last week I asked Marc Smith, of NodeXL if he'd create a map using #mentoringsummit2016, which he did. Here's the link to the graphic shown below.

I encourage you to read the tutorial article I referred to above.  However, if you open the link, you can enlarge the graphic to the point where you can run your mouse over the nodes and see the Twitter name of each node. On this map you see four major clusters and several minor. The lines represent ties connecting people on the map with each other.  If you scroll down below the map you can find the top 10 influences, you can find web sites referred to most often, and as you scroll further down you can find more people who were most active in Tweeting, reTweeting and commenting.  

If you're trying to build your Twitter network, you would want to follow the people who were most active. If you want to build your influence network, you'd want to reach out and connect to these people throughout the year, while following the links they point to in their own Twitter posts, and reTweeting these to your own network.

When I started using the Internet in 1998 there was great optimism that this was a low-cost way for people without big advertising dollars to reach out and build a network of people who shared a common purpose, and who might help each other.  As we head into 2016 the optimism is somewhat reduced as Facebook, Google and others install controls on their platforms that make each message you post visible to only a small fraction of your followers and people who care about the same issues. 

Finding ways to use network analysis tools like NodeXL to help you find and connect with others who share your own goals is a strategy any of us could deploy on a regular basis to help build our network and our own visibility and influence.

I hope to hear stories from some of the tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities of how they might be doing this, and how they may be engaging their own students, volunteers, staff and supporters in on-line learning, network building and program support efforts.

Jan 12, 2018 update. Here's a link to a NodeXL map of the National Mentoring Month #Promise Chat, held on Jan 11, 2018.