Saturday, November 30, 2019

Look alike. Think alike.

Yesterday a friend on Linkedin saw my Halloween post and said "Is that the late Woodie Flowers?"  I did not recognize the name so did a Google search and found that Woodie Flowers was a long-time MIT professor, a leader of First Robotics for more than 30 years, and an education innovator.  He passed away last month.

Below I've posted the video that I watched this morning to learn who Woodie Flowers was. As I watched I found many similarities to my own thinking, and commitment to creating learning opportunities for young people, starting as early as first grade.  He said in the interview "surround yourself with people smarter than you are". I wish I had found a way to connect with him.

Watch the video:

Here's a photo taken when I was interviewed for a Chicago Tribune article a few years ago.

Here's a video of me talking about empathy in 2012. Here's another video from a panel discussion in 2011.   See the similarities?

In the video I looked at this morning were many nuggets that I'd like to share.  One was that innovators and educators need to recruit 100 others who help share the lessons and ideas of the leader.

If you share my blog you're doing that. If we connect on Twitter @tutormentorteam, you're doing that. I hope my life has just a fraction of the impact that Woodie Flowers has had.

I'm beginning my annual holiday appeal. Click here if you'd like to make a contribution to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and the work I've been doing since 1993.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanks and Giving

As we speed toward this year's Thanksgiving holiday I offer thanks for all those who read this blog and share the stories and to all who support youth Tutor, Mentor & learning programs, with time, talent and dollars.

Have a safe, happy holiday!

The Turkey graphic in the image above was created in 2009 by one of the students in the Cabrini Connections program, which I was leading at that time.  He was one of a few students who participated in a weekly technology club, which offered extra learning and mentoring beyond the one-on-one connections.  You can see his and another Thanksgiving graphic here.

The tech club was just one of the extra learning activities available to the 7th to 12th grade students at Cabrini Connections (which is now Chicago Tutoring Connection).  The graphic below visualizes the idea and uses a map to urge that mentor-rich programs be available in every high poverty area of the Chicago region (and in other places).

Think of these programs as retail stores full of "hope" & "opportunity"
Making such programs available, and keeping them available and constantly improving as kids move from middle school through high school, requires a lot of time, talent and dollars, from volunteers, donors and staff.  It also requires a commitment from students to attend weekly sessions.

Next Tuesday, December 3, you can support youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in the Chicago area.  On the ILGive site  (now an archive) you can search and find many of the programs in my Chicago programs list.

For the past 20 years I've advocated that donors should use a program's web site as their grant request.  For that to work, programs need to show enough information on their sites to convince donors and students to want to participate. Many do that, but many fall short.

Thus, there's a role for volunteers from different industries to offer talent to help programs communicate their strategies.  Here are two pdf essays that focus on this idea.

Virtual Corporate Office - suggests ways volunteers with different skills can help programs

Shoppers Guide - shows information I would like to see on every program's web site.

Note. One of these is on and the other is on Slideshare,com.  Which do you prefer as a platform to view my PDF essays?  Post a message in the comments to share your thoughts.

This is the 25th Year Anniversary of launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection's first survey in January 1994 (after a year of planning).  While I operated as a 501-c-3 non profit until 2011 and was supported by grants and individual donations, I've operated as Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since then.  I'm doing the same work, and still need contributions to help. 

Click here if you'd like to send a year end contribution to help me continue this work.

Thanks for reading. Be safe as you travel this weekend.  Don't forget GivingTuesday

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Go Beyond What's Expected

Below is a video that focuses on volunteer-involvement in youth tutor, mentor programs as a form of service learning. I created a power  point essay in the mid 2000s to communicate this idea, based on my own experiences leading a tutor/mentor program from 1975 to 2011.  Then in 2007 an intern from Hong Kong created an animation to show the idea. In 2011 a second intern, from South Korea created a new version. Since Flash Animation no longer works I've created a video to show the animation.

This shows that as a volunteer learns about a volunteer opportunity, then joins a program, they begin a learning process that repeats every time they meet with their student. After each meeting the volunteer has the opportunity to share what she has learned with friends, family, coworkers, etc. in ways that often draw others into service.

"figure eight" graphic used often
The middle of this figure eight graphic is where program leadership and knowledge reside. It's the role the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and Institute, LLC) have taken since 1993.

If we provide information that helps people find where to volunteer, and helps them become a more successful tutor or mentor, we do more to help kids. If we provide tools and information that volunteers can take back to family and friends to educate them on why these programs are needed and ways they can help, we grow the support needed for tutor/mentor programs to operate and reach more youth.

Below is another presentation, showing the ways a volunteer can do more than what he/she does each week when they meet with their student.

