Thursday, July 29, 2021

Response to Chicago Violence: Do the Planning.

Growing violence in Chicago and other cities is prompting renewed calls for action.  The graphic at the left shows this is not a new problem. It dates back to 1992 and earlier.  If you've read many of the articles following shootings you've seen many calls for more non-school youth development and jobs programs.

This week I looked at a Chicago SunTimes web page titled "How Chicago's most violent neighborhoods are faring in 2021".  

This article featured 15 Chicago Community Areas, with a map and analysis such as you see in the graphic at the right.

I began using maps to show locations of non school, volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs in 1993 and to follow media stories about shootings, gangs, or poorly performing schools, with map stories that talked about the availability (or lack) of tutor/mentor programs in the area surrounding the incident.  

My goal has been that maps and the library of programs and research be used by leaders in business, government, colleges, hospitals, faith groups and government to fill high poverty neighborhoods with a wide range of  youth development and workforce development based tutor and mentor programs.

If leaders had embraced these strategies for the past 25  years the maps of the 15 neighborhoods profiled by the Chicago SunTimes would look far different.

I created a set of slides to look beyond the map analysis provided by the SunTimes.  I'm showing a couple below, and the entire presentation below that.

The North Lawndale Community area was ranked as the "deadliest priority neighborhood".  In my presentation I show the maps from the SunTimes at the top left, then a map of this neighborhood, from the Tutor/Mentor Programs map you can find in this article.  Green icons on the map are programs included in the T/MI directory. Click on the icon to get the name and website of each program.

On the T/MI map there is a blue box, showing the number of youth, age 6-17, considered "below poverty line". This is 2018 information provided by the Social Impact Research Center of the Heartland Alliance and is shown in this T/MI presentation.   I provide a brief summary showing the availability of programs and the number of youth in the area.  In the example I say "If there are three programs that each serve 50 youth regularly each week, totaling 150, and there are 2000 total youth in poverty in the area out of a larger number of total youth which could be double that, then the neighborhood clearly has a need for more programs.

Furthermore, if you look at the location of programs and the location of incidents of violence, you can see that while the neighborhood's existing programs reach some youth, they may not reach youth in different parts of the community area.  This is especially true if youth are unable to go safely from one part of the area to another because they would be crossing gang territories.

Here's another neighborhood: This is West Englewood.  I don't show any non-school tutor/mentor programs in this area (based on what I have in my database).  There are more than 2500 low income kids in the area, thus programs certainly would be a benefit.

My goal is that planning teams, consisting of all community stakeholders, including businesses, local schools, political leaders, media, etc., take part in this process, using my maps and the SunTimes maps, as a starting point (note, the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, and other media are also resources for these types of maps).  

There may be more youth serving programs in the area, offering different formats of support.  There may be programs serving one age level, such as elementary school, but no programs for middle school and high school.  My map does not show the multiple sites of some larger organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, nor does it show community-based mentoring matches.  

I've used this graphic for many years showing the need for a continuum of programs, support youth from birth-to-work, or for 20 years or longