Friday, January 31, 2020

What's the Game Plan Look Like?

This is what my game plan looks like. What's yours?

Diagram Game Plan To Help Kids From Poverty Areas Grow from Birth to Work - Borrow from Sports Concepts

I've spent the past 40 years trying to connect inner city youth with workplace volunteers via organized, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs. While I led a single program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011, I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011) to help high quality, constantly improving programs grow in every high poverty area of Chicago. I've been sharing ideas and resources on-line since the late 1990s.

Programs needed throughout city
I've been using visualizations to communicate ideas for many years. I've also been drawing from the sports world for inspiration, since there are many parallels to what coaches do, and what team owners do, to put great teams on the field, to what support youth programs need to be great at what they do.

In most of my graphics I'm showing two basic ideas.

a) it takes 12 to 20 years for any youth to grow from first grade to starting a career, and it takes support from many different people. Affluent kids have naturally occurring support that kids in poverty do not have, thus organized tutor/mentor programs can provide some of those supports, if they are available, well funded, and have a comprehensive game plan. I've been maintaining a list of Chicago programs since 1993.

b) in a big city like Chicago, with more than 200,000 k-12 kids living in high poverty areas, many great programs are needed. Maps can show where they are needed, and where existing programs are located, or where more are needed. More people need to be looking at these maps then thinking of roles they can take to help make great programs available in one or more places.

Most of my past graphics have focused on football, and game plans coaches use to win championships, like the Super Bowl, which is this weekend. However, since the NBA AllStar game will be in Chicago in February, I created the graphic above to draw attention from basketball fans, players, coaches and sponsors.

That graphic has three main elements:

Emily & Keith connected
in Tutor/Mentor program
1) Our goal is connecting kids with adult volunteers in organized programs, and to connect both with learning resources that serve both the youth, and the volunteer.

Keeping with the theme of sports, and basketball, I talk about "points" being scored to recognize efforts of volunteers, youth and donors.  At the Cabrini Connections program youth earned points that accumulated and were turned in for cash upon high school graduation.  So in the following paragraphs imagine ways "points" might be earned. For instance....

"Points" are scored every time a youth and volunteer meet; every year that a youth stays in school, and safe in his/her neighborhood, and ultimately when that student finishes high school, and moves on to college, vocational school and adult lives. "Points" are scored by all the different ways volunteers can help the youth grow up, acting in many cases as "extra family members", or by drawing others to support the program they are part of.

Many programs needed.
All need consistent funding.
2. Many programs are needed, spread throughout the city and suburbs of Chicago, and in other areas of the country. Most are constantly looking for dollars, talent, volunteers, ideas and other resources that help them stay in business, and stay connected to youth and volunteers.

The way philanthropy and government funding works limits the ability of every program to draw these resources to themselves on a regular basis, thus many programs are never as great as they need to be, and too few programs exist... especially in areas where they are most needed.

YOU can draw volunteers and
donors to programs in all parts of city.
While programs are constantly reaching out to donors, the Tutor/Mentor Connection has modeled a strategy based on corporate advertising, in efforts to motivate volunteers and donors to seek out programs, based on information we share on our web site, and information each program shares on their own web sites. A donor should pick a neighborhood he/she wants to help, then shop and get to know existing tutor/mentor programs serving that area, then choose one, or more, and decide how, and how much, she wants to help. Then write the check and put it in the mail. Or call/eMail the program and offer time and talent.

In many cases this might mean helping a lesser quality program become great, or it might mean helping a new program form where none, or too few, exist. In others it will mean helping good programs continue to be good, and constantly strive to be great.

"Points"  are scored every time a business, philanthropist, volunteer, college, faith group, hospital or other takes an action that supports the growth and continued operations of one or more programs --- with time, talent, dollars, or even votes that elect leaders who support the growth of such programs. For instance, in this article I show a role universities could take.

3. This is team effort. The role of intermediary, shown on this graphic, is one that coaches and athletes could be taking on an on-going basis to help connect kids with volunteers, and to help connect resource providers with programs.

Volunteers and donors needed in tutor/mentor programs throughout the city & suburbs.

I've written more than 30 articles on the Tutor/Mentor Blog that focus on the role athletes can take.

Athletes as leaders

In this 2013 article I used an image of Derrick Rose, and pointed to a Chicago Tribune article where he was quoted as saying "It all starts with poverty".

The blog article includes an animation, in which I show a role athletes could take on a regular basis, to help draw attention to the ideas I've been sharing on my blog, to my list of tutor/mentor programs, and to create an "act now, do something" call to action that motivates fans to become involved with one or more different youth serving programs in Chicago.

Below is a Tweet posted by Kobe Bryant, just a few days before his tragic death.
Imagine if athletes like Kobe were pointing to maps of the cities where they play, encouraging fans to adopt neighborhoods and support all youth tutor/mentor programs in each neighborhood.

Athletes adopt neighborhoods

At the left is a  map of Chicago, signed in the 1990s by several professional athletes, to show the idea of athletes adopting neighborhoods. I wrote about that in this article under the headline "Wouldn't he like to talk about something else?"

Imagine if someone were keeping score, with "points" scored every time someone shares this or other ideas from my blog with someone else. "Points" could be scored when athletes and coaches take on roles that support multiple programs in the communities they play in or where they grew up.  Awards at the end of each year could recognize those who score the "most points".

That's just a start. As athletes, coaches, fans, writers, video makers, and others are motivated to view my articles and web library by the actions of sports stars, many will also say "I can communicate these ideas better" and they will begin to do that. Or they will say, I can apply these ideas to another city than Chicago, and they will begin to do that.

Imagine where Chicago might be today if Chicago athletes and coaches who were stars in the 1990s when I started sharing these ideas, had adopted this game plan as their own commitment to helping reduce inequality and increase opportunity.

If that had been happening I should have a section in my web library that points to such stories and videos. I don't. However, anyone who reads this could adopt the strategy as their own and begin to create their own game plan and play book. I'd like to help you.

Find me on Twitter @tutormentorteam. I'm on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin, too.

The ideas I share were first launched through the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was created in 1993. I started the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which is not a non-profit, in 2011 to keep the T/MC alive in Chicago and share it to other cities.  I still depend on contributions to share these ideas.

Visit this page and use the PayPal button to send your support.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

MyChi. MyFuture. Feedback.

As the Tweet below shows, yesterday I attended the citywide meeting of Mayor Lightfoot's EveryKidConnected initiative, which was launched last October. Since then the hashtag has changed to #EveryYouth Connected, and may change again.

As the meeting ended I encouraged the others at my table to use their blogs to share their own ideas for next steps for this initiative.  Mine are below.

In this next Tweet I'm sharing the mission statement developed at the January meeting.



As I said in the Tweet, that vision is what I feel describes a total quality non-school tutor/mentor program.  The graphic below is shown in this presentation. It visualizes the growth of organized, non-school, k-12 youth programs, available in every high poverty neighborhood, with a wide range of age-appropriate mentoring, enrichment and learning opportunities.

Building a learning distribution system - read more

How we get there is what needs to be worked out.  Below are some of the ideas for generating public awareness and involvement that were shared at my table.

The MyChi.MyFuture media campaign is planned to launch at the end of March. The costs of a comprehensive tops-down campaign could be huge, thus efforts that generate free communications from people and organizations throughout the city should be a priority, now and in the future.

1) - So far there is little communications from the leaders of the initiative on Twitter, using either #everykidconnected, #everyyouthconnected, or #MyChiMyFuture.  I received an email follow up yesterday, with the PDF of the slides from the presentation.  If that had been in a Tweet I could have already shared it with my own network.  Using Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram in the same way should be strategic. (see more social media ideas below).

2) - Encourage organizations throughout the city to blog their understanding of this initiative, as well as their part of the process, as well as services available to youth in their own programs and/or communities. Bloggers could be faith groups, elected officials, businesses, non-profit youth orgs, schools, etc.  Once blog articles are written they should be shared in social media, using a hashtag launched by the leaders of the initiative.  

#clmooc 

I have written numerous articles on this blog showing my engagement with the Connected Learning #clmooc community on social media. I urge leaders of this initiative to spend time studying these, to see ways they can use these same low, or no-cost, strategies to connect people, organizations, resource providers and youth throughout Chicago with each other.

3) - Enlist students and parents as communicators. 

The Parent Mentor Program was mentioned as one example where parents are already working to help build relationships between parents, teachers and students. Such groups could be learning about non-school opportunities and existing programs and communicating those via their own efforts. Below I show Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC efforts to aggregate and share information. Someone should be aggregating information about parent groups who could be sharing MyChi.MyFuture information and supporting youth involvement in different parts of the city.

Enlist students as story tellers.  During National Mentoring Month youth have been posting #ThankYourMentor stories.  This could be #MyOutOfSchoolLearning experience or #MyChiMyFutureLearning experience. It could also be #HowISpentMySummer  or #MySummerLearningExperience. As youth become engaged they could suggest new  hashtags, and themes for future communications and interaction efforts.

Participation maps such as this from the 2017 CLMOOC could be used to show places in the city where youth are creating messages for this campaign, and to show locations of non-school learning opportunities.

Use maps to assure youth in every part of Chicago have opportunities

Enlist students via classroom learning activities - Here's one of many blog articles where a middle school educator from Massachusetts shares work his students are doing.  If during spring 2020 educators were encouraged to develop a back-to-school activity where students used blogs, videos, social media, games and other forms of communications to share #MySummerLearningExperince or #OutofSchoolTimePrograms in my neighborhood, which were then aggregated and shared on blogs like Kevin's, this could launch thousands of stories from September 2020 to May 2021 (and beyond) to help the MyChiMyFuture initiative grow and reach all Chicago youth over the next few years.

Tutor/Mentor lists on Facebook

4)  While MyChi.MyFuture is attempting to create a master list of out-of-school-time opportunities I feel it should point to existing lists, such as the ones I point to from this concept map. I'm sure there are others that I'm unaware of. Collectively these will always have more information that what any single intermediary is able to collect and keep updated.

5)   To  help draw attention to existing providers and help them connect and learn from each other, MyChi.MyFuture should a) create a profile on Twitter, FB, Linkedin, etc. then use the list feature on Twitter, and Notes feature on Facebook, to create one of more lists of Chicago programs.  (It could create one master list, or could create lists for sections of the city, North, Central, South Central, Far South) as I do in the Tutor/Mentor Programs Directory.

Here's my TMPrograms list on Twitter. Here's my Facebook list of Chicago programs and intermediaries.  If MyChi.MyFuture were to create its own lists, people visiting their account could scroll the list to learn about existing programs via the information they posts. Donors and volunteers could learn to use this to find programs in different parts of the city to support. Parents and youth could learn this to find opportunities.

6)  - Recruit volunteers from advertising, PR, technology and other communications companies to mentor youth and teach them ways to tell stories via multiple media. At some point in the future maps should be showing icons throughout the city where people from each industry are connecting with youth.  Programs should show that multiple industries have volunteers working at their sites, not just in direct service, but in helping programs communicate their stories, their lessons and their challenges.  Many companies should be doing this as part of on-going, formal, workforce development strategies.


7) - Focus on connecting intermediaries like the Austin planning group, to others throughout the city, so they can learn from each other.  Below is a concept map showing the planning process that should be on-going in every community area.

Planning is an on-going cycle, focusing on a specific geographic area. read more
One of the roles of the leadership of MyChi.MyFuture is to identify the various stakeholders and share that information in ways that encourage conversation, interaction, learning and shared efforts among the various organizations.  Below is an example of how I've been doing that.

Intermediaries focused on youth in Chicago - cmap
Youth in various schools and non-school programs, local colleges, or any other group could be creating similar maps showing local organizations, intermediaries, etc.  Note that I point to the web sites of each organization on the map (if I have a link).  This information is published in my blogs, website and social media to encourage programs to connect and learn from each other.

8)  How will you measure this?  How will you quantify the number of youth in each neighborhood who most need these programs? How will you show how many participated during the summer, or during the school year? How will you share that, at the neighborhood level, to support on-going planning and program growth?  Below is a Slideshare pdf that shows the number of youth, age 6-17, and the number of high poverty youth, in each community area.  

Every Youth Connected implies that 100% of the youth in each area will participate in one or more learning experiences in the summer and in the school year.  That is a significant challenge, both from the planning perspective, and from the funding perspective, since right now there are so few program slots available in many areas of the city.

I've been sharing ideas like this on this blog since 2005 and on websites since 1998. I hope some of the people involved in this new initiative will take the time to look and want to have me help them understand and apply these ideas.

You can find links to my social media sites at this page.



Sunday, January 26, 2020

A call for comprehensive, mentor-rich non-school programs

See profile
A few days ago I was pleased to see an announcement on Lovea Smith's Facebook page showing that she'd been selected to be part of the Chicago Foundation for Women's 2020 Willie’s Warriors Leadership Initiative.

Lovea was part of the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program for four years in the 1990s (until her high school graduation) and then went on to college and graduate school and now is Director of Support Services at Housing Opportunities for Women.

She's one of many alumni of the Cabrini Connections program, which I led from 1993 to 2011, and the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, which I led from 1975 to fall 1992,  who I'm connected to on Facebook.

Below is a graphic that I created more than 10 years ago to show the goal of programs like Cabrini Connections.  Lovea is shown at the left with program leader Gena Schoen, and another student, Eric Moore, who I'm also connected to on Facebook.

Three time frames where youth need support

This graphic shows that there are three time frames where youth need organized support, which are the school hours, the 3-5pm afterschool hours, and the after 5pm and weekend program hours. I divide the non-school hours into two sections because it's only in the after-work hours when workplace volunteers are able to make consistent and on-going tutor/mentor connections with inner city kids.  (This may only apply to major cities like Chicago, where the time to travel from work to a program site is too far for workplace volunteers to get to a program regularly during the 9am to 5pm hours. In smaller communities this distance may not be as much of an issue.) See versions of the graphic above in this presentation.

Furthermore, it takes organized programs to facilitate these connections, encouraging on-going participation of young people and of volunteers.  Below is another graphic that I created to visualize the design of the tutor/mentor programs I led.

programs with this design needed in many places
In this graphic I show the three time frames and the pre school through high school and into adult lives time line. I show that a youth connects with a primary mentor, but that through the design and activities of the program that youth also connects with a wide range of other volunteers, staff and learning opportunities. View this Total Quality Mentoring presentation.

Below is a PDF showing the strategy we followed at Cabrini Connections. It focuses first on building and sustaining participation for multiple years of both youth and volunteers. Take a look.



While I led a tutor/mentor program prior to 1992 when we formed Cabrini Connections, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection at the same time, in an effort to help every non-school youth tutor and/or mentor program in Chicago get the ideas and resources needed to build their own versions of a mentor-rich program.  Based on my own experiences I recognized that every programs share the same struggle for consistent resource flows.

All programs have same needs
These included public visibility, operating dollars, volunteers, training and on-going support, leadership, consistent student participation, and ideas to grow from.

We started building a list of programs in January 1993, which I still maintain in 2020.  In addition, we began using maps to show where programs were most needed, based on indicators like high poverty, poorly performing public schools, and incidents of violence. Then we create overlays showing the locations of programs on our maps.

View Program Locator

We began publishing our list of programs in a printed directory in 1994 and were able to send it to 300-400 people each year, including foundations, libraries and many businesses. However it was not until 2004 that we were able to launch a searchable on-line program locator that enabled far more people to find the information we were sharing. 

In 2008 we created a new version of this, with the information plotted on a map, and with indicators data included, so people could zoom into a neighborhood to create a story-map, showing where programs were needed, and what programs were available, sorted by age group served and type of program.

Since launching our first http://www.tutormentorconnection.org website in 1998 we've been sharing these ideas and strategies with the world since they apply in every major city where poverty is concentrated in small areas surrounded by more affluent and well-connected neighborhoods.

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC

While we were able to sort programs by age group and type of program we really were not able to dig deeper into program data to create a clear differentiation. If you look at the websites on this list of programs you see great variation. Some include tutoring and/or mentoring as part of a larger organization, and give very little information about program design, goals or history. Others focus totally on tutoring/mentoring as the core part of program design. Few show a long-term strategy as visualized by the charts I've shown above.  Thus, there is much work to be done to create a city with long-term programs reaching youth in every high poverty neighborhood.

Unfortunately the financial meltdown starting in late 2008 destroyed our funding base and led the directors of Cabrini Connections-Tutor/Mentor Connection to make a radical change in 2011, dropping the T/MC strategy to focus only on the youth program.  That led me to leave the organization and form Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in late 2011 to try to continue to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, which I've managed to do through 2019, but with a bare minimum of support. Much of the work we were doing in the 2000s is no longer being done and our web sites are now templates for what should be done, more than active resources, although the web library and list of programs is being maintained and updated regularly.

As we enter 2020 the Chicago Tribune has launched a new call to action (see my article) and Mayor Lightfood has launched an EveryYouth Connected initiative (see my article). 

I keep sharing ideas via this blog and social media with two overall goals:

a) leaders will borrow these ideas and incorporate them into their own plans, perhaps even asking me to help them

b) a  university and/or investor/benefactor will step forward and offer support to rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection (see these articles) and to provide leadership to carry it forward in future years.

Get to know T/MC and T/MI
A starting point for anyone is to spend time browsing through my blog and web site to begin learning what I've been describing and thinking of ways to incorporate some of the ideas into your own leadership.  Here's a page where you can see how interns working with me between 2006 and 2015 have done that. 

In addition, here's a cMap showing how others have spent time learning about the T/MC and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

We're beginning a new year, and a new decade. Will the ideas and resources still be available in 2030?  Will there be programs in every neighborhood telling stories showing how youth who have been part of organized tutor/mentor programs from elementary school through high school in the past are now being recognized as future leaders, such as Lovea Smith.  

That's my goal. 

If you'd like to connect, post a comment or engage with me on one of these social media platforms.





Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A New Call To Action from Chicago Tribune

Chicago Forward - Chicago Tribune
A couple of weeks ago the Chicago Tribune launched a  new call to action to reach Chicagoland's disconnected youth, inviting reader ideas.

I've been responding to these "calls to action" for more than 25 years with ideas and strategies posted in my newsletters, web sites and on this blog.  Instead of re-writing all this again, like some sort of narrow grant proposal, I invite city planners to skim through the information that has been available to them for so long, then invite me into their brainstorming and planning where I can help them understand it and ways to apply it.

I shared this with Bruce Dold and the Chicago Tribune on a few Tweets which I'm showing below:



Since October 2019 I've been attending meetings hosted by Mayor Lori Lightfoot's team, which is developing a plan that also aims to reach youth throughout Chicago. Here's one Tweet that I posted.



Here's another one where I focus on the long-term, flexible funding needed to support youth serving programs in every high poverty neighborhood. This needs to be part of the planning.



Here's a Tweet that focuses on the talent needed in every single youth program.



Here's another Tweet, visualizing the many challenges facing youth and families in high poverty areas. Just focusing on providing youth programs won't address the many other issues.


I've been using Maps since 1993 to focus attention and resources to all high poverty areas of Chicago and its suburbs. Here's one Tweet showing that.



Finally, here's one where I show the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator search page, which the Tutor/Mentor Connection launched in 2004. Prior to that we had shared our list of programs via a printed directory, first published in 1994.



This is just a sample of the information available to the planners at the Chicago Tribune, Chicago SunTimes, City of Chicago and other places. There's so much here that included in any planning needs to be a focus on learning.

Below is a video showing steps to learning all this information, created by one of the interns from South Korea via IIT who worked with me from 2006 to 2015.



One of my Tweets posted above shows the front page of the October 15 Chicago SunTimes, which also was a call to action. This is a deeply rooted problem that requires involvement of many sectors, in many ways, and for many years.

The media and city leaders need to take on the intermediary role that I've consistently taken, to encourage others to look at this information, discuss it, then incorporate what they learn in actions that make birth to work youth tutor/mentor programs available in every high poverty area of the city and suburbs.

I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook where I hope to connect with others who will help share these ideas, while adding their own.



Sunday, January 19, 2020

How I'll spend MLKing Holiday

View map here
While many will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday by attending prayer breakfasts or visiting schools and/or community organizations to paint, clean or do special projects, I'll spend the day at my computer, looking at my list of nearly 200 non-school tutor, mentor & learning programs in the Chicago region.

I'll refresh my knowledge of each program, make sure the link works, and try to make sure the program is still operating. That part's not always easy because many don't have the resources or commitment to constantly update their web sites.

Then, as I review program websites I'll Tweet a few so others will be encouraged to look at them, too, and possibly become a volunteer or donor or do something else that helps each program grow.

Anyone can duplicate my role
The graphic at the right visualizes what I've been doing for the past 25 years.  I maintain a library of information, including maps showing where poverty is concentrated, and a list of Chicago non-school youth tutor/mentor programs. I share this on my web sites and point to it through my blog articles, and my social media efforts.  My goal is to draw help directly to programs in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region, so that each program is learning from each other, and they all have the talent and resources needed to constantly improve in how they help kids through school and into adult lives.

I wrote about the this in 2018 and in previous years, such as here, and here.   Here's what I wrote last year

The type of articles I write on holidays are the same type I write other days, because the work of raising kids, and of building great youth tutor/mentor programs, is work that requires daily investments of time, talent and dollars.

Imagine if millions of people had been spending time each day since the 1960s doing what's needed to reach youth in high poverty areas with support needed to help them through school and into adult lives.

view map  here
Imagine if millions were spending time reading about the challenges facing people of color, and people living in high poverty, so that they did more to remove those challenges, in all parts of the country, and the world, not just in a few places. 

The concept map at the right is one of a collection that I host at this link. Take some time tomorrow, or on another day, to look at each one and follow the links to the information they point to. Bring them up in a classroom, study group, or learning circle, as thought-starters for more and more people.

view video


If you're going to an event or to work on a service project tomorrow, take some time to view this video, before or after.

Every time you do service you are learning, or prompted to learn, about the people you are trying to help. Think of ways you can share that with others so in the future they offer their help, too.

I look forward to connecting with you on one of these social media channels tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Building Public Attention and Support

At this week's #ChiHackNight gathering at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago students from the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago presented information about a Million Neighborhoods project which you can view at this link.

Below is a Tweet from @miurbanchicago that was shared during their presentation. Great use of live Twitter!
Below is a screen shot from the Million Neighborhoods site showing all the areas of the world which they have mapped thus far. You can zoom in to the neighborhood level for many major cities (this will be slower on older computers).

Million Neighborhoods Project
I had seen this site a few months ago and reached out to make a connection, and also encouraged them to present at ChiHackNight.  As I listened to this presentation last night my two questions were,

1) how will they teach people to tell stories, over and over, to draw viewers to the map from each of the cities that are featured; and 

2) how will they help people in these areas get enough computer power to easily zoom in and out of the map platform.  It worked great at the ChiHackNight session, hosted at the Braintree headquarters in Chicago. It's much slower for me using my old PC in my home.

Interns spend time learning about CC
and Tutor/Mentor Connection

I led a two part Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection non-profit in Chicago between 1993 and 2011 and have continued to lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 2011 via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  

While we had college interns often between 1994 and 2005 we did not have them consistently writing blog articles or creating videos and visualizations to show what they were learning until 2006 when our first intern from Hong Kong joined us. We continued that practice every year until 2015.

See intern work - click here

I created this graphic in 2018 to highlight the work of interns from South Korea, India and Hong Kong, which largely consisted of creating visualizations and videos. They were all encouraged to use a blog on the Tutor/Mentor Connection Ning.com site and this Intern blog launched by Michael Tam in 2006 to reflect on the work they were doing and what they were learning.

However, I've not given as much attention to the work done between 2007 and 2011 by four Public Interest Program Fellows from Northwestern University.

Northwestern University Public Interest Program - click here

We began the fellowship partnership in 2007 and for the next four years we had one NU graduate work full time at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection each year, helping us operate our youth program and helping us support other programs in Chicago via the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the bi-annual conferences that we hosted.

Each one was encouraged to write a blog on a regular basis, reflecting on what they were learning and sharing our vision and strategies.  At this link you can find four articles that highlight some of the writing that each of these NU alumni did.  I encourage you to read each of these, then go to their individual blogs and read more.

We also had interns from other universities work with us during this timeframe and you can see a full list, with links to some of their work at this link.

The important message is that they did this on a regular basis, week after week.  That's what I've been doing, too. I've been writing articles on this blog almost every week since 2005. That's a model for what I've asked interns and my staff at Cabrini Connections to do.

Share what you learn
This  graphic visualizes this strategy.  As interns get to know the Tutor/Mentor Connection, they are sharing what they learn via their blogs, videos and visualizations with people who read their blogs, usually friends, family and others in their network, with the goal that some of those will become informed, and then share the ideas with even more people.

This is the answer to Question 1 that I posed to the Mansueto Institute.  To build greater attention enlist student and volunteer bloggers and social media partners to be "story tellers" and "sense-makers". The Mansueto Institute is part of a powerful university, which means many students could be taking a role, learning about the Mansueto Institute data and platform and then sharing that information with others.

They also could be teaching youth at high schools and colleges in every city that they are mapping to take the same role.

Network Building 

This is also part of the answer to Question 2.  If we consistently  share what we're learning, and some people in our networks share what they learn with people they know, we eventually can reach one or two people with wealth, power, talent and/or influence to do things we can't do because of our own limited capacity.

In this case improving internet access in high poverty areas of the world is an essential step in opening doors to all the knowledge that is available on the Internet, including the maps on the Mansueto Institute web site.

I've applied this strategy to helping expand the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute's visibility. It applies in many sectors.  It's even being applied by Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang on Twitter, as volunteers tell others about his ideas.

If you're at a university, high school or youth serving organization and want my help thinking through these ideas just reach out to me on one of these social media platforms.

If you want to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC please visit this link to make a contribution.




Monday, January 13, 2020

Bringing Old Posts to Life

I've written this blog since 2005 with more than 1000 articles. Many from the past are relevant today and to any who are trying to build systems of support that include the non-school hours, school hours and volunteers in organized #tutor #mentor programs. While people can skim the blog I doubt that many take the time, so I use my Tweets to try to draw attention to older articles.

Here are a few I posted today on my @tutormentorteam Twitter account:





Here's another



And another



And another


I've written many articles encouraging universities and/or high schools to create student leadership groups who study my blog articles, websites, and Tweets, and then create their own interpretations of what I'm saying.  Here's a video showing some student interns who have done this in the past.




Visit this page and see a collection of visualizations created by interns between 2006 and 2015.

Imagine finding a collection of student-created presentations like this on a high school, college and/or fraternity web site in the future.  That's my goal. Let me know if I can help you.


Monday, January 06, 2020

Annotate with Me.

I've pointed to the Connected Learning #clmooc group in many of my blog articles. That's where I first learned about web annotation, where you read an article or view a video, then highlight passages that resonate with you and comment on them in the margins of the document.

Here are two recent examples.

In December 2019 the #Marginal Syllabus group posted an article titled "Miles Morales: Spider-Man and imagining the cannon for racial justice".  In this article "Mario Worlds and Cody Miller argue that to disrupt racial hierarchies we must purposefully disrupt the canon of literature." You can join in at this link.

Then, last week, Terry Elliott, a professor from Western Kentucky, sent me an invitation to read his blog, and join in viewing and annotating a video by Alison McDowell, titled "What will Ed Reform 2.0 Bring? Data. Data. Data." .

Terry wrote,  "It is an understatement to say that her blog, Wrench in the Gears: A Skeptical Parent’s Thoughts on Digital Curriculum, is a revelation."

Terry posted the video in Vialogues at this link. You can scroll through the comments on his blog, or join in the annotation yourself.

What first drew my interest was Alison's use of LittleSis maps to show networks of people, companies and investors who she was identifying and writing about in her blog articles. I shared two in this Tweet.

Then I started to dig into Alison's blog to build a better understanding of what she is writing about. I found that she has one of the same problems I have with my own blog. There are many, many articles and most are long, with many embedded links. It's difficult for people to go through all of this, or to figure what we're focusing on.   So I went back to 2016 when she first started writing to see if I could learn the root purpose of her efforts. Here's one article that I read.

I won't try to describe these two annotations, but will only urge you to spend some time reading both, and building your own understanding of the content, and the power of group annotation.

Alison introduced herself to me with this Tweet.


I don't really know much about what Alison is writing about or have an expertise about the issues Mario Worlds and Cody Miller are describing.

What my role has been for the past 25 years is an intermediary who recognizes significant information, puts it in a web library, then encourages other people to spend time reading, reflecting, forming their own opinions, then sharing the information with an even larger group of people.

That's what I hope I've done today. 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Looking forward to next decade.

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago more than four decades ago, in the 1970s.  I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help youth tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty areas of Chicago more than 25 years ago.

four part strategy
 In 2010 I wrote two articles reflecting on the previous decade.

1)  I was still leading the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in December 2010 when I wrote this article.

2) Then I wrote this article saying

We all want to lower the high costs of poverty, improve the quality of the workforce, and prepare young people for successful adult lives. Yet, countless articles show that we’re not succeeding, especially in high poverty areas of Chicago and other parts of the country.


Maybe it’s because we’re not focused on the same goals, and we don’t have a common blueprint?


volunteer recruitment
Looking back even further, here's the first message posted into our Yahoo Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment eGroup in February 2000.  The first goal stated was:

Continue to attract the most individuals to volunteer to be a tutor
or mentor with one of the over 300 programs in the Chicago-area.
Create new sites to reach the most potential volunteers in Chicago
neighborhoods, suburbs and the Loop.


view cmap
Then, I started 2019 with this article, using the title of "What the Heck am I Trying to do?". One of the concept maps was titled "If we want to help kids move from school to careers...." what are all things we need to know and do?

As we enter 2020 and a new decade I'm going to continue to share the same ideas, in as many ways as I'm able.

In the top graphic I posted a four-part strategy that was first developed in 1993 when we launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection.   Below is a concept map that visualizes this as a cycle of recurring actions which I've repeated every year for 25 years and will continue in 2020 and beyond.

four part strategy - click here to open
Open the map, and spend time opening the links on each node. You'll find a cascade of additional maps and full explanations of the 4-part strategy.

read about this - here
The graphic at the left shows a pyramid of actions that can lead to a result we all want of "more kids moving safely through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers".  The pyramid sits on a base of knowledge, which is STEP 1 in the four-part strategy. It's information that I've been collecting and sharing for 45 years, in my leadership of a single tutor/mentor program, and in my efforts to help build a city of well-organized k-12 programs reaching youth in every high poverty neighborhood.

The web library is divided into four main sections, which are shown in the concept map below.  


Open map - click here

Concept maps are layers of information. Thus on each of my maps if you click on the boxes at the bottom of each node, the one on the left takes you to an external web site, and the one on the right opens to one, or more, additional concept maps.

find info about programs - click here
For instance, the green node in the upper left opens to the concept map I'm showing at the right.  For those seeking information about youth tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, or beyond, the links in this map point you to the list of programs I've been maintaining since 1993 as well as to directories maintained by others. If you're a volunteer, donor, parent or youth seeking a place to become involved during National Mentoring Month, this is the resource you would want to know about.

research links - open


If you open the yellow node at the lower left, you'll get the concept map shown to the left. This points to a library of research and resources that I've been building for more than 20 years, showing where tutor/mentor programs are most needed and why they are needed along with actions people can take to build and sustain programs that help youth and adults overcome the challenges of poverty, racism and inequality.

Imagine this in hundreds of
locations of Chicago & beyond
Here are three articles that I've written to help you dig deeper into this library of information.  One contains a list of links to every section of the library as well as to concept maps and visualized strategy essays which I've created over the past three decades.

If you've read this far, thank you. I know there's a lot to look at and understand and that most people don't want to spend the time reading. Yet, for the few who realize that the only way we can solve complex problems is to learn from as many sources as possible, this library is for you.

This is one reason I've continued to seek out high school and university partners who would make the Tutor/Mentor Connection library part of a service-learning curriculum.  Here's one article with that invitation.

I'm 73 now and don't know if I'll be here at the end of this decade, but my hope is that the Tutor/Mentor Connection library will not only still be here, but will be led by many people in many places, with complete updating and rebuilding of much that was created in the past 25 years, but is now rusty and not working as well as needed.  Until then, I'll continue to update the library, maintain my list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs, and use Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Facebook daily to share ideas and connect with a growing network of people who focus on similar issues.


If you'd like to help connect with me on one of these social media places or introduce yourself with a comment.

Thank you to those who sent 2019 contributions to help fund this work. I hope you'll repeat in 2020. Click here to help.