These videos and presentations can be found on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site at this link and this link.  The library is intended as a resource for anyone who wants to help reduce poverty and inequality by providing more learning opportunities for K-12 youth.  The ideas can be used in any place where there are pockets of concentrated poverty. 

They can also be used as a model for information-based problem solving, that applies to many other issues.  Take a look.

I'll be 73 on December 19.

Each year since 2011 I've asked people to help me celebrate my December 19th birthday with a gift to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  The T/MI is not a 501-c-3 so making a birthday gift is one way to support my efforts.  Click here to learn more.

All of the ideas I share on this blog and on Tutor/Mentor web sites are free to any user. I'd be happy to connect on Skype or Twitter to help you understand the ideas. I'd love to find institutional partners who would help rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection and spread these ideas in more ways.

Here's a link to my social media page, where you can find platforms where we can connect.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Movement Building - Afterschool Conference and More

Yesterday I attended the Afterschool Development Conference in Chicago, along with about 100 other people.  A video in the introductory session talked about the importance of afterschool youth development programs and the urgency of improving the funding stream. The keynote speaker, Dr. David J. Chard, of Boston University, furthered the idea of network building in his comments.

The hashtag #2019afterschooldevelopment was shared on the screen throughout the conference.  Below is one Tweet that I posted:

If you look for other Tweets using that hashtag, there is only one.  If we depend on those already doing this work to help amplify the message of afterschool development and attract new supporters, I feel we must encourage more to use Twitter. Hopefully in coming days there will be more Tweets that share ideas from the conference.

The lack of Tweets by people in the Afterschool Development Conference is not unique. Below I've posted Tweets from a few other events that are important to youth development, tutoring and mentoring.  I encourage you to click on the hashtag and see who else is using it.  Then you can even add your own comments or reTweet posts that  you feel are important.

#EveryKidConnected - Chicago Mayor Lightfoot's youth development initiative

The Metropolitan Planning Council hosted an event on Sept. 19 using #MPCLuncheon. Here's a Tweet I posted:

City Club of Chicago host several luncheons each week, which are live streamed using the #talkcityclub hashtag. This is one of my posts.

This year's #ObammaSummit offered another opportunity to draw people together on Twitter. Here's a post I shared:

Here's a post where I encourage programs that use Facebook to also use Twitter:

Below you can see a concept map that I created to enable me to re-visit past conversations. Some are not updated since being held one or more years ago. However, others have new posts.  All enable you to scroll through the list of Tweets and expand your knowledge base and your network.

Open cMap to click into each Hashtag

I use Linkedin and Facebook, along with Pinterest, YouTube and a small amount of Instagram.  I promote the use of Twitter because it's the only one that enables you to search a hashtag, or a list, to narrow your focus on people and conversations that interest you.

Below is a screenshot showing the some of the people included on my list of Chicago and national Tutor and/or Mentor programs.

Many people use Twitter lists. Thus, if you see someone who shares information you're interested in you might look at the lists on their profile to see if there are other people you want to connect with.  I don't think the other social media platforms offer these features, which are really important if your goal is to build a movement, connecting all stakeholders in the ecosystem, to each other and to you and your ideas.

You can be the blue box in this graphic
The graphic at the left visualizes the idea I'm sharing.  As more people use Twitter and other social media to attract people "who can help" to "libraries of information, including maps and program directories" they can draw volunteers, donors and other needed resources directly to every youth program in Chicago or in other places.  This is more than drawing people together to discuss ideas. It's an every day attempt to provide needed resources for people to put the ideas to work.

There's a downside to Twitter.  Some of the more high profile hashtags, such as ObammaSummit, attract spammers and haters.  This is a negative of all social media.  I ignore them and look for the value in the conversation, rather than the negatives.

To summarize: Twitter can be a powerful network-building tool, but you have to use it. If you review the hashtags in my concept map, you'll see that few have a history of drawing participants from events like the Afterschool Development Conference into on-going, on-line, network building.

Here's one last Tweet I'd like to point to.
The Schott Foundation uses their newsletter and blog to share Twitter accounts of a small group of people they follow.  If every foundation who funds youth development and tutor/mentor programs in Chicago did this consistently I feel we'd draw more programs to Twitter, and be able to do more work to attract consistent resources and help programs grow in more places.

Thanks for reading. I hope you'll share this on Twitter and connect with me @tutormentorteam.

If you appreciate the ideas I share, consider sending a contribution to help me pay the bills. 

Friday, November 08, 2019

Can you help youth tutor, mentor programs grow?

View list of programs
I've maintained a list of nearly 200 Chicago area non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs since 1993 and use my blog and social media to try to draw attention, ideas, volunteers and donors directly to each program, based on information they show on their web sites.

I try go through the list at least twice a year, just to make sure the websites are working, and to update myself on how they tell their stories.  While I think some do a great job (see below) many don't provide enough information.

