Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Did ALL Chicago Youth Organizations Fill Funding Tanks on #GivingTuesday?

Yesterday a large number of youth serving organizations in Chicago, and other cities, reached out for donations via the #GivingTuesday campaign.  Today I'm seen posts from some saying "we raised $xxx thousand dollars".  That's fantastic and I offer thanks to donors who provided support.

However, if you're flying an airplane and they only put 5% of the gas needed in your tank before taking off, you probably should be concerned.

That's what the article below is about.  I wrote this in mid 2015, but want to repeat it as we head into 2017.

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.

The money raised on one day only provides a small part of the fuel a well-organized tutor/mentor program needs for a full year.  Read more articles on this blog to see ways you, your company or faith group, fraternity or social group, can help fuel the growth and operation of needed non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs reaching k-12 youth in poverty neighborhoods throughout the Chicago region.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Give support to youth throughout the year.

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, and #ILGive, where thousands of big and small non profits will compete for on-line donations. As with everything else, I suspect the highly visible programs with great marketing will do better than the less known, smaller programs.

In my Nov-Dec newsletter I pointed to the lists on the #ILGive page where donors could search for youth serving organizations in Illinois. I also pointed to the map-directory I've been trying to host since 1994, in an effort to draw volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs in every poverty neighborhood of Chicago.

During the remainder of the month and in January, I'm going to post some articles that focus on building mentor-rich programs in more places. These will include:

Logic model graphic - if we believe connecting a youth to extra adults and a wide range of learning an enrichment activities, then we need to build and sustain youth serving organizations in all places where kids need extra help. This requires leadership from business, universities, religion, media, politics, entertainment, etc.

Steps for Starting and Sustaining a non-school tutor, mentor and learning program.  I led three programs between 1975 and 2011, and the ideas I share in this and other presentations are drawn from those experiences.  (see 12/2/16 article)

If you'd like to get a head start on these articles, visit this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site and read the four pdf presentations.

Throughout these presentations I'll focus on building a common vision, using a variety of "mentoring kids to careers" graphics. 

I'll also focus on "building teams" to support program growth.  While part of this will focus on internal organizational teams, much will focus on external teams of community leaders, businesses, faith groups, etc. who should be active in helping mentor-rich programs grow in more places.

We're in December now, focusing on year-end fund raising, and January to June activities. However, now is when your planning should also begin to look at "what can we do when school starts again next fall?" If you're thinking of starting a new program, you'd want to be ready to recruit students and volunteers by next August.  Year-to-year improvement, that involves your students, volunteers, and other stakeholders, can be plotted on a planning calendar. 

I'll also share some "operating procedures and philosophy" that has guided my own efforts.   And I'll conclude with articles focusing on "collaboration goals" and "learning strategies" that expand the number of people working to help kids in high poverty areas have a wider range of supports helping them through school and into jobs and careers.

As I write these future articles I'll come back to this post and edit it to put in links to these articles. Thus, I hope you'll bookmark this as an on-going resource. 

I started creating these illustrated essays in the 1990s and have updated them at different times. I started posting them on in 2011 and they have recorded more than 87,000 reads since then.   I think they can all be improved, and converted into podcasts. short videos, and/or animations. However, I don't have the talent or dollars to do this. Thus, as I share this I'm looking for partners and/or sponsors who'd like to help update these, distribute them in more places, and share credit for the ideas they include.  Introduce yourself in the comment box, or on Twitter if you'd  like to help.

If you'd like to make a year-end contribution visit this page

Friday, November 25, 2016

Connecting Urban and Rural America

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection(T/MC)* in Chicago in 1993, to create a master library of information related to building and sustaining volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in high poverty areas of Chicago. Over the past 23 years that has led to creating an extensive library of links to research, networks, organizations, etc. that people could draw from to help support system be available to help urban youth move through school and into jobs. I've piloted uses of GIS maps and concept maps to show where poverty is concentrated and to show strategies as well as sections of my web library.

I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership andNetworking Conferences every six months from May 1994-2015 and many were attended by people from smaller communities and rural America. On those occasions, I was often asked if there was a resource similar to the T/MC that focused on rural issues and I answered that a) I did not know; and b) I wished someone would duplicate what I'm doing, but focused on rural issues. I've offered the same suggestions to people in Africa, Asia and South America.

During the past six months as the US Election campaign took place, I began to see articles that talked about rural America and it's challenges and started to collect links. This past week I added a sub section in the T/MC web library that points to these links.

