Thursday, February 27, 2020

Using Blog Articles as Learning Library

Learning library 
I started collecting information to help me be a better tutor back in 1973. Then I expanded this in 1975 when I began to lead a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago. I used printed newsletters to point volunteers to the information I was collecting, to help them be better tutors, too.

Then when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I expanded my library to finding information about operating and funding a single tutor/mentor program, and about helping multiple programs grow in high poverty areas of Chicago.

We launched our first web site in 1998 and have added to it every year since then.  I created a set of blog articles to point to the different sections of the library. I encourage you to look at them, and book mark them.

I started writing this blog in 2005 and Mike Traken of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, launched the Mapping for Justice blog in 2008, which he wrote until early 2011.  I've updated it since then.

A few years ago I started using some blog articles, such as this one about the climate crisis, as an extension of the web library. By that, I mean that I've been adding links at the bottom of the original article as I found new articles that related to the topic. These focus on topics that are not the main priority of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, but are important issues, so updating the blog articles is a way to aggregate links to important information without adding them to the main library.

 The concept map below shows articles where I've done this.

These are blog articles which I've updated with additional links 
Another article that I have updated regularly is this one, which focuses on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  I added a link to it today showing work being done in Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities by a group called Catalytic Communities (CatComm), which was started by Theresa Williamson in the mid 2000s.  I was part of the on-line Omidyar network at the time when she was first describing her vision. It's thrilling to see how successful she has been.

All of this information is useless unless a few people take the time to dig into the articles and the library, then take time to tell their friends and network about them.  That's what the graphic below is showing.  Along each spoke of the wheel are people who dig into the library, then help others find the information.

did into the library then tell your fiends, family & co-workers what you found
I wrote an article earlier showing how Sheri Edwards did that with one of her blog articles and how others have been doing this. 

Facebook notifications - click here

At the right I show the Facebook notifications page of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC which shows  how Layton Olson has been reading and commenting on several of my articles. Layton also made a year end contribution, too. I appreciate that.

Anyone can take this role. In doing so you make more information and ideas available to more people and we build the public will needed to solve some of the problems we talk about.

If you're reading and sharing these articles, thank you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Help youth tutor, mentor & learning programs grow in Chicago Area

Connect w youth in
organized tutor and/or mentor programs
At the February 24, 2020 Chicago Forward event  hosted by the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other panelists talked about the important role organized tutor, mentor and learning programs can  have in the lives of urban youth.

You can find contact information for nearly 200 Chicago area youth serving programs by browsing the Chicago Program Links list that I've been maintaining since 1993. 

You can also use the map, shown below, to determine what groups operate in different parts of Chicago...or near where you live, work, or along the route you travel as you do to and from work every day.  The program links list is also organized by sections of the city and suburbs, for the same purpose.

This map can also be seen here.

If  you click on an icon you can find the organization's name and their web site. Copy and paste the web address into your browser and you can learn more about the program, depending on how well the web site communicates the program purpose, history and design. Below is a JPG showing what the map looks like when open opened.

Each green icon on the map is the location of a Chicago youth serving program

Some of the locations on this map are headquarters sites of organizations that offer community based mentoring (mentors meet with kids at different places), or are organizations with many different sites where they offer services. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and Working in the Schools (WITS) are two who fit these descriptions. You'd need to go to their web sites to see their lists showing locations where they are active.

You can also find links to Chicago area programs at
*  Facebook pages list - click here
*  Twitter list - click here
*  Instagram list - click here

enlarge the map

This information can also be a starting point for others to get to know these organizations better, to help each of them attract needed resources, and to help share ideas across different programs so all will improve. You can enlarge the map then click on the icons to learn about programs in different areas. 

Browse articles I've written since 2005 to see how maps can be used in stories written by many people to help draw attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs in different areas, or to help new programs form where more are needed. Click maps, media, violence for lists of stories. 

The map shown above replaces an interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator (view archive version here and here) developed by the Tutor/Mentor Connection between 2004 and 2009. Since 2013 I've not had funds or technology support to update the site and in August 2018 the link to Google maps stopped working.

Since 1993 the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been maintaining these lists and an extensive library of information that shows where these programs are most needed, and why, and provides resource people can use to build and sustain programs in every high-poverty area of Chicago In 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC was created to continue this service.

This is work that really should be done at universities, where there is a constant stream of student brainpower to do what I've been doing by myself and with the help of a small staff and many volunteers.

I've tried to get this help In fact, I've been reaching out to universities for more than 30 years.  

Take a look at this presentation and see the many universities I've connected with and the work students have done in short-term internships and fellowships.  There are over 60 pages!  And many links to documents that show interactions with students and faculty.  Take your time to look at it.

Then share it with people like MacKenzie Scott, who has been giving millions of dollars to non-profit organizations.  Show how funding a Tutor/Mentor Connection-type program for 10 to 20 consecutive years on a university campus could leverage the donations being made and create a much greater, sustained, comprehensive, impact.

If donors provide the money, universities will establish programs, and my 30 year history of trying to support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and help kids in high poverty areas from birth-to-work will become a valuable resource.

That would lead to new, updated, map-based directories in Chicago and other cities, that are part of efforts to draw consistent operating dollars to programs in every high poverty area, which will help programs hire and retain staff, keep them operating longer, and have a greater impact on the lives of kids and families.

In this section and this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Planning Wiki you can read the history, goals and current status, for building a map-based tutor/mentor program database.  Such a platform can be applied in any city to support the growth of needed services in all high poverty areas, thus volunteers, partners and financial support can come from any place to help this work become a reality.

Until that happens, I still will depend on contributions to maintain this list of programs, the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library, my blogs, etc.

Please make a contribution so I can keep this information freely available to all.  Visit this page to find an address and a PayPal button.

Monday, February 24, 2020

If you're in the room are you being heard?

Tonight the Chicago Tribune is hosting it's #ChicagoForward event. I plan to be one of the people in the crowd expected to attend.  I've attended events like this for many years, and the graphic below visualizes my frustration.

If you're sitting at one of these tables, who can hear your ideas?
The image above is from last Monday's #ChiSTEPSummit, "Steps to End Poverty" hosted by Mayor Lightfoot. She'll be one of the featured speakers tonight, too.

It's great to hear what the featured speakers have to say, but I suspect others besides myself have been working in this arena for many years and have some good ideas about what works, what does not work, what needs to change, etc. 

this visualizes
Tutor/Mentor Library
I've been sharing my ideas since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, using print newsletters, email, websites, blogs and social media as libraries where people can dig deeper into my thinking and experiences.

In the Tutor/Mentor web library I point to more than 2000 websites where other people are sharing their own ideas. The goal is to borrow and build rather than constantly reinventing the wheel.

Furthermore, the goal is to influence philanthropy, business involvement, government funding, etc. so programs throughout Chicago have consistent, flexible funding to hire and retain talent and innovate solutions.

I use Twitter to draw attention to these ideas, to find ideas from other people, to connect and build relationships, and to try to build greater involvement of more people in solving problems like tonight's ChicagoForward meeting will focus on. 

The concept map below shows a strategy that the Tutor/Mentor Connection launched in the 1990s and that I continue in 2020.  Across the top you see events and actions that draw people together and share ideas.  The vertical paths show how people are supposed to be using these ideas to innovate better solutions to problems we face in Chicago and other places.  This one of a collection of cmaps that I've developed since 2005. Take a look.

This cMap shows how I use media to draw attention to ideas

While I sit at one of these tables and listen to speakers, I'll also post a few Tweets using #ChicagoForward hashtag.  Tomorrow I'll scroll through the Twitter feed to see who else has been posting and what ideas they are sharing.  I'll re-Tweet some, LIKE others, and add a few people to my Twitter lists. You can do the same.

If you want your ideas to be heard, this is a way to do it.  If you want to know more of what I've been thinking and suggesting then scroll through past articles and follow the links to my websites.  I've been writing the blog since 2005, but the library of PDF essays on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, was launched in 1998.

If you want to borrow my ideas and create new versions, please do. Just include a link to the original source material.

I've used maps since

If you're wondering how the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (T/MI), which I launched in 2011, differs from the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), launched in 1993, the only difference is tax structure. 

I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 in an effort to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection available in Chicago after the strategy was discontinued by the non-profit where it was born in 1993.  Since every major city in the world could produce maps showing areas of concentrated poverty, I've been sharing T/MC ideas with the goal that one, or more, cities would embrace the strategies I'm sharing....including Chicago. 

I hope to connect with you on Twitter tonight or in the coming week. I'm @tutormentorteam.  You can find me at these other social media sites, too.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Maps, Planning, Network Building

I have been trying to harness the power of geographic maps since 1993 in an effort to support the growth of mentor-rich, non-school, youth development programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago. Below are two news stories that illustrate that commitment.
At left is an article from the 1994 Chicago SunTimes; At right a Nov. 2015 Chicago Tribune story
My goal has been that leaders in business, philanthropy, media, politics, etc would use maps, and the information library I've been building since before the 1990s,  in planning that would support existing youth tutor, mentor and learning programs and help new ones start where more are needed.  Below is a concept map that visualizes this on-going map-based planning.

Using maps  in planning cycle - see cMap
Over the past few months I've been attending meetings hosted by Chicago's Mayor Lightfoot, focused on making non-school learning opportunities available to every youth in Chicago, particularly those that are most difficult to reach.  In these meetings the planning process being used by the Chicago Learning Exchange, and the Austin Coming Together group have been featured.

At the left is one map from this report, highlighted in this Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy article.  The map is part of an analysis of the availability of computer sciences programs in different Chicago community areas and shows places in the city where no known CS programs exist. It's one of many maps in the report.

The Austin Coming Together group has has been using maps like this in their own Quality of Life Planning.  Read the reports on their website and you'll see numerous examples of maps being used as part of the planning process.

As I attend meetings and connect on social media I'm sharing ideas and I'm learning new strategies and technologies that can be used to help build larger and closer on-line communities of people who focus on common issues.

I attended the Chicago Learning Exchanges Computer Science Affinity Group meeting on Thursday and at the start of the meeting the facilitator said "let's get to know who is in the room".  In most gatherings I've attended this involves people standing and giving their name, organization, and a short introduction. At #ChiHackNight that is limited to three words!

That was not the case yesterday. We were invited to log into a Mentimeter site from our phones, tablets and PCs and enter a six digit code, then answer questions that asked who we were, what organization, our goals, etc.  Below is a Tweet I posted with a screen shot of one of the reports generated which were used by the meeting facilitator to help people know more about each other.

If I get slides from the meeting that show the Memtimeter information I'll update this blog with those.

The Mentimeter site reminds me of Group Systems meeting facilitation software that I was first introduced to in the early 1990s, and which probably influenced my passion for on-line interaction.

The text below is from a document titled "Best Practice in Facilitating Virtual Meetings" which was published in 2000.

click to enlarge

It enables "everyone to "talk at once" and makes all contributions available to other participants on their own terminals. The way comments are aggregated is similar to what Mentimeter does, and enables meeting leaders to help meeting participants quickly see where they agree, and where they disagree and more conversation is needed.  Read the entire article to learn more.

When I was working with Group Systems consultants in the late 1990s, the on-line versions of these tools were not available, and people were not yet gathering in online communities or social media sites. Yet the potential for large numbers of people to be contributing their own ideas to making Chicago a better place for everyone to live, has always driven my work.

How can one person change
the world? 

The graphic at the right is one I created more than a decade ago to visualize how a small group of people could change the world, if they could spread their ideas to more and more people who had the mix of talent and resources to implement their ideas.

I've never had advertising dollars so using social media and traditional news media have always been part of the strategies I've employed.  However it's really difficult to measure your impact.

I only have a few people giving me financial support now, since I've not been a 501-c-3- non profit since 2011, and a few are asking "what are you accomplishing?"

I feel that just maintaining an information library and making it freely available to the world is quite an accomplishment.  However, getting more people to find and use it is a huge challenge.  So I keep looking at tools that show network growth and my influence within a network.

Here's a Tweet that came across my desk this week.

This was looking at Tweets posted yesterday morning around Mayor Lightfoot's ChiSTEPSummit held yesterday in Chicago.  I was not there, but was connected online. Open the link to the Tweet Binder Report and it provides a fascinating amount of information about participants in that conversation, including my @tutormentorteam Tweets.

I've not yet had time to learn more about TweetBinder or Mentimeter but both look like useful tools to those who seek to bring people together to solve complex problems and who are looking for tools to help them understand who is gathering, and who still is missing.

I hope you will look at the examples of using maps in planning, along with these analysis tools, and will find them useful.   If you're interested in helping me apply them via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, let's connect.

Monday, February 17, 2020

NBA Allstar Game Scores Big Points for Chicago Scholars

I watched most of the NBA Allstar game last night and it was a great show. Most impressive in my point of view was how two Chicago youth serving organizations were singled out for attention and as much as $400,000 in donations, based on which team won the first three quarters and the final score.  Here's one Tweet that shows @ChicagoScholars as the big winner.

Use your visibility
I hope that other sport copies this formula and that every year two or more youth serving programs are given the opportunities to meet with players, be interviewed by media and receive huge donations.

However, I want to see more. 

I want to see these players talking about the need for youth programs in every poverty neighborhood, and the need to find ways to generate consistent attention and financial support for ALL of the youth programs in a city, not just one or two.

I used this photo of LeBraun James in a 2011 article which includes two videos done by interns working with me. Below is one of them.

High Profile Stars 
In 2013 I used Derek Rose's picture in another article, along with an animation showing a role any athlete could take on a regular basis, to talk about where tutor/mentor and learning programs are most needed, and what programs operate in different neighborhoods, who need continuous support from fans, donors, volunteers and media to be world class in what they do to help kids move through school and into adult lives.

I've even suggested that some of these athletes could use my articles as templates and create their own versions, for their own web sites.

In the graphic below imagine each slice of the pie chart at the left representing one category of sports (baseball, football, basketball, soccer, golf, etc) or one category of entertainment or business.

Build year-round support
The only way we can generate enough attention, and enough money, to support hundreds of youth tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, and in other cities, is to have many people doing what the NBA AllStar broadcast did last week. Highlight one, or two programs. Then say "Here's a place where you can learn about others programs who also need help."

Then use social media to draw attention to this message. 

Use T/MI map
Look through the articles I've tagged, #maps, #media and #violence on this blog, or on the MappingforJustice blog and you'll see the maps that I've created showing locations of nearly 200 youth serving programs in the Chicago area. You'll also see how I use other data platforms to highlight where these programs are most needed, based on indicators such as poverty, health disparities, poorly performing schools, violence, etc.

Use this information to decide what neighborhood you want to support, and which youth programs in that area you want to help become the best in the world at helping kids.

In this 2014 article I encourage youth to create map stories on a regular basis, for the same purpose that I do. Athletes and celebrities could coach them to do this and give recognition to those who do it well.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin and a few other social media spaces. If you're doing this type of work or want to share ideas, let's connect.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

NBA AllStars Support Two Chicago Youth Programs

Congratulations to Chicago Scholars and Afterschool Matters for being chosen by the NBA Allstar game captains as charities to support from the visibility of this weekend's game in Chicago. 

Here's a Tweet from Chicago Scholars

Here's a Tweet from Afterschool Matters

Athletes w Game Plan
I posted an article last week talking of my goal that athletes support tutor/mentor programs in every neighborhood of cities where they have teams, not just one or two, no matter how good those are. That's because no single program reaches more than a few youth. In cities like Chicago, with more than 200,000 youth living in high poverty areas (and more in the suburbs) many programs reaching k-12 and opportunity youth are needed to reach youth in every high poverty neighborhood.

Gratitude for Shining Light

Then today I found this article on the blog of Sheri Edwards, a retired teacher from Washington State, who I've come to know via the #clmooc Connected Learning network.    In her article she shares a poem that recognizes work I've been doing since early 1970s and includes this encouragement:

Read his blog! Tutor Mentor Institute and search both his blog and his websites: Tutor/Mentor Connection  and  Tutor Mentor Exchange

I added a link to Sheri's blog article to a concept map that I've been building for several years, to point to articles written by others which are similar in purpose to the article Sheri Edwards wrote this week.

This cMap aggregates links to stories about Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC

Imagine a concept map like this featuring pictures of NBA, NFL and/or MBA or NHL stars, with links to stories and videos they had created telling how they help support the growth of k-12 youth tutor, mentor, STEAM and learning programs in every high poverty neighborhood of cities where they play.  The could use my blog articles, such as these, as a playbook that they could borrow ideas from.

Chicago programs list 
Imagine a map like this showing existing tutor, mentor, learning programs in each pro sports city, with flags on each green icon (locations of existing programs in Chicago) to indicate places where athletes were responsible for funding, or volunteer involvement, or other actions that help each program be of "all star caliber" in helping kids move through school and into adult lives and jobs.

Thanks Sheri Edwards for inspiring this article.

As she said in her blog, you can help support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a contribution at this link.  

If you'd like to connect, find me on one of these social media sites.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Making Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs Available to More Youth

Oct 15, 1992 Chicago Sun-Times
This was the front page of the October 15, 1992 Chicago Sun-Times which prompted the formation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC). As leaders called for "action" we said "If  they don't know all of the youth tutor, mentor & learning programs operating in the city, who they serve and what they do, how can they ever know if their actions have resulted in more programs reaching youth in more areas of the city?"

I had led a youth tutor/mentor program since 1975 and had started drawing programs together to share ideas and support each other since 1976 so I had a good idea of the limited number of programs in the city. In my advertising role at Montgomery Ward I understood the need for regular communications to support multiple stores located all over the country. I felt that this type of leadership was needed.

click to enlarge
So we decided to fill the void.  We did the planning for the T/MC in 1993 and created the 10 point plan shown in this article. The plan focused on collecting information (step 1) that anyone could use to help build high quality tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago, and that volunteers, youth and staff in these programs could use to help kids move through school and into adult lives.  Step 2 and 3 focused on getting people to look at the information and learn how to use it, to help programs grow in different places (step 4).

We decided to use maps to plot locations of programs and where they were most needed, as an easy to  understand visual tool.  By 1996 we had condensed the 10-points to this 4-part strategy which I've been following since then.

view 1997 Director
In January 1994 we launched our first survey and 120 programs responded.  With this information we hosted a first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1994 and published the first printed directory.  I've created an archive of these directories. You can see the 1997 Directory here. Every Directory followed this same format. If you'd like to see others, email me at tutormentor 2 at and I'll send you a link.

Unfortunately we were only able to send the printed directories to a few hundred stakeholders in Chicago each year from 1994 to 2002.  However, we began to put the information in the directory in a www, web site in 1998.

view at this link
Then in 2004 we launched a searchable on-line directory that also enabled us to more easily up-date the content on a regular basis.  That is still available although due to technical problems it has not been updated since 2013.

This offers many advantages over the printed directory. Now you could search for age group served (elementary, middle and high school), type of program (pure mentor, pure tutor, tutor/mentor) and location. Thus a parent or volunteer looking for a program in a specific zip code could use this to find if any were in our list.

Leaders could also use this to determine if there were enough programs in different places.

Browse list of map stories
In 2008 we launched an interactive map-based version of the Directory. The 2004 search platform worked like a Google search. If you knew what you were looking for you could put in the zip code or name of the program and find whatever information was in the Directory.  We reversed that by creating a map of the Chicago region, with searchable overlays. We also added an assets feature, showing banks, colleges, drug stores, hospitals, etc. Using this people could zoom into a section of the city and create a map showing the need for non-school programs, existing programs, plus assets who could help programs grow in that area.

Here's an article from 2010 that shows the directory and our use of maps.  In 2008 we also launched the MappingforJustice blog to share our maps. Since 2011 I've used this to share map platforms created by others, in addition to map stories created using the Program Locator.

Support Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC
Due to the financial challenges of the late 2000s the mapping platform has not been updated since 2010 and the program data has not been updated since 2013.  However, this still works as a model that could be re-built and used in Chicago and every other major city in the world where poverty is a root cause of many problems and is usually concentrated in small sections of big cities.  I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to try to keep the T/MC alive in Chicago and help it grow in other cities.  I'm still trying.

Today I saw a commentary on Crains Chicago Business calling for more programs to help youth. I shared it on Twitter.

Without a T/MC type strategy it's not likely to ever result in enough programs in every high poverty neighborhood helping youth move through school and into work.

This is one of dozens of graphics that I've used to visualize the ideas I've been sharing since 1994. If you're creating similar graphics please connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN and share them.

If you're not, the please share my graphics and blog articles with your network.