Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Expanding Networks. Deeper Learning.

If you skim through some of the many blog articles I've posted since 2005 you'll find many graphics used to visualize and communicate complex ideas.  I'm not certain how effective this is, but I feel a picture can do more than several pages of words.

Below is a graphic I'm working on.  I'm going to include it in my monthly eMail newsletter.


I use a "wheel" graphic to visualize the need for youth to be connected to volunteers from many work/career backgrounds who can model different opportunities and open doors as kids grow older. As volunteers from different industries get involved in a program, many informally share what they are learning with people in the work/social networks.

The second graphic is visualizing a strategy intended to draw more people to the information available in the Tutor/Mentor web library and on the web sites of the various youth programs and researchers that I point to. Each person involved with a tutor/mentor program formally, or informally, can be telling others about their experiences and recruiting others to take a role.

The maps are intended to show a need for great tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of the city, not just in a few places. 

Imagine this photo from a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference as a gathering of your volunteers, where they are sharing ideas for being an effective tutor and/or mentor, or for helping find resources to support your organization.

I'm sure this is happening in many places. But are you writing about it on your blog or web site? Are you pointing to a library of articles for people to read?

Here's a page on the Cluster Tutoring Program web site, where they point to articles their volunteers can read.  Look through the list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs that I host. How many do you find that share information like this?

It would be great if people who read my blog actually looked at these programs, then posted comments telling about programs who are sharing information like Cluster Tutoring does.  

As volunteers from different industries get involved in programs like this, many informally share what they are learning with people in the work/social networks.

View video
I've described this as an "adult service-learning" process. In on-going programs it repeats every week and the longer a volunteer is involved the more he/she has to share with other people who might also become involved.

How can we make this intentional? Are there ways to motivate some volunteers, and students, to take this role, and use social media and face-to-face interactions to draw more people to our libraries of information, help them understand it, and help them use what they learn in one or more ways that helps a tutor/mentor program help kids move more successfully through school?

The service-learning loop video that I point to above was created by an intern from South Korea. I originally communicated this idea in this PDF essay.  Between 2005 and 2015 many interns spent time looking at my blog articles and graphics, then created their own interpretation.

I invite others to do the same. Try creating your own version of the graphic I posted at the top of this article. I'm certain that many could communicate these ideas better than I do.  Or they can reach more people than I do.  Give it a try.

Want to help me? Visit my FUND ME page and send a contribution to help me keep doing this work.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Learning from Others. 25 Year Goal of Tutor/Mentor Connection

My mentoring email group today included a message from Graig Meyer, who led the Blue Ribbon Mentoring Program in North Carolina for 16 years. Graig and George Noblit have written a book,  titled "More than a Mentoring Program" and used the email to introduce it to the research community. He also pointed to a series of videos and podcast interviews. Below is one of the videos.



Here's what Graig wrote about the book:

"My hope is that this can act as a guide for both practitioners and researchers. I believe that the field of mentoring needs more examples of effective programs, and we were able to build a model that did some interesting things:

-Support youth beginning in 4th grade and until they completed college
-Provide community based mentoring while being embedded in a school system
-Utilize volunteer mentors and keep costs low
-Attain a 97.5% high school graduation rate and send 100% of those students on to post-secondary education

Perhaps more importantly, we tried to use our program to create leverage for attacking institutionalized racism within our local school system. In the book, we explore Blue Ribbon's anti-racist approach through a wide variety of stories, many of which should be familiar to anyone who is working at the intersection of mentoring and education."


I've had a link to Blue Ribon Mentoring and hundreds of other  youth programs in Chicago and around the USA in my web library since late 1990s, with the goal that people would learn from each other as way to constantly improve every program, and that new start ups would borrow from others to shorten their journey to becoming a great program.

Furthermore, my goal has been that donors, business leaders and policy makers would be learning from the same resource, and using the information to be more proactive in helping great programs grow in more of the places where they are most needed.

However, what really interested me about Graig's post is the effort the program made to attack institutional racism within the local school system.

