Saturday, June 27, 2020

Creating Economic Justice - Time Right for Greater Business Involvement?

Chicago Sun Times, 1992
In the past month the protests following a series of high profile police murders of Black and Brown men and women have mobilized millions across the world.  Will this finally lead to the type of involvement that creates social, racial and economic justice in America?

I've been pointing to this 1992 Chicago SunTimes front page for the past 27 years, in an on-going effort to get business, professional and political leaders more strategically involved in building and sustaining youth tutor, mentor and learning programs that help kids in poverty areas move through school and into jobs and careers.

My belief in the potential of well-organized programs comes from my own leadership of tutor/mentor programs between 1992 and 2011. I'm now connected to many alumni on Facebook and seeing them post pictures showing their own kids finishing high school and/or college.  That's the long term impact that's possible.

Service-Learning - click here
I also believe that such programs can educate volunteers about the reasons tutor/mentor programs are needed in the first place, and that some of these volunteers will become deeply involved in creating systems level solutions...if they are well supported and stay involved for multiple years. 

I'm now seeing a growing number of Chicago youth programs sharing reading materials with their volunteers, encouraging them to learn more about racial justice history in America. That's a step in the right direction.

Since 2000 I've been sharing a set of strategic plan templates, first developed by a team of students from DePaul University, that can be used by business and professional leaders to jump-start strategic involvement initiatives.  These can be applied in any city. They are shown below.

Tutor/Mentor University Connection - View the presentation below. Download and create your own version. Apply in any university, in any city.  Read articles showing university involvement.

Tutor/Mentor Hospital Connection.  Any hospital could apply this strategy to support poverty-reduction efforts in the geography surrounding a hospital. It could be a strategy to reduce the cost-of-poverty at the hospital and to create jobs and career opportunities for youth and adults in the hospital trade area.

Tutor/Mentor Lawyer Connection (PDF). This strategy mirrors the first two, but also draws from a partnership my organization formed with the Lawyers Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Foundation in 1994 and continued through 2007.  Read Lend A Hand articles on this blog.

Tutor/Mentor Lawyer Connection PDF - click here

Role of Leaders.  For any organization to build and sustain a long-term strategy such as those suggested in the above presentations, the CEO and top leaders need to be personally committed.  That does not mean they do all the work. It means they make it important and appoint a "get it done" person from their organization to lead the effort.  That's what the presentation shown below outlines.

Almost all of the articles on this blog support these strategies.
  Evidence that any organization is adopting the strategy would be a blog on the organization website that in five and 10 years from now shows similar stories, posted weekly, for five to 10 consecutive years.

Furthermore, you'd find a version of this concept map, with the company CEO in the blue box, or the company logo, showing a commitment to helping kids in poverty move through school and into jobs and careers.

Make this commitment. Put  your name in the blue box at the top. 

The long-term impact of such a strategy would be more programs reaching k-12 youth in more places with on-going support that helps kids through school and into jobs and careers, free of poverty, and free of racial discrimination.

This visualizes the goal. Kids that join a program while in elementary or middle school and now finishing high school or college. 

I'm seeing many youth organizations post stories of students graduating and going to college. I don't find many using a graphic like this on their website or blog to visualize the program design that helped achieve these outcomes.

How do you start?  Do your own reading. 

Create a research and planning team of people within your organization who spend time reading and reflecting on the ideas I've been sharing. In a high school or college this team could include students and alumni.  Share what they learn, as they learn, encouraging others to get involved and build their own understanding.

I'd be happy to help anyone think through this strategy.  I'm available on any of these social media platforms.

If you value what I'm sharing, send a contribution to help fund my work. Visit this page

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Navigating Yourself Through Information Libraries

Facilitating understanding
I started building the Tutor/Mentor information library in the 1970s long before I knew of the Internet. At the tutoring program hosted by Montgomery Ward from 1970s-1999 the library started as four metal file cabinets, then expanded to a wall of shelves. When we moved to the 20th floor of the Montgomery Ward HQ tower in 1993 we had about 400 sq ft of space, just devoted to our library.

That physical library now is down to a few books on my shelves. It's all on-line, which has been happening since 1998, while the space (and funds) available to operate began to shrink.  There's some sadness there, but to me, this is a blessing. The information is available to far more people now than it ever was in the 1990s.

From 1993 to 2000 I used printed newsletters to tell people about some of this information and encouraged them to visit the library at our Wards location.  Many of the tutor/mentor programs launched in the mid 1990s borrowed ideas from that library.  I hosted conferences every six months in Chicago and these became a place to gather new information and to help people understand the information and ideas within the library.

Home Page T/MC website - 1998
We started moving all this on-line in 1998 when one of the volunteers at the tutor/mentor program I was leading offered to build a website for us. We developed the graphic at the right for this first website to show our goal of connecting people from different backgrounds to the information, to each other, and to the Tutor/Mentor Connection. The page design was used help people navigate the information on the site. You could click on any of the blue circles and go to a section where we hosted lists of information/links to other people's websites.

Between 1998 and 2004 I saw a few examples where graphics like this were interactive, meaning if you clicked on one of the blue circles it would move to the center of the wheel, and the spokes would be filled with new circles, showing sub categories of information related to that topic.  The Hub of Creativity and the early version of the Boston Indicators Project (both no longer available) were examples that I hoped to duplicate (but never was able to).

As the library continued to grow between 2000 and today the number of links grew and that made it more and more difficult for people to navigate the library.  In 2011 I worked with Debategraph and created an interactive site that shows the vision and strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection / Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Mentoring Kids to Careers on Debategraph - click here
When you click on any of the spokes it moves to the center of the wheel and new spokes appear. A narration at the right side of the page explains what that particular strategy focuses on.  This was a good example of the type of navigation tool I was envisioning in the late 1990s, but still did not focus on the various sections of the Tutor/Mentor web library.

Since 2005 I've used concept maps, created with cMapTools, to show the library.  

4 sections of web library
These are static, but they have layers of information. You can link from the cMap to sections of the library.  This map shows the four main sections. Thus, if you click on the small box at the bottom of each node, a new map appears.

In the late 2000s two interns from South Korea/IIT in Chicago built an animated version of the map.  This work was actually done by two different teams. One built it in the winter and the second updated links and added a voice narration in the spring of 2009.  You can see it below.

Resource Map - video

This was created in Flash animation which is no longer supported on many platforms. I created a YouTube video a couple of years ago so that it could still be viewed. It was really creative work.

The Debategraph map, cMaps and this animation all were a form of interactive navigation, intended to help people find, understand, and apply the ideas in the library to help kids in all poverty areas move through school and into adult lives.

This week if found a version of what I have been imagining for so long, on the World Economic Forum web site. This is a "strategic intelligence" map.  View this short video to understand its scope.

World Economic Forum - Strategic Intelligence 
Here's how this works.  On the home page of the WEF website are dozens of categories. Click on any one of these and a map like the one above opens. On this the hub of the wheel starts out stating the global issue, in this case "workforce and development". The spokes show a wide range of related issues. Click on any of those, and that becomes the center, with new spokes.  Notice the inner ring of circles. Click on any of these and related spokes on the outer ring will show up in blue.  Every time you refresh the map a list of resources appears in the box on the right side of the page.

I can't imagine what it costs to build and  maintain this.  I'd love to have someone step forward and build a similar platform to point to all the sections of my library.  This might be organized in several ways. For instance, I wrote a "War on Poverty" article several years ago and created the graphic below.

View PDF that describes this. 
The hub of the wheel might be "What are all the things we need to know and do to assure every youth born in a poverty area today is in a job, free of poverty, by his/her mid 20s?"  The spokes would be points 1 to 7 on this graphic, with an 8th being "using maps".

This same hub could be used with a different version, where the outer spokes would be all the sections and sub sections of the Tutor/Mentor library, and the inner spokes would be the four major categories shown in the cMap above.

Why is this important? Below are screenshots from today's Chicago Tribune, talking about the tragic killing of another child, and pointing out that we've been here in the past, and nothing  has changed.

I could have just as reasonably put in an image from the murder of George Floyd, or the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Both are related.

An information map, like the one the World Economic Forum built, should be created, with "How do we assure that all Black Lives Matter"  or "How do we end these killings?"   The outer circle would be created by people much more deeply informed than myself, but needs to be an exhaustive representation of "everything:"we need to know, and do, to reach a future where all Black Lives do Matter, and we have a much better world for every one to live and raise their kids.

I wrote this article earlier today, saying a Black Lives Matter information hub should be built. Maybe it already has been.  Here's another page from the WEF Strategic Intelligence site, focused on Systemic Racism.

Systemic Racism - click here
I'm not yet certain about what information is hosted, here, but I encourage you to take time to look.

I think the sub sections of the Tutor/Mentor library would be a useful resource for these platforms.

Getting "Everyone" involved

I think the 4-part strategy that I started following in 1994 would be useful, too.  The library I've built, that the World Economic Forum built, and that others, like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals organizers have created, all represent "STEP 1", which is the information gathering, organizing, and sharing step.

In the War on Poverty graphic, STEP 7 focuses on "building and sustaining public will".  I feel this is where we have failed, over and over, for the past 30 years.  Too few spend time trying to figure ways to do this and too fee provide the on-going funding needed.

STEP 2 of the 4-part strategy focuses on building public interest and drawing more people to the information in the library, while STEP 3 involves an on-going process of facilitation, or helping people find, understand and learn ways to apply the information.

I'm doing STEP 2 and STEP 3 right now.

STEP 4 involves the use of maps, which are also part of STEP 1.  We must know where people need help and we must build tools that show the distribution of needed programs and resources, to assure that we're reaching ALL of those places.


What makes the Tutor/Mentor strategy unique is that in STEP 1 I've been building a list of Chicago and national Tutor and/or Mentor programs.  The result of more people looking at this information and learning ways to help is that more are looking at maps to determine what organizations in specific areas are doing needed work. Then they are looking in their own personal mirror and deciding how, and how much, to help.

They don't way for a proposal. They have used the information in STEP 1 to know what types of programs work and they look on program websites to determine what these programs do and how to help them.

Educating more people to take various roles that sustain needed work in thousands of locations is work that must be included in any knowledge map.

I've been writing about this since 2005, so there are many related articles that you can find by clicking on the tabs at the left side of this blog.  This article about systems thinking would be a good start.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and Instagram (find links here).

If you value the ideas I'm sharing, a small contribution to help fund me would be welcome. Visit this page and use PayPal to send your help.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Where I've been connecting with others

Spend time learning
Over the past eight years I've worked largely from my home and have had fewer and fewer one-on-one meetings, or events to fill my schedule.  That's changed with the Covid19 lockdown. I can attend one, or two, ZOOM meetings daily where I'm learning new information, meeting new people and/or reconnecting with people who I've not been able to meet in traditional meetings.

Below are a few Tweets that show the range of events I've been following.  You're invited to join any of these.

I started meeting a few weeks ago with a few educators who use the #learning2pivot hashtag. Members have been writing blog articles to show their thinking about school re-opening. I added them to my Inoreader library where I've been pointing to educators who I've met over the past 10 years via the #clmooc, #etmooc and similar educator communities.

Here are links to three of the blog articles that were shared this week:

- from Geoffrey Winship, educator in Toronto - "Getting Back to Normal"
- Dr. Bryan P. Sanders, educator from Los Angeles, "Take away the campus, but put back the computer"
- from Ihor Charischak, A career mathematics educator, "My Trip to Number Town" (watch the video)
- from Gary Stager, education consultant - "Big ideas" and "Time for Optimism"
- from Susan Spellman, school counselor - Re -Entry from a School Counsellor Lens

Last week I visited the #PovertyNarrative conference hosted by the University of Michigan. I looked at the archive of an event held on June 11, watched one live on June 16, then watched a second. I posted Tweets as I did. There will be another session on Thursday, June 18, then more the following week.  Below is one of my Tweets.

The list of recommendations for solutions journalists is similar to the goals I've had since 1993 when I began creating my list of Chicago tutor and/or mentor programs. My goal was that programs would share information on their web sites showing what they do, why they do it, where, how, and what's working, or not working, and why. Such information would be valuable to anyone trying to understand them, or trying to do similar work in different places. Sadly, few programs provide this range of information.

One of the #clmooc educator blogs I follow is written by Kevin Hodgson, a middle grade teacher in Massachusetts. He posted blog article sharing cartoons he's created since schools closed in March. I encourage you to take a look.

I also watched this ZOOM presentation

On Sunday evening I watched the segment on 60 minutes where they told the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre that took place 100 years ago. This is a huge reminder of why the history of slavery and racism in America should be taught in every school.

I went to Instagram to listen to this presentation. I love the graphic.

From June 10-12 I followed the National Points of Light Conference, which was a virtual event this year. I've attended twice in the past, but not recently. You can follow that event using #pointsoflight20

I find some Twitter threads to be worth reading. Here's one that shows how the Confederacy survived the Civil War. As I said about the Tulsa Massacre, this history has not been taught.

I also took a look at the #HowWeRise blog launched by the Brookings Institute. I added a link to that in my monthly eNews, which I'm sending today.

Since last October I've been encouraging Mayor Lightfoot's MyChiMyFuture youth programs team to share info on Twitter and to try to build community there. Last week they began to do that.

I keep checking my TMPrograms list on Twitter every day, looking for posts from Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs.  Too few are using Twitter.  Many are posting on Facebook and/or LinkedIN or Instagram.  However, I find it more difficult to see a list of programs on these platforms. I'm just seeing single programs as they show up in my feed, which is an inefficient use of my time.

The Tweets I've shared are just a few examples of my past couple of weeks on Twitter. You can follow me at @tutormentorteam and see the same things I'm looking at. You can even post a Tweet sharing a link to your own website and blog.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

ENOUGH - Maybe This Time?

Like many of you, I'm angered by the death of another Black man, and another Black woman, and countless others, as a result of police actions.  More so, I'm angered that we've had reminders of our racial injustices for more than 30 years and far too little has been done to fix the problems.  I'm heartened to see some of the actions coming as a result of the protests marches, but this fight is not one that will be won overnight. It's a long-term battle.

That's what I've been focusing on for the past 25 years.

The front page of the October 15, 1992 Chicago SunTimes was the catalyst that led me to create the Tutor/Mentor Connection in late 1992, with the help of 6 other volunteers.

I had seen media stories like this in previous years, such as after the killing of Ben Wilson in the mid 1980s, and realized that unless the city had a master database of youth serving organizations it would never be able to build a marketing plan to help each of those programs constantly improve what they were doing to help k-12 youth move through school and into adult lives ... with jobs....that enable them to safely raise their own kids.

Support youth programs in
EVERY high poverty area.
Furthermore, by mapping locations of programs and slicing the database to know what age group was being served, by what type of program, we could provide resources people in different areas could use to determine if they had enough programs, or needed more.  And by building a library of information and bringing people together to learn from each other, we could help programs grow in more places.

I had led a volunteer based tutor/mentor program since 1975 so I had a strong belief in the potential of these programs to have a positive influence on the lives of kids who participated, as well as the volunteers.  The program I had led only served kids until the end of 6th grade, so in 1992 as we were generating the idea of a Tutor/Mentor Connection, we created the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program, to help 7th graders from the original program move through high school and on to college and careers. (That program is now Chicago Tutoring Connection (CC), while the original is now Tutoring Chicago,)

CC alumni w next
generation  HS grad.
I led that program for 18 years and more than 700 teens participated, many for 4 to 6 years.  Now in 2020 I'm still connected to many former CC students, as well as to many who were in the earlier program in the 1970s and 1980s.  I'm delighted when I see people posting stories of their own kids now finishing high school and/or college. The photo at the right was posted on Facebook in the past week.

However, I'm also saddened when they post stories of losing a child to gun violence.

Yesterday I watched a panel discussion titled "Poverty Narrative" where media people talked about how they tell the story of race and poverty in America and how important it is to keep the story alive for a long time. This is an on-going event that will continue through June 2020 so I encourage you to join in.

Near the end of the 90 minute session one of the panel members, Darrick Hamilton said "Political Rights and Civil Rights are not enough without Economic Rights."

I support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs because they can help youth through school with a network of support that helps them thrive economically.  However, they also draw volunteers from non-poverty backgrounds into the lives of urban youth, where many begin learning about political rights and civil rights issues, and become part of the mobilization needed to make change happen.

During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s as I led a tutor/mentor program I began to focus on one big question. What are all the things we need to know and do to assure that all youth living in high poverty areas are entering jobs and careers by their mid 20's.

What are all the things we need to know and do?
Surprise. This requires learning much more than how to be an effective volunteer tutor or mentor. 

These two graphics visualize the same 4-part strategy that I launched through the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  It's an on-going, information-based, problem solving strategy.  I encourage others to adopt it to address the "Political Rights, Civil Rights and Economic Rights" challenges Derrick Hamilton spoke of.

View at 

The database of Chicago youth Tutor and/or Mentor programs that I've maintained since 1993 is only one part of the library of information I've been aggregating for the past 25 years,which is Step 1 of the strategy.  There's an entire section on black history and another on race, poverty and inequality, and another showing ways to take political action.

Four sections of web library
This concept map shows the four sections of the library. Click on the link under each node and another maps opens. Click on the links under these and enter the library and find a list of links to other websites.

Step 2 of the strategy involves creating greater awareness and use of this library, and Step 3 focuses on helping people understand the information and build personal and/or organizational strategies to use it.  Step 2 is where our efforts usually fail. Few have consistent funding to keep a movement alive for 20 years or longer. This is especially difficult since so many people and organizations in so many places need to be involved.

Step 4 is the result of the first three. Better information, seen and understood by more people,  results in more actions that draw visitors to websites of each tutor/mentor program in Chicago, where people make decisions on who to help, and how to  help, including "how much" to help.  Step 4 is the second place where we fail.  Non-profits rely on financial support from donors who are inconsistent, and often short term, in their giving. Few non profits have the marketing or celebrity power to attract needed support, yet many are needed, especially in big cities like Chicago.  The strategies the T/MC has piloted intended to  help solve this problem, by using maps and pointing to a directory of nearly 200 youth serving programs in the Chicago region. 

There are many involved in Step 1, and many making a good living doing research and writing books about race, poverty, inequality, etc.  However, far fewer are involved in Step 2 or Step 3. The media have been writing stories about race and  poverty in Chicago for 30 years. However, it's not been part of an on-going campaign, and has not worked like retail advertising, which ends every message with "come to our store and buy our products".   

Link to maps and lists of
tutor/mentor programs in areas
featured in negative news.
A link to tutor/mentor programs or to research libraries at the end of every story, pointing to lists of tutor/mentor programs or other needed services, and to research libraries that enable deeper learning, would have been a simple thing for media to have been doing for the past 25 years (since the Internet), but they have not done that.

Read about the Rest of the Story strategy described in this 2014 article.

Such a strategy has intended to constantly expand the number of people from the Chicago region, and from other cities of the US and the world in learning, innovation and actions that address the "Political Rights, Civil Rights and Economic Rights" of people of color in every zip code of America.

I've never had significant or consistent, resources to invest in doing this work, thus it's impact is far less than I had hoped it would be and the problems of the early 1990s are still with us today, compounded by a pandemic and civil polarization, fueled over the past few decades by 24-hour a day talk radio and TV, plus the growth of the Internet.

New leaders are now stepping into this effort, including thousands of young people. As you do your marches and protests, I encourage you to read articles I've posted on this blog for the past 15 years and build an information based, network-building strategy modeled after the one I've piloted.

Collect information about youth programs
and assets. Point to them in every
media story.
Identify the organizations in each zip code that are already working to solve these problems, along with assets (banks, universities, hospitals, faith group, other businesses, etc.) who should be consistently supporting those efforts.

Use concept maps to visualize the information you're collecting, the problems you're trying to solve, and strategies of mobilizing people, attention and resources to support long-term solutions.

Then use social media, traditional media, video and other networking tools to connect volunteers, donors and learners to those organizations on a consistent basis.  Help them all be great at the work they do.

Share your strategies with others so they can borrow ideas from you, and spend time looking a work being done elsewhere, so you can borrow good ideas, too.

Too few have made it a life-long commitment to help reduce poverty and inequality by creating systems of support that help kids through school and into adult lives.

Be someone who does.

I'm on social media at Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Join me there.

I've a "fund me" page too, on my own website. Help if you can.

9-25-2020 update.  A new series of videos starts today, using #povertysolutions hashtag.  A report title "Investing in Us"  was created, using interactive maps, that you can find at this link

Monday, June 08, 2020

Athletes Can Take The Lead

Last Sunday I posted a "do the planning" article after watching protest marches take place across the country and around the world. I emphasized that long-term leadership is required to solve the problems we face. Today's Chicago SunTimes provides the inspiration for this week's article.

Below is a photo from the sports section, showing athletes from Chicago pro sports teams who met with youth in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago last week.

See photos in 6/8/2020 Chicago SunTimes - click here
I have posted 35 articles over past decade showing a greater role that athletes and celebrities can take to motivate their fans to give time, talent and dollars to support youth-serving organizations in different neighborhoods of Chicago. This will be number 36.

My articles focus on the mental part of building a great team and the consistent long-term work required.  Most sports teams have thick play-books that coaches use to train athletes to work together to defeat opponents.

Build a game plan for ending racism & fighting poverty. 
In my articles I urge the development of a game plan, with blueprints showing work needed to support youth at every age level, as they move from birth to adult lives, jobs and the freedom to live anywhere, without worry for the safety of themselves or their kids.

Adopt a Neighborhood

The map at the left visualizes my goal that athletes adopt specific neighborhoods for one year of support (which can repeat in future years).

During that year they will use media opportunities to talk about their neighborhood, it's needs, and how fans can  help every youth serving organization become great, by having the support needed to build great youth development, tutoring and mentoring teams.

Instead of supporting a single program in one area, they draw attention to every program within their adopted neighborhood, and lead planning efforts that determine if there is a need for more programs in that area, or for more of specific types of programs.
Youth need support at
every age level

What if every athlete in the SunTimes photo at the top of this article had a blog, and on that blog they were writing their own versions of articles I've posted for the past 15 years on this blog? Would more people be reading them? Would more be inspired to act?

Every athlete could be talking about the many years of hard work needed to reach a pro career, and the coaches who helped them along the way.  They could also do more reflection, asking "Who paid the bills, and raised the money, so these coaches could be a consistent part of their lives for many years, and so there would be high schools, colleges and pro sports franchises where they could grow their careers?"

Below is another graphic they could write about. It's included in this article. Every athlete could create their own version of this, and share it in a variety of formats. Then they could meet and share ideas, in "coaching clinics" so each builds better game plans from year-to-year.

Inspire volunteers from different industries to support growth of programs in every zip code.
My articles and graphics emphasize the 20-25 years it takes for a child to grow from birth to work, and how programs supporting this growth need to be available in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities and zip codes.

Athletes could create their own versions of these articles. They could also inspire fans to create new versions. They could inspire (and fund) programs that encourage youth to dig into my articles then create their own interpretations (see how interns did this from 2006 to 2016).

Right now athletes and coaches are meeting via ZOOM and athletes are studying playbooks from the safety of their homes.

My blog is a playbook! So is my website

adopt a neighborhood

Finally, what if there were an end-of-year awards event, hosted by President Obama, Oprah, LeBron James, Magic Johnson and other leaders, to recognize the work athletes did during the past year to support neighborhoods and help youth programs grow.  Give athletes the stage and let them boast of their work.  Aggregate websites that show game plans, so that as the event draws millions of viewers it also provides fuel to support a new year of the same work, done better because each athlete is learning from the work done by others.

If you read this, share it with athletes and sports writers. Maybe one will pick up this challenge and provide the leadership to get others to adopt it.

Keeping attention focused on the problem and on solutions that need to be applied in thousands of places is the challenge we have failed to meet for the past 60 years. This is a strategy to meet that challenge.

NOTE: as you begin to think of visualizing current problems and solutions I suggest you read this article by Steve Whitla. 

Visit this page to see where you can find me on social media.

Visit this page to make a contribution to help fund my work.