Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Building and Sustaining Youth Support Networks

It's been a difficult 2020 in many ways for people all over the world. Let's hope 2021 will be better.  One thing Covid19 has highlighted is the different levels of opportunity available in America to poor people and people of color. That was forcefully brought home with the George Floyd murder and the protests that spread around the world this past summer.

While there are many things that might be done to reduce these inequalities and reform the justice system I've been focusing on building mentor-rich systems of support for inner city kids since 1993 and will do so again in 2021.   

The graphic shown below visualizes this goal, using the map of Chicago to emphasize all the places where youth serving organizations are needed, and where they need to provide many types of support for many years.  I'll explain this more in the following paragraphs.

Since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 my goal has been to help volunteer-based, mentor-rich, non-school tutoring and learning centers be available in a growing number of high poverty neighborhoods. Rather than start new programs, the strategy has been to identify existing organizations who already do some form of tutoring and/or mentoring and help them get a consistent flow of ideas, talent, operating dollars and other resources needed to build constantly improving programs.

When you look at the "oil well" images on the map I want you to think of the 12 years it takes for a youth to go from first grade to 12th grade, and the four to eight years after that to go through secondary education and find a job and/or be starting a career.

Since no program starts out as "the best" the flow of resources needs to help programs launch, then grow, then build and sustain multiple year connections with youth.

It takes a lot of different talents and skills to make this happen. I use the "it takes a village" graphic to visualize this.  In addition, I've created some concept maps that show the range of talent and community networks who need to be involved in supporting each program operating in each neighborhood.

Here's one of the maps in my library, showing supports kids need as they move through school.

Mentoring Kids to Careers - map

At each age level, from elementary school, through middle school, then high school, and post high school, all youth need a variety of supports. Kids in poverty areas have fewer of these naturally occurring through family and community, thus organized programs are needed to make as many of these available as possible.

IMPORTANT: It's through these organized programs, operating in various places, during non-school hours (often after 5pm as volunteers are leaving work), that people who don't live in poverty are able to become personally involved. If these are well-supported and stay involved for multiple years, many can be people who help solve some of the other complex problems kids and families face.

The concept map below visualizes a process that should be taking place in hundreds of locations, in the Chicago region, and in other cities, to help programs grow in places where they are most needed, and to help them become great at what they do to transform the lives of kids, families, volunteers and anyone who is involved.

See map at http://tinyurl.com/TMI-PlanningCycle-cmap

When I started leading a tutor/mentor program in 1975 I had a full time advertising job with the Montgomery Ward Corporate HQ in Chicago. Our employee led tutoring program had no paid staff, and we already had 100 pairs of elementary school kids and volunteers involved. That number grew to 300 pairs by 1990 (with about 30 hours per week of part time college student staff, beginning in 1980).  

I recognized that I could never touch and train every volunteer to know all they needed to know about why we were offering the program and what they could do to be effective tutors/mentors and program participants.  Thus I began to collect information that they could read and draw from to support their own efforts.

I started to create a "learning organization" well before this term was coined in business schools and trade magazines. This is one of many articles I've written to explain that idea.

In all my communications I was asking my volunteers to look for ways to help the kids we work with move through school. I was offering a library of articles (which was put on the internet starting in 1998) that they could read, share, discuss and learn from.  I focused on a process of improvement, or  how do we get from "here to there'.  I organized social events, such as getting together for food and drinks after a tutoring session, or field trip, so that volunteers could form bonds with other volunteers and we could build an informal, on-going, discussion of what we were doing, and how they could help.

In 1990 we converted the company sponsored program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters into a non profit organization. From that point till today, my goal has been to bring donors, policy makers, media and other leaders into this same learning process.

Do a Google search for "tutor mentor" then look at the images. You'll find many graphics like this.

Chicago SunTimes, Oct. 1992
In November 1992 six volunteers and myself left the original program and decided to form a new program to serve 7th to 12th grade teens who had aged out of the original program.  At the same time a 7-year old boy from Cabrini-Green had been shot and killed on his way to school.

The media were once again putting the "it's everyone's responsibility" message on the front page and in editorial stories, as they did on the front page of the October 15, 1992 ChicagoSunTimes

However, there was no master database of Chicago tutor/mentor programs so no leader could offer a strategy to fill neighborhoods with great programs that could provide greater hope and opportunity and combat the violence.

So we decided to also create the Tutor/Mentor Connection to fill the void.

In the years since then we have created a huge library of information, including a list of Chicago area tutoring and/or mentoring programs,  that anyone can draw from to understand where kids need extra help, who is already trying to offer that help, and what volunteers, donors and businesses could do to help programs grow.

Between 1994 and 2015 I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences to bring people together to share ideas for starting or building effective programs. I also developed a public awareness strategy to try to draw more attention to the web library and the list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs that I had been developing.

