Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Using Information to Solve Problems - a Process

I've been using concept maps to visualize strategy and process for nearly 20 years. I posting a series of articles on the MappingforJustice blog, that use concept maps as a tool for communicating strategy for helping kids in poverty move from birth to work, while also pointing to resources available to support leaders who adopt this commitment.

In the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog you can see more articles where I've embedded concept maps and ideas on systems thinking.

When I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago, I could have built a web site just sharing my own previous 20 years of experience. Instead, I started building a web library collecting what other people knew about the problem and the challenges they were facing.  That library now has more than 2000 links and I've been updating them for the past few weeks (and for the rest of March).

Just putting this information in a web library is not enough. It's on the first step of an on-going strategy. Below is a concept map, showing the process I've been developing over the past 20 years.

On the left, I show the inputs, or information I've been aggregating since I formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Across the middle I show various ways I've tried to expose this information to a growing number of people. Since I've never had advertising dollars, nor support from high profile business, political or celebrity spokespersons, the number of people I've reached has been limited, but still over a million visits to my web sites alone since 1998.

On the right, I show how formal and informal learning can help people innovate new ways to draw resources to all tutor/mentor programs in a geographic region as large as Chicago, and to help leaders of these programs use these resources, and what they can learn from each other, to constantly improve the work they do to connect youth and volunteers and help kids succeed in school, and move to jobs and careers not limited by poverty.

I've been sharing ideas like this on blogs since 2005 and email newsletters since 2001. I published printed newsletters between 1993 and 2001. Everything I've done can be done much better by others who may have more talent and resources than I have.

I've been looking for leaders in business, universities, philanthropy, etc who embrace the strategies and the way I share this information, and who want to adopt my efforts and support them with their own leadership and resources into future years. I used this image in article I posted yesterday.

I used the graphic at the right in this article.  If more people from business, universities, faith groups, sports/marketing, media and other sectors take a role in the strategies I've described, we can fill high poverty areas with great programs helping kids move through school and into careers free of poverty.

This graphic illustrates the goal. Kids we connect with in elementary and middle school are holding jobs and raising their own kids in neighborhoods not dominated by poverty. Many are beginning to use their own time, talent and dollars to help others. We need to begin to see this happening at youth serving programs throughout Chicago and in other cities when we visit their web sites. Some show this well. Others need help.

If you're interested supporting this work, or learning more, here's a link to social media places where you can connect with me.

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