Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Supporting America's Mayors

Today I listened to mayors of Chicago, Oakland, Minneapolis and Sacramento, in a session hosted by Taubman College at the University of Michigan.

You can listen to it yourself, on this YouTube page

In one segment one of the Mayors talked about how it's important that Mayors borrow good ideas from each other.  Imagine if someone were building a web library to help make this borrowing easier.

I've been building such a library since 1990s to help people do more to build mentor-rich non-school programs that help kids move from birth to work. This goal is shown at the top of this graphic.

At the bottom of the graphic is the library, or the knowledge base.  It's not just a collection of what I've learned, but a collection of links to websites showing what other people have learned, or what they are doing to reach this goal.  Rather than constantly starting from your own limited knowledge, problem solving should start by borrowing from the knowledge of as many resources as you can find.

I seek to influence change by a) collecting and sharing what I can learn from others; and b) sharing my own ideas of how this information can be used; and c) what an ideal mentor-rich non-school program might look like.

However, I don't try to be an expert on other people's ideas. Instead, if I see a website with interesting and related work, I add it to the library, so it's available to others who will dig deeper and build their own understanding and expertise.  I maintain an extensive list of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs so everyone can learn from each other. I point to similar groups in other cities for the same reason. View this cMap to find these links.

I show the four major sections of the Tutor/Mentor web library in this concept map

Here's an example of what I'm writing about. In today's event the Mayors talked about "spatial solutions" which involves using maps to understand where in a city's geography certain problems persist, then using that understanding to guild the distribution of resources and solutions to places where help is needed most.  Knowing what others are doing could certainly enhance the effectiveness of what Mayors do throughout the country.

In one section of my library I aggregate links to websites showing uses of maps. Then, I use concept maps to share some of that information. Thus, the map below points to a variety of websites which share data using maps.

concept map showing data platforms

Now, imagine a version of this concept map pointing to data platforms from 50 to 100 or more cities throughout the US and the world which are being used to reduce poverty and create greater opportunity, reduce hunger and provide more affordable housing and opportunities to jobs.

I don't know if anyone is building a library of such information or sharing it using concept maps.  However, I'd be happy to share how I've been building the tutor/mentor library, how I build concept maps, and how this fits into a four-part strategy that intends to share this information with a growing number of stakeholders and users.

I've been writing about this for past 15 years so on the left side of this blog you can find tags that take you into additional articles on learning, leadership, philanthropy, etc.   Feel free to share this blog with Mayors in your city or use it as a curriculum guide for a high school or college study program. 

I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram (see links here) and hope to connect with others who are interested in using knowledge to help others solve important problems.

If you'd like to help fund my work, visit this page and use the PayPal button to send a contribution. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Understanding Racism Using a Map

 Below is a Tweet from Chicago Beyond highlighting a discussion they hosted today on ZOOM, titled "Unpacking Race, Wealth and Individual Power".

As the conversation unfolded I begin to feel that it mixed two significant problems facing the Black community and people of color.  I created a screenshot of this RacialDot map to help illustrate my thinking.

I circled areas in Chicago with high concentrations of Black citizens, which also are areas with high concentrations of poverty.  If you browse through the maps, media and violence articles on this blog, you'll see that most of my focus has been to help create opportunity for youth in these areas, by motivating more consistent investment in youth mentoring, tutoring, learning and jobs opportunities.

However, as this graphic from Ebony Jet magazine illustrates, many Black Americans do not live in poverty. Many are very, very successful and have great wealth and unlimited opportunities.  These people are spread in all parts of the Chicago region. 

For them racism is not so much a lack of opportunity as it is a fear that because of the color of their skin they or their kids can be pulled over by police, and possibly killed, or they can be stopped in their neighborhood at their homes, or near their cars, because someone called the police, "fearing" that a Black person had entered their space.

You can find stories like this every day in some part of America.   

Don't get me wrong. From what I have read, there is plenty of discrimination facing people who have managed to escape poverty but still lose jobs, promotions, access to loans and lower property valued because of the color of their skin.

If you're in a high poverty neighborhood, you have these fears, too. Maybe even more frequently. However, I think that some how this conversation needs to broaden, using a map, to understand the ingrained racism that affects every Black person, regardless of their wealth or where they live.

At the same time we need to find ways to engage EVERYONE in efforts that fill every high poverty neighborhood with a full range of programs and supports that help each youth born today be starting a jobs and career free of poverty 20 to 30 years from now. That will take significant investment and public will, for many years.

Build your own understanding of race/poverty issues.  I've built a huge library, pointing to dozens of web sites and resources.  The concept map shown below serves as an entry point. Use it often.

I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Linkedin and Faceboo, too. I urge you to follow my posts, share them with your network, and share your own ideas with myself and my networks.  

If you value my posts, please help me fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a small contribution. Visit this page and use the PayPal link. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Influencing Change

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

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

Most of the articles on this blog focus on helping youth born or living in high poverty areas get extra support that helps them move through school and into adult lives and jobs with a living wage or more.

However, much of the process and strategy, as well as my use of concept maps and GIS maps, could be applied to solving other programs, such as any of the 17 global sustainability goals, or the race/poverty issues shown in this graphic.

View the graphic at the right in this link.

My articles are full of links so take your time visiting and reading them.  In most articles there's an invitation to create your own versions of these graphics and share them through your own blog and social media.

While I know few answers to the big challenges we face, I can be pretty confident that none of us can solve any of these on our own. We need many, many people trying to influence change, and creating blueprints showing what change looks like, and what actions are needed, over many years, to get there.

Enjoy your week.  

Monday, September 14, 2020

Constant challenge: How can we do this better?

I'm a sports fan, so during baseball, basketball and football season I'm following stories about the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls and Bears, which all focus on a common theme: How can we do this better?

Each team is constantly trying to improve, to be great, and drawing on a vast range of resources in this effort.

Now let's apply this thinking to helping kids born or living in poverty areas of Chicago and other cities with pro sports teams.  Are there groups of people using graphics and maps like I use in my blogs, with the goal of helping constantly improving youth serving programs be available to k-12 youth in every high poverty neighborhood of each city?

The graphic above has many elements. Let me focus on two:

This arrow graphic can be seen in the upper left corner. It shows the 20 to 30 year long journey each child takes as they move from birth to work. 

Kids living in areas of concentrated poverty have too few people modeling the many careers kids might aspire to, or helping open kids move from one age group to another.

If you stand the graphic above vertically, it resembles an oil well, or a skyscraper. and emphasizes that the work done in the preschool and elementary school years is essential foundation work that propels kids through high school, college, vocational training and into jobs and careers.

Schools and youth serving programs need to be located in every high poverty neighborhoods, providing age appropriate support as kids move through school. Teams of adults from the community and the larger geographic region, including businesses, faith groups, hospitals and universities, need to be part of teams working to help individual programs grow, and helping many individual programs fill different neighborhoods.

All of the articles on this blog and the resources on the Tutor/Mentor Institute,  LLC web site are intended to support groups of people who are trying to figure out "How do we do this better?"

There are dozens of business, civic, government and philanthropic groups in Chicago and other cities looking for ways to help reduce poverty, violence, inequality while improving working conditions and preparing people for the workforce. 

The information I share can be used by any of them. I'm not sure most of them even know I exist.

As you watch pro sports today, I hope you'll spend some time thinking about this.  I'd like to be a coach and mentor to help you and your team dig through the massive playbook that my web resources represent. If you are part of some of these planning groups, or know people who are involved, please pass on an invitation and encourage them to read some of the articles I've posted.

Connect with me on any of these social media sites.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Our Children Need Your Help

Between 1995 and 2003 the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I led, organized an annual Chicago area tutor/mentor volunteer recruitment campaign. This always kicked off on Labor Day weekend, since it was in the weeks after that many people made decisions to volunteer. Below is the 2001 Campaign Manifesto, with signatures of leaders who endorsed the campaign.

You can see that Lura Lynn Ryan, First Lady of Illinois, and Richard M. Daley were signers. As were Governor George Ryan, and Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago schools and future Secretary of Education.  Visit this page and read about the goals and history of the campaign.  Visit this page to see the campaign manifesto and see who else signed this call to action. 

We had support from CPS CEO Paul Vallas in the early years of the campaign and received a $25,000 annual grant from 1998-2002 from a single foundation to fund a part time campaign organizer.  However, that funding did not continue beyond the 9/11 tragedy and 2002. With fewer dollars we moved the campaign and conference organizing on-line, using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator to help people find tutor/mentor programs in different parts of the city, on a year-round basis, not just in September.

From 1993 through 2000 we also had pro bono support from Public Communications, Inc (PCI) a Chicago PR firm.  As a result we were able to get consistent attention from Chicago media, for the recruitment campaign and the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, which we held in May and November every year from 1994 till 2015.  Visit this page to see a long list of media stories resulting from T/MC and PCI efforts. 

These were part of a year-round strategy intended to draw attention, volunteers and flexible operating dollars to EVERY youth tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region. 

President Obama was not a signer of the Manifesto, but was a speaker at the 1999 Tutor/Mentor Conference.  Mayor Daley also appeared at a conference, as did Paul Vallas, CEO of CPS.

However, none of the people who signed the Campaign Manifesto between 1999 and 2002 actually embraced the vision and strategies of the T/MC, nor have any in the years before, or since then.

Thus, while my small organization continued to lead this effort as the Tutor/Mentor Connection through mid 2011 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since then (while also leading our own small tutor/mentor program), too few have been actively supporting the four strategies that we piloted in 1994.

These are described in the visual shown below and at this link

Step 1: collect information others can use, including list of Chicago area youth tutor, mentor and learning programs;

Step 2: create on-going public awareness intended to draw viewers to information in step 1; 

Step 3: facilitate understanding of information in the library, so more would use it to help great programs reach k-12 youth in more places

Step 4: Use attention generated in Step 2 to motivate people to use the program list to seek out places where they can offer time, talent and dollars to help great programs connect youth and volunteers in on-going efforts intended to help youth move safely through school.  Information collected from programs each year would update library in Step 1.

The timeline below shows some of the milestones of the T/MC's 1993-2020 efforts.  View at

While I still act on all four steps of the 4-part strategy, I've had almost no help, and no funding, to do this since 2015 when I hosted the last Tutor/Mentor Conference.  

Yet, media stories remind us daily of  how people in high poverty areas and people of color need extra help. Engaging volunteers through organized youth tutor/mentor programs is just one of many resources and investments needed in many places.

Now, with the Covid19 pandemic moving most students to virtual learning, there are even more challenges of sustaining non-school tutor and mentor programs, and their connections with kids. We need to connect people, ideas and resources, more than ever before.

I've written hundreds of articles on this blog showing roles anyone can take to duplicate the T/MC strategy in their own city or to rebuild it in Chicago.   Some of these talk about rebuilding the T/MC

Just reading my blog and sharing with your network is one step that anyone can take. However, in looking at all I was able to accomplish with a small organization, imagine what you or someone else with much larger resources and greater talent, could achieve, following the same strategies and building on what the T/MC started?

That's my goal. 

New leaders are needed to rebuild this strategy and take it forward for the next two decades, applying it in every major city in the world where a few people live in areas of concentrated poverty, surrounded by others who are blessed with greater opportunity and wealth, and fewer systemic obstacles. 

If you'd like to know more or help amplify my efforts, reach out to me on these social media platforms or introduce yourself with a comment on this blog. 

If you'd like to make a contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, click here

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Athletes taking a lead

In past few weeks I've posted several articles calling on sports figures to adopt some of the strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC and lead them in the cities where they play and/or where they grew up.

I'm encouraged by videos I've been seeing, like this one from the Houston Texans

View the video and look at the list of demands.  Since I'm seeing a growing number of these I'm building a concept map where I'll aggregate links to as many as I can find. In the comments below send me links to videos by other teams in any sport.

This graphic shows the potential outcome of on-going leadership from people who have a large following. 

They can inspire people from diverse backgrounds, with a wide range of talents, who work in various industries, to become teams who help bring mentor-rich youth tutor, mentor and jobs programs, and other needed investment, to every high poverty area shown on maps like mine.

Here's another graphic that visualizes their role in a different way.

Athletes can fill the blue box in the middle of this graphic every day, through their Tweets, videos, media interviews and speaking engagements. They can influence the flow of dollars, volunteers, tech support and more directly into every high poverty area.  

The key word is EVERY. With a map you see all the places within a geographic area, such as Chicago, where help is needed. It's not enough for a few good programs in a few places. Every neighborhood needs a full Birth-to-Work range of great out-of-school-time programs, schools and services.

Along with the map athletes can provide visualizations showing the long-term commitment needed to solve the problems facing this country and the world.  Kids need access to great school and non-school programs, but just like great sports teams, these don't magically show up. They need to be built through constant investment. Then they need to remain in place as kids move through school into adult lives.

By being in the public eye on a regular basis athletes can also encourage deeper learning. My blog has more than 1500 articles and the Tutor/Mentor web library has more than 2000 links. This can't all be learned in a day, or a year. It requires on-going visits, continuous learning and reflection with others.

That requires constant encouragement. View ENOUGH posts and make a commitment. 

Athletes can do this.  Will they?  

1/28/2021 update - Here's a press release from LISC about how "OneTeam Partners and LISC Join Forces to Connect Athletes with Community Initiatives and Impact Investing".   Athletes from almost every sport have stepped forward in many ways to support youth programs and community initiatives. I'd like to find someone who is aggregating links to as many of these initiatives as can be found.  I'd point to that from my library and blogs with the goal that each initiative begins to learn from all others and they all constantly improve their impact.  Does anyone have such a library?