Monday, July 16, 2018

Find a Program and Volunteer Time, Talent or Dollars

Every year since 1995 I've pointed people to a list of Chicago area volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and said "choose one where you can use your time, talent and dollars to make a difference".

Almost every article on this blog focuses on helping well-organized, mentor rich non-school k-12 youth programs reach kids in every high poverty neighborhood.  As we move through July I invite you to browse through past articles written during this time of  year and apply the ideas to helping kids in Chicago and other cities.

Since there is no single master list showing every youth serving organization in Chicago or any other city I created this concept map to point to my lists, and to other sites which also serve as resources for learning about youth organizations in Chicago and other cities.

Take some time to get acquainted with the information, then spend time weekly encouraging others to do the same.

These are some of the kids you'll be helping.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Visualizing complex problems.Making them Local.

I used this graphic in an August 2016 article under the title "Solving Complex Problems. No one Promised EASY".  In that article I pointed to another article that I had posted earlier, under the title "Want to Make a Difference? Spend time in Deeper Learning."

In that article I posted this "How to help the World" graphic.

I've been using visualizations like these for a long time to emphasize the many different things we need to be doing to surround kids and families with a rich support system that helps kids move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives....with jobs and careers that enable them to live and raise their own kids where ever they want.

In the past few months I've been following the promotion on social media of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  Look at the graphic below. It's also a "table" of issues and goals, with a target of 2030 for meeting them.


One thing I like about the way this information is presented is, if you click on this link, you see that for each goal there is a page full of information, that provides a wealth of additional links and resources.   Now, visit this page and see how I've combined the SDGs chart with my "race-poverty" concept map. I used Thinglink to point to the different sections on my concept map.

Now take a look at this map, which can be seen in a report titled "Leaving No US City Behind" which shows progress (or lack of) made by each of the 100 largest cities in the US toward achieving the UN goals.  Chicago is 71st on this list. No city is doing really great.


These 100 metro areas represent 210 million people, or 66% of the US population. All of the ideas on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, focus on Chicago, and similar cities. In total, US cities represent 85% of the population. We must find ways to make them work better.


With the graphics above I'm trying to show that in every city we need to understand and address all of the problems shown on the SDG chart and my race-poverty map, concurrently, not one at a time. To do this we need to redesign how non profits and social enterprises are funded, as well as how we get people engaged and keep their interest and involvement for many years.

Web sites that aggregate information can be useful libraries that anyone can draw from to better  understand different parts of complex systems and to see how each problem is being addressed in different places, and might be applied in any local area.

Gathering people together to look at this information, read, reflect and discuss it, etc., is a role many in any community can take.

That leads me to this graphic which I included in an article that I posted last Sunday after the violence protest march on Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway.

What I'm suggesting is that planning and community organizing to solve these problems needs to be a local-global process. The Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I lead,  created an interactive, map-based Tutor/Mentor Program Locator in 2008 that enables people to build maps showing indicators of need (poverty, poorly performing schools, existing tutor mentor programs, assets who could be helping programs grow (banks, faith groups, colleges, hospitals, etc) and political districts.

Using interactive platforms like the Program Locator*, maps like I'm showing can be created, showing an area as small as a few blocks, and showing some of the stakeholders who need to be connecting and looking at all of this information.

At some point someone should be able to create a map with icons on different neighborhoods, indicating that planning groups are meeting, learning and using this information to address issues specific to each different neighborhood.

If such information is on an interactive platform, with links to each group, any group can connect and learn from any other group.

Billionaires and others blessed by wealth might even be persuaded to provide the on-going, flexible operating dollars each planning group and neighborhood network needs to do the learning, planning and program development needed over a 10 or 20 year period to meet the UN goals by 2030.

Wishful thinking? Maybe. But the rescue of the 12 kids from a cave in Thailand shows that if we put our imagination to solving a problem, it's possible.

The alternatives are not so good.

* Due to my own bad luck and lack of resources the Program Locator has not been updated since 2013. However, it still can be used to create map views illustrating the type of problem solving I'm suggesting.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

After #Dan Ryan March - Do the Planning

Last week when I first read about the protest march being organized for yesterday, shutting down a portion of Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway, I posted this article, saying "Don't drive by poverty. Get involved."

Yesterday and today I'm seeing stories about the march in local and  national media. One Twitter writer posted "what's next?"

In reading about the march in today's Chicago Tribune I saw a sub head saying "Enough is Enough".  I've been using that phrase in articles on this blog for more than 10 years, as steps people could take to follow up on events like this.

If people just looked at those articles and took those steps, I'd be happy, and would write no more. However, I want to offer some more information.

First, Father Pfleger of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago, has been a huge voice for anti violence and anti-poverty programs for at least 20 years. I've tried to connect with him but with no luck.  So, today, I created the maps below.

This map shows the location of St. Sabina Church, on Chicago's South Side, on 79th Street, just West of the Dan Ryan.  I created the map using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, which enables me to zoom in and add layers of information. I added poverty, poorly performing public schools, Catholic Churches and existing tutor/mentor programs.

Note. The information on the Program Locator has not been updated since 2010 due to my lack of talent and funds.

see report
This second map was also created using the Program Locator. The  yellow boxes show number of high poverty youth, age 6-17, living in each Chicago community area, based on 2011 information. The blue boxes show the same information, based on newer information, provided in 2018 by the Heartland Alliance.

St. Sabina is surrounded by Englewood (2549 kids), Greater Grand Crossing (2585 kids) and Aburn Gresham (2765) kids. That's a total of 7,899 kids who would benefit if well organized tutor/mentor programs were in this area. However, that's a decline from 2011, when there were 11,333 high poverty kids in this area. 

My maps also show how the Dan Ryan Expressway cuts through this area, bringing people to and through the LOOP from affluent areas in the South Suburbs. Doing a march on the Dan Ryan can draw attention. Putting a virtual sign saying "Visit my web site. Get involved" can do even more. All of these people could be part of an on-going effort to help change what's happening in high poverty areas of Chicago.

Next:  Do the planning. Follow process shown on this map:

Open map at this link

I've been encouraging faith leaders in others throughout Chicago, and in other cities, to duplicate what the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC has been doing since 1993 to help tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago.  While I focus on the entire Chicago region, others could focus on smaller areas, such as the community areas surrounding St. Sabina Church.

This concept map shows a process that repeats year after year, with more people involved, and by learning from actions taken, and from what others are doing to solve the same problem in different places.

If someone in the map area that includes St. Sabina had been doing this since 1994 the map should show many green stars, showing a range of programs helping kids through school and into jobs.

That's not the case in 2018.

I visited the St. Sabina web site today to see what type of information it was sharing that marchers, and those interested in getting involved because of media attention,  could use to get informed and involved.  Other than pointing to programs St. Sabina operates, I don't see links to other resources or other youth programs in Chicago. I don't see geographic maps, or concept maps, like you see in many articles on my blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site. 

I'm not intentionally picking on St. Sabina. I don't see very many other organizations duplicating the information sharing that I do.

Here's another map from my library of concept maps (which is freely available to anyone)  On the left side of the map I show a section of the Tutor/Mentor web library, which points to articles and research showing the root causes and history of poverty, inequality, racism and violence in America.  On the right I show some other maps with additional information that planners might use.  Click on the small box at the bottom of each node and go to other maps, or to sections of the web library.

I've been trying to motivate faith leaders (and others) to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy since the mid 1990s, with little success. Here's a pdf presentation where I outline what actions every faith group in the region could be taking every week.  Visit this page and see outlines of strategies others could take.

One simple action would be to put links on a church, synagogue or mosque web site to the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and this blog.  Another would be to form a team that helps me collect information about existing youth tutor or mentor programs in different parts of the Chicago region. Just visiting this list to see if the links work and if programs still exist would be a valuable service.

Here's an example of information in the library that Fr. Pfleger might point people to. 


On the top of this graphic is a "race poverty" concept map that I created to show the many different challenges people living in high poverty areas face.  On the bottom is a graphic showing 17 United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals.  Goal number 1 is "eliminate poverty".  See both in this article.

Now most people might think the UN goals are only focused at poor countries in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.  That's where you are wrong.



Yesterday I read a 2018 report titled "Leaving No US City Behind", showing how well the largest 100 US cities are doing in reaching the UN goals by 2030.  This is one of the maps showing the cities, with color codes showing how they rank. 

Chicago is 71st.

I think that Fr. Pfleger and other faith leaders, and the Mayor, could point to this report from their web sites and create discussions that engage their communities in improving this standing.

Imagine if this were the focus of the Mayor's Summer Reading Program.

As I read the report I used the Hypothes.is annotation tool to annotate and highlight sections of the report, and to add comments in the margins showing how work I've been doing tries to mobilize people to help solve these problems in Chicago and other cities. I also added it to my web library.

Others can do the same.  In fact, until more people build web libraries like mine, then draw others together to read, reflect and discuss the information, and use maps to focus attention and resources to specific areas, not much will change and the violence will continue.

Faith leaders have been doing what I'm suggesting for a couple thousand years as they point people to different religious texts and encourage discussion and reflection. I think they just need to add some other reading materials to their web sites, pointing to the SDGs and my own "race poverty" links, and then encourage people to read a little every week, then gather together in big and small groups, to discuss and act on what they are reading.

Don't wait. The problems we face can get worse.









Thursday, July 05, 2018

Who Has Youth Program Availability Maps and Directories?

Below is the front page of a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs Directory that the Tutor/Mentor Connection published annually from 1994 through 2002 and has maintained on-line since then.


The goal of collecting and publishing this information was to provide information that leaders, policy makers, business and resource providers could use to support the growth of well organized non-school tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and its suburbs.  

A side benefit turned out to be that it was a resource parents, social workers, volunteers and donors could also use to find information about existing programs in different parts of the city. While my map shows only Chicago, I've been trying to find information about existing tutor/mentor programs in the surrounding suburbs, too.  There's not much there.


We could only mail a printed directory to about 350 people and once printed it was out-of-date. It was not searchable either.  We started putting our list of organizations on the Internet in 1998 and, in 2004 we launched this page, which enables anyone to search the directory to find contact information for programs in different zip codes of Chicago.

Our programs survey asked what age group you serve (elementary, middle, high school) and what type of program you operate (pure tutor, pure mentor, combination tutor/mentor) along with where you were located (address and zip code). Thus a search could narrow down what someone was searching for by these criteria.  The search would produce a map showing locations and contact information for programs in the zip code being queried.  There were several ways to search for program information.  See instructions for using the Program Locator on this page.

The 2004 platform worked like any other search engine. If you know what you're looking for you can find it with a few searches. However, this did not serve the primary goal of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was to talk about the availability of non-school tutor/mentor programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago.  Then in late 2007 we received a $50,000 anonymous donation, and used half to rebuild our desktop mapping capacity, and we used the other half in 2008 to build an interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, that started with a map showing all of Chicago and included locations of all of the programs in our Directory.


The interactive map enables people to build their own map view, by adding layers of information, such as poverty levels, poorly performing Chicago Public Schools, and existing programs.  You can search this for the same criteria as the platform launched in 2004 and you could zoom in to specific parts of the city to create map views intended to show availability of programs along with assets who could be helping programs grow (business, faith groups, hospitals, universities). In the two map views shown below, you can see that additional layers of information can be added to the map, and incorporated into articles like this, using PowerPoint and Adobe Illustrator.



Due to financial and other circumstances I had to create the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to keep this resource freely available to Chicago but I've not found partners, investors and talent to update it since 2013. Both search platforms still work. The data is just not updated.  It serves as a model of what's possible. I encourage you to spend time seeing how it work. 

In the meantime, I've created another map that shows programs in Chicago, and maintain a list of nearly 200 Chicago youth tutor and/or mentor organizations, which is more updated. See it here.

Browse articles tagged maps and violence on this blog, or articles written from 2008 to 2011 on the Mapping for Justice blog, and you can find many examples of how the Program Locator can be used.

I offer this introduction as part of a question.  Is anyone else collecting and mapping information about youth tutor, mentor and learning programs all the ways I do? 

I've been including maps in stories since 1994.

Is anyone using their maps in on-going stories intended to build awareness and draw volunteers and donors directly to the web sites of individual programs, where they use information being shared by each organization to decide which programs to support and what ways to support them?

My maps focus on Chicago and are a model any big city could duplicate. However, since many rural areas and smaller communities, as well as Native American Reservations, have youth who could benefit from the support offered by a well-organized tutor/mentor programs, I also seek to learn if anyone is building a directory of programs focused on these populations.


Back in 2011 when I launched the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC I created this graphic suggesting that sponsors could support the work I was doing, the same way they support sports teams, golfers and race car drivers.

So far I've not found anyone who would do that, which is one reason the Program Locator is not up-to-date and too few people even know it exists. It's also a reason other cities are not using the same tool and process.

If anyone wants to reach out and help me do this work I'd love to hear from you. If you have information about others collecting information like I do, send me the links and I'll add them to the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library and try to connect with those groups on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIN.

If you'd like to make a mid-year contribution to help me, here's a page with a PayPal link.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

InJustice in America - Bryan Stephenson talks in Chicago

On Thursday night I attended an event hosted by the Chicago Urban League, where the featured speaker was Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Below is a Tweet posted from the event by MENTOR Illinois.

I've heard Bryan speak via live presentations on the Internet in the past, but this was the first time I've seen him in the flesh.

He talked of his own journey and use the term “proximity” to show how important it is to get close and personal to people living in poverty and stuck in racism and the American criminal justice system.

I posted a couple of Tweets which you can see if you look at the #CLUSummit2018 timeline, just to connect my network to him and to try to connect with some of the five hundred other people in the room and the millions around the country who are affected and care about what he was talking about. Here's one:

I also added links to my web library to the Equal Justice Initiative web site, and to the “Just Mercy” book that Bryan wrote. In doing so, I also updated the concept map that I use to point to different sections of my library.

See map at this link

I have more than 2000 links in the main web library and more than 200 links in the section that points to Chicago youth serving organizations that include volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring in their strategies.

I actually go through the library on an on-going basis so that at least once a year I open every link to remind myself of what information it is sharing and to make sure it still works. Often I post Tweets or messages in Facebook or LinkedIN to remind others of different links that I point to.

Role of Intermediary 
I've created dozens of visualizations since 1994 to try to communicate my role as an intermediary and to show roles others need to take to help youth in high poverty areas have the support systems they need to move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives.  The graphic at the left is one. You can find more in these articles or this page on Pinterest.  Or do a Google search for "tutor mentor intermediary" and then look at the images.


However, my efforts alone are not enough. Others need to be digging into web libraries like mine, reading the articles, reflecting on what they say, then sharing them with others.

I've been pointing to the United Nations Global Goals Tweets and web site in articles like this for the past few months because of the way they itemize issues and try to draw attention to each of the 17 goals/issues they focus on.

I included the SDG link in my library, plus many many more.

In 2010 a young volunteer joined the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum on Ning and wrote an article titled "Thinking Like Google". In it he wrote:

It occured to me that this forum is essentially modelled on a similar format as Google's. Tutormentorconnection.ning.com a) looks for information, or content, and people relevant to the cause of tutoring and mentoring; b) organizes, analyzes, and archives that information for future reference; and c) utilizes those references for targeted advertising campaigns, social networking, grant-writing, and the like. Even more to the point, this forum is a way of attempting to grow the idea of tutoring and mentoring to scale, or to a point where it "tips".

The "In-Forming" Process works something like this:

1. Uninformed people interact with information and become informed.

2. Informed people interact with uninformed people, producing more informed people.

3. Informed people interact with each other.

4. To the point where new information is being passed along to all parties involved, starting the process over again.


Well Google has millions of dollars in investment and revenue to support what it does. I have my social security and that's all. Thus, for my library to have value others need to use it as I've suggested.

Maybe a few will even become partners and investors to help me keep it updated, growing and available to Chicago and the world in coming years. Here's a page you can use to send your support.

Stephenson ended his comments saying the size of your bank account, or how much you get paid is not what determines your impact on the world. It's what you do with your time. He could have been talking directly to me.

His presentation was summed up in this Tweet:


That's a good summary.



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Don't Drive By Chicago Poverty and Violence - Get Involved.

Last night and today two Twitter posts caught my attention. One (click here) talked about Father Michael Pfleger's plan to shut down parts of Chicago's Dan Ryan Expressway on July 7th, to protest inaction about violence in Chicago.  Today's Chicago SunTimes featured this story.

A second, posted by Simon Ensor, a professor at a university in France, used a Monopoly game board in his Tweet (click here) calling attention to an article on his blog.

These prompted the following message:

Chicago transit & expressways
Don't Drive By Poverty. Get involved.

Shutting down the Dan Ryan is a great way to generate some media attention, and Father Pfleger is great at doing that.  I've written about marches in the past, going back to one of the Million Man March of the 2000s. (see links to more articles below)

I'd like to see maps on media and church web sites, showing poverty areas in Chicago, showing locations of non-profit organizations serving youth and families, and showing transit routes bringing people to the city from homes in the suburbs and more affluent areas.

Thus, while public attention is created by shutting down an expressway, leaders can use maps and on-line directories and web libraries like mine to learn more about poverty, racism, inequality and many other issues, then find youth organizations along their route that they can support with on-going contributions of time, talent and dollars.


Between 1994 and 2002 I created a printed directory that people could use to find contact information for tutor/mentor programs in different parts of Chicago. In 2002 one of our interns from India created a searchable on-line portal that enabled more people to find my list of Chicago youth programs. Then in 2008 another team created this interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. This was intended as a planning resource that leaders would use to help support existing programs and build new ones in under-served areas.

These are no longer updated due to my lack of funding, but they still work.  To find more updated information view the map and list of Chicago area youth tutor and /or mentoring programs on this page.

Yom-Polom cMap
When I opened Simon Ensor's blog the top image was a Monopoly game board. I was not sure what Simon would be writing about, but the game board reminded me of a game board I'd created a couple of years ago as a result of an on-line interaction with Simon and Connected Learning #clmooc people.

In my Yom-Polom game, each square represents a section of information in the Tutor/Mentor web library.  If you land on every square over the course of a year and read some of the articles, you build a deeper understanding of poverty and of potential ways you can be part of solutions.

Each trip around the board represents another year of learning. Thus the longer you play the game, the more you know, and the more committed you'll be to solutions that require on-going, long-term, investments of time, talent and dollars.

So in addition to pointing to transit maps and youth program directories (which can be found on the game board) Father Pfleger and media could be pointing people to places for deeper learning.


My suggestion should not be unrealistic to faith leaders. They've been  pointing people to religious texts for over 2000 years, with weekly reminders to read passage after passage, discuss with friends and family, the put the ideas to work in their lives.

I created this pdf presentation with some suggestions faith leaders could do to draw people to the on-line Bible of information I've been aggregating for 20 years.

Maybe as they prepare for this next protest march, more will point followers to this article and my list of youth programs.

Want to help make this happen? Go to the web site of a faith based institution near you and see what links they point to, if any, from their social involvement and outreach section. If they don't point to this blog, or the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web page, ask them to do so.

Here's a a few "drive by poverty" articles to read

Don't Drive By Poverty. Get involved! click here

Follow up to Chicago Violence - Map analysis example - click here

9-Year Old Shot while giving dog a bath. The REST of the STORY - click here

Are you driving by problems in Chicago? click here



I've been pointing to maps and sharing the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy since 1993.

While many have been called to view these ideas and apply them, very, very few have actually responded.

They seem to keep wanting to do their own thing, lead their own marches, etc.  Maybe this time will be different.



Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Connecting rich and poor via organized tutor/mentor programs

There's a growing polarization in America and which I've pointed to in articles hosted in one section of my web library.  The Congress is dominated by people with an ideology that seems to want to take America back to the early 1900s, with few protections or support systems for working families and the poor, and with a far Whiter population than we have today.

Me with son Jacob, 1998 event
I keep seeing photos of new born babies and young children posted on Facebook by my nieces and nephews, and by kids who were part of the tutor/mentor programs I led in from 1975 to 2011 and I ask "what kind of future will these kids inherit?"

This is particularly relevant since my own two kids are half Chinese and many of my nieces and nephews are full Chinese, or Jewish with a mixture of Chinese and American. And the kids from the tutoring program I led are almost all African American, with a few Latino kids in the mix.

These are the "brown, black, and yellow" skinned people that the Far Right segment of the GOP and the #POTUS45 administration want to eliminate from the America they are trying to create.

I've posted a wide range of graphics on this blog since 2005 showing the diversity of adults and youth who connect in organized, on-going non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs.


When I post photos like this I know from personal experience the work it takes every day, year-after-year to make programs like this available and to recruit youth and volunteers and keep them coming back year after year.

When I post photos like the one at the right, I'm showing the wide range of reasons volunteers and kids can connect, and using a map to emphasize the well organized, mentor-rich programs are needed in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

However, my vision goes beyond creating these places in neighborhoods throughout America. As the graphic below shows, I want to find ways to connect the volunteers, board members, youth, parents, donors and community leaders from each program, with each other, and with a library of information and ideas that they can talk about, reflect on, and use as inspiration for what they do to help individual programs get better, and  help each program provide a transformative experience, for the youth AND the volunteers who get involved.


Below is another graphic that shows what I've been writing about.  The shaded areas are high poverty neighborhoods in Chicago. The oil well icons represent places where youth and volunteers are connecting every week for tutoring, mentoring, learning, enrichment and college and career coaching.

Some of these programs might enroll youth when they are entering first or second grade. Others may start youth in middle school or high school.  Once a youth enrolls, many of these organizations do all they can to help those kids move all the way through school to high school graduation. 

A visitor looking at the list of Chicago youth programs that I host on my web site or any entry point on the Internet should be able to find a map like mine and click on icons, which take them to the web sites of the different tutor and mentor programs in the city. Each web site should have visualizations similar to mine, showing how they attract volunteers from many backgrounds and form a community of extra adults committed to helping the kids they serve succeed in school and move safely into adult lives. I created this "shoppers guide" pdf to illustrate what I feel should be on a program's web site. Very few show all of these indicators.


Many of my articles emphasize the need to build new ways to provide on-going, flexible operating dollars to every tutor/mentor program in the city so they can build and sustain these long-term strategies.   One way to do this is to engage volunteers who are from places where there are concentrations of wealth and/or where decisions are made about how that wealth and talent is being  used to benefit the community. 

Another is to engage teams of volunteers from different industries who take a long-term approach to how they use their time, talent and dollars to help multiple tutor/mentor programs in a city grow.

Interns working with me between 2006 and 2015 created two visualizations that show how volunteers who are well supported in organized tutor and/or mentor programs often are transformed in the ways they have a better understanding of the challenges of living in high poverty areas and are willing to help attract needed resources to support the kids, and programs, they work with.  Click here and here to view these.

:Local-Global issues
Do not think of my goal as just building non-school, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs that transform the lives of inner city kids and the volunteers who join these programs.

I want these programs to be an entry point to a life of learning and service where volunteers begin to expand their understanding of all the various challenges people living in high poverty areas face every day, and ways they might become directly, or indirectly, involved in helping to reduce those challenges.

My nieces and nephews live in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and many other parts of America. Alumni of the tutor/mentor programs I led are spread across America, as are volunteers who have been involved.

For all those who are bringing new kids into the world, or who already are raising their own children, I challenge you to think of ways you can share the ideas in my blogs and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site with people in your own network and community, and to use your own time, talent and connections to help build a 'tutor/mentor connection:' type intermediary that supports the growth of a full range of youth tutor/mentor programs in your own communities.

While I still have a few years in me I'll help you.  Don't wait. Don't look back in 20 years at the world and ask "What could I have done differently?"






Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day. Family and Extended Mentoring Family

I've seen lots of inspiring Father's Day posts on Twitter and Facebook today. They inspired me to create the two montages I show below.

My own father, siblings and children.


My Dad died on Father's Day in 1986, so this is kind of a sad day for me. He and my Mom are shown in this photo. I also show my Dad with his nine living children, in photo taken in early 1980s. I show myself with my two Philadelphia brothers, Billy and Chris and with the two brothers I grew up with, Steve and Nick. I show my son and daughter, Amanda and Jacob, along with my wife Emily, my Mom and my sister Rose and her husband Pete.  It's a big family with dozens of nieces, nephews spread all over the country.

This second photo is from my mentoring and tutoring family, which I joined as a volunteer in 1973.

While I was born into my biological family, I was recruited into this second family. First as a tutor/mentor matched with a 4th grade boy named Leo, shown in the upper right in 1993 and just below in 2014.  Leo posted a message on Facebook today saying:

fathers to me while growing up.
Thanks to:
William Holden
Daniel F. Bassill

Dr. Leon E Drouin
Clifford Gibson
Ajamu Jabari-Akil
You guys have been there one way or another.


I was recruited to lead the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward's corporate  headquarters in Chicago in the summer of 1975 and spent the next 36 years doing what was needed each year to recruit others to volunteer and donate time and talent so that several thousand youth and adults could be connected to each other in on-going and growing tutor/mentor relationships.

"Thank You, Dan" card
I've received many awards for this work, such as the 1999 Publisher's Clearing House Good as Gold Award, but the best were the friendships and thank you's offered by kids and volunteers over the past four decades, as well as the photos I see on Facebook showing the sons and daughters of former students now finishing high school and going to college, and/or starting their own families.

In organized and informal mentoring programs throughout the world extra adults are serving as informal "fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles" to kids who need a few extra adults in their lives.

I want to say "Thank you" to all of them. I also want to say "Thank you" to the many donors who have provided the dollars every year to enable formal, volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs to exist.

Let each Father's Day be a time to reflect, share photos and offer "thanks and well-wishes". But let it also be a renewal of the commitment volunteers, leaders and donors need to make every year to support existing programs and help new ones form where kids still don't enjoy this type of support.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Use Maps for Understanding and Serving Areas of Need

For over 20 years I've focused on how community leaders and networks can use maps to build a better understanding of all places within a geographic region like Chicago where poverty and other indicators show a need for long-term systems of youth and family support.  I still don't see enough examples of this happening.

Below is a graphic showing a map found on the Homicide Watch Chicago web site. Every red icon points to a life lost in Chicago.

You can zoom in on this map to focus on specific parts of the city. The inset at the top right shows Chicago's West side. I could have looked even closer, at a smaller area, like the Austin neighborhood.

The homicide map shows that the West and South parts of Chicago have the highest frequency of homicides.

If you look at other maps, such as the one at the left, you can see that these areas also have the highest concentrations of poverty and racial minorities.  Visit the Urban.org web site and you can find a collection of data maps that you can use to visualize where people need extra help.

Another resource is the collection of data maps available at the Chicago Health Atlas web site.  With either of these resources and many others that I point to on this data maps page, leadership groups in different areas can build a visual and spatial understanding of what sections of Chicago need extra help.

However, there's another level of data that needs to be used if the goal is to help kids grow up safely and without detours into gangs, crime, juvenile justice or icons on these homicide maps.


I included this map on the featured image. It also shows Chicago's West side. However, it includes information showing the number of high poverty kids, age 6-17, living in each community area. The  yellow box shows this data for 2011 and the blue shows the updated data as of 2018. 

You can see this map, along with other Chicago community areas, in a PDF available here, and here.

If you zoom into my map you can see some green stars. These are locations of known non-school tutor and/or mentor programs that the Tutor/Mentor Connection identified via its on-going surveys, which were first launched in 1994.  The map image used was from a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, created between 2004 and 2009.  Due to lack of funding this  has not been updated since 2013, so a different map, and list of Chicago tutor and mentor programs can be found at this link.

The goal of this, and other articles that I've been writing for 20 plus years is to motivate teams of people in different areas to use these maps, and other information in the Tutor/Mentor web library,  as part of an on-going planning process intended to fill every high poverty area with needed youth and family support programs.

View this concept map here
If you browse through past articles on this blog you'll find each of the graphics shown in the concept map and you'll find a link to an entire collection of similar maps.  You'll also find many articles that include GIS maps like the ones I show in this article.


At the heart of all this information is my list of Chicago non-school tutor and/or mentoring programs, sorted by sections of the city. In this page on the Program Locator, you can also see an effort to sort by age group served, and type of program. 

This information is absolutely needed if any on-going marketing and leadership is going to fill high poverty neighborhoods with a full range of birth to work programs. Instead of starting new programs all the time, I've tried to identify and give support to every existing program, helping each constantly move toward being great. At the same time, I've tried to show where there are voids, in age group served and/or type of program, so that planners could use this data in their own on-going efforts.

If you've read this far, there are two takeaways.

1) you can use these ideas in any city, or any neighborhood and you can dig through past articles to understand what I've been trying to do, then duplicate what you think will work for you. Since I've not been able to update the Program Locator, and other people are also building lists of youth serving organizations, I created this concept map to point to many places you can use to search for program information.

2) you can offer time, talent and dollars and/or partnership, to help me update and upgrade the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, making it work for Chicago and making it freely available to leaders in other cities.

You can also go to this page and make a small, or large, contribution to help me keep these resources on line until I find some people who will respond to suggestion number 2.

I urge you to connect and share your mapping and planning ideas with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam or on LinkedIn or Facebook.