Friday, July 27, 2018

Wicked Problems. Getting 'Everyone" in the Room. Who cares?

For more than 40 years I've been trying to collect ideas and information that helped me be a more effective tutor/mentor, a more effective leader of a volunteer-based program, and to help well organized, mentor-rich youth programs reach k-12 kids in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

You may have read what I just wrote, but did you understand it the way I hoped you would?

I've been creating visualizations since the 1990s to try to create a shared understanding of the ideas and strategies that I was producing via the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and the single youth tutor/mentor program I was leading in Chicago.

These are embedded in almost every article that I've written on this blog since 2007 and in PDF essays I started creating in the late 1990s. You can also see them in print newsletters from the 1990s.  Below is a screen shot from my page on Pinterest, showing how I've aggregated some of my graphics on that site.

You can also do a web search for "Tutor/Mentor Connection" using Google or another platform, then look at the images feature. Many of the images you'll see were created by myself, or one of the interns who worked with the Tutor/Mentor Connection between 2006 and 2015.  You'll see maps that date back to 1994, created by volunteers and part time paid staff (when money was available for this).

One of the graphics you'll find is the one at the right, created by an intern from South Korea in 2011.  In this article you can see the original version of this graphic, created in the 1990s to visualize the T/MC's goal of connecting a growing number of people to information they could use to help individual tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago, and to help each program constantly innovate better ways to help youth move through school and into adult lives.

On LinkedIn this morning I found a video by Marv Weisbord, a business consultant, that talks about evolution of business problem solving process since early 1900s. In the last eight minutes he talks about "getting everyone in the organization in a room to make a chart on the wall showing everything that has to happen for this system to improve."

He describes a point in the problem solving process where a problem is identified that no one in the room has a solution for.  He says, "They stop the process and ask "Well, who knows?" Then go out to try to find that person."

He concludes the video describing the evolution of group dynamics, or "getting everyone involved to improve the whole" and talking about how important this is in trying to solve some of the complex problems facing the world in coming years.

Read 11/14 article
This is the idea I've been focusing on since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I use the analogy of the hospital operating room, as the forum with "everybody in the room".  As long as the people doing the operation know all they need to know, they don't need anyone else to join them. However, when a situation arises that they don't have an answer for, someone from the audience can say "I know" and be invited to join the team on the floor. If a question arises that no one in the room can answer, someone can say "I know someone who knows this. I'll bring them into the conversation."

At some point a question arises that has never been asked before. Then someone might say, "I'll do the research, and when I find an answer, I'll bring it to you."

I saw the Tweet below on my Twitter feed.

When Marv Weisbord, or anyone else, talks about "getting everyone in the room" I'm asking, "how do you know who is in the room, or who is missing?" 

One Section of T/MC Library
That should be part of the information we're collecting.  It's part of the knowledge based I've been building since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Here's one page where I point to network analysis ideas.

In my introduction I wrote that I started creating visualizations because I feel that people who listen to what I say, or read what I write, have a mental picture, based on their own experiences, that may be different than what I'm trying to communicate.

Below is a presentation I created in early 2000 as "No Child Left Behind" was becoming the national education policy of the USA.  It illustrates how people have different mental pictures when the words "tutor and mentor" are used. Creating a shared  understanding is one step toward building solutions and long-term commitment to implementing those solutions.

I have been involved in this work for more than 40 years and have spent part of the past 25 years focusing on ways to get more people involved in helping build and sustain mentor-based youth and workforce development programs in all high poverty areas.

I've built a huge library of ideas.  I've created several hundred visualizations, like this "village" graphic, representing the range of people who I feel "need to be in the room" innovating ways to reach kids in every high poverty neighborhood with a range of actions that help each one move safely and successfully through school and into adult lives.

"It takes a Village to Raise a Child" - who is helping?

In the final portion of his video, Mr. Weisbord talks about "creating images of potential" rather than focusing on what's wrong, and how to fix it.

Maybe my maps and graphics are "images of potential".  What do  you think? 

I've never had enough resources and talent to ask and answer all of the questions that need to be asked, or to mobilize more than a few of "all" who need to be involved.

I'm now looking for a way to share what I've learned in a consulting role, or through partnerships with one or more universities who might carry this work forward in future years.  If you're interested in helping, or having a conversation, just reach out to me with a comment, or by connecting with me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Mother of 2 Gunned Down. Forgotten.

Reading my Chicago Tribune this morning, the article by Rex Huppke, under headline of "Mother of 2 Gunned Down and Forgotten" caught my attention. In the story he wrote about a mother of two small children who was killed last week on the 5600 block of South Michigan Avenue. In the article he also pointed to another article, about a 14-year old boy, killed just a block away, only three weeks earlier. I created the map below to show where these shootings took place:

This map is part of a series of Chicago community area maps that I posted earlier this year, showing the number of high poverty youth, age 6 to 17, living in different parts of the city. According to most recent Heartland Alliance data, there are 1410 youth in this age group, which is 52% of the total youth in the Washington Park community area, located just West of Hyde Park on Chicago's South side. 

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011. The T/MC has been creating maps like this since 1994, as a strategy to keep attention focused on areas featured in negative news stories, and as a tool leaders could use to understand where non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are most needed in different Chicago neighborhoods, where existing programs are located, and what assets are in the map area who could be helping fill the neighborhood with a wide range of needed youth and family supports.  In 2008 we built an interactive Chicago Program Locator, to enable people to create their own map analysis and stories.

My database is probably not 100% comprehensive, and the Program Locator has not been updated since 2013 due to lack of resources, but it still works for this purpose.  The only organized tutor/mentor program that I show in this area is the Chicago Youth Programs site in the North part of this area near 51st Street.  As far as assets, on the East side of Washington Park is the University of Chicago and University of Chicago Hospital, along with the entire Hyde Park neighborhood.

See my most updated list of programs in this article.

I've posted the graphic at the right multiple times on this blog. Imagine if groups of people in the Hyde Park area were meeting regularly to look at maps like mine, and creating new maps when other shootings take place, so that the people who have been killed and mentally wounded by these shootings are not only remembered, but their memory stimulates actions that lead to more k-12 tutoring, mentoring, learning and jobs programs in Washington Park and other areas surrounding Hyde Park.

I'm not picking on Hyde Park. That just happens to be the biggest resource in the area around Washington Park. If the story had been about a shooting in Austin, such as this one, I'd be talking about Oak Park.

Before I started reading today's Chicago Tribune, I looked at my Twitter feed, and saw this post.

Chance The Rapper has purchased Chicagoist. What will he do with it?

I invite him to dig into stories and ideas I've posted on this blog, and the Mapping for Justice blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, and then put these ideas to work in Chicagoist, and his music.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection has been creating map-stories, and graphics like this one, since 1994, to try to draw more attention, and mobilize more people, to support the growth of youth tutor/mentor programs in areas of Chicago where mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and grandparents have been getting shot and killed every day for decades.

In this article, and many other articles I suggest that youth in middle school, high school, and college, and in faith groups, and non-school tutor/mentor programs could be creating similar map stories, following every single shooting or media story about violence, poorly performing schools, gangs and other indicators showing that these neighborhoods need extra help, for many years, to change what's in the news.

At the right is an article that John McCarron of the Chicago Tribune wrote in 1995 about the vision of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. You can see it and many others on this page.

To answer Rex. They don't need to be forgotten.

They won't be if you, Chance the Rapper, and many others duplicate stories I've written for nearly 25 years in your own efforts.

Don't just talk about the tragedy. End your stories by pointing readers to some of the Chicago youth organizations I point to in this article, or the volunteer-opportunity search resources I aggregate on this concept map.

End every story with "get informed. get involved....with time, talent, dollars and votes"

I'd be happy to spend time with anyone talking about what I've been trying to do. I'm on Twittter @tutormentorteam. Also on LinkedIN and Facebook.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC Concepts

The India Development Corporation of America (IDCA) invited me to speak at their June 2018 education event and yesterday they sent me the video clip below, showing part of my presentation.

In preparation for this presentation I created some slides. You can see a couple in the video. You can view the entire slide show in the SlideShare below.

I was first introduced to IDCA in the early 2000s by one of the volunteers in the tutor/mentor program I was leading at that time. He was also a member of IDCA. Since then I've spoken at their educationT events every few years.

My goal is that the ideas I share are applied in India and other parts of the US and the world, while some of their members and network also offer time, talent and dollars to help me operate the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

The interactive map, and search  portal, of the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator were both built in the 2000s by volunteers from India. Thus, there's an abundance of talent that could be helping me update these portals now.

from 1990s
Last Tuesday evening I attended the weekly ChiHackNight event at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and as I was eating a snack before the start of the formal presentation, a man came up to me and asked "Are you Tutor/Mentor?"

It turns out that he had  heard my introduction the previous week, then had connected with me on the ChiHackNight slack channel.  He and a group from Northwestern University have been developing an interactive map focused on health issues, so we had some interests in common.

Turns out we had more in common than that. He told me that he was a volunteer in the mid 1990s at the tutor/mentor program I was leading.

More than 4000 adults and 4000 youth (now adults) were part of the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011.  This represents an army of reinforcements who could not only be helping me now, but who could be carrying Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC ideas and strategies to cities throughout the US...and the world over the next 20 years.

I'm excited every time I reconnect with one of these people and every time I have the opportunity to share my ideas with groups like IDCA because they represent badly needed drinks and potential new !eaders.

See more videos at this link.

See  more PDF presentations at this link.

Become a sponsor, contributor and supporter at this link.

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 and is now only available as an archive.

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 Auburn 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 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. (2024 note. That PDF is no longer found on

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.  

In short, while nonprofit youth programs are constantly seeking donors, we want to motivate donors to use map-directories to search for youth programs to support.  Is that happening in your city? 

A side benefit turned out to be that the Directory 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 each year 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 an on-line, searchable directory, which enabled anyone to search the directory to find contact information for programs in different zip codes of Chicago.

Our Chicago tutor/mentor programs survey asked what age group they serve (elementary, middle, high school) and what type of program they operate (pure tutor, pure mentor, combination tutor/mentor) along with where they 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.   

The 2004 platform worked like any other search engine. If you knew what you're looking for you could 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 enabled 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 could 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.

This PDF essay was created to show how to use the Program Locator.

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 did not find partners, investors and talent to update it since 2013. Thus, since 2020 it  has only be available as an archive.  You can view the 2004 page at this link and the 2008 interactive map directory at this link

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 no longer available 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 Institute, LLC 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.