Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Looking Back - 2006 Skoll Foundation "Profit for a Purpose"

I'm in the process of updating the web library that I host on the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site and I just opened a link to this 2006 conversation hosted on the Skoll Social Edge Forum (now an archive).

The topic was Profit for a Purpose.

I scrolled through the conversation and found that I'd posted some thoughts. They are still relevant today, so I've re-posted them below.


Thinking of Social Enterprise in three dimensions, not two:


You had many inspiring ideas in your message. One that made me chuckle in agreement was "The private sector uses the term “going concern” which implies an active, dynamic, tap-dancing state also known as survival."

I’ve led a donor-funded(non profit) organization in Chicago for 14 years and when donors ask for a report on accomplishments I always say my first accomplishment is that I’m still in business and able to continue the process of growing from good to great in the coming year. I rely on a wide range of volunteers to supplement an inconsistent flow of dollars.

When I read about the various social enterprise leaders and activities, I see innovative people finding ways to support their own vision for saving the world. The funds they raise from their enterprise support one or a few organizations that do the work they are interested in. The more successful they are, the greater their ability becomes to host forums like this, bringing others together to share ideas.

While this is good, what about the others in the world who do similar work, maybe in different places, and who have not found a way to create a revenue producing enterprise to sustain their vision? What would it take to expand the support generated by one entrepreneur for a single charity, to multiple charities doing the same work, or to multiple charities needed to solve the same problem?

Here’s my example. I maintain a database listing 200-300 organizations in the Chicago region that offer various forms of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring. Each is constantly seeking dollars. Mentoring is a long term process, so each needs to find ways to keep kids and volunteers connected for many years.

Most are not running food pantries to pay the bills, and few parents have the funds to pay for services. Thus, most operate in a level of relative poverty, struggling to do good work, and still be in business at the end of each year (survival).

By providing my list of organizations via the Program Locator at at, I make it possible for any business, college, law association, etc. who wants to make the world better by helping inner city kids connect with mentors, and move to jobs, to create a social enterprise that draws dollars, volunteers and other resources to all tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago on a consistent basis, or to fund just one or a few programs in a single zip code, if they choose. (The Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Association is an early adopter of this strategy – )

If a few people from every industry who have been successful in making profit, point their profit and their employees and customers, to tutor/mentor programs throughout the city, there will be a better distribution of resources to all programs doing this work, and more programs will have the ability to constantly get better at what they do.

Since tutoring/mentoring alone will not solve the problems facing kids in poverty, I suggest a "blueprint" be created that shows all of the services that are needed at any time in order for a youth to reach adulthood. All of these need to be funded, just as all sub contractors on a building blueprint need to be funded. If that does not happen, the program is not successful. By only funding a few of the needed services in a neighborhood, city or country, we only address part of a complex problem, and may not really solve the problem at all. Thus funding, or social enterprise, needs to focus at multiple service providers, not just one or a few.

This is a three dimensional approach, where a) for profits choose a cause to support, and stick with it for decades; b) social entrepreneurs who have succeeded in creating a money flow point their resources at multiple organizations, not just their own non profit; and c) where non profits are able to attract and retain a higher quality of leadership who use the resources more effectively for social benefit, while also learn to collaborate with others, and market there efforts more successfully to compete for resources for the entire community, not just their own agency.

The result would be that more places where tutoring/mentoring is needed would begin to have good programs that not only survive from year to year, but begin to accelerate the rate of youth finishing school with a network of adults helping them to the next level in their lives. While my example focuses on tutoring/mentoring, I feel it could apply to any other social endeavor.

In the past couple of years I’ve sent invitations to the Said Business School, and to others in the US, encouraging teams of graduate students to adopt this approach, creating an international competition of business school teams who compete with each other to see which can raise the most money, visibility and volunteers, for tutor/mentor programs in their community. If such a competition repeated from year to year, its visibility, and impact would grow and young people would learn lessons they could apply the rest of their lives. You can read about this idea on this wiki page.

If some of you reading this would like to take a role of making this idea a reality, I hope you’ll contact me.

A couple of things are obvious in what I wrote in 2006.

1) I could really have benefited from a spell check for my post.  I've found that too often to be the case when I write and type stream of conscious posts.  I'm sure that has hurt my credibility over the past 25 years.

2) The problem I was describing has not changed in 13 years since I wrote this.

3) I'm still trying to find a lead university and business sponsor to get the Business School Connection idea off the ground.

Below is a presentation describing the need for a "blueprint" and showing work that I was trying to do in past years and still seek to do as we head into 2020.

Much has changed for me personally and professionally. Since 2011 I have not led the Cabrini Connections direct service program.  And since 2011 I've led the Tutor/Mentor Connection through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which is no longer a 501-c-3 but now one of those social enterprises seeking investors.