However, I was only reaching a few of the people who needed to be reached, and the system was not effective in connecting people (the village) from different programs with others within a single program, or with volunteers, donors, leaders, parents and students from other programs in Chicago......or with similar people from other cities who were doing the same work.

In the early 2000s I connected with a group of ESL educators (Webheads) who were located in different countries, and who were meeting weekly via the Internet, to share ideas and build relationships.

Over the past few years I've connected with another network of educators via Connected Learning MOOC formats, where people from many different places are sharing ideas and building relationships with each other.

I point to these in various blog articles because they are examples of how people can connect and learn from each other in virtual communities.

Most of my ideas for leading a single tutor/mentor program, or for helping build a city of great programs, have come from others who I've met over the past 40 years.  One entire section of the Tutor/Mentor web library is focused on "innovation, process improvement, mapping, knowledge management, etc" which are ideas anyone can use to build strong non-profits, or build strong businesses.

Look at the graphic at the top of the page once more.

The lines on this graphic illustrate how programs within a city need to be connecting with each other using on-line libraries, communities, blogs, annotation, Twitter, Facebook and other learning tools to constantly innovate ways to increase their impact on the lives of  program participants.  The small map in the lower left corner illustrates that people in big cities all over the country need to be talking to each other in the same way.

When you look at web sites of youth serving organizations in the future, hopefully you'll see evidence that shows a program is bringing together a "village" of support for it's participants, and that the community surrounding each program is proactive in offering the time, talent and dollars each program needs to be great at what it does.

At some point in the future you should find maps of Chicago and other cities, with icons on the map showing places where "the village" or "networks of people" are working to help kids grow up, or help communities solve complex problems.  The Tutor/Mentor Program Locator interactive map can serve as a model for others to develop such maps.

However, we must find a way to draw flexible operating dollars more consistently to every program in every neighborhood. The competition for public and private sector grant funding leads to a few winners every year and many losers. It does not lead to consistent funding needed to build and sustain great programs.

Throughout my blog and websites you'll see a use of GIS maps, which began in 1993 as we were trying to figure ways to share information about the various programs in Chicago.  

This is one of many maps you'll find on this blog and on this website and the MappingForJustice blog.  Using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, created in 2008, we're able to zoom into a Chicago neighborhood, create a map view, and tell a story of "why" kids and families need more help, "what" help is already in that area, if any, in the form of organized volunteer based tutor and/or mentor programs; and "what assets" and leaders share the geography and could be doing much more to help change the conditions and improve the lives of people who live there.

This map is part of a larger article posted in 2019 to show the vision of using a map-platform to not only share information and draw attention to tutor/mentor programs in each part of the Chicago region, but to also raise money to fund these programs.  I hope you'll read it.

Since the economic meltdown of 2008-2011 I've not had the funds to update the program locator and we never had the funds to build into it all of the features we had on our drawing boards. These are still needed.  

Here's a post I put on Twitter a couple of weeks ago following news that MacKenzie Scott had given millions of dollars to universities and charities throughout the world during 2020.
Maybe in 2021 she or someone like her will take some time to read this and other articles on my blog and will reach out to ask "how can I help?"
2020 showed that there are many complex problems that  need to be solved to make the world a better, safer, healthier place for everyone.  Each one of these challenges needs people like MacKenzie Scott making consistent contributions to support long-term problem solving. 

However, I'm focused on helping youth via organized non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs. 

I'm now connected on Facebook to many former students from the tutor/mentor programs I led and based on the pictures and stories they post showing their own success and that of the children they have raised, I know that the work we did had a positive impact on a few lives.

I see success stories posted by other programs, showing their long-term impact.  

That's enough to keep me trying to help such programs reach more k-12 youth in more places. I take a step every day and know these add  up to mountains of impact over a lifetime.

Thank you to everyone who made contributions to my 74th birthday campaign, and my Fund T/MI campaign, to help me continue doing this work.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Tour the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website


2020 has brought tragedy and hardship to many and I hope 2021 will reverse that and bring HOPE and HEALTH to people throughout the world.

At the left is a screen shot showing the home page of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC www.tutormentorexchange.net website. Between December 25 and today it was not opening. However, I've just checked, and it's working again!  Great.

From this site I point to all of my other websites, including my "Fund T/MI" page.   I invite you to visit and make a contribution to help me continue the work I've been doing for another year. 

The TMI website provides information that anyone can use to help build and sustain youth tutor/mentor programs, along with strategies for collective action and information-based problem solving.  On this site are links to all other T/MI websites  

The http://www.tutormentorconnection.org site hosts my list of Chicago area non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs along with my web library.  If you scroll to the bottom of this blog site you find links to other pages.

My library of concept maps is hosted on this page of the TMI site. If you browse past articles on this blog, tagged Concept Maps, you can find links to individual cMaps in each article.  

You can find links to my blogs, such as the MappingforJustice blog, which shows uses of maps to help build a distribution of resources needed to support comprehensive programs in every high poverty area. You can also find links to the Tutor/Mentor Intern blog, which shows work interns did between 2006 and 2015 to help others understand the work being done by the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. 

If you visit this article you can find links to sections of the Tutor/Mentor library and to all of my concept maps and pdf strategy presentations. 

If you scroll down the left side of this blog you'll also find links that take you directly to many of my websites.  

When I began leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975 we already had more than 100 pairs of volunteers and elementary school kids participating weekly. I held a full-time advertising job as my primary responsibility and the program had no paid staff.  Thus, I began to create a library of information and used weekly bulletins to encourage volunteers to "educate yourself".

I continued that strategy when forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, aiming for volunteers, donors and leaders throughout Chicago to draw from information I was aggregating to help mentor-rich non-school programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood.  I've created PPT essays to communicate ideas and strategies since the mid 1990s and now you can find collections on Slideshare.com and Scribd.com 

I started the www.tutormentorexchange.net website in 1998. Browse the site and my other websites and blogs and you'll find extensive information intended to help you and others build a deeper understanding of the challenges of poverty and the benefits of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs along with strategies to help every program become great and stay great, while helping new programs start where more are needed.  Please use these throughout the year.

Thank you and may 2020 bring you good health, happiness, joy and prosperity. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Deeper Learning - the way faith groups and colleges do it

This weekend the Chicago Tribune has once again been telling the story of Cabrini-Green, the public housing development on the Near North Side of Chicago where I operated volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs from 1975 until 2011. 

This time the young boy who was killed was part of a family that since the 1980s,  has had children in the programs I led.  Many members of that family no longer live in the area but a few still do. That's true for many of the youth our programs served. Some of the kids have gone to college and even have advanced degrees and good jobs and are raising their own kids outside of high poverty areas. But in extended families, some still struggle with the effects of concentrated poverty in big cities like Chicago.

I've been trying to help organized tutor/mentor programs, like the ones I led, grow in these areas for the past 27 years.  As we approach this Christmas and holiday season, let's reflect on this.

The image of the lonesome warrior is one that reminds me of the men and women who are fighting overseas to make this a better world. As we count our blessings, let's pray for the young people in our armed forces.

However, this image is also one that I think of when I think of the people leading social benefit organizations around the world, mostly in isolation, mostly with too few resources to do everything they are trying to do. From 1990 to 2011 while I led a small non profit organization, I wrote thousands of letters to potential donors, business leaders, city leaders, foundations, etc. asking for support of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs I led, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I created in late 1992 as a strategy aimed at helping high quality, constantly improving, tutor/mentor programs grow and thrive in all high poverty areas of the Chicago region.

While I raised more than $6 million over an 18 year period from 1993 to 2011, I received far more rejections than approvals. My biggest challenge was not finding new donors. It was holding existing donors who kept changing due to business conditions, changes of focus, funding restrictions, etc. After a few years of doing this I said "there has to be a better way".  That led to the Tutor/Mentor Connection being formed in 1993. 

Below are some graphics that I've included in several past articles, as far back as 2007.

Instead of each different tutor/mentor program competing for a shrinking pool of dollars, why can't we combine our efforts and innovate ways to inspire more donors to fund our sector? Then let those donors choose who to fund based on where we are located, and what we show of our work on our web sites.

When I was a retail advertising manager (1973-1990) for the Montgomery Ward headquarters based in Chicago I learned that more competition in a market created more advertising and led more customers to want the products we were selling. Those customers usually shopped at a store near where they lived or worked. I've piloted the uses of maps since 1993 to show where tutor/mentor programs are needed and to help potential customers locate programs in different parts of the city.

I've borrowed ideas from others for more than 40 years. My background studying history in college, and spending three years in US Army Intelligence, taught me to look for ideas applied by others and to borrow those ideas to improve my own efforts.

One of the web sites I found nearly 15 years ago was one that is called Internet Evangelism Day. This article suggests that the old way of standing on street corners to pass out religious tracts is replaced by using websites to express ideas. The people who find your websites are already interested in what you offer, thus will spend more time trying to understand your message.

Thus, my vision is that people who care about helping inner city kids living in high poverty areas will learn to use websites like mine for deeper learning, and to make funding decisions. The graphic at the right shows the home page of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and can be found at this link  It shows information found in the various sections of the website, including a library with research articles that anyone can read to build a deeper understanding of the challenges facing youth and families in high poverty areas or to build a greater appreciation for the value of volunteer-based, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs.

Since I share so much information I created a concept map which offers a "learning path" through the information I share. This link points to that concept map, 

Some might say "who will spend this much time?" I would say, "Who is tired of spending billions of dollars with so little long-term impact?" Why in the social sector do we make funding decisions based on sound bytes and elevator speeches, where in the corporate world plans are developed over many years of research and thinking and customers make purchasing and shopping decisions based on waves of advertising.

The Internet is a Game Changer. Busy executives, people with too much money to know what to do with it. Political leaders. They all use computers and if they do a Google search for "tutor mentor" they will find my sites. If the spend a little time every day reading and reflecting they will soon understand the ideas and be able to adopt what makes sense to them into their own efforts.

Now that Covid19 has moved learners and businesses on-line and into ZOOM and similar meeting spaces there's more opportunity than ever before to help people find and use the information I and others have been amassing on their websites.

Those who lead small non profits, or are struggling to get social benefit ideas launched, may relate to this One-To-Many graphic. We're constantly reaching out in many different directions, trying to find the help we need. We're like fish in a bowl, competing with thousands of others for a limited amount of dollars and volunteers. Unless you've got a powerful marketing machine, or are well connected in donor circles, you succeed some of the time, but not most of the time, and you spend tremendous amounts of emotional capital and energy all of the time.

Through the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I'm trying to change this. I'm trying to recruit leaders in many places who lead strategic thinking process in their organization that aligns social benefit with corporate and organizational strategy. Such leaders will use their own advertising, visibility and resources to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs that lead kids to careers, because it's a core business strategy.  Instead of supporting a single program serving a limited number of youth in a few places. they will point to maps showing all the places where such programs are needed and encourage volunteers and donors to "shop" to find programs they can support in neighborhoods they want to help. 

I've been saying this for a long time, and a few years ago I found an article on the Harvard Business Review that reinforces this concept. The article is titled Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility. Written by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer.

Education and workforce development are of strategic importance for most industries. Thus, if leaders of business, health care, law, journalism, sports and entertainment, etc. are strategic, they can use tools like the Program Locator and Chicago Program Links to choose what part of a city they want to support, and what programs they want to help grow from good to great.

This isn't a strategy to support just one tutor/mentor program, or one brand name like the Boys and Girls Clubs, or Big BrothersBigSisters. It's a strategy to help every high poverty neighborhood have comprehensive programs that are one end of the pipeline to jobs and careers for businesses that are strategically engaging their corporate resources to help grow their future workforce. 

I've been writing articles sharing these ideas for 15 years.  My web library points to more than 2000 links, including nearly 200 youth serving organizations in the Chicago region. In a conversation with a local leader today I talked about how faith groups have pointed weekly to scripture such as the Bible or the Koran, encouraging people to read a few passages, think about them, talk about them with others, then try to apply them in their lives.  Every high school and college is organized around a library of information, where the teacher assigns a reading assignment, the students read and reflect, the class discusses, then the students write an essay or term paper to share what they are thinking.

I duplicated this strategy through the intern programs I offered college students between 2005 and 2015. Visit this blog and browse through the articles and see how students spent time learning, then created blogs and other visualizations to share what they were learning.

This needs to be duplicated in business, government, philanthropy and in direct service organizations all over the world, not just in Chicago.

I did not create the Tutor/Mentor Connection based on one or two conversations. It is the result of more than 40 years of trying to find better ways to help volunteers and kids connect in organized programs that transform the lives of both the young people AND the volunteers. Thus, unless I can motivate people to set up on-going learning programs, like the intern programs I operated, I fear that even if someone is enthusiastic about supporting my efforts and helping me raise money, they won't be armed with the in-depth understanding of how the Tutor/Mentor Connection works or how to duplicate it and focus it on any specific geographic area...including Chicago.  (Note: since 2011 I've led the Tutor/Mentor Connection via Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. I  use these names interchangeably. It's the same strategy. Just different tax structures.) 

If decision makers in philanthropy, government and business go directly to the internet to build their own understanding of problems and solutions, instead of depending on sound bytes provided by people who work for them, who depend on one or two page summaries from organizations competing for scarce funding, perhaps better, more consistent, and longer lasting support will be distributed to all of the neighborhoods where help is needed and to more of the organizations already operating in those areas. 

Here's my list of Chicago area programs.  Decide what part of the city you want to help, then look at websites of organizations working in that area. Based on what you see, and talking with program leaders, decide who you want to help then offer time and talent, or send a check.

Hopefully a few will spend time on Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC sites and step forward to offer their help for my own role in this process. Here's a page where you can send a contribution.

Friday, December 18, 2020

It's my 74th Birthday Tomorrow


Every year since 2011 I've asked people to "light a candle" on my birthday cake to help me celebrate my December 19th birthday.

Lighting a candle, at $7.40 each, is a comfortable way for people to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which is not a 5-0-1-c3, meaning donations are not tax exempt.

Here's a page where you can make that contribution. 

If you read blog articles back to mid 2011 you'll see that I led a Chicago non-profit, that I created, from 1992 until mid 2011.  When I separated and took ownership of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I launched in 1993 at the same time as launching the Cabrini Connections youth tutor/mentor program, I did not  have a team of volunteers/supporters to form a new non profit, so created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to give me legal structure and time to find new ways to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and help it grow in other cities.

I'm still trying to do that but as I'm getting older my purpose is moving more toward trying to motivate others to create new versions, based on my history. I've written about this often, including last week.

While my birthday only comes once a year I maintain an on-going "Fund T/MI" page which a few supporters continue to use to send contribution. 

You can find the link to the "Fund T/MI" page, by clicking here.   

I have not drawn a salary since 2011 and have used my own savings to help fund the annual expenses which I've cut to the bare bones, just to keep the tutor/mentor library and my list of Chicago programs updated and to maintain this blog and my outreach and networking on social media.

The T/MC was never fully funded.  This document shows the organizational structure that I've been trying to build since the late 1990s. It would take $300-$500k per year to fully fund this in a big city like Chicago.  Even in our best years we never had more than $200k for the T/MC.  And, we started the organization with no money, and no commitments of money,  in November 1992. There were just six volunteers and myself. You can view this concept map to see highlights of the T/MC from 1992-now. 

While I might not be able to raise that much money, others with a broader network and reach into high wealth donor communities could do this easily.  

I've used maps and an extensive library of research to show the many areas in Chicago where tutor/mentor programs are needed and where nearly 200,000 k-12 youth live in high poverty.  The city has never sustained an on-going marketing and resource development plan like I've piloted, nor have any city leaders made an effort to support the T/MC.  

Other major cities could (and do) create maps showing where poverty is most concentrated and could duplicate the T/MC strategies to help a wide range of birth-to-work programs grow in every high poverty zip code.  Thus, others could borrow from what I'm doing (with, or without my help) and build such a strategy.

Your contributions to my 74th Birthday Campaign or my "Fund T/MI" campaign will  help me continue to share this vision for another year. 

Please keep reading my articles and share them with others. Ultimately this will reach someone who wants to champion this vision with their wealth and their leadership.   

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Want to Duplicate Tutor/Mentor Connection?

This story was in the Chicago Tribune in 1995, talking about the "Master Plan" the Tutor/Mentor Connection (which I created in 1993) had for saving kids in Chicago.

I've spent 27 years developing this strategy and trying to educate others so they would support it in Chicago and adopt it in other cities. Below is a presentation I created for the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, which was held in Philadelphia. 

 While there are many articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website, that describe what I've been trying to do, here are two concept maps to view.

The concept map at the right visualizes a 4-part strategy that I've piloted since 1993. Step 1 involves collecting and organizing information, or creating the knowledge base. Step 2 and Step 3 involve motivating a growing number of people to visit the library regularly and helping them find what they are looking for and understand how to apply the information in Step 4, different places where youth and families would benefit from organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. Here's one article where I explain the four steps. 

b) layers of information on a program locator map.  

This concept map shows the 4-part strategy steps a different way, as layers of information on a map. 

View this concept map from left to right. The first step is creating a base map of the geographic region, like Chicago area, that you want to focus on.  Then add data layers showing indicators of need, like poverty levels, segregation, health disparities, school performance, etc.  Then add a layer showing organizations who are working to reduce those problems. In my case that would be non-school, volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs. The next layer would show assets, like banks, insurance companies, hospitals, faith groups, universities, etc. who could be helping youth programs grow in parts of the city where they have facilities.  This article explains this in more detail and points to a platform we built in 2008.

To duplicate what I've been doing for the past 27 years, you'd do the following:

a) start collecting research articles about poverty, inequality, education, etc. including those with maps that show the entire Chicago region (or your community) and where poverty is most concentrated

b) start building a list of services you feel are important to help kids and families grow out of poverty.  In my case, I focus on volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs, most of which operate in the community and in the non-school hours. You could choose a different type of service to support.

Note: I focus on services that need to be located near where families live, thus many would be needed in a big city like Chicago.  A Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy would be less needed to support services where only one, or two, organizations might be needed for the entire city. 

c) start a media and public awareness campaign to draw attention to this information, and to draw volunteers and donors to existing programs. With your list of programs you can invite them to come together for collaborative efforts, like networking conferences, which I hosted every six months from May 1994 to May 2015, or Back-to-School Volunteer Recruitment Campaigns which I started organizing in 1995.  If you can enlist a public relations firm, or communications volunteers, to help you, you'll be much more successful.  This campaign needs to be on-going and sustained for many years.

Note: while I operated a single program myself the goal of the T/MC was to draw needed attention and resources to every program in the city, recognizing that good programs are needed in many places, not just one or two. 

d) motivate people to spend time learning what's in the library, and how to use it to help tutor/mentor programs grow, and help kids move through school and into adult lives and jobs, then helping others find and use the information.

Without finding ways to draw growing numbers of people to the library, and helping them understand how to apply the information, it has little value. 

The first two steps steps above are part of Step 1 of the 4-part strategy.  The third point is Step 2. The fourth is Step 3. 

As you collect this information you are building a database of stakeholders. You can share what you're collecting with this group via newsletters, blog articles and websites and you can draw viewers to those resources via your posts on various social media channels, or via YouTube videos, etc.  

I've done all of this over and over for 27 years, using different tools as the technology has changed and as my resources have gone up and down.

You need a team to help you.

When I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I was also starting a new site-based tutor/mentor program. I had led a program serving 2nd to 6th grade kids since 1975, which had 440 kids and 550 volunteers participating weekly by spring 1992, so I had a wide pool of talent to draw on to help me launch the new program, and launch the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

I created the concept map at the right to visualize the range of talent needed to operate any non-profit, and to operate a Tutor/Mentor Connection.  If you already have a network and philanthropic and civic support when you launch your own version of this, you have much greater talent available to help you.  

If you're like me, a single person with a vision, but no source of consistent funding, you build from scratch and add to it from year-to-year based on what you are learning and the talent and resources you can find.  

Note: I don't think I would have succeeded in getting the Tutor/Mentor Connection started if I were not also leading a single program.  By operating a program I understood the benefits and the challenges. I also had a source of volunteers to help me do the work. The downside of this was that I was never able to give full attention to the T/MC and many donors could not see past our single program to appreciate the systems thinking of the T/MC.   

I was fortunate to have support from the Montgomery Ward Corporation who provide generous space for our program to operate and a $40,000 a year grant from 1993 to 2000 when they went out of business.  That $40k was 80% of our funding in 1993 and 30% in 1994 when we were just getting started.  Losing the donated space and funding in 2000 as the economy was declining was a huge negative impact. 

Thinking ahead to 2021 the reasons I had for starting the T/MC in 1993 are still with us. Thus, the work I've been doing still needs to be done by someone. Many do parts of what I do but almost no one does all four steps of the 4-part strategy, especially trying to help programs all over the city get needed resources. 

Since I already have a model in place, I encourage you to consider joining me. Help me upgrade it and make it work better in Chicago, then apply it in your own city.  The concept map below shows help needed at each step of the 4-part strategy. That help could come from any place in the world.

I had many people helping me build this strategy over the past 27 years. While I have far fewer helping now, I'm still supported by one person hosting the web library and others sharing my posts on social media and via their own blog articles. 

However, it's too little.  In a big city like Chicago this should have a budget of $300 to $500k annually. Between 1995 and 2011 I was able to raise $100 to $150k each year for the T/MC and a similar amount for our own tutor/mentor program. 

The inconsistencies of funding due to negative economic cycles what one of the big challenges that I've faced, and that you'd need to overcome.

The graphic at the right asks "What will it take to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty are entering careers by age 25?"

The information in the Tutor/Mentor web library, on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, and on this and the MappingforJustice blogs are intended to help people find answers to that question.  

As people begin to find their own answers I encourage them to put them on websites and add them to libraries like mine. Over time, this means we can learn from what others are doing rather than constantly starting over.  I encourage you to use concept maps, like blueprints, to show all that needs to be part of the birth-to-work journey, then call on your network to help figure how to find the money and talent to make those things available in every high poverty zip code.

A Tutor/Mentor Connection-type organization does all that I've described and creates strategy presentations and blog articles that share what it is learning with others.  

I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram. This page has links to those sites.  Please connect with me if you'd like to learn more and have me help you create a new Tutor/Mentor Connection in your city and/or in Chicago.  

In the meantime, if you have read this far, please consider a contribution to support my work.  There are two ways each December for you to help.

a)  support my 74th birthday campaign - click here
b)  contribute to the Fund T/MI campaign - click here

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Creating a Service Learning Organization that Mentors Kids to Careers

I started this blog in 2005 and often use past articles for new updates.  Below is a 2020 version of an article I wrote in December 2005, talking about "volunteering in tutor/mentor programs as a form of service learning".  If you've read some of the messages I've posted to this Blog since then you'll see that I led a small non profit between 1993 and 2011 that aimed to connect workplace volunteers with children and youth living in neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty.

Our goal then, and now, is to create an organized framework that encourages volunteers to serve as tutors, mentors, coaches, advocates, friends, leaders in on-going efforts that make a life-changing difference for these kids. By life-changing, I mean that the kids will not be living in poverty when they are adults because they will have the academic, social/emotional and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs, plus a network of adults who can and will open doors to jobs and mentor them in careers.

In the image above I show myself with Leo Hall who was in 4th grade, and living in the Cabrini-Green public housing development of Chicago, when I first became  his tutor/mentor in 1973.  We're still connected. He's living in Nashville and he and  his wife have raised two outstanding young men, who both have attended college. Here's an interview we did in 2016.   

I have spent time almost every day for more than 45 years trying to figure out better, more efficient, and lower cost ways to accomplish this goal.

I have learned to mine the knowledge and experiences of others to innovate strategies for tutoring/mentoring, rather than trying to develop my own solutions to problems. Using Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web sites, on-line networking and regular face-to-face training and mentoring, I have been trying to share what I know, and the process of learning and service that I apply in my own daily routine, so that there are more people in more places accepting this role and responsibility.

So how do we make this vision a reality? We create a "learning organization", which is also the ideal of many of the best businesses in the world. We also create a "service culture" modeled after the work of heroes like Cesar Chavez, whose core values included sacrifice and perseverance, commitment to the most disadvantaged as well as life-long learning and innovation.

I created a ppt visualization of this strategy in the early 2000s, then in 2006 and 2010 two interns from Hong Kong and South Korea created animated versions.  One can be seen in this video

In a learning organization, everyone is engaged. In the world of Cesar Chavez, everyone is willing to make huge commitments, and sacrifices of time, talent and treasure to help disadvantaged people move to greater health, and greater hope and opportunity.

My goal has been to find ways to draw a growing number of our stakeholders into this learning process and to build an on-going commitment to service (as opposed to random acts of kindness). This process is intended to include students and volunteers, staff, donors and leaders, and members of the business, education, faith and media in the communities where kids in the programs I led were living. It also aims to engage leaders and volunteers from other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and in other cities, plus people and organizations in the communities that don't have high poverty, but benefit from a world envisioned by Dr. M. L. King, Jr. as well as a 21st Century America where there are enough skilled workers to meet the future workforce needs of American industry.

The Internet has been a growing meeting place since the late 1990s. It's a virtual library of constantly growing knowledge. On T/MC web sites we collect and host information that shows why kids in poverty need extra help, where such help is needed, who is providing help, and what volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs can do to connect adults, kids and learning in an on-going, constantly improving process of mentoring kids to careers.

If we can find ways to increase the percent of our kids, our volunteers, and our leaders and donors who are drawing information on a weekly basis, and reflecting on this information in small and large groups, the way people in churches reflect on passages from the Bible each week, we can grow the amount of understanding we all have about the challenges we face and the opportunities we have. We can innovate new and better ways to succeed in our efforts.

This process has already started.  When I first wrote this in 2005 I was leading a non-profit organization with the capacity to raise money from individual donors, corporations and foundations.  Since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 I've not had a consistent source of funding, so much that was built through 2011 is now in need of new leaders and new life.

Yet the strategy remains the same. We need to nurture and grow it in 2020.

Can you help?

Visit the various articles shown at the left side of this blog, and the websites I point to, and start your own learning. I encourage you to read the Power Point Essay titled, Theory of Change . This illustrates our goal and the community that we seek to engage.

This and other PPT essays in the Tutor/Mentor Institute library illustrate the T/MC vision and the community of organizations that we seek to engage. Then share your own knowledge, time, talent and dollars to help us build this service and learning organization.

Every December I launch two ways for people to contribute money to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

1) make a birthday gift to support my Dec. 19 birthday. click here
2) contribute to the T/MI Fund  - click here

Thank you to the small group of people who have made contributions in past years. You're the reason I'm still able to collect and share this information.

Thank you all for reading my articles. 

Daniel F. Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present)
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present)

Friday, December 04, 2020

Mapping your roadmap for solving problems

Below I show a Tweet from this past week, highlighting a planning process diagramed using Kumu.io. Follow the links and you can go to the map and learn about it in detail. I also show a concept map that I created a few years ago to share an information based problem solving strategy that I've encouraged others to adopt in helping reach youth in high poverty areas with organized tutor, mentor and learning support that helps those kids move through school and into adult lives.

I circled an area at the left side of the Kumu map, which shows the role of information and data in supporting planning and innovation.  I circled the same functional area in the upper right corner of my concept map.

In the graphic at the right I show a goal we all share at the top of this inverted pyramid. "All kids move safely through school and into adult lives and jobs."

This process is supported by formal and informal knowledge and information systems. 
In this blog article I point to the many different sections of the information library I've been building for more than 30 years, which I started putting on the Internet in the late 1990s. 

Many of the links in my library point to other websites that are also libraries and that are bringing together people and organizations on their own platforms.  By pointing to them from my sites I expand what's available to people who visit.

Browse this set of articles and you'll find more examples of web libraries supporting innovation and collaboration.

Why do I think this is important? I've sat in planning meeting in the early 1990s where million dollar grants were being considered and those making decisions were only drawing from a small body information.  Too many project re-invent processes and solutions that others have already tried in different places. At the heart of the Tutor/Mentor library is my list of Chicago tutor mentor and learning programs and maps showing where such programs are most needed.   Knowledge libraries can be created by a few but accessed and used by many...if they are encouraged to do so. 

I'd like to find more examples of people mapping their problem solving process and pointing to the web libraries they use to support member learning and innovation. You can share links to such sites in the comment section. 

The graphic at the right visualizes a 4-part strategy that I've piloted since 1993.  Step 1 involves collecting and organizing information, or creating the knowledge base. Step 2 and Step 3 involved motivating a growing number of people to visit the library regularly and helping them find what they are looking for and understand how to apply the information in Step 4, different places where youth and families would benefit from organized, on-going, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs.  

I've never had a large organization to do this work and since 2011 when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, I've been doing this mostly without much help from others.  Thus, as I share this I encourage you to read how universities might form Tutor/Mentor Connection teams that duplicate what I've been doing, but focused on different cities than Chicago, or on specific areas of Chicago and its suburbs. If you know people who might be interested please share these articles with them.

Thank you for reading my blog articles. I encourage you to share them with your network and connect with me on one of these social media platforms.

Every December I launch two ways for people to contribute money to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

1) make a birthday gift to support my Dec. 19 birthday. click here
2) contribute to the T/MI Fund  - click here

Thank you to the small group of people who have made contributions in past years. You're the reason I'm still able to collect and share this information.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Violence in Chicago. The Rest of the Story

Below is a screen shot from today's Chicago SunTimes, of a story about the high homicide rate in the 11th Police District of Chicago. The map shows where this district is in the city and shows that high levels of violence are mostly in the SW and NE side of the district, along with a section just East of Garfield Park.

Since 1993 when starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC)  in Chicago I've tried to help comprehensive, non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in all high poverty areas. I've maintained a database of such programs since then and developed what I call "The Rest of the Story" strategy to draw attention to programs in neighborhoods featured in local newspapers because of bad things that happen there.  

So today, I created a second graphic, using the SunTimes map, along with a screen shot from a Tutor/Mentor Program map that I launched in 2016.  It's shown below.

You can find my Chicago area map and my list of programs in this blog article.  I zoomed into the same area as shown on the SunTimes map, then created a screenshot.  On my map I show seven green icons, representing youth serving programs. Enlarge my graphic and you can see their names. 

It looks like there is only one youth organization, The Off The Street club in the lower left section and none in the upper right. There's a YMCA along Holman Avenue near Augusta, just outside of the high violence area in the NE corner of the map.  There are three programs in the SE part of the district and one to the far East.  

In 2018 I  used data from the Heartland Alliance to create a set of maps showing the number of high poverty youth age 6-17 living in each community area. The image below shows the West side of Chicago, including the 11th Police District.  There are about 9500 high poverty kids in the area  (and about 20,000 in total). The percent shown in the blue boxes represents what percent that number is of the total youth population in the area. 

I first created this report in 2011, so the numbers shown in yellow boxes are from then. The blue boxes are from 2018, thus you can see changes in population.

Last month I posted a story using the map at the left, emphasizing that commuters using Chicago's expressways or trains to come and go from the LOOP to the suburbs are riding right past high poverty neighborhoods.  

I've long encouraged people in these areas to work together to build public awareness campaigns that would motivate these people to spend time getting to know about the neighborhood, and its need for youth serving organizations, and showing the ones that already exist.  Then pick one or two and make a long-term commitment to help them be the best in the world at helping kids through school and into jobs.

Below is a map story created in the mid 1990s for a group on the West side of Chicago. I've highlighted in yellow the section where I encouraged them to set up a campaign along Grand Avenue that would attract commuter volunteers.  I've been preaching this story for many years.

However, too few have ever seen my map-stories or my blog.  Yet, youth from schools all over the Chicago region could be creating "Rest of the Story" strategy, following negative news they see in the local media.  In publishing their stories they could be adding their "call to action" to my own and those of others, resulting in greater visibility, and a greater flow of dollars to help youth programs grow where they are most needed.

The Mayor, the Police Department, local politicians, businesses, faith groups, universities, etc. all could have been doing this for the past 25 years.

If they had, maybe the story about the 11th Police District in today's paper would have been different.

If they start now, maybe those stories will be different in 10 or 20 years.

I'd be happy to help anyone think through this strategy.  I'm on Twitter and these social media platforms.  

If you value the stories and program list that I share please consider a small year-end contribution.  Click here to learn more.