Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hey Mr. Rich Man, I'm Over Here

I read an article yesterday about multi billionaire Jim Simons and a think tank he has created to support work that benefits society. As I read it I recalled this graphic, which I first shared in this 2014 article.

Simons and other wealthy people have begun setting up "institutes" where talented people work on complex problems.  In Simons' case, he's not creating new raw data, but is digging deeper into data collected by others.

I've been doing something similar for the past 24  years, but with less than $150,000 in my best year and with almost no money for the past six years.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with the goal of "gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region.".

This map shows four sections of the web library I've been building since 1998.  Click on the box at the bottom of any of the nodes on the map, and a new map will open, with links to sub sections of my web library.

At the heart of this library is a list of Chicago area non school volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs operating in different parts of the city. Click this link to see the map and list of programs.

While I've been building a list, I've not had the resources do dig deeper into this information. However, by sharing this online, anyone could be taking a role of building a deeper understanding of what these programs do, what works, what does not work, what could be improved, what the challenges are, how could they be overcome, etc.

My Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and list of Chicago programs can be found in one section of the library I've been building. The other three sections, the larger part of the library, consists of links to articles and web sites of others involved in helping kids, or of solving complex problems.

In the mission statement above I wrote "collect all that is known", which is an on-going process. We'll never have "all that is known" but we can have much more than most people have at their disposal. By aggregating this information, others can learn ideas that people are applying in some places and find ways to improve them, and apply them in many other places. When we have access to a wide range of descriptions of the problem and of potential solutions, we can make better decisions and hopefully build and sustain stronger solutions.

Collecting this type of information, making sense of it, and  helping others find and use it would be the role of the team that a billionaire might fund if they were to create a Tutor/Mentor Institute in their name and support it's growth the same way Simons is supporting his research institute.

Collecting information is just the first step in a four part strategy that a billionaire might support, which I've piloted since 1994.    In this map I show the four steps, and point to  work needed to make each step work more effectively.

A well funded institute could not only make better sense of the data, but do much more to recruit other wealthy supporters, and to draw resources to community led initiatives in every neighborhood who are using the information and resources to do work that helps kids and families overcome the many challenges of poverty as they move more successfully through school and into adult lives, with jobs and careers, and laws, that enable them to raise their own kids with fewer of these challenges.

While a wealthy man or woman might create a stand-alone institute, he/she might also endow a Tutor/Mentor Institute on one, or more, college campus, where student-led teams might apply the T/MC strategy to support the growth of mentor-rich non-school programs in the area around a university, or in neighborhoods where students come from. Read more about that.

A first step of any group should be to spend time reading what I've been posting in printed newsletters, web sites and blogs for the past 23 years, so they know what I'm describing and are better able to improve it over the next 20 years.  I will coach that process as long as I'm still alive.

In the short term, if you want to help me, visit this page, and send a contribution.

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