Having led a small program from 1975 to 2011, I know how difficult it is to find the talent and dollars to build a web site and keep it updated with great content. Thus, I keep looking for ways to influence others to provide this support.

First, let's look at a couple of examples of web sites providing great content and how I draw attention to them on Twitter.

Urban Initiatives uses its blog to show strategy and results

I Could Be - not a Chicago area program, but view web site to see how they show programs and impact

Here are a couple of others that I pulled from the list on the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) web site. (Note: T/MC was started in 1993. It now is operated as part of Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, formed in 2011. The names are used interchangeably in this blog.)

Horizons for Youth
As I've looked at Chicago area program websites from year to year I see some providing great information to show what they do and the impact they have.

At the left is the "impact" page from the Horizons for Youth Program.  It's a combination of stories and numbers.

Tutoring Chicago Impact

At the right is a screenshot from an impact report that is in a PDF format on the Tutoring Chicago web site. (note: I led this program from 1975 to 1992)

In my last updating of Chicago area program web sites I saw several who presented their stories in interesting ways, but few showing a theory of change or participation data.  Websites are constantly being updated so as I look through them again over the next month I'll update this blog with a few more.

However, what I'm really hoping to inspire is a university to partner with me and do this website review annually. 

Intern review 2008
At the left is a screenshot from a page on the site, showing work interns did in 2008 to visit Chicago tutor/mentor program web sites, then post a brief review.

There are several pages of these. Click here for page 9, then look at others in reverse order.

Here's a different example. On this blog you can see a different set of stories about Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs, written by Nicole White, a Northwestern graduate, during here fellowship and employment with Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Universities in Chicago
I've not had the resources to have interns working for me this consistently since 2014.  My goal since forming the T/MC in 1993 has been that colleges and universities in different parts of the Chicago region would create on-going Tutor/Mentor Connection student teams who would build a library of knowledge about tutor/mentor programs in their sections of the city, then share it on blogs and social media like I do.

That would be much more effective than just me going through the list to pick out websites I feel do a great job of telling a program's story.

Interested?  Contact me.  This link shows social media sites where we can connect.

So, what should you be looking for on a tutor/mentor program's website?  Take a look at this presentation which shows what I think is important.

Few program websites provide this much information. That's why I suggested at the start of this blog that volunteers from industry, universities, social groups, etc. might adopt neighborhoods and build web site templates that could be updated easily by program staff and other volunteers or by students who are part of university Tutor/Mentor Connection teams.

If we can help programs tell their stories better, and attract more consistent resources, we can help them be more powerful in how they help kids and volunteers connect, and how that helps kids move through school and into adult lives.  It's a tipping point, which so far I've not been able to reach.

Is this possible? Do you think it's possible? If yes, share the idea and help make it happen.

Thanks for reading.

If you want to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and help me keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection operating in Chicago, and as a model for other cities, click here and send a contribution. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Influencing Change - Take a look

Influence change
I created this graphic several years ago to visualize the idea that "reaching goals we want, such as kids born in poverty areas being in jobs/careers by age 25", requires that we influence what people beyond poverty do, not just what people, schools and social services organizations in high poverty areas do.

Here is a series of blog articles that include this graphic. I encourage you to read each of them to build your own understanding of this strategy, then create your own visualizations to share it with others.

What are some of the strategies that might influence leaders in business, faith groups, universities, media, philanthropy, government, etc. to be more proactive and consistent in reaching out to support organizations working with youth and families in high poverty areas?   One is to visualize the long-term goal we seek, which I do with the two graphics shown below.

Helping kids through school and into adult lives is a long-term process.
What might some "tipping points" be. Or, what would be some strategies that would have a major impact, or influence, on building and sustaining these systems of support?

grow new leaders
In this article I share a visualization that describes a process that reaches youth while in middle school and supports them with on-going learning and mentoring so that some become leaders of volunteer-based  k-12 tutor, mentor and learning programs and so that others become proactive, on-going supporters.

Great programs in many places
Imagine viewing a map of Chicago or another city some day in the future with icons in many places showing youth organizations with leaders and supporters who have come through this long-term learning process.  That's the goal.

Here are a couple of other "tipping point" articles.

View graphic-click here

Here's one more graphic to look at.  This graphic shows work interns did between 2004 and 2015 to understand and communicate strategies of Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present).  Imagine going to a high school or college web site and finding a page with a graphic like this and a list of intern work like this one.

Until more people are spending time reading, reflecting, understanding, then sharing, the ideas I post on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, most of these ideas will remain unfulfilled wishes. 

You can change that. That would make you a "tipping point".  Want to talk with me about this or other articles and graphics on this blog? I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam.  I'm also on Linkedin and Facebook. Let's connect.

You can also help me fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC - click here to learn more.