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:

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.