I've created dozens of visualizations and concept maps that encourage people to dig deeper into all of the issues that influence the lives of people living in high poverty areas.  Furthermore, in my leadership of a single tutor/mentor program between 1993 and 2011 I attempted to share the research in the Tutor/Mentor web library with volunteers so they would dig deeper and get more involved in helping reduce the institutional barriers and other challenges that kids and families face.

I don't know how many programs do this as a strategic part of their program design. I can't tell very well from looking at program web sites.  Below is a concept map showing an ideal "volunteer growth cycle".

View in this article
In this video you can see an animation created by an intern in the late 2000s to explain this.  I've annotated it to highlight some features and to demonstrate a way others can engage with videos like mine. I hope you'll take a look.

Every year there are 50,000 to 100,000 volunteers working with high poverty youth. If every supporting organization were doing what Blue Ribbon Mentoring was doing imagine how many more people would be giving time, talent, dollars, leadership, votes and other support to help such programs reach k-12 youth in more places, and help these kids move more safely through school and into adult lives.

If you're doing this, share your links.

If you value the ideas I'm sharing please visit my FUND ME page and make a contribution.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

#Never Forget

This being the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, my Twitter feed is full of powerful, emotional, and motivating posts. Some use the #NeverForget tag. Not all focus on the 9/11 tragedy. Some focus on other tragedies, including US interventions around the world that have resulted in the loss of life and unimaginable suffering of millions of people. 

We are not alone in our suffering and our memories.  I encourage you to click on the link and scroll through some of the comments.

ChicagoSunTimes 10-1992
This Chicago SunTimes front page, from October 1992, is my own #NeverForget message. As with many other times before then, and since then, the editorial writers were eloquent in saying "it's everyone's responsibility" to solve this problem.

Unfortunately, that never was sustained.  Other than a few days, to a year, of editorial indignation, these headlines did little to bring people together, develop solutions to complex problems, and generate an on-going flow of talent and dollars into every high poverty neighborhood, and to all of the organizations needing those resources to help kids and families overcome poverty.

Furthermore, few news stories about urban violence, or poorly performing schools, pointed readers to a library of articles that showed the institutional racism that has existed in America since before the Declaration of Independence, and which has continued up until today.

View map
In one section of the Tutor/Mentor web library, which I show in this concept map, I point to many articles that point out these injustices.

Thus, when I say #Never Forget, I'm reminding you of Dantrell Davis and calling on you to do your homework to learn more about the problems we face and more about ways you can use your time, talent, dollars, votes and voice to bring about solutions.



Here's one more reminder, from today's ChicagoSunTimes.  It's a story of three innocent people killed by gun violence in Chicago.  If you click on the image and enlarge it you can see that I drew a red line around the last paragraphs of the story, then wrote that text in the yellow highlighted box.  It's a quote from the father of one of these three victims. He said,

"This has been going on for 20 or 30 years, and has been evolving. The teens and young adults caught up in the cycle of violence need additional funding for education and jobs programs to get them off the streets.”

“I haven't seen anyone with that kind of leadership. I don't have a lot of hope."


Share this with others.
I've been trying to draw people to a growing information library that people could use to build and sustain these types of  youth development, tutor, mentor and jobs programs. Too few have seen these stories or chosen to respond.

Share my articles with people you know and you become part of the solution.

Visit my FUND ME page, and make a contribution, and you help me continue to keep the memory of Dantrell Davis and others like him alive through my on-going efforts.

Scroll through articles I wrote during the second week of September,  in past years, to see other ways I've remembered this tragedy.

Monday, September 10, 2018

You get up every day and do what you can with what you have

Today I've been looking at articles I posted on this blog in September of past years and am sharing these via my @tutormentorteam feed on Twitter.  Here's an example.


I started building an information library that others could use to build and sustain mentor-rich, non-school programs, in 1993 when we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  In 1998 I began putting this on the Internet, dramatically expanding the range of information I could point to and the number of people who could find and use it.

Using this library, and the list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs that was part of the library, I began to invite people to gather in Chicago in May and November for networking conferences.  I continued doing that until 2015 when I no longer was able to raise enough money to fund these (I'm still paying of credit card debt from hosting these in the past), so I've not hosted a conference since.

I posted this article on Friday, asking for contributions to my FUND ME campaign, to help me pay the costs of keeping Tutor/Mentor Connection resources on line, and keeping my own bills paid. Thus, I've had fewer resources to attract people to the information I've been collecting.

Yet I've continued to work daily, using social media, Skype and face-to-face events (that don't charge a fee), to connect with others who share my concern for the well-being of youth born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we developed a four-part strategy to help programs grow in more places. While step 1 focused on gathering information and step 3 focused on helping people understand the information, step 2 focused on getting more people to visit the library, conferences, etc. and step 4 focused on motivating people to use what they learn in on-going actions that help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places.

I'm still doing what I can to collect and share this information with others who have greater ability to use it effectively. I continue to see financial support, but also seek partnership with universities, hospitals and public schools who could create a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy within their own organization, focused on the geography surrounding where they are located.

Can you help me do this?  

One no-cost way is for you to look at past articles, just as I do, and then post them, with your comments, on various social media channels, or in your church bulletin, company or school newsletter, or on your blog. Here's another example to guide your own efforts.



That's the way a movement grows.



Thursday, September 06, 2018

Can you help Fund the Work I'm Doing?

Below is a screen shot from an updated FUND ME page that I posted on my web site today. The one I had been using has not been attracting contributions, so I thought I'd try a new look.


Since 2011 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection (founded in 1993) operating in Chicago I've been operating at a loss and self funding the deficit from my own savings. I've not drawn a salary so my only income has been Social Security.

You can see that this is not a very smart business, or personal well-being,  move on my part. Yet I am deeply committed to building an information base that others use to become more strategic and on-going in what they do to help kids living in poverty connect with volunteers in organized tutor/mentor programs, that help them move more successfully through school and into adult lives.

So, if you've been reading this blog, or are one of the people who has said "Thank you, Dan" for what I'm doing, now I'm asking you to reach into your pocket and send a contribution to help me keep doing this.

Here's the link to the full page with a PayPal button.  http://www.tutormentorconference.org/2018_Fund_TMC_TMI_Campaign.htm

I am not organized as a 501-c-3 non  profit, so cannot offer a tax deduction for your contribution. I can promise to use the money to continue to do all that you see on my blogs and web sites and social media sites.  If I'm lucky enough to find a major benefactor ($300k or more) I'll actually update all of my platforms, get the Program Locator working properly and do even more to try to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago and other cities.

If you want to dig deep and really understand what I've been trying to do, what the current challenges are, and what some opportunities are that I've never been able to develop, visit this wiki and read through all the sections.

Monday, September 03, 2018

The Day after Labor Day - Network Building Continues

 I did not stop working on Labor Day. I continued to reach out via social media to people in Chicago and around the world who are concerned with the well-being of people and the planet.  I've been building a web library that points to some of these people since 1993 and spend time every day trying to connect them to each other and to myself, while increasing attention and support for everyone in the network.

Here are two Slideshare presentations that show what I've been trying to do.

This one focuses on the process of network building



This one shows role of intermediaries, consultants and others who could be doing the same as I'm doing, or helping me do it.



These are just two of 46 presentations I've placed on Slideshare since 2011.  I started creating visual presentations in the late 1990s to explain work of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the youth tutor/mentor program I was leading.

In 1998 we created the www.tutormentorexchange.net web site and I started putting the PDFs on line.  Now in the Library page on the site you can see a long list of presentations, including some I've place on Scribd.com as well as on Slideshare.

Read about this - here

Between 2006 and 2015 interns who worked with me in Chicago created many new versions of articles that I first launched as PDF essays and/or blog articles. My hope is that students and volunteers from many places will continue this work, as part of their own effort to expand the network and help other people get strategically involved.

Of course, to keep doing this work I must find a sponsor, benefactor and/or a whole lot of people willing to make small contributions to fund me.

If you're one of those people, visit this page and use the PayPal to send a contribution.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Using Maps in Planning - Chicago West Side and Healthy Chicago 2.0

West Side of Chicago
Tutor/Mentor map
I used this map of El Stations on Chicago's West side in an article I posted yesterday.  Today I'm going to add some more maps and resources you might include in doing your own planning.

Below are three images that I created from pages on the Healthy Chicago 2.0 Health Atlas web site.   These all focus on the North Lawndale area which is included in the map I show above.