Because of my age, I'm 72, I no longer seek to re-build the Tutor/Mentor Connection around me. Instead I seek a partner, at a university, or a business, or of a new group of younger leaders, who will use all that I've created and re-build it, making it much stronger and more influential in the next decade.

The Business School Connection idea is just one of many that are on the drawing board waiting for investors to help bring it to life. 

I want to help make that happen while I still am able.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Connect with me in one of those spaces or introduce yourself with a comment on this blog.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Connecting Leaders of Youth Tutor / Mentor Programs

For the past 25 years I've made efforts to identify volunteer-based youth tutor, mentor and learning programs operating in different parts of the Chicago region. At this link you can find my list and a map that shows locations of nearly 200 organizations.

The graphic below is an example of how I share that information and how I've been trying to encourage on-line engagement and collaboration, based on the Connected Learning (CLMOOC) group that I interact with on Twitter, Facebook and formerly on the Google+ platform. .

I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences every six months from 1994 to 2015 in an on-going effort to draw stakeholders from different programs together to share ideas, identify challenges, and help each program constantly improve.

While I've tried to draw people to event's I've attended, I've also made an effort to be part of events hosted by others. Below is a 2005 Tech Soup on-line event that I co-hosted.

Visit the TechSoup forum - this conversation is still available!
I was really pleased to be able to do a Google search for "Tech Soup Bassill" and find conversations held in 2005.  I had summarized these on this blog, with April 2005 articles that you can find here. If you scroll back from that article you'll find four posts from the week of April 18, 2005 in which I talk about what was taking place on the Tech Soup Forum.

I'm still writing about the same issues today as I was then.

I used the graphic at the right in this December 2016 article.  The dark red areas of the map are high poverty areas where mentor-rich programs are most needed. The oil wells represent  programs that connect with youth when they are in elementary or middle school, then stay connected all the way through high school and beyond. There are too few of such programs operating in Chicago.

click to enlarge
This graphic represents the teams of people who need to be working to help each individual programs grow, while it also represents teams who need to be working to fill every high poverty community area with well-organized, and well-funded, programs.

Such teams are also needed at the city level.

I can't find them.  At least I can't find them on Twitter, Linkedin, or Facebook.

Or, I can't find any that are using concept maps like the one below to show all the things that need to be considered in building and sustaining needed youth supports in multiple areas.

Open map - click here

I started joining on-line conversations in the late 1990s and by 2004 I was committed to trying to build an on-line conference to parallel the Chicago conferences we were hosting.  Below is a screen shot of a page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site that shows on-line learning goals.

Visit this page - click here
Here are the eLearning goals that I outlined in 2004 and have updated since then:

a) convergence - tutoring, mentoring, education-to-careers, youth development, etc. mean different things to different people, depending on the economic and social isolation of the people being served. Social workers, businesses, educators, prevention, etc. each look at solutions differently, or fund different programs. Yet they are all part of the actions needed to help individual kids move from poverty to careers. Workshops under this theme are intended to draw people from different strands of service into collaborations that deliver multiple services from central sites in neighborhoods where such services are needed. A power point that illustrates this concept can be found at Creating a Learning & Collaboration Network

b) out of the box learning - while many efforts are aimed at improving what happens at schools during the school day, the conference focuses on increasing the variety of tutoring, mentoring and learning opportunities that are available in every poverty area and near every poorly performing school during non-school hours, on weekends and in the summer. Workshops in this category demonstrate the many different types of learning and mentoring opportunities that are working in some parts of the world which could be working in many other places. Links in the T/MC web library can help you learn more about the types of innovation and collaboration we seek to encourage within the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

c) eLearning and Collaboration - The T/MC believes that the Internet offers the only hope of gathering millions of people in on-going learning, networking and collaboration that is essential to make more and better tutoring/mentoring and learning opportunities available in all places where they are needed. Workshops in this category will demonstrate the many ways the Internet can be used to distribute knowledge, build collaboration, and help youth and leaders find resources to help them achieve any goal. The following power point illustrates this goal:
eLearning and Collaboration

d) Leadership Development - workshops in this topic area focus on developing leaders for volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs all over the world. By connecting people who operate such programs with researchers, educators and business leaders, we seek to connect knowledge and partners in a process that leads to a formal education program at one or more universities in the world. Such a program will teach people to use the Internet effectively to learn from each other, to learn to collaborate, and to learn ways to build and sustain effective, volunteer-based tutoring and mentoring-to-career programs where ever they are needed. The goal is to train leaders who will be volunteers, as well as leaders who become the staff and directors of programs. If we can grow a network of business, foundation and public leaders who use their visibility and resources to support the growth of tutor/mentor programs, we can dramatically improve the availability and impact of these programs. Read Role of Leaders.

e) Sustainability - The first four goals lead to this fifth goal. The discussion focuses on innovating ways to distribute needed resources (volunteers, dollars, technology, leaders, etc.) on a continuous and flexible basis to all places where kids need extra help that tutor/mentor programs can provide. Workshops that share innovative sustainability strategies from one part of the country with other parts of the country are most welcome. Read about T/MC Use of GIS Maps to Create a Better Distribution of Resources throughout a large City

Summary: If we can build a growing network of people and organizations who will communicate and share ideas on a regular basis, we can focus a more consistent attention on all parts of the world where help is needed, and hopefully, stabilize the flow of resources, so that programs in multiple locations can grow from good to great, and then stay great for many years. In this type of vision there are funds for on-going operations of needed social benefit organizations, and their are emergency funds to provide relief when a tragedy hits some place in the world and where massive amounts of support are needed. This concept map shows how Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is trying to build this growing network and where help is needed.