If you're asking, what does a Tutor/Mentor Connection do, here's one link that shows the how I've been building an information network, and learning library. 

Here's another pdf introducing the work I've been doing: 

Here's a link to a page of concept maps that I've created: 

Here's a page with four “how to starta tutor/mentor program” pdf essays. 

All of these, and a mountain of other information is freely available to anyone who wants to duplicate a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy in a different city, or focusing on rural issues, rather than urban poverty.

Challenges of reaching youth with organized tutor, mentor and learning programs. Comparing rural and urban America

I see the challenges to be largely based on geographic size, with rural America covering over 80% of the land space (see map above) of the country with countless numbers of small and mid size communities where kids need extra help. Further more it's an issue of population density. Big city poverty is surrounded by big city affluence. Rural communities have far fewer people and resources available to help in each of the places where help is needed.

My web library focuses on collecting links to web sites showing problems of big cities, but also showing solutions being applied in some places which could be borrowed and applied in other places. You can see the map at the left, along with many others, on the MappingforJustice blog. 

I think many of the concept maps I've created could be used by organizations focused on youth in rural communities, along with many of the links I've collected in the T/MC web library. The primary challenge I've faced, which I suspect others also face, is finding ways to attract people to this information, and keep them digging into it for many years.

Finding donors who would provide on-going operating dollars to build, sustain and share information in the library is another huge barrier to doing this work. 

I hope to connect with organizations that I point to in my web library, and to other network leaders, to talk about some of those challenges and show you around the various sections of the T/MC web library.    Just leave a comment to introduce yourself or connect with me on one of these social media sites

*I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to continue the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago after support for the strategy was discontinued by the founding non-profit. My aim has been to build a new non profit team to support this work in Chicago, while helping groups in other cities build their own intermediary groups, using the strategies I've developed over the past 25 years.

Monday, November 21, 2016

In #Trump dominated media world how do we keep focused on youth?

I was hoping that the November 8th election would lessen the daily bombardment of political messaging. With the election of #DonaldTrump that has risen to a new level, and does not seem likely to lessen anytime soon.

There are too many reasons for this to continue, for me to list here.

However, I want to share this image to remind you that the work of raising kids won't take a four-year holiday while we work to offset the negative impact of Trump in the White House.

This was the front page of the Chicago SunTimes in October 1992 after the shooting of a 7-year old boy in Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood.  I've used this image over and over since then to remind myself, and others, of our on-going responsibility to help build support systems for youth that help more kids move safely through school and into jobs and careers.

You can read one of those articles at this link.

Like many, I'm concerned about how Donald Trump and those surrounding him might move this country toward something that resembles Nazi era Germany.  That cannot be allowed. Those organizations on the front lines of protecting civil liberties need to be supported.

However, let's not drop the ball on other important causes.

I created the graphic at the right in the 1990s, recognizing that there are many important issues that require attention, volunteer talent and dollars.  My hope is that people will devote a small percent of their attention and resources to support on-going operations of youth serving organizations in their neighborhood and in other under-served areas of the country and the world.

Which brings me to a final thought as we start this Thanksgiving week and holiday season.  I created the graphic below in the 1990s to illustrate the need to surround youth with a diverse mix of adults from many work, age and faith backgrounds, from the time they are born until a time when they are in work and raising their own kids.  You can see a version of this in this pdf essay.  I added the red and blue boxes, and the political map of the US over the weekend.

I think of on-going, volunteer-based non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs as a "melting pot" where youth and adults from different backgrounds connect and over many weeks and years of interaction, begin to know each other on a personal level, not as labels and stereotypes, such as "red state" or "blue state".

I think raising kids to become contributing adults is everyone's responsibility. Teaching them to read, reflect, think and become future leaders is a goal I hope many share, regardless of political affiliation.

While I've focused on building and sustaining tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other big cities, I hope to connect with people who focus on rural areas and foriegn countries, using web libraries, maps and visualizations for the same purpose as I do.

While I fear the growth of programs where adults mentor youth to hate and promote one race and class over all others, I believe that programs with a mix of adults and perspectives have the potential to offset this bias.

I use maps because such programs need to be in many places and only with maps can we clearly see their availability and distribution.  The map creation and update is an on-going process, so this too needs to be supported, ideally by universities, company teams and even high school service learning organizations.

As you head into the holidays I hope you'll read this and other articles on my blogs and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site.  Create your own blog and use maps and visualizations to share your own ideas. Share your link with me via the comment section, or on Twitter or Facebook.

As a nation, we've not come close to accepting the responsibilities requested in that October 1992 Chicago SunTimes article. Let's try to do better in the future....regardless of how traditional and social media try to pull our attention in different directions.

If you value these articles and the information I share, please make a year end contribution to help me do this work. Learn more here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Use Maps To Guide Where You Give

Next week, on November 29th, non profits throughout Illinois will be asking donors to support their organizations, as part of the #ILGive - #GivingTuesday event.

Visit this page on the #ILGive web site and you can find a list of education related non profits, including many of the tutor/mentor programs I point to on my own maps.  Visit this page, to find programs in the Youth category.

I've used maps since 1994 to try to show where non-school, volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs are most needed, and where existing programs are located.  The graphic above shows a map I created in early 2016 of programs I include on this list.

With maps, donors, volunteers, media and political leaders can work to assure that youth in every high poverty neighborhood have assess to well-designed programs....which is only possible if donors provide a consistent flow of operating and innovation every program.

I created the graphic below to show how important the last six weeks of the year are for attracting donations to non profits, and to show that this needs to be a year-round effort, and that programs in every high poverty neighborhood need funding, not just those with the best profile, the best marketing or the Mayor's endorsement.

I created this second graphic (below) a few years ago.  It emphasizes the need for a mix of constantly improving k-12 youth tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in every high poverty neighborhoods, and invites billionaires and millionaires to adopt neighborhoods with long-term commitments of flexible funding that helps organizations build strong infrastructures essential to providing outstanding service to youth, families and the volunteers who become part of these programs.

I've been posting stories like this on this blog since 2005 and have been writing stories like this since creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. My voice is small, and sometimes less than a whisper, but I keep giving this message so others might pick it up and amplify it through their own leadership, putting these ideas to work in Chicago and every other major city in the world.

I created this graphic in 2011 to visualize what I've been doing since 1993, which is collecting, organizing and sharing information that resource providers and non profit leaders can use to build and sustain constantly improving youth serving programs in high poverty neighborhoods of big cities like Chicago.

I have not operated as a non-profit since 2011 so I won't be included in #ILGive.  However, I do depend on gifts from supporters to help me do this work.  I'll be 70 on December 19, so if you want to give a gift to support my birthday, click here.  If you just want to add your support to what I've been doing, click here.

Either way you help me continue to try to help tutor/mentor programs grow in all Chicago neighborhoods and in other cities as we  move into 2017.  Thank you to everyone who helps, myself, or any of the many other youth serving programs in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stay Focused. Do What You Can Every Day.

This morning I listened on-line to the State of the Community presentation, delivered by leaders of The Chicago Community Trust, at a large gathering in Chicago.  The Twitter hash tag is #WhatYouDoMatters.

Last night as I ate dinner I listened to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on public radio, and followed the #Rahmtalk on Twitter.   I hope someone creates a Storyfy archive of each of these, and that you'll see how I share ideas from this blog and my archive in each.

A year ago I wrote an article titled, "Keeping Focus Amid a World on Fire"  Little did I know how much the world would change in just one year, and by the votes of nearly 50 million fellow Americans.

I've used this graphic a few times in the past, such as here,  to illustrate how I've been sharing strategy ideas for nearly 20 years, while others with greater visibility, more reputation, and more money, keep coming into this space with new invitations of joining together, connecting ideas and networks, etc.

I just keep repeating the same ideas over and over. 

Below I'm going to post a few graphics, with links to blog articles where they appeared. I hope you or others will take a look.

 After the Election, Work to Do.  I actually wrote this on November 5th, before the election.  Now that we know who will be in the White House for the next few years, it's more important than ever that many people share ownership of this graphic and take a role in helping youth living in high poverty, urban, rural or reservation, have school and non-school support systems that help them move from first grade to a job and career over the next 12 to 20 years.

This commitment has to be continuous over the cycles of many elected leaders.

Birth to Work Blueprints Needed.  I've included these graphics in many articles since I started writing this in 2005.  People who build hotels, homes, skycrapers, etc. follow a blueprint, showing work to be done from foundation to top floor.  Each page of the blueprint shows work that needs to be done by different contractors. They all need to be skilled and they all need to be paid.

We need such blueprints for solving any of the complex problems we face, and we need to find ways to generate revenue so skilled people are doing that work.   

I've created a library of concept maps that could be used by leaders in Chicago and other cities to build a comprehensive set of blueprints that show people where and how to get involved, and show a sequence of supports that need to be available in every high poverty neighborhood or zip code in the country.

I created these graphics in the 1990s and  have shared them consistently via printed newsletters, web  sites and blog articles like this one. The headline was "Cubs Win! Let's talk about building great youth support teams."

The challenge is that people are busy, foundations want new ideas, and funding generally only covers a small percent of anyone's work. 

That leads to service-learning and creating a meaningful role for involving young people.

I included this graphic in a 2015 blog article created and shared with a network of educator who were joined together via a Connected Learning cMOOC, using the hashtag of #clmooc.

I pointed to two visualizations created by interns from South Korea. In these they reviewed work done by previous interns, in an effort to draw new attention to work done in the past. You can see the visualizations here.

Today I've shown you just a few of more than 1000 articles I've posted on this blog since 2005.  You can find other articles, showing uses of GIS maps, on the MappingforJustice blog.

I created this tag cloud a few months ago, to show the different categories of articles on this blog, and to encourage people to dig into these articles and use the ideas to build and sustain systems of support for youth and adults living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

While I don't have any financial support from local or national foundations and few people helping me do this work, I think it's important and will continue to share the ideas, regardless of what disasters are demanding that I focus on other issues.

If you're using these ideas, or creating versions of  your own, please post a comment and introduce yourself and your blog or web site. Together we can do more than we can working alone.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

War on Poverty Enters New Stage - War on Freedom

A few years ago I wrote an article titled "War on Poverty" and created the graphic shown below to show the steps needed to fight this battle. I  put it in a PDF posted on  An intern from IIT and South Korea, later created this video, showing these steps.

I used the graphic in this in a "Veteran's Day" article last November, calling on veterans to help me develop this strategy and to lead it in Chicago and other cities.

Now that the shock of the Trump election victory is beginning to receed, the need to strategically mobilize to protect American freedoms and identify and address the needs of people who are suffering in zip codes throughout the United States, and the world, is more acute than ever.

I attended an Afterschool Conference a couple of weeks ago, and met a few people and exchanged business cards, as I do almost every week. This morning I sent this follow up email.

We met at lunch during the Afterschool Conference. While I hope you've found time to browse my web sites, I'm writing to follow up.

I have been building an on-line library of information since 1998, which I started collecting in the 1970s and 80s while leading a non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor program from the Montgomery Ward corporate headquarters in Chicago.

The goal is to gather people from all parts of the Chicago region in on-going learning that results in more consistent efforts to help mentor-rich, total quality, non-school learning programs be available to k-12 youth in every poverty zip code of the Chicago region, so those programs have the talent, volunteers, ideas and dollars needed to build and sustain long-term connections that help kids through school and into adult lives.

Many focus on the same goals, but most do so with too few resources, and in limited networks and silos. Thus, as I build and share my library, I'm also pointing to strategies used in some places to connect groups of people with each other in on-line learning, which can be duplicated in Chicago.

I use concept maps to show my library. I hope you'll take some time to view this map, and each of the four sections.

I use a monthly newsletter to draw attention to this information and to draw volunteers and donors directly to tutor/mentor programs in my database. Here's the latest.

I'd be happy to meet with any of you, or any others, to provide a tour of the resources that are freely available to you. Just email to suggest a time and place. I also encourage you to sign up for the newsletter.

As of Tuesday we enter a very dark journey in our city and country's history. We need to find ideas and supporters who will help us, and the kids we work with, through this journey.

I look forward to connecting with you and your networks.

I share this introduction and invitation with anyone who is concerned with the direction this country is headed, and who already has been working to correct some of the inequalities and injustices that were poorly addressed in this campaign both parties.

Below is one of many presentations that I've created to introduce the work I've been doing, with scarce and limited resources, for the past 20 years.

I look forward to connecting with you in a one-on-one, or on-line group or future conference.

Daniel F. Bassill, D.H.L.
Tutor/Mentor Connection
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC
Connect with me in any of these social media spaces. click here.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

After the Election Work to Do

The election is Tuesday. I hope everyone votes. I also hope that the national winner is Hillary Clinton. I hope that radical Senators and Congressmen in every state get replaced with those who want to work for a country that is a real example to the world of what is needed to create hope, opportunity and a secure, healthy future for ALL of its citizens.  

However, I'm not naive enough to believe this will happen.  Clinton may not win. Not sure how I'll accept that.

Yet, regardless of who wins, it's always been the responsibility of individuals and groups in places across the country to come together and innovate solutions to complex problems.

I've created a lot of graphics over the past 20 years that can be used as discussion starters in many places. They focus on finding strategies and building systems of support that help kids living in high poverty areas move through school and into adult jobs and careers.

For this to happen, individuals need to do their own research, reading and reflection. Groups, or learning circles, need to form and discuss ideas that are available on line from myself and others, then use maps to plan ways to build and sustain public and provide support for solutions that need to be available in many neighborhoods, not just a few high profile programs or high visibility neighborhoods.

I've posted over 60 presentations on Scribed that you can use in your learning circles and more than 1000 articles on this blog since 2005.  Here's one I posted yesterday.

I'm not going to say, "After the election, I hope leaders will begin to gather and look at these ideas." because people have been gathering in big and small groups for many years.

I started an archive on my Facebook page this week, pointing to Twitter chats that I've followed, and contributed ideas to.  This is just one way to see who else is already active in this effort.

I created this concept map several years ago and update it regularly. It shows Chicago area youth-serving organizations who act as intermediaries to bring others together. They are already focusing on helping kids have greater learning opportunities.

The problem I see is that if you look at the web sites of these organizations and others in my web library, they don't have a similar map on their sites. Thus, each is seeking a solution to the same problem, but doing so with a different network of partners, leaders and resources.

Yes. There is a level of overlap and interaction.  However, there are very few who use GIS maps to show all the places where youth programs are needed, or concept maps to show program design and strategy, or all of the different types of support kids and families need as kids move from birth to work.  Furthermore, very few are focused at helping every organization in their network acquire the on-going talent, dollars, ideas, technology and attention that each needs to be good at it's role.

Thus, if you're forming a learning circle, look at what's on my web site and what's on other people's web sites. Then ask "Which of these ideas make sense to me and which do I want to try to apply to my own efforts?"

This needs to be happening in thousands of places to help disadvantaged kids have greater opportunities to succeed in life. It also needs to be happening to solve some of the other problems we face, such as a broken political system and a weakening democracy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Re-framing the Story about Black Male Achievement

In May 2014, I read a report, titled “Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement”, which was produced by The Foundation Center, with funding from the Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement.  One of the goals of the campaign was to re-frame the story about Black men in America.  The 2016 video below shows how far that idea has moved beyond strategy to implementation.

The Story of CBMA from CampaignforBMA on Vimeo.

I offered my suggestions in 2014 via this blog article, and have interacted with BMA Executive Director Shawn Dove, via Twitter and other formats since the late 2000s.

When I look at the BMA video I'm emotionally connected. The way the story is told is powerful. If that story can be told over and over, for many years, and in many media formats, I do feel we'll begin to shift the way we perceive Black men and boys and their potential.

However, I hope that another set of videos is being created using maps, graphics and ideas, visualizing a planning process that needs to take place in cities, rural areas and reservations throughout the country.  I've been sharing these ideas for nearly 20 years. They are intended to make mentor-rich, long-term, volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring, learning and jobs programs available in every poverty neighborhood of America, where boys AND girls of multiple racial backgrounds live in highly segregated, high poverty, neighborhoods.

Here's an article I wrote in February 2014, following President Obama's launch of the My Brother's Keeper program. Note the use of maps and graphics in the article.  Here's another from May 2014.

In January 2010 I wrote "Obama supports mentoring. Whats-strategy ?"

I encourage you to visit the BMA web site after you've viewed the video and (hopefully) looked at some of the articles on this blog.  There is a host of great ideas and good work being done by BMA.

I have recognized for a long time that my way of telling this story is too detailed and too technical and that I'm not as talented a story-teller as others. I'm also an 'old White man', supporting a movement that wants to put Black men and women in front of the camera.

As a result, I've reached out to alumni of the tutoring programs I've led since 1975, with the goal that they would take ownership of the ideas and strategies I share, and use their own multiple talents to tell this part of the story, over and over.  So far that's not happened, but I keep trying.

I hope my own ideas and efforts help shape what happens in the future, while influencing others to build their own commitment and strategies to support the growth of mentor-rich K-16 youth serving programs in every high poverty neighborhood of the country.

I want to thank Phil Jackson, and the Black Star Project, for sharing the BMA video in today's email newsletter.