On the RESOURCE page of Healthy Chicago 2.0 you can learn about hospitals available in different community areas or zip codes of Chicago.  You can see the page below, showing North Lawndale. 


I have written several articles in the past showing roles hospitals, as anchor organizations, could take to help volunteer based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in the area around the hospital. If a team from any of these  hospitals were leading the planning process I have recommended, they'd first create a map showing the area around the hospital.

Then they'd want to know what tutor/mentor programs already exist. The map below shows YOUTH SERVICES included in the database of Healthy Chicago 2.0.


This database does not focus specifically on non-school tutor/mentor programs, and does not include some in the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute database, so you'd need to also use the library I point to in this link to create a more focused, comprehensive map. The map at the top of this article was created using this.

Next you want to understand the need for non-school tutor/mentor programs in this area. I created the graphic below using information from the INDICATORS section of Healthy Chicago 2.0


The area has a very low Child Opportunity Index and a very high economic hardship index with 12,833 young people between age 5 and 24 in the area.  You can supplement this with the information I provide on the map at the top, showing 4100 high poverty kids, age 6-17 in North Lawndale, and 7100 in South Lawndale.   If you look at each youth program and ask how many kids they serve, and what age group, you'd find that in total a very small percent of kids in the area have access to organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

You can find another set of indicator maps on the SCY Chicago web site. I point to it in this article.

Invite people to look at the
information and meet to discuss.

With this information the hospital can take a role of convener/network-builder, inviting people from the community to gather and look at this information, and begin to talk of ways they can draw more continuous support to help the existing youth programs constantly improve, while also help new programs form, borrowing ideas from existing programs in other parts of Chicago and other parts of the US and the world....all available in sections of the Tutor/Mentor web library that I've been building since 1998.


Since the late 90s I've been trying to motivate hospitals and universities to create Tutor/Mentor Connection type planning teams that would do the type of analysis I've just described, and the on-going work that leads to more and better programs helping youth in the service area surrounding a hospital move more safely and successfully through school and into jobs, including jobs in the hospitals themselves.  Here's one article with that invitation.

Unless a wealthy benefactor steps forward and provides the money to make this happen, I don't think I'll make much progress on this goal since leaders in these institutions are already doing their own things to solve these problems, and that reduces their ability to step back and ask "are there other things we should be doing?"

Who else could be helping?  I'm not suggesting that a hospital or university spend their own money to build and sustain well-organized non-school tutor/mentor programs. I'm saying they should use their visibility to draw business people into the conversation and motivate them to take this role.  In this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site if focus on role leaders in business need to take to help pull kids through school and into jobs and careers.

Find maps like this on
MappingforJustice site
At the right is another data platform that a planning team could use. It's a US Small Business Administration Business Locator site, which I describe in this article.  Using information like this teams in any neighborhood can build a list of businesses who also share the same geography who should be involved in building and sustaining  youth development programs that lower the costs of poverty in the area while increasing the pool of workforce talent and customers.

This article and the one from yesterday, as well as others that I've written over and over since 2005, are templates that could be duplicated on web sites of different organizations in various parts of the Chicago region and in other cities....all with the same goal!

I'd like to help you develop this strategy. Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN

If you value the information and ideas I'm sharing, please go to this "fund me" page and make a contribution.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Using Maps In Tutor/Mentor Program Support Planning

I've been using maps since 1994 to focus attention and resources on all high poverty areas of Chicago where non-school tutor and/or mentor programs are most needed.

I embed them in graphics like this to emphasize roles anyone can take to help this happen.  While some leaders can use maps to focus on the entire city, I'm trying to help people adopt small sections of the city, such as the North Side, West Side or South Side, or even smaller areas such as a single community area.

In this article I'm going to share a series of graphics to illustrate how I do this.  First, let's look at the planning cycle.

View planning cycle cMap
In this concept map I point to a small section of Chicago with the map at the upper left and show information about the number of high poverty kids, age 6-17, who live in the area. Using other maps and the Tutor/Mentor Chicago Program Links,  you can determine what non-school tutor/mentor programs are in the area. The goal is to find ways to support existing programs and help them become great, before launching new programs that do similar work and compete for the same resources.  Based on the number of kids in the area who need these programs, most neighborhoods really need more than they have.

Below is the same planning process map, but I've added two images taken from the IMPACT DUPAGE web site.

View cMap here
Just by finding a data resource for DuPage County I was able to create a couple of images that focused the attention of this map on that part of the Chicago region.  Below is another example.

On Page 7 of the Elevated Chicago Workplan Executive Summary is a map that highlights CTA EL train stations around which they are focusing community development efforts.  One focus area is what they call the Kedzie Corridor, where El stops for the Green, Blue and Pink line align vertically with each other on the West side of Chicago.

I used my Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs Map, which you can find here, to create the map view shown above.  I enlarged the map to focus on the West side of Chicago, and put my cursor on the Pink Line El Station, to highlight it's location. Green icons on the map are Chicago youth programs.

I then looked at the community area maps in this Tutor/Mentor presentation, to get information about the number of high poverty youth in each West side community area, which I added to my map. Then I created a jpg that I could pull into this article, or use in a planning process.

Using maps like these leaders in can lead discussions that ask "Is there a need for tutor/mentor programs in this area? Are there programs already here? What do they do? Who do they serve? How many? Do we need more programs in the area? How do we mobilize resources to help existing, or future, programs grow and be the best they can be?" 

All of these questions should be part of an on-going process, duplicated in many parts of Chicago and other cities throughout the country.

If you browse other articles on this blog and on the MappingforJustice blog you'll find many examples of maps created using existing data platforms.

Try this idea. Pick any of my articles, and substitute the map-image I use, with a map showing your own city, or a geographic area you want to focus on.  In the text, substitute Chicago with the name of your community. Does the article make sense to you? Is it a call for greater involvement that you can use? If yes, go ahead and use my articles as templates for your own. Just share the link with me.

Creating maps that focus attention on specific geographic areas that need to be filled with a variety of services and business opportunities is just the first step in this process, but it's one that can support other efforts to draw people from within to map-area together to learn from the data and build new strategies that help existing assets get the on-going resources they need, while also creating new resources to fill areas where there is a need.

Without using the maps a long list of services could be generated, yet many of the areas within a map-area would not be covered. 

This is also work that youth can be learning to do, as part of school-based learning, or as an activity supported by staff and volunteers in non-school programs in different parts of the city.

I'd be happy to help you think this process through.  Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin, or just introduce yourself with a comment on this article.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

It takes a village.....to overcome poverty and reduce violence in Chicago

I've been using a concept map for more than 10 years to visualize all of the different groups of people who need to be involved in helping volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach youth in high poverty neighborhoods, and stay connected for many years as those youth move from elementary school, through high school, and college, and into jobs.

Two University of Michigan grad students did an animated version of this village graphic in the late 2000s, but without a voice-over. Today I was able to record that animation in the video shown below.





Last week I posted an article under the headline of "Lessons learned from leading a tutor/mentor program for 35 years".  In it I included images showing the tutoring program committee in 1975-76 and in 1990-91, to illustrate the long-term work needed to build and sustain that program.

In the video below I talk about my history of involvement and point to the same yearbooks.



I shared the "village" video on Twitter today and one of my followers from Florida wrote "Just listened to your YouTube presentation that you twitted out. How can I make a small, $50, contribution to your organization via your PayPal account. You are doing some excellent work."

I pointed him to this page and he sent me $50. 

If you've been reading my articles and value the information I'm sharing, I hope you'll do the same.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Help youth connect with mentors and learning in non-school programs

I've been involved with volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs since 1973 when I first connected with Leo Hall, who was in 4th grade at that time.

Leo's now over 50 years old and has two sons in college. It's this history that makes me so committed to helping well-organized, mentor-rich programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago and in other cities. 

Every August for the past 40+ years I've used whatever media was available to me in an effort to draw volunteers and donors to the programs I led in Chicago. In 1993 I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (since 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC) to build a master database of Chicago tutor and/or mentor programs and a public awareness campaign that would draw more frequent attention to programs throughout Chicago, and as a result, help each program attract volunteers and donors.