The fund raising challenges of 2000-2011 and since then have limited my ability to build this type of on-line learning community.  Social media has made it easier to connect, but has also led to greater fragmentation, meaning getting hundreds of stakeholders into one on-going conversation, is almost impossible---especially if you're without the financial resources or celebrity visibility that might attract more people.

Yet I keep sharing these ideas with the goal that someone will do the Google search needed to find this blog and my web sites and will begin to read and understand the ideas.  Below is a Tweet posted yesterday by Terry Elliott of the #clmooc group.

If enough people do this I'm hoping someone with greater resources will reach out and offer to help.

If you've read this far, maybe you'll consider a contribution to help me fund this work. Click here to learn more. 

Thursday, August 08, 2019

New Perspective on "Can't Drain the Swamp"

Can't drain swamp?
A few years ago I wrote this article talking about "I can't drain the swamp because I'm up to my neck in alligators".  I was talking about how leaders of other tutor/mentor programs were not able to join me in trying to solve problems we all face, such as consistent funding, when we were struggling to solve each of those problems in our own programs every day.

Today I saw a graphic on Facebook that made me think of this.  I've posted that graphic below, with some additions that expand on the original.

Climate change and nuclear war represent threats and challenges above all others.

In the original graphic issues like healthcare, immigration, guns, justice, etc. were shown as concerns of people living in different places. While these are important, they are overwhelmed by the looming threat of climate change disasters.   In the blue call-outs I've added some other issues, and at the top right I've inserted a graphic showing the threat of nuclear war, or nuclear terrorism.

What are all the things
that we need to do?
For the past 25 years I've spent time almost every day calling attention to the challenges kids living in high poverty face and the roles that organized volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs can play in helping them overcome those challenges as they move through school and into adult lives.

I point to a list of Chicago programs where people can volunteer time, talent and dollars and to a web library where anyone can learn more about the issues and ways to get involved.

Chicago Sun Times 1996
I have done this while there has been a constant flow of stories like the one at the left, showing the agony of violence in Chicago, and asking "When will this end?"  The story at the right was from the 1990s, so we still have not found an answer to that question.

I don't believe any single, short-term, action of a tutor/mentor program can make street violence stop, or make poverty suddenly disappear.  However, I do believe that the continuous on-going support of volunteers and staff in well organized programs can help kids who are part of those programs move more safely through school and into lives beyond the immediate grasps of violence that primarily affects high poverty neighborhoods.

12-20 years of support

I've used graphics like the one at the right to emphasize the need for providing long-term, birth-to-work support to kids in every high poverty neighborhood.  While this is not easy it's work that needs to be done.

However, it's not the only work that needs to be done.

Below are two concept maps from my collection showing this same graphic, but including also showing the many different issues kids and families living in high poverty areas face every day. Some of these are the same as those shown in the Facebook graphic at the top of this article.

Many are problems people who don't live in poverty also are facing. 

Here's one version

Reasons to engage - local global - click here

Here's another version

Open map at this link  View in this article

Each of these issues are important and need passionate people focusing on them every day. Yet we need to budget our time to also focus on the bigger threats of climate change and nuclear war/terrorism which by themselves can cause extinction of the human race and make all of the other issues irrelevant.

George C. Marshall

What I've been describing is a wicked, complex problem.  We need leaders who can visualize the entire problem and mobilize people and resources to work on the individual pieces, in step with everyone else, and for many years.

One of my heroes is George C. Marshall, who led US forces in World War II.  Without the power of today's computers he created a multi-year strategy that fought opponents in almost every part of the world.

Today I see some of this comprehensive thinking among those leading the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals

Follow the links in this article and you'll see some ways they are drawing attention to all of the work that needs to be done to achieve the SDG goals.

follow links - cmap
So how do you get involved?

I've created a "civic engagement" cmap with links to parts of my web library with information readers can use to dig deeper into all of these issues.  In addition, at the top of the map I have links to web sites aggregating information about 2020 Presidential candidates.  I encourage you to look through their web sites to see if you can find any who think like George C Marshall and who visualize their thinking in ways the rest of us can understand.

Then, pick a cause, and get more informed and personally involved.

