Sunday, March 17, 2019

We Need a Lot More Good Luck in World Today

It's St. Patrick's Day today, so time to bring out a few graphics that I've posted in past years to show how I've been trying to bring good fortune to others. Here's an article where I used the graphic at the left.

In the four leaf clover, I'm pointing to four strategies that I've followed since creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. The first of those is collecting and sharing information in a constantly expanding web library.

I find links to put in the library as I move through my web journey every day. One growing resource is the Connected Learning Community (#clmooc), which this month is reading an Affinity Online book and sharing our thoughts in a variety of platforms (see here).

Nerdfighters newsletter - see here
The book is the result of a study of on-line affinity groups, which is a sub-culture that up until now, I was aware existed, but had little knowledge of.  Thus, reading the profiles of different groups has been enlightening. I was especially excited to learn of a group called Nerdfighters, who have been working since 2007 to "try to do awesome things and have a good time and fight against world suck".  Kevin Hodgson of #clmooc wrote this review today.

Kevin pointed to this Wikipedia article which provides a lot of information about the Nerdfighters.

What's awesome is that this group of mostly young people, has raised nearly $7 million for charities

When I think of on-line communities of gamers, this was not what came to my mind. I need to expand my perspective.  While the charity work of Nerdfighters is impressive, what's even more inspiring is how so many young people and adults are spending countless hours of personal time in these sites, learning and building technical, organizational and leadership skills. 

If educators, parents, tutors and mentors could instill these habits in all kids, and help them sustain them through adult lives, what might the future look like?

Now here's where I add my own thinking.  

First, I keep looking for ways that people will spend this amount of quality time in my own web site and blogs learning, and sharing, in the same way they spend time in some of these on-line groups. Visit this site and see how interns modeled this practice between 2005 and 2015.

Increase slide of funding pie
Second, I think it's great that thousands of young people are creating videos showcasing their favorite charity, during the annual Project for Awesome event, hosted on YouTube.  Each year 10 charities are selected, based on how frequently videos were viewed, to split more than $800k raised.

That's fantastic, except that is not money that repeats year after year. It's also not money that grows an entire sector of needed organizations.
Kids need long-term support

I've used the graphic shown above since the 1990s to show a goal of increasing the funding pie for youth serving organizations. I've  used the one at the left in many articles, such as this, to visualize this problem:

Raising kids takes 20 years or longer, with consistent support from family, schools, neighbors and community. In high poverty areas these support systems are weaker, less able to provide the same degree of support as more affluent areas do. Thus, well-organized youth tutor/mentor programs need to be created, that can make a wide range of supports and opportunities available.

They could even provide computer labs, and coach and encourage kids to dig into digital learning spaces and find niches where their curiosity and motivation blooms.

read more
 But those programs need to be in every high poverty neighborhood, led by people who are constantly learning from what they do, and what others are doing, to keep finding ways to attract and retain youth and volunteer participants.

That means donors need to repeat their funding year after year, and make it flexible, so programs can use it as they see fit and so leaders have time to join and participate in learning groups, even some that focus on building mentor-rich youth programs. Such funding should help people stay in this field for more years, thus building human capital and experience that makes every program better.

With the fragmented and inconsistent funding system now available, that's just not possible.

read more

Thus, my hope for Nerdfighters and similar groups is that they develop sub categories, that focus on different issues, similar to what the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals are doing.  Each category on this graphic represents many organizations, in many locations, doing work that needs to be done, and funded, so the "world sucks less" for more people.

I'll add Nerdfighters to my web library, and my eMail newsletter, with hope that their example inspires many others to do similar work, and that a few create sub categories of support as I've described here.

That brings me back to St. Patrick's Day.

Ever since I turned the first tutoring program at Montgomery Ward into a non-profit in 1990 I've had a daily vision that by sharing what I was trying to do in as many channels as possible I'd reach one person somewhere in the world who would become my benefactor, just as Medici family supported Leonardo di Vinci and others, many centuries ago.

I've not found that patron in 29 years, so in the meantime, my luck today will change if just a few people go to this page and make a small contribution.


Dogtrax said...

"I need to expand my perspective."
I think we are all always in this same realm .. but knowing what we don't yet know sends us forward into inquiry and hopefully, understanding.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks for coming over to my space and leaving a comment.

The internet is like a raging river, full of life. Making time to fish in this river on a regular basis is a habit that needs to be developed.

However, I think that those who have a passion and/or purpose in life, might find more of interest in what flows past them daily, than those who don't.

Not certain about that.