Tramaine Ford and Dan at
Tutor/Mentor Conference in late 2000s
Today another former student, Tramaine Montel Ford, shared a video on Facebook, showing what an educator is doing at a school in Brooklyn, NY, to "Disrupt the School to Prison  Pipeline".

I hope you'll take a look.

This could  have been me talking about the programs I led,  or it could have been the leader of one of many other youth tutor/mentor programs talking about their own efforts to help kids through school.

These programs don't exist without a constant flow of support from volunteers and donors.

These are just a few who
can be found on Twitter.
So, please, browse the list of programs I show in my Chicago Programs Link, and pick one, or several, to offer your support.

You can also find some of these programs on my Facebook list and in my Twitter list. Some do a  much better  job than others in telling their story so there's an opportunity for volunteers with communications and web design backgrounds to help them in this area.

I recorded a short video to show where this link is on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site.



While I'm trying to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago and other cities, I need your help if I'm to keep doing this work and keep some of the resources on-line.  Please visit this page and support my "go fund me" campaign.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Lessons Learned from Leading Tutor/Mentor Program for 35 Years


When I started leading a volunteer based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975 I held a full-time retail advertising job and the program already had an enrollment of 100 pairs of elementary school age kids and workplace volunteers to begin the school year.

With so little time available to lead the program I had to learn to recruit volunteers to help me and delegate roles for them to take.  Over time I learned that many volunteers often over-commit, and for various reasons could not complete the project assigned. Often this led to them disappearing from the program instead of asking for help.

Thus I learned that I needed to follow up, and help volunteers succeed. The result was that volunteers became more committed to the program and often took greater roles in the future.

However, I also learned one more thing. As the leader of the program my vision and commitment was usually greater than that of most volunteers. Because of my constant learning from other programs I often saw opportunities that others did not see. Thus, I had to LEAD. I had to share my visions in ways that volunteers might want to give their time and talent to make those visions a reality.

This led to me coining the formula of "R&D+F&L=Success".  

I applied what I learned as the tutoring program grew from 100 pairs to 440 kids and 550 volunteers by June 1992.

Here's a photo showing the leadership committee supporting the 1976-77 program.



Here's a photo showing the leadership team for the 1991-92 program, which had converted to a non profit structure at the start of the 1990-91 school year.


Click on each photo to enlarge. Look at the difference in the number of people involved and the organizational structure between 1976 and 1991-2.

Between 1975 and 1981 I had to recruit a new team of leaders ever spring, with just a few carry-overs from the previous year. We had no paid staff  until 1979 when we were able to hire a student from Moody Bible Institute for 10-15 hours a week.

In 1981 we began to change how the committee was organized and recruit leaders for different functional roles. By this time the program size was nearly 200 and more and more volunteers were coming from companies beyond Montgomery Ward (Partly due to downsizing and closing of the MW catalog business.  As volunteers went to different companies they continued to tutor, and often began bringing co-workers).

You can see in the second leadership group photos that some volunteers served as formal representatives of the companies they worked at. I used an Excel spreadsheet to record volunteer enrollment and listed the companies they worked at, occupation, and number of years they volunteered. Thus, as I saw groups of five or more from the same company, I began to reach out to veteran volunteers and asked them to become a mentor to co-worker volunteers and a contact point for reaching into the company for donations (we were not a non profit, but still needed food and snack donations, and gifts for the annual Christmas party).

This structure took time to develop. It took more than 15 years. The program was already 10 years old when I became it's third leader. At the end of the 1989-90 school  year, as we begin creating a non-profit structure, the program already had 300 pairs of kids and volunteers meeting weekly. It still only had a paid staff of three part time college students who worked a total of less than 30 hours a week. 

Thus it was a 25 year journey to developing this volunteer leadership structure. The R&D+F&L=Success strategy really worked.   I created a concept map to visualize this growth.

Growth of Tutoring Program - 1965-1992 - map

In this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site  you can find three PDF essays that share my experiences and can help you start and grow a volunteer based tutor/mentor program in Chicago or elsewhere.  While these and all of the resources I share are free, I'm available for a small consulting and/or retainer fee, to help you understand and apply these ideas.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993  (and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011) as we were starting a new program to serve 7th to 12th grade youth who aged out of the first program. The T/MC's vision was to help high quality programs grow in all poverty areas of Chicago. Thus, my goal is that city and business leaders reach out to me for the experiences and ideas I share, and that they provide funds needed for me to collect, organize and share this information.