If you find sites where people are doing a good job of visualizing the problems we face along with solution paths, please share the links in the comment section or on Twitter where you can find me @tutormentorteam

I've been ending my articles with a request for financial support of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. Click here if you'd like to help.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Can cities reduce violence without addressing other issues?

Chicago SunTimes
Violence in Chicago has been a motivator for the Tutor/Mentor Connection since this October 1992 Chicago SunTimes story about the shooting of a 7-year-old boy in Cabrini-Green led to headlines demanding action!

There actually has been a lot of progress. Shootings deaths are almost half as many as there were in the early 1990s. Yet, there still are too many.

I've focused on developing volunteer-based non-school tutor/mentor programs as part of the solution because they have a direct impact on young people and because they draw people who don't live in poverty into direct, and sometimes, long-term involvement.

See print newsletters
While I've been sharing ideas via a print newsletter (1993-2003), a web site, email newsletters and this blog (since 2005) my voice is too small and my reach too narrow. Thus, I've always tried to encourage others to share these ideas in their own media.

I've used maps showing poverty areas of Chicago along with graphics showing comprehensive long-term actions that need to be applied in many places. Many of these focus on ways to communicate strategies that I feel would address some of the root causes of violence, and the need to build a greater public will to support comprehensive solutions in more places.

In 2005 I began to use concept maps to communicate ideas.  Below is one that I created for this 2015 article.

View map - click here

At the right I point to many issues that challenge people living in high poverty areas. On the left I repeat the "mentoring kids to careers graphic" to emphasize that these issues need to be addressed with age appropriate services repeated for many years and available in every high poverty neighborhood .

Getting extra people involved to help solve these problems is one way a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program can add value.  

Below is another map from my library. This focuses on planning needed to identify and build solutions in different sections of the city and suburbs. I used it in this article and many others that focus on planning.

Two maps to look at:  1) planning cycle  2) planning needed

Let's look at just one more concept map.  If you follow the lines from the blue box in the middle it shows a commitment that anyone can make to help kids born or living in poverty be starting jobs and careers by age 25.  If you open the small boxes at the bottom of each node, you find even more maps, or other websites, with more information.

Strategy map - click here

As I followed this week's Democratic Presidential Candidate debates I wished that one or more of these leaders, and other leaders, would adopt the strategy shown in this map, putting their picture and logo in the blue box.  In doing so they are saying that they constantly are trying to draw more people to this map, so they will dig into the information it contains and so they will then make their own commitment.

My wish is that they already had been doing this for many past years so that if elected President they would just have a larger influence on what other people do.  If anyone reading this has found something like these maps on the website of any candidate, please share the link. Invitation open to GOP, too.

There could be thousands of versions of this strategy map.... from political leaders, sports celebrities, business, faith, college and hospital leaders, etc.  Versions of this could be found in every public and private school in America. That certainly would turn my small voice into a roar!

You just need to share this and try to help make it happen.

Read more. In the four part strategy set of articles you can read more about this strategy map.

The list at the left side of the blog offers a navigation through articles on this blog.  I've been pulling articles from past years into new blogs, just to give new attention to them.  You can do the same if you find an article that you like. Post it on Twitter, Facebook or in your own blog.

Stopping violence in Chicago will take the efforts of many people for many years.  Take a role.

Like what I write?  Visit this page and make a contribution to help me fund my work.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Using Maps. In Planning. In Media. In Blogs.

Below is a story from my PDF version of today's Chicago SunTimes.  So far I can't find it on the paper's web site or Twitter feed. When I do, I'll update this story with a link.

Story from 7-28-19 Chicago SunTimes
It shows areas of Chicago that are thriving, that are beginning to grow and that are declining. Compare this to the WBEZ maps shown in the center and left below.

View these maps in this article

The map on the right was created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection in late 2000s and shows high poverty areas, with overlays showing transit routes in and out of the city.  In the Chicago interactive Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, created in 2008, we also show locations of non-school volunteer-based tutor and mentor programs, as well as assets in different neighborhoods who could be helping programs grow.  Unfortunately, I've not had funds since 2011 to update the Program Locator so now it's mostly serving a demonstration model.

You can see that both maps  highlight the same areas of affluence and of need.  I focus on youth tutor/mentor programs as part of a broader strategy intended to get more people involved in providing time, talent, ideas, dollars, votes, jobs, etc. that help kids move through school and into jobs and help change the economic conditions in these areas.

I view media stories as  part of an on-going effort intended to draw more people to information they can use to understand complex  problems, and see how some people are trying to solve these problems in different parts of the city, or the world.  In doing so I believe people should be borrowing from good ideas to build better solutions rather than constantly starting from scratch.  For this to happen donors and funders need to provide a consistent flow of innovation and operating resources to programs in every part of the city, not just to a few high profile programs favored by the Mayor, the former President, or a few foundations.

GIS maps can show us where people need help.  However, they don't work like blueprints to show what help is needed, or when specific types of help are needed.  I've built a collection of concept maps and visualizations to stimulate thinking around the planning process. Below is one of those.

View mentoring-to-careers map (lower right) at this link
In the lower right corner is a "mentoring kids to careers" map, that shows supports kids need at different age levels as they move from pre-school into adult lives and jobs. For most kids living in middle class and more affluent areas most of these supports are naturally available in their family, community and schools, or the family can afford to purchase them.

In the areas with high levels of poverty these supports are not naturally available and most families could not purchase them, even if they were available.

Thus, organizations that try to connect kids with these resources via volunteer tutors and mentors and the generosity of donors are valuable. They just are not available in enough places.

Ideally each node on my "mentoring kids to careers" map would have a box at the bottom which would include links to more information related to that node. For example, below is the 'research and resources' map, showing one of four sections of the Tutor/Mentor library.

Research section of Tutor/Mentor library - click here to view map
Click on the small box at the bottom of any of the nodes and it opens to another map, or to a web page where I aggregate links to articles and other web sites related to that topic. I've never felt that I could include "everything" that people need to know on one web site, so I point to others who have "part of everything".  Most of these sites keep adding new links so this is a dynamic web resource.

Chicago transit routes
My maps and many of the links that I point to focus on Chicago, although many of the ideas can be applied to any city.  I keep trying to find Chicago and Illinois leaders who will adopt and support the Tutor/Mentor Connection (since 2011 it's been the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC), with limited success (since 1993),

Thus I also look for people in other places who might be allies, partners and supporters who would duplicate my efforts, and build their own web library, to create information sections specific to their own cities and states.

4-part strategy
Take some time to view the four-part strategy shown in the concept map at the right. The maps and web library are part of step 1. Getting more people to look at this information, understand it, and apply it, are steps 2, 3 and 4.  This strategy applies anywhere, and to any problem.

Below is a Tweet exchange from yesterday with a mentoring leader in England.

I remember meeting with a community activist in a SW Chicago neighborhood in the late 1990s and I gave him the same advice.  My voice is too small to reach and influence all who need to be using maps and visualizations in the ways I'm demonstrating. Thus, if others share the same ideas, and link to each other, our collective voices might reach far larger audiences than our individual voices ever will.

Last December I created several images (see article) showing how this was happening via the #clmooc network of educators who I've been connecting with on Twitter since 2013. I also point to work done by interns from various colleges who worked with me from 2006 to 2015.

view article
Read the article and look at the map. Open the links to see the articles I'm pointing to which show how these people have created stories, videos and visualizations that share what they are learning from my web sites and blog articles.   

More people can do this. More people need to.  Students could be doing this.

Today's article is just one of many articles share on this blog and the MappingforJustice blog. I've collected too much information and written too many articles for anyone to just jump in and try to learn it all in a short time. However, it's ideal for a high school and college learning program, or a faith based learning program, to adopt for on-going, long-term, accumulative learning.

For instance, some of the people in the #clmooc group are people I first started meeting on-line in 2013. We focus on learning as an on-going process, and a journey.  I hope you'll join us.

I'm on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook if you'd like to connect and explore these ideas.

I also have a page (here) where you can make a contribution to help me keep doing this work.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Youth Development-Role of Leaders

click to enlarge
I created this graphic about 10 years ago when President Obama was entering the White House.  It shows how high profile leaders can influence the flow of volunteers and dollars to youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in poverty areas if they are consistent in calling attention, and change their message at different times of the year.

I used a photo of Obama from the 1999 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, where he was a speaker.

Unfortunately, he never took this role in the way I intended. Instead he focused narrowly on a few programs that  he favored. Good for them. Not so good for all the other youth serving programs scratching daily for the resources needed to do good work.

His replacement has not even done that much.

I updated my graphic today. I've not hosted a May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference since 2015 and in August/September my effort to draw volunteers to tutor/mentor programs involved maintaining this list of Chicago programs and using my blog articles and social media to encourage leaders to take the role I wanted Obama (and others) to take in previous years.

This graphic is based on the 17 years I worked in retail advertising for the Montgomery Ward corporation. The January to December calendar does not change from year to year and thus promotional events were repeated each year, with a goal of greater reach, more sales, and more profits.

Thus in March the front cover of our ads were promoting lawn mowers and in August we were promoting back to school stuff. In December it was a White Sale and Holiday Gifts. We even had alternate versions for stores in the North part of the country where spring came later than for stores in the South.

My graphic shows a January-December cycle that repeats each year, although for a large number of programs, their cycle begins in August each year as they are recruiting youth and volunteers to begin the new school year.

That means if you are reading this you,  your faith group,  your company or your professional group could be creating ad campaigns and promotions to draw volunteers to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities.

In the graphic shown above I include a "leaders wanted" image in the upper left corner.  If you are wondering what this might mean, take a look at the concept map below, then the slide share presentation below that.

