Monday, June 10, 2019

I host an in-depth web library - help others learn to use it

I've been collecting and sharing information that others could use to build and sustain volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in high poverty areas for more than 25 years.  I've never had much money to do this work, and even less since 2011.

Yet, the information is still a valuable resource if people would spend time looking at it.

So today I posted three screenshots on Twitter, which I'm showing below. Hopefully a few readers will be motivated to take a journey into my site and to share these Tweets with others.

Step 1 of the four-part strategy that I launched in 1993 focuses on collecting and sharing information. This includes my list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs.

A significant part of the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC strategy is the focus on  using maps to understand where programs are most needed, where existing programs are located, and what assets are in different areas who should be supporting the movement of youth through school.

This section of the web site, and the next, focus on what leaders in business, religion, hospitals, universities, professions, sports, media, etc. can do to help existing programs grow and new ones form, and to keep these programs in place and constantly improving for many years.  Remember, it takes 12 years for most kids to go from first grade through high school. Those living in high poverty need many extra supports for all of these years. 

You can visit the web site and browse through the various sections.  And you can use a snipping tool to take a picture of different sections, then share it on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, just as I did.  The more this is done the greater will be the use of this data and the benefit to kids.

When you open the site you'll find information along the top and on the left side and right side.  I'm showing the left side of the home page, where I've circled a link asking for help funding the work I do.

Help me keep this going. Help me find others who will share ownership and do the work of re-building the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the next decade of work.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

We Have the Words. What We Lack is the Will

Read 1990s newsletters
At the left is page 2 of the Summer 1995 Tutor/Mentor Connection newsletter.  We published this three to four times a year from 1993 to 2002 then ran out of money for print media.  In each issue I used Page 2 to put in an editorial, under the T/MC EXTRA heading.

Here's what I wrote in 1995

"We have the words. What we lack is the will," said Joe Kellman, founder of the Corporate/Community School, as the concluding quote from an article that appeared in the May 1995 issue of Catalyst, a school reform publication. "This is a problem in our community. We frequently point to others for leadership. We seldom point to ourselves."

“illiteracy has a tremendous impact on the cost of poverty”

Kellman was talking about the difficulty of generating long-term support for school reform efforts.  This is also a problem for our tutoring programs. Mentoring only works if volunteers and programs can support kids for years, not weeks or months. So how do we obtain that commitment?

Two ways. First, our programs must be well organized and provide meaningful opportunities for volunteers to join and contribute. That will build a growing base of business volunteers who will draw their companies into the battle.

Second, we must find a way to show the cost of poverty-in a way that CEO's cannot ignore. Better put, in a way that shows up on the profit or loss statement.

Finding this type of data is a challenge. The healthcare industry serves as a model because healthcare discovered a way to successfully market prevention, causing a fundamental change in the way business invests in healthcare. One hospital has gone a step further. New York's Harlem Hospital has shown that prevention saves money--the result of a long term youth program operated by the hospital.

Now we have a new tool. A 1995 summary report titled "The Cost of Poverty in Overtown and in Dade County in 1990." According to the report, 59% of the cost to sustain households in Overtown comes from the public sector. "The public cost of poverty in Overtown is $30 million per year," it concludes.

That's a cost that shows up on the bottom line of every business in America. That's a lot of will-power.

I concluded with this call to action:

This report is available from DEVPLAN, (407) 395-7445. (2019 note: this is no longer available although I have a hard copy in the Tutor/Mentor Libray) Get it and give it to your CEO. Then give us a call. We can help you invest in prevention programs such as tutoring and mentoring. It pays to be involved.

Why is this relevant in 2019?

A couple of days ago I saw this Youth In Cities brief on LinkedIn, then shared it via the Twitter post I'm showing below:

The introduction to the report states "A city’s rate of upward economic mobility from one generation to the next is strongly linked to its investment in its youth-serving nonprofits." The data shows that Chicago ranks 16th in annual per capital investment far behind other cities such as New York.

Maybe that's one reason Chicago has higher rates of violence than New York?  Just speculating.

Anyone can be the YOU 
If you read my 1995 editorial you'll see I was calling for long-term investment in youth tutor/mentor programs.  I've been using visualizations like the one at the left, to show the need for leaders from throughout the Chicago region to take on-going roles that influence people in their networks to become involved and provide on-going support to youth #tutor #mentor programs throughout the region.

I've provide a list of programs to choose from and a map-directory that can be used to understand where programs are located.   Unfortunately too few have been using this information, and too few have been helping me keep it updated.

Yet, as the Youth In Cities report shows, the need is the same today as it was in 1995

I have been collecting and sharing information since 1993 with the goal that others would use this in on-going discussions that focus on finding ways to help well-organized, long-term youth tutor, mentor and learning programs reach k-12 kids in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.

I started doing this before the Internet became a tool. My library has been growing on-line since 1998. It's FREE.

I'm available to help guide you through the library and to take part in your conversations.  You can find me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN

Let's connect.

PS: If you value the ideas I'm sharing please make a contribution to help me fund this work. Click here.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Looking for inspiration for today's article

I've been sharing ideas via a printed newsletter, web site and blog since 1993, with the hope that others will find the articles, read them, then use them in their own efforts to build and sustain systems of support to help kids in high poverty areas move safely through school and into adult lives.

I often look at past articles for inspiration. Today I did that, but with a twist. As I scrolled through my blog I posted some of the articles that I found on my Twitter feed. Take a look.

Here's another

Here's another

And another

Terry Elliott, from my #clmooc network, posted this Tweet yesterday, with a video showing some Connected Learning #clmooc interactions from a few years ago. You can see my maps and logo in the video.

I hope you'll be inspired to read some of these articles, then do what Terry does. Find a way to share them with people you know.  It's only when thousands of people are reading and using these ideas that we'll reach the critical mass needed to dramatically impact the availability and quality of non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities.

This visualizes T/MI and T/MC role

In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue supporting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and to help similar intermediaries grow in other cities.  I've managed to continue to gather and share ideas, but have been less successful at finding sponsors and others to share this vision and the work.  Thus, I depend on contributions to my "fund me" campaign. Please help if you can. Click here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Look Deeper to Understand Complex Problems

Below is a graphic from this video, which offers some important tips about network building and bringing people together to solve problems, something I've been focused on for many years.

I love how the Hippo was used to illustrate that what you see above the water line is just the tip of a much more complex set of problems, which are often hard to see. 

I started using the Iceberg graphic below more than 10 years ago to illustrate a similar concept. In my graphic (created by one of my Northwestern University Public Interest Fellows) what you see above the water is a youth and a volunteer, meeting in a tutor/mentor program.  What you don't see is all of the infrastructure needed to enable that program to be near enough for the youth to participate, and organized well enough that she and a flow of volunteers will be motivated to participate week after week for many years.

I combine this graphic with many others to illustrate that it's not enough to support one or two great tutor and/or mentor programs in a few places. Chicago has more than 200,000 youth who might benefit from these programs, spread throughout the city.  There are more youth who might benefit living in the suburbs.

So take a look at this graphic.  The oil well icons represent well-organized programs that reach youth when they are in elementary or middle school and stay connected as the youth moves through high school and beyond.

I ask "Can you help make this happen?" because there are not enough of these programs, and the few that exist are not evenly spread into all high poverty areas of Chicago.  Each needs a team of people helping a program build the infrastructure that supports great mentoring, learning and youth development.

I think that every neighborhood, or Ward. in the city should also have a team, working to assure that there are enough good programs to reach at least 25% of the kids in different areas.  A team at City Hall should be working for the same purpose.

I've been writing this blog since 2005 and started creating visual ideas like this in the 1990s, when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  There's a lot of information to review, which is why I keep reaching out to universities and high schools, to offer my Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and blogs as content for a service-learning course, intended to develop leaders who apply these ideas.  Here's a recent article that focuses on this leadership development.

At the left is a picture of Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley, along with Montgomery Ward CEO Bernie Brennan, taken in 1990 when Daley visited the tutoring program I had been leading since 1975.

Imagine if these two leaders had given their full support to the ideas I've been developing for the past 25 years. Would the Chicago map be filled with more and better programs? Would some neighborhoods show different patterns of violence, employment, education levels, in 2019, as a result of that many years of consistent leadership? 

Maybe the new Mayor, or other business, university and/or philanthropy leaders in Chicago, or in other cities, will embrace these ideas. It's never too late. 

PS: If you value what I'm sharing please visit this page and send me a contribution to help pay the bills. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Missing Tutor/Mentor eNew for April and May?

If you are one of the 300 or 400 people who open and read my monthly eMail newsletters you may be wondering where the past two month's issues are.  I've been going through some personal struggles since April 1 so I've not been able to focus attention on the newsletters. I continue to post on social media, and you may notice, I've fewer blog articles, too.

I've tried to produce a monthly newsletter every month for the past 20 years to help draw attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and elsewhere, while also sharing ideas that resource providers and program leaders can use to build great programs.

Each month's issue has focused on what's timely. So in July and August I'm focusing on volunteer recruitment, while in November and December I focus on fund raising and learning from each other.

With that in mind, you can browse my newsletter archive and open newsletters written in May-June for past years and find many of the same ideas that I'd be including in 2019 newsletters, if I had written then.  Below I'm showing part of the May-June 2018 newsletter. Click here to read it.

By now most programs that operate on a school year cycle have  held their year-end celebrations, or will do that in the next couple of weeks. Most well-organized programs already have been in the planning process, learning from what worked,or did not work this year, and from what they can see about work being done at other programs, then looking for ways to add new or improved ideas into the 2019-20 program cycle. Some are already recruiting volunteers for the coming school year.

I see posts from many Chicago programs on my Facebook feed, and a smaller group on my Twitter feed.  Many are showing success stories, of kids graduating from high school and/or college.  Not many are talking about the challenges they have faced of the past year or more to help kids have these successes.

Too few programs are actually sharing anything!  

If you look at the map in this article, and my list of programs serving Chicago, you'll see that there are nearly 200 organizations providing some form of tutoring and/or mentoring to kids.  Yet, less than 20% of these programs share regularly on FB and fewer on Twitter (unscientific observation!). 

They all might benefit from ideas in my newsletters so please share the link. I feel they also would benefit from connecting to me, and each other in on-line forums. I recommend Twitter for its ease of interaction more than I do Facebook or LinkedIN.

I hope to be back in circulation in a month or two.  In the meantime, please read and share my blog articles, past newsletters and help build the village of support kids in all neighborhoods need to connect with volunteers in well organized programs, and to move safely through school and into adult lives.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Navigating Information Overload - 2019 update

See in this article
I studied history in college, then spent three years in the US Army, in the Intelligence branch. In both cases I was learning to use best available information to support decisions of leaders.

I began to build a library of information in the 1970s, while leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago. I expanded this effort in 1993 when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and then in 1998 when I began to build the library on the Internet.

Visit this article and find links to all sections of the library.

We now have a new Mayor in Chicago, meaning new people will be seeking solutions to old problems.

Helping kids living in high poverty move safely through school and into adult live and jobs, will be one of the focus areas.

Four-part strategy click here
My hope is that the Mayor will point her team to the web library I've been building, and to the four-part strategy described in this visual.  What makes my library unique is that while some of the information is from my own experiences, most of the sites I point to, have their own web libraries. Thus, each site opens to hundreds, if not thousands, of additional resources.

With all of this information, how can normal people find time to do more than scratch the surface? I think this is one of the major problems facing the world. Too much information. Too few using it.

Below is what I wrote about this in a 2012 article.

Often I learn to understand what I've been doing by seeing how others present similar ideas. Over the past few years I've followed many people who share ideas in a variety of blogs, web sites, videos, social media sites, etc. I've pointed to many on my own blog and web site and even collect some of the links in my web library.

Over the past year I've been learning about Massive open Online Courses (MOOCS). Rather than trying to give you a description of my own, I encourage you to view this video then visit this CHANGE.MOOC.CA site.

Without knowing it, I've been creating a platform of information and ideas that is waiting for a team of facilitators to turn it into a MOOC. This video describes many of the strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection. It shows a way to connect people from different places and different networks in on-going learning that they can use to understand poverty and its impact on youth, families and communities, and to learn strategies working in some places that could be applied in other places.

I've used this graphic often to illustrate the "village" of people who need to be involved in this on-going learning process and in strategies that help kids in poverty areas have more of the support systems needed to move through school and into adult responsibilities.

In several past blog articles I've written about "silos" where groups focus on their own issues, with their own ideas, and their own limited membership. Chicago and other big cities are full of silos. Chicago has more than 200 different youth serving organizations offering various forms of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring in non-school hours.

Each one is forced to be a "silo" because of how they compete for dollars.

Yet, each also has common needs. Connecting together in a MOOC type of process, and engaging volunteers, alumni, business people, philanthropists, etc. might build shared commitment and new strategies for generating and distributing these resources, leading to constantly improving programs in all parts of an urban area.

Until we find ways to connect youth, volunteers, leaders, donors and policy makers from each of these different organizations and from business, religion, philanthropy, higher education,government, media, etc. we'll never have consistent strategies reaching young people in all poverty neighborhoods with best-in-world strategies learned from this world of ideas that can be found through the Internet.

I point to more than 2000 different web sites from my own sites...and these point to other web sites with even greater levels of information. It's the information overload that David Comer talks about in this video about MOOCs.

While I record more than 8000 visitors and 150,000 page views on my own web sites this is just a fraction of the people who need to be involved in this on-going learning. While I have the vision, I don't yet have the ability to organize and lead a MOOC that connects big-city stakeholders in on-going learning that draws from all of this information in the ways the video above describes.

Yet, if you look at the structure of the courses on CHANGE.MOOC, perhaps the blog I've written since 2005 could be considered a MOOC! It's open to anyone in the world. In needs more facilitators.

New organizations keep sprouting up in Chicago with new sponsors and new donors putting up hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are reinventing the wheel and the cost of accumulating all of this information and building a network of people to share it will be overwhelming.

-------------- end 2012 article --------

Since 2012 I've  participated in other cMOOCs and one group that has has a longer-lasting connectivity is a Connected Learning #CLMOOC group that started in 2013 and continues in 2019.

Here's an article that I wrote about this group in late December 2018.

So, what's next?

This picture shows how I constantly am trying to connect people in my network with information in my web library. 

I'd love to find a collection of similar graphics, picturing the Mayor, the Governor, CEOs of business and philanthropy, doing the same thing.  They don't need to point to my library, if the sites they point to have links to it.  But they do need to be encouraging the growth of this information base, as a source of understanding  and solving complex problems.

If you'd like to know more about what I'm describing, let's connect.  I'm on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. You can introduce yourself in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

When Have So Many Done So Little With So Much

I was looking for inspiration for writing today's blog and, as I do often, I looked at what I was writing during this same time frame in past years.

President's Summit
for America's Future
April 1997
I found an article from April 28, 2007, which I'm going to re-post below. 

Some background first. In April 1997 teams of 10 people from 150 cities gathered in Philadelphia, at the invitation of President Clinton, and former Presidents Bush, Carter and Reagan (via Nancy Reagan). The event was headlined by General Colin Powell.

I was there. I was part of the Chicago delegation.  The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations invited to have a display at the Summit, as a Teaching example. I wrote about it in this 2017 article.

So it's now 22 years since promises were made to help America's 13.5 million kids living in high poverty.

Here's what I wrote in 2007

In this month's issue of Youth Today, Bill Treanor has written an article about the 10 year results of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, which gathered leaders from 150 cities and all living Presidents, to focus attention on the help needed by more than 13 million youth living in poverty.

Bill's article can be found here.  Bill points out that the America's Promise organization, which was established to implement the goals of the Summit, has raised more than $27 million since 1997. The question is what has been accomplished other than creating high paying jobs for the staffers at America's Promise?

I was one of Chicago's ten delegates. The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations from around the country invited to have a display at the Summit, as a "teaching example". I still have newspaper articles, and the manifesto listing the commitments to helping the most at-risk youth in America.

As a leader of a youth serving agency in a big city, I left the Summit hoping for reinforcements. I know how small non profits struggle for resources to keep youth and business volunteers coming to non-school programs, and how difficult it is to influence aspirations of education, college and careers, when these aspirations are not modeled by many of the most visible people in high poverty neighborhoods. I was hoping that General Powell would use maps, and be recruit business and celebrity leaders, who will mobilize resources to support the non profits already on the battlefield in our war against poverty.

Instead, the war profiteers are those with high paying jobs, or who are earning big PR contracts. The troops are under-supported. The claims of success are over stated. As America's Promise itself reports in a 10 year report (no longer available online), there's much to do.

--- end 2007 article --

So Much Spent. So Little Accomplished

I went to Philadelphia with high hopes, of reinforcements for organizations like my Cabrini Connections program, which already was working with inner-city youth.

And for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was a strategy to help build and sustain mentor-rich non-school programs in every high poverty neighborhood.

That help never came. Instead there was a lot of re-inventing of the wheel, with new people starting new initiatives with limited information.  Of those in power, few have ever come to me to ask "Dan, can we learn from your efforts?"

Bigger picture.

In 2017 I used the map below in an article titled "Pain and suffering throughout the world - how do we respond?

Overlays on this map could show poverty concentrations. They could show health disparities. They could show environmental issues that cause people to leave homes looking for other places to survive and raise families. They could also show conflict zones, terror attacks, and many more  pain and suffering locations.

View this concept map and see examples of the type of information platforms that are available.

I suspect other versions of this map could show places where wealthy people are extracting profit from the suffering of others, either as manufactures of weapons of war, or as manufacturers and/or financiers who extract resources from the land and oceans. I don't have a map showing this.

 Below is one of my graphics, with a map of Chicago. The oil-well icons symbolize programs helping kids grow safely from birth to adult lives and jobs that enable families to live beyond poverty.

There are a lot of places, just in Chicago, where people need help, for many years. There are even more places, throughout the world where similar help is needed, along with many other kinds of  help.

So how do we motivate the people with wealth, as well as those who can only spare a few dollars, and a few hours of volunteer time, to get involved with one or more places, then stay involved for many years, or until the problem is solved.

I don't have an answer. And, unless people read my article and share it with others, my questions won't be seen, and I won't be in the thinking and conversation with others who are looking at the same problems as I am.

So, please read and share my articles.

Then, send me a contribution to help me pay the bills, so I can keep writing these and keeping my web library on line.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Connecting People, Ideas and Inner City Youth

Ten years ago, in 2009, I posted an article using this map of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago's West side with headline of "West Side Community can't fight gun violence alone."

In my 2009 article I pointed to a July 21, 2009 Chicago SunTimes  column by Mary Mitchell which was about the Austin (Chicago West Side) community's Number 1 ranking for weapons violations in the past 90 days. Her plea was for tougher gun laws so more young offenders will know they will go to prison, and think twice about carrying a gun.

She ended her article by saying "We need to do more to stop these offenders".

Ten years later, and that's' still true.  Too many in Chicago are still fighting this battle, working alone, or in silos, of a few organizations, research groups and resource providers.

Mayor Daley was still Mayor of Chicago then. Rham Emanuel had not yet been elected. Barack Obama had just become President. There was a lot of optimism.

Sadly, I doubt that any of these leaders, or any who have been trying to reduce violence and create more opportunities for kids growing up in high poverty areas of Chicago or other big cities, read my 2009 blog article, or have read many that I wrote before then, or since then.

Too bad.  Since I led non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from 1975-2011, and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help fill all high poverty areas with similar programs, maybe I've some ideas that might be worth looking at.

Below is a Chicago Tribune story written about the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1995, talking about a "Master Plan for saving our kids". 

view this story here

The Master Plan was just developing at that time.

In 1995 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was just two years old. We had held the first three Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, published our first program directory, and were launching the first Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment campaign that year.

We had not yet launched our first web site, or the on-line tutor/mentor program locator. Social media was science fiction. Yahoo groups had not yet begin. We were just developing our #GIS mapping capacity and had not yet learned to use concept maps to visualize strategies.

Thus, our "master plan" had just put seeds in the ground.  I've been watering and nurturing these every week since then, with whatever resources I could find.

Below is a timeline, showing highlights of what we built from 1994 to 2011, despite inconsistent funding and major disruptions like losing Montgomery Ward as host and major sponsor, then suffering through economic collapses following the 2001 technology bubble burst, the 9/11 terror attack and economic collapse, and the financial sector depression, starting in 2008.

1992-present Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC time line

Below is a second map, showing work I've done to maintain the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and share its ideas and resources with the world, since 2011.  This map shows work with interns between 2006 and 2015 who came from Chicago area and South Korean universities. It also shows connections with educators from around the world, via a Connected Learning #clmooc network on social media.
sharing ideas since 2012 - click here

If you take the time to browse through past articles on this blog, or visit all the sections on the site you'll see more than 1000 articles focused on filling high poverty areas with mentor rich programs where volunteer tutors and mentors help kids grow up safely and move through school and into jobs and careers.

There is a lot of information, the result of more than 40 years of leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago while also trying to find ways to get thousands of people involved in strategic thinking, learning and acting that would make such programs available to more people.

See graphic in this article
The graphic at the right shows that since 1994 I've had inconsistent support, and major set backs, in efforts to fully develop and implement the Master Plan describe in 1994. 

Current news stories show we're facing many of the same problems, so that means there is still opportunity for new leaders to adopt and energize these ideas.

Since 2011 I've not had a nonprofit organization supporting me and while I've been trying to find new partners or universities who would use my history to rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection to have greater impact over the next 25 years, I've not yet succeeded.

I've been getting older, which means there has been more urgency to find these partners.  I've said to many "What if I get hit by a car, and I am killed?"  Who is prepared, or interested, in carrying this work forward.

Well, I did get hit by a car, on April 1, 2019. Fortunately, a fractured leg and shoulder were my worst injuries.

But, what if it had been worse.

Everything I have learned, and that I share on my web sites would potentially (likely) be lost.

I don't want that to happen. I hope someone with deep pockets but no vision of where to direct her wealth, will start to look at my web sites and blogs, follow me on Twitter, @tutormentor team, or on LinkedIN, or Facebook, and think about how they might be the lamp that lights the way for this work to go forward.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Starting New Month. Same Goals.

Monday is April 1, which for many, means it's a day of practical jokes.  For me, it's a new week, of a new month, and new opportunities.

Here's the goal:

While the planning for the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago was done 1993 it was launched in January 1994 with a survey to identify every non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago.  Using maps we began to plot their location, in an effort to determine what neighborhoods were well served, and which needed more programs.

We published the list of programs in a printed directory in the 1990s and on the internet since 2004, along with a growing library of links to web sites that provided information about where and why these programs were needed, and how to build great non profits, to support great youth programs.

For the past 25 years every week has started with efforts to draw attention to this information, and motivate leaders in every sector, to take roles in building and sustaining constantly improving programs, which work to help kids succeed in school, stay safe in non-school hours, and move toward high school graduation, post high school education, then jobs and careers.

The graphic at the top of this page was used in this article.  It's one of more than 1,000 posted on this blog since 2005.

I want  you to read them all, and use the ideas to do more to help kids living in poverty.

That's no April Fools joke.

Of course, I don't expect anyone to do this in a day, but it could be done over a year, or two.  Maybe not by many people, but hopefully by a few who will adopt the strategy and intermediary role I've piloted for the past 25 years so that more people try to make this happen.

Tipping Point-role of universities

Actually, I doubt that many will make an effort to read even a few of my past articles, let alone all of them. That's why I've tried to enlist teachers in high schools and colleges, to make this part of a learning curriculum, that youth start looking at when they are in middle school, and are still looking at as they finish college. I posted this article with that goal last week.

Do you think that's a joke?  Kids as young as one or two years old are reading Bible stories. Many do this for their entire lives. Why can't we enlist people in reading material that helps them create a better life for people who are alive now, rather than in an afterlife?

If the type of learning I've described were happening some would be well prepared to be leaders of mentor-rich youth programs while many others would be prepared to take on the critically important role of building the resource flow and supply chains, that enable programs to grow from good, to great, and then to stay great for many years.

I've been trying to make this vision come true for over 20 years, but so far no one has embraced it. Maybe people think I'm just joking.  Like every day is April 1st.

SunTimes, Oct 15, 1998
Except, it's not a joke. Every week we read about some kids being shot in Chicago. At the right is the front page of the Chicago SunTimes, from October 15, 1992.  This was when I was in the process of forming Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

The headline of "7-Year Old's Death in Cabrini Requires Action" has been a constant reminder of the commitment I made then and continue to try to keep in 2019.

It's a commitment that many need to make, and keep.

I hope you'll think about this as you enjoy your week.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Have you looked at these Maps?

I've been writing this blog since 2005 and hundreds of stories include maps, intending to show where youth tutor/mentor programs are most needed and where existing site-based programs are located.

1993 T/MC Plan
This is part of a strategy launched in 1993 to collect information about existing tutor/mentor programs, and share that in on-going efforts to attract talent and dollars to each program, to help every program constantly improve their impact on the lives of kids and volunteers who participate.

On the left side of this blog are tags that I've applied to each article written to help you search for different topics.  If you look in the maps, media and violence sections you'll find stories with a constant use of map.

However, this is not the only resource where the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present) have been sharing information about using maps.  I also host the site, which is more focused on showing  uses of maps and visualization tools than is this blog.

Below I'm highlighting a few recent stories.

This is a map view showing youth in poverty in the Chicago region, created using the Community Commons platform. See it in this article.

This map is from an article posted on March 13, showing updates to the Chicago Health Atlas web site.  View it here.

This map is part of an ambitions new plan, titled Resilient Chicago, to create a Chicago "where residents, neighborhoods, institutions, corporations, and government agencies are successfully connected to each other in the pursuit of economic opportunity, safety, equity, and sustainability."  Click here to view the article.

This map is from the Field Foundation of Illinois web site. It would be great if every foundation were using similar maps (or the same maps) to guide their giving decisions, and to assure a more equal distribution of resources to all parts of the city and to suburban areas with growing levels of poverty.  See article.

The above maps are from recent articles. This map, showing the 34th State Legislative District, was created in 2008, as part of the first collection of maps created by Mike Traken, who was hired after the Tutor/Mentor Connection received a $50,000 anonymous donation to rebuild our mapping capacity.  You can see this article at this link.

Mike used donated ESRI GIS mapping software to create a variety of sophisticated maps, which he then put into blog stories. He did this until early 2011, when we finally ran out of money and had to take him off the payroll.  He created this Map Gallery to show maps he had created.

We used half of that grant to create an interactive mapping platform, where anyone could create map stories, based on the same data and logic that Mike was using. Below is just one map created since then.

You can see this map in this story and you can find many other maps created since 2009 using the Program Locator, on this blog and the MappingforJustice blog.

As I said above, we ran out of money to keep investing in the mapping in 2010 and 11, due to the depression that hit the financial markets. This also led to the separation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection from the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program, where it had been born in 1992 at the same time that the CC program was launched.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to continue the T/MC in Chicago and try to share it in other cities where there were large concentrations of people living in poverty.  Since then I've not found partners, volunteers or resources to update the platform, collect the program data, or do the outreach needed to teach people to use it to create their own maps.

However, I've kept the platform on line as a model and template that could be used to build a new version, using newer coding and GIS technology than we had in 2008.  If you're reading this and want to know more, browse through the articles on these blogs, visit this page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site or reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

It costs me $100 a month to keep the Program Locator on-line. This is one of many expenses I've been paying, drawing from my own savings, and a small pool of contributions. If you'd like to help, click here, and send your own support. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tipping Point - Growing and Supporting Future Leaders

If you've read any articles on this blog, or followed my @tutormentorteam posts on Twitter, you've seen graphics like the one below.

The message in both graphics is the same. We need to reach kids as they enter school and support them with a wide range of mentors and learning experiences as they move through school and into adult lives. While all kids need this support, for most kids, it's naturally available through family, neighbors, faith groups and community.

For kids born or living in high poverty, such support is less available, and organized, intentional efforts, are are needed to make mentor-rich support programs available. Having led such a program for more than 35 years, I know how difficult it is to build and sustain such programs.

I've been part of a #clmooc network of educators for several years, who I've written about in past #clmooc articles. A couple of weeks ago our discussion of online Affinity Groups caused me to post this Tweet, with a graphic that I had created based on a recent conversation:

I posted this Tweet and my graphic in this article last weekend.  I'm adding more detail to my explanation in today's post.

So here's the graphic:

In the middle of the graphic is the birth-to-work arrow that I've  used since the mid 90's to visualize age-level supports that volunteers and businesses could provide to youth, via well-organized tutor/mentor programs as well as schools. 

At the top of this graphic is the question. What can universities do differently, that might be a tipping point in terms of making well organized programs available in more places, for more years, reaching more youth, and helping them through school?

I answer by saying "build a pipeline of leaders, who work in these programs, and who work to provide the talent and resources needed by each program on an on-going basis".

So I added an overlay to the Birth to Work arrow to suggest this idea.

If you strip away the arrow, this is what's left.

Imagine a four to six year masters or PhD level college program, starting the freshman year of college.  Then visualize on-going practical learning, in which college students serve in existing programs, reaching youth as young as elementary school, with their service tied to course work being studied on campus at different points over their college career.

Imagine part of what college students are teaching youth in middle school and high school, is drawn from the same "how to" lessons that college kids are studying. If students begin thinking of what it takes to make the programs available to them, which they are part of, they will have momentum if they choose to pursue this course of study in college, and as a career.

If colleges just did the first part of this suggestion, they would  be reaching youth in neighborhoods surrounding the college and enlisting their students and alumni  in various roles that help PULL kids through k-12 school, and into college, then on into jobs and careers.  If this were a continuous program, lasting for decades, it might dramatically close the opportunity gap.

However, that's not enough. Volunteers need a safe, well-organized place where they can connect with kids, and stay connected for many years.  Such places are constantly seeking dollars, volunteers and other resources, but are not equal in their abilities to attract those resources. Thus, too few programs are available.

Here's the TIPPING POINT:  The curriculum I am suggesting is not limited to just those going into direct service. It's a college wide humanities type course that engages students studying in different fields, most of whom will go into the business world.

Imagine that each year's class of graduates from a university include a few with degrees showing them to have a full knowledge of how to build and lead a mentor rich youth serving organization.  And then imagine another group of graduates, leaving college with an understanding of what it takes for such programs to succeed, and the role they can take in PROACTIVELY providing dollars, talent, technology, volunteers and other resources needed, including jobs, internships and learning opportunities for youth in organized tutor/mentor programs and public schools.

Then, imagine that people from both groups spend time daily, or weekly,  in on-line affinity groups, supported in part by universities, and students who are working toward their degrees, where they keep learning, from the college, and from each other, so they are constantly seeking to do more and do better, at helping kids move out of poverty, or helping solve other complex problems facing the world.

I've attempted to communicate this idea in the past using this graphic, which you can find in this series of articles.

The problem, as I see it, is that most adults don't have time to dig through my articles and learn what has taken me 40 years to learn.  Most are not motivated to do this, nor guided through this mountain of information, they way faith leaders and college professors guide students through other information resources.

So what types of curriculum would students study?  I started building a list on my original graphic, and I've already expanded it with the graphic below. I suspect that others could add more, if they just spent time thinking about it.

As you look at the list of skills needed, compare them to courses required by colleges preparing teachers, social workers and/or business leaders.  I doubt that many are required to learn spatial thinking tools like GIS mapping, or concept mapping. Or that they are asked to learn basic coding, so they can oversee a web site or blog, to communicate ideas. I doubt that many are learning ways to support digital learning in on-line communities, or the creation of digital content that can be used to share ideas and promising practices.

I mentioned that the #clmooc group is reading a book titled Affinity Online: How Connection and Shared Interest Fuel Learning. They have created many pathways into joint reading of the book, and point to many who are reflecting on what they are reading via their blogs. 

I've been impressed by the amount of time many of these young people are spending in these groups, building new skills, taking on leadership and organizational roles, mentoring and guiding new members, etc.  Imagine that level of learning embedded into the DNA of graduates of the type of program I'm imagining. 

Wendy Taleo, from Australia, is a member of the #clmooc group. She posted a graphic today, which I annotated with my own #hashtags, suggesting my goal that people from many different sectors join together in on-line learning. 

To me, this graphic also represents how students, alumni and community members, including youth, would be connecting in on-going learning to better understand complex problems, and learn about actions being taken in some parts of the world, that might be applied in other places, if resources were readily available.  If alumni who are working or have been blessed with wealth are in these conversations they would be ready and able to offer support where needed.

I've been reaching out to universities in Chicago and beyond since the 1990s to find one that would adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC as a strategic partner.  Here's one of many articles showing this invitation.

It just takes one college to pilot this, and one wealthy benefactor to provide the financial incentive for a college or university to take this role.

Look at the graphic below. Imagine each of those red school icons being a place where an alumni with a Tutor/Mentor Institute degree from your university were on the staff and that others were volunteers, board members and/or donors.  Can you visualize having such an impact?  This is not intended to help one, or even a few, great youth programs grow. It's intended to fill a growing number of high poverty areas across the US and the world with great, constantly improving, well-supported youth tutor/mentor programs that are recognized as world class, by the degrees of their leaders and by the work they are doing.

That's it for today. I look forward to reading some one else's interpretation of this idea.

In the meantime, if you value what I'm writing about, please consider a contribution to help me pay the bills. Click here and use PayPal to send your support today.