So far I'm not having a lot of success at this.

If you value the experiences and ideas I've been sharing please consider a contribution to help me continue to do this. Use the PayPal button or mailing address on this page.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Audio version of Tutor/Mentor blog - try it out

Last week I learned of a free screen capture video tool and I decided to try it out by recording one of my recent blog articles. Here's the video:



I also recorded a second article, which you can view here. I've added these to a collection of videos that I and interns have created since the late 2000s.

I've posted more than 1000 blog articles here and on the MappingforJustice blog since 2005.  I think I'll go back through these and record some that I feel are more important than others.
CC Alum Tramaine Ford w Dan
at Tutor/Mentor Conference

My hope is that by my example I'll inspire former students and volunteers and others who are in my network to do their own recordings of my blog articles.  At first, you'd just be reading the articles, and commenting from your perspective. As you get comfortable with the ideas I'm sharing, and with creating the recordings, and begin to draw a following, you may want to write and record your own articles.

As more people view and understand this information more people will do work needed to make non-school support systems available to more k-12 youth living in  high poverty areas. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Value of Tutor/Mentor Program - Alumni Update

Leo & Dan - 1973
I started volunteering in a tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1973. That's when I first started meeting weekly with Leo Hall, a 4th grade boy living in Cabrini Green Public Housing, near the Montgomery Ward headquarters where I was starting an advertising career.

I became the leader of that program in 1975 and continued through mid 1992. Then I and a few other volunteers formed Cabrini Connections, to help kids who aged out of the first program at the end of 6th grade have similar support as they move from 7th grade through high school. I led that program till mid 2011.

Maps show all areas where
programs are needed.
As we created the direct service program in 1993 we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help similar programs grow in all parts of Chicago and to try to increase visibility and the flow of operating dollars to all programs, including the Cabrini Connections program. I still lead that strategy through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

I try to share my experiences, and those of others, by pointing to a list of program web sites that I've been maintaining since 1993.

At the Cabrini Connections program we maintained a blog from mid 2005 through 2011 that was a daily journal of what was happening in the program. I was scrolling through it today looking for information about one of the activities when I came across a message from Leo, posted in 2006.  I've re-posted it below:

Hi.. I'm Leo Hall - Dan Bassill's tutee and friend

Today, I got an email from my friend and former tutor, Dan Bassill, about the graduation ceremony going on tonight. It made me think about when I graduated from MWTP (Montgomery Ward Tutoring Program) or what some of you may call Cabrini Connections. 
See, I was Dan's first tutee, way back in 197??. It's been that long ago, I honestly cannot remember. But ask Dan about the one kid that changed his life and he will probably mention me (or maybe his daughter and son first, then me). But I digress. 
As a former tutee and volunteer, I want to say that you all have a great program working on your behalf. When I graduated from the program, it only went to the sixth grade, but you all get to stay until senior year of high school. 
That is so cool, cause high school can be a very stressful time in your life. I should know, I went to one of the largest high schools in the state, Lane Technical High School. Graduated with 1000 students, so I was basically a number. But the things I learned from Dan and the MWTP really kept my head on straight. 
See, Dan was at every major event in my life, with the exception of the births of my children. Now, how many people do you know would travel all over the country to see you graduate from college, then come back to see you get married. With gas prices today, I'd only expect a card. Dan has been my mentor and friend for over 30 years and I really respect his opinion on things. 
I also liked what he has done for the children in Cabrini Green, the children of Chicago, IL. But especially, the children on Cabrini Green. Dan has taken a lot of heat from a lot of people and he kept going. So, you all are the fruits of his labor. 
After graduating from high school, I went to Memphis State University (Univ. of Memphis) and graduated in 1988, on the Dean's List with a Bachelors degree in Engineering. I now have 2 sons, and am a movie producer and director. A lot of what I do with people is what Dan used to do with me, and that is mentor them. Teach them how to make good decisions and trust and believe in themselves. 
Presently, I am on the set of my new movie, and I asked Dan to send me some CC products, tee-shirts and stuff, so that my cast can wear them on the set. You never know, you may see CC on the big screen real soon. 
Well, time to get back on set, but I wanted to say this, keep your head up and never forget where you came from and the people that got you there. Thanks Dan and MWTP for everything that you have done for me.

Leo Hall
Leo & Dan, 2014

In 2014 Leo invited me to Nashville to celebrate his 50th birthday. He paid all of my expenses! I wrote this article following that.

The testimony by Leo is one of several alumni articles posted on the Cabrini Blog. I encourage you to read them.

It's these stories, which I have experienced over and over for more than 35 years which drives my passion to help make well organized, non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs available in more places.

If you browse the Chicago Programs list, and this section of programs in other states, you'll find many who also have stories from alumni.  I was just looking at this page on the Higher Achievement web site (Washington, Baltimore) with 40 stories. Can these convince you to become strategically involved in helping these programs continue to do good work, while helping new programs start where needed?

I've been reaching out to alumni and others to help re-build the Tutor/Mentor Connection and carry it forward into the next decade, with them as leaders and people writing articles like this.  While a few have begun to show interest, there still is no new leadership team in place.

I've also been asking for financial help to keep me going. Click here to find a page with contributor information.

If you'd like to get involved or know more, just introduce yourself with a message in the comment box or connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIN or Facebook.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Building Different Support Systems for Kids in High Poverty Areas

Once again violence in Chicago is front page news and the topic of countless commentary writers. I agree with Rex Huppke's Chicago Tribune column from today that tells politicians to "shut up" unless they have a comprehensive plan.

I've been saving news stories about violence, gangs, poverty,  poorly performing schools, etc for the past 30 years as part of my own on-going effort to motivate leaders in business, philanthropy, government and the social sector to fill all high poverty areas of the city with comprehensive systems of support that help kids move through school and into jobs.

Thus, the headline from yesterday and the front page from January 1, 1993, call attention to the same problem....which was greater then than now, but still too much in 2018.


I wrote about this on Sunday and have written about violence in Chicago and long-term strategies that might reduce it often on this blog over the past 13 years, and before that on websites, list serves, email and print newsletters.

The politicians aren't the only ones saying "we need to work together". Here's a Tweet that I saw yesterday.


At the right is another article from my collection. It's a 1993 Chicago SunTimes story which leads off with a statement saying "Chicago neighborhoods that were poor 20 years ago are even more entrenched in poverty today because the city lacks a comprehensive battle plan".

That's still true.

I included this article in a 2015 article with the headline of "After the riots, do the planning".


I've been offering a plan since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 (and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011). It's visualized in this graphic, and dozens of others, and shows the need to build an information base that anyone can use to support their own efforts to help youth in high poverty areas move safely through school and into adult lives with jobs that enable them to raise their own kids free of poverty.

I've been describing this in articles on this blog and on the http://www.tutormentorexchange.net web site for many years.  However, far too few people have ever seen these, or spend time digging through past articles and sections of my web library.

I keep asking myself, "what if it were the Mayor writing these articles, or issuing them on his web site?"

Or, what if LeBron James, Derek Rose, or Oprah were the one writing these articles and calling attention to the ideas in videos, TV shows and music?

Several years ago I created the animation below to illustrate a role athletes and celebrities could take to support the growth of needed youth tutor,mentor, learning and jobs programs in different neighborhoods.



This animation, and other videos in my library, could be re-produced in many ways, with hundreds of different athletes, celebrities, alumni of tutor/mentor programs, etc. giving the message.  This video is included several times in a series of articles focused on sports and celebrity stars.

Building an information base is just the first step in an on-going four part strategy that I've developed over the past 25 years. Getting people to look at the information, understand it, then apply it to help kids and families in one, or many, high poverty neighborhoods are essential additional steps.

While I feel this strategy applies to Chicago, it can also be applied in any other urban area. It can have leaders from many sectors who share the same goals.  If you're interested in learning about this, devote time over the next few months to read past articles and browse through sections of my web sites. Or, reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or with a comment on this blog and invite me to be part of  your planning group.

Or, you can visit this page and make a small (or large) contribution to help me keep sharing these ideas and resources.