View this concept map. As you do, imagine a page on your web site with your photo, or company logo, in the blue box at the top of the map.  Kids need leaders from every part of a community to adopt this commitment.

put yourself or your company in the blue box
As a leader you might say, "What do I do?"  You might say "I'm too busy to look at this stuff in detail."  That 's why the following presentation should offer you some steps to follow.

If you don't have time recruit a "get it done" person from within your organization. Don't delegate it to someone who is a 'gate keeper" like your foundation manager. Recruit someone who looks for opportunities and is great at building teams and sharing a vision with others.

Make it important. Encourage year-to-year growth.

I would love to see versions of my concept map and this PDF on web sites of many different types of organizations, in Chicago and throughout the world. If you make this commitment, send me a link to show how you are providing leadership to this effort.

I'd even be willing to come and speak to your team if you cover the costs!

This is just one of more than 1000 articles I've posted on this blog since 2005, and many more that I've written since 1993 when we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago.  I hope a few people will make the time to look through them and think of ways they can apply this thinking in their own efforts.

If  you value these ideas, a contribution to fund my work would be welcome. Just click here to find a PayPal and my mailing address. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Understanding impact of social capital on future outcomes

I saw the post below in my Twitter feed today:

It's a long article, but I decided to read it. Toward the end found this paragraph:

"His data also suggest that who you know growing up can have lasting effects. A paper on patents he co-authored found that young women were more likely to become inventors if they’d moved as children to places where many female inventors lived. (The number of male inventors had little effect.) Even which fields inventors worked in was heavily influenced by what was being invented around them as children. Those who grew up in the Bay Area had some of the highest rates of patenting in computers and related fields, while those who spent their childhood in Minneapolis, home of the Mayo Clinic, tended to invent drugs and medical devices."

I've been describing mentor-rich youth programs as a form of social capital for a long time and use this Total Quality Mentoring graphic to visualize how an organized program might help connect a young person to a wide range of influences over multiple years in a program.

View Total Quality Mentoring essay
The most important idea to take away from this is that youth don't form these bonds without help; and youth living in high poverty areas with strong influences by others living in poverty, don't have natural connections to other influences which are available to youth in more affluent areas. Some form of intermediary needs to help these connections form. Volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs serve that intermediary role in many places. There are not enough of such programs and funding for long-term operations is almost non-existent.

I learned about the Opportunity Index last year and wrote about it in this article.  I've a wish list that I'd love to present to researchers like Raj Chetty

a) Look at 990 reports and identify all tutor/mentor programs in the country; then survey them to see which include a social capital vision in their strategies and practices. What percent of existing programs include this? Plot locations on maps to show where they are and what age groups they serve, and where more programs are needed, which is what I've tried to do since 1994 (dormant since 2013).

b) Develop a tool that programs can use to measure the social capital of youth and volunteers when they enter an organized tutor/mentor program; and to show how that changes for each as they participate for multiple years. Find a way to aggregate and share that data.  Make sure the collection is long term.

c) Build a "data story telling" program into your research practices. Teach more people to dig into your reports and tell stories that share the information and draw needed resources to organizations that show strategies for expanding social capital.  This is Step 2 in Four Part Strategy that I've followed since 1993.

d) Teach people involved in youth programs to tell "how" they do what they do; "what works" and "what challenges they face" on their web sites and blogs, then teach them to spend time reading and learning from each other on a regular basis. Teach donors to seek out such programs and provide on-going, flexible, non-restricted operating funds.

d) Encourage your students and followers to read articles on my blogs and look at how interns have communicated these ideas; 

e) Invite me into your conversations and brainstorming.

Here's a page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site where I point to many social network analysis and social capital articles.

Read some of the articles I've written about Robert D. Putnam's work on social capital and his book, "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis".

Until more people read, understand, embrace, then act upon this information too few kids will have the opportunities that are available in America.   Please read and share.

If you value what I'm writing, please support me with a contribution. Click here

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Tutor Program? Mentor Program? Tutor/Mentor Program? What's the Difference

"What kind of tutoring do you offer?" That's a question I've been asked over and over for nearly 25 years.  Here's a blog article I wrote in 2007, in an effort to show what a tutor/mentor program offers. It starts with these two paragraphs:

Between 1995 and today I've created several visualized presentations to try to show what an organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor/mentor program might offer, based on what we were trying to offer in the Cabrini Connections program I led until 2011.

I've embedded a few of these for you to review:

Defining Terms: Tutor. Mentor. Same Words. Different Meaning.

Virtual Corporate Office. Think of a tutor/mentor program site as a retail store for hope and opportunity. What types of activities, tutoring and mentoring might need to be available? How can we make such programs available in more places?

What will it take to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty are entering careers by age 25? What Role Does Mentoring Have? What can we learn from others? This shows work done by Tutor/Mentor Connection through 2015. Much of this is now in archive form, ready for other leaders to give it new life.

In addition to creating visual presentations to communicate ideas I've also created a library of concept maps. Below is one that shows the many supports that kids need as they move from pre school through high school, then on toward adult lives, jobs and the ability to raise their own kids free of poverty.

Mentoring kids to careers concept map
No single organization can provide all of these supports and few are designed to keep kids involved for 20 or more years. That means an ecosystem of organizations needs to be available in every high poverty area, to provide as much of these supports as possible.

If you open the map and look in the lower left corner you'll see that I show a role of volunteers who become part of organized tutor/mentor programs is to help make all of these supports available.

That's the final presentation. I'm pulling from Slideshare for this one.

Any of these presentations can be shown to a small group at a church, business or small gathering, or can be shown to an auditorium full of people. They are intended to stimulate thinking, discussion, then actions that generate the flow of resources needed to make mentor-rich programs available in more places and keep them there for more years.

Any of these can also be improved.  That's an open invitation to students, volunteers and people/organizations who'd like to partner with me, to update all of the Tutor/Mentor Connection resources and carry them into the next decade.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Let's connect.

If you like what I'm sharing, you can help me keep this work available, with a small contribution. Click here for information.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Congratulations to Women's World Cup Soccer Champions

I joined with millions of others today in offering congratulations to the Women's World Cup Soccer Champions. I did so with the post shown below.

It takes the dedication and hard work of many people to put a winning team on the field. I've written many articles over the past 14 years comparing this effort to what needs to be done to build and sustain world-class tutor, mentor and learning programs for k-12 kids in high poverty areas of the US.

I followed my first Tweet with a second showing an article I'd written in 2014 following another World Cup event.

This is a photo of me from the 1990s, using a map of Chicago to show where poverty is concentrated, and where high quality, long-term tutor/mentor youth development programs are most needed.

My goal is writing this blog and Tweeting those posts is to enlist athletes and leaders from every sport to take my place, becoming the leaders who share these ideas and mobilize others to do the work needed to build great youth programs in more places.

Your visibility, talent and influence can do more to make such programs available than anything I've been able to do over the past 25 years. 

I'll help you as long as I'm able to.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Helping youth move through school and into adult lives

Below is a concept map that I've shared since 2005 showing a commitment I feel needs to be made by many leaders, if we're ever going to build the comprehensive system of supports kids living in high poverty areas need to move more safely and successfully through school  and into adult lives.

open concept map -

I've listened to leaders for the past 30 years who talk about helping kids, but have not found any using maps or visualizations the way architects and engineers use blueprints to create a shared vision of work that needs to be done.  The images below take you deeper into this map.

Look at the left hand side:  Follow the lines connecting the nodes on the map, which start at the top with "my goal is".

Then, look at the right hand side, showing that the strategy recruits workplace volunteers, to support comprehensive k-12 programs, that reach youth in high poverty neighborhoods with a range of needed supports.

Look back at the top of the graphic.  The vision is achieved by following a four-part strategy, shown by another concept map. The vision is also achieved by recruiting other leaders to also adopt the strategy.

The words are there.  This strategy applies in any city where there are inequalities and wealth gaps, with areas of people living in concentrated, segregated poverty.  That means youth or adults from any city could look at these maps, then create new versions with their Mayor, local celebrities and sports stars, CEOs, faith leaders, and community activists sharing the same message and the same commitment.

If enough people make this commitment, and renew it from year-to-year for the next decade or two, we might begin to have more mentor rich learning programs in high poverty areas with the on-going support each needs to hire and retain talented staff, who can attract kids and volunteers, and keep them involved as the kids move from elementary school, through middle school and high school, then on toward jobs and adult lives.

It's two months before school starts again. It's a great time for people to be digging into this and other articles on my blog, then creating their own visualizations, videos, blog articles, etc. to communicate these ideas and mobilize more support. As you do, you can share  your ideas on social media, with leaders showing their commitment to the strategy by saying "be a volunteer" and pointing to directories of youth serving programs in their communities, which were created as part of step 1 of the four part strategy.

It's not enough to wish more leaders would adopt this strategy, we need to know who is so we can recognize them in front of their peers, as a strategy to influence more people to also adopt the strategy.  Take a look at the concept map shown below:

I'm sure you've heard the "It takes of village to raise a child" statement.  What this map visualizes are the many different stakeholders in any community, organized in clusters.  If you've looked at my concept  maps, you'll see that at the bottom are nodes linking to other web pages, or other concept maps.  For instance, at some point in the future you might click on the circle with "legal community" and open a new map, where "legal community" is the  hub and the spokes lead to the many different types of businesses and professions that make up the legal community.

If you've read this far, and opened the different links under each node on the strategy map,  you'll find this 4-part strategy. These are the actions that must happen in every city for leaders to be able to keep their commitment.

Read article outlining these steps - click here

Thus, if people were adopting the strategy map, and putting a version of it on their own web sites, we should be able to put links from this village map to their pages, thus aggregating links to leaders who are making a long-term, comprehensive commitment, to help kids grow up.

Since the mid 2000s many videos have been created to communicate these ideas, by interns working with me, and by myself.  View them here Any of these could be done better, or could be re-done to focus on a city other than Chicago, where I've worked.  That's my goal.

I can't do this work all by myself. I need the help of many to spread the word, gather the info, update the maps, etc.

However, if you do adopt this strategy and put it on your web site, please send me a link so I can put a link to your site in my village map, share it with the world.

If you want to act as a producer and/or sponsor and help me re-do my own versions of these videos and strategy presentations, I want to hear from you. I need your help.

I seek your financial support, too. Click here and use the PayPal button to send a small contribution.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Make Long-Term Mentor-Rich Programs Available in More Places

School has just ended in most parts of the US and while kids are enjoying summer break, leaders of non-school tutor/mentor programs are doing the planning that will lead to renewed efforts in the coming school year.

I've been using this "Mentoring Kids to Careers" graphic, along with various versions, since late 1990s to emphasize the on-going support kids need from pre-school through high school, then beyond, to assure that more of the youth who are born in high poverty areas are starting jobs and lives free of poverty when they are adults.

In the lower left corner is a map of Chicago, with high poverty areas shaded grey. These are the areas where mentor-rich programs are most needed.  In this article on the MappingforJustice blog you can find my list of programs and see how I plot them on a map. This helps people find existing programs and hopefully is used by planners to determine where more are needed.

Below I've created another version, highlighting one stage on this career ladder.

Kids grow one year at a time. Support  needed for many years.
It's great to be able to provide a youth tutoring and/or mentoring activity that lasts for one, or two years, but it takes 12 years to move from first grade through high school and four to six more years beyond that to be starting a job and career.

The challenge Chicago and other places face is building and sustaining k-12 support programs in every high poverty neighborhood.  I've written about this often since starting my blog. Below is a repeat from a previous article.

View in this article
This is one of many graphics I've used to visualize a need to have a wide range of youth support programs available to K-12 youth in every high poverty area of the Chicago region and other places.

I've been writing articles and sharing graphics like this for nearly 20 years, but as just one voice, I don't have enough impact to influence the massive changes that are needed in how such programs are organized, designed and supported.

View in this article
At the right is another graphic that I use to emphasize the need for continuous flows of flexible operating dollars to youth programs in every high poverty neighborhood.

Thus, I was pleased in the past couple of weeks to find funder networks talking about this.

I wrote about the Grant Makers for Effective Organization conference in this post.  If you search #2018GEO on Twitter,  you can review Tweets from the past couple of weeks and capture much of the information shared at this event.

Read about Annotation
Then this week I found this article published by Open Impact, titled, "The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption"

I read the article and saw many ideas which I've been trying to implement via the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC since 1993. So I decided to put it on and re-read it, highlighting relevant parts, and writing comments in the margin that show my own efforts.

In the paper's introduction the writers say "we hope this paper will spark and important conversation". I agree. 

In my comments I suggest that philanthropy would dramatically change if donors were shoppers and if non-profits and social change organizations would put enough information on their web sites for donors, volunteers and clients to make better choices of who they support, and in what ways.  I also emphasize the use of maps to support a better distribution of resources to all high poverty areas of the Chicago region and other places where help is most needed.

Thus, I invite you to read "The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption" with three purposes:

1) build a deeper understanding of what I've been trying to do, and to find reasons to support my efforts and help carry them into the future;

2) build a deeper understanding of the challenges facing all social benefit organizations, in the US and the world, and a commitment to draw others into this conversation; and

3) see how on-line annotation works and build a commitment to launch other articles and invite more readers and learners to join in.

I look forward to meeting you in the margins.

I wrote the above message in May 2018. 

So far no one has joined me in reading the New Normal article.   Maybe that's because so few people actually see my articles.

I post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN and occasionally on Instagram. I also have graphics on  If you do a Google search for "tutor mentor" my web sites will be on the first page (after paid advertising). Thus, if people are looking, they can find me.

In the past few years I've found Twitter to offer the most engagement and have connected with a wide range of classroom and college educators via groups like #clmooc.  Yet, while more than 100 Chicago youth organizations have Twitter accounts, few post regularly and even fewer use Twitter to talk about the fund raising and sustainability challenges that most are facing.

Here's a Tweet I posted today:

If you're connected to any of these programs in any way (student, alum, volunteer, board member, staff, donor) you can post Tweets that share what the organization is doing and make an effort to raise the profile of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs on Twitter.  You can try to do the same on Facebook or Linkedin, but neither of these have a public list feature that enables you to search and find a group of organizations the way you can do on Twitter.

Hopefully we'll see more Tweets like this one coming from programs located in all parts of Chicago and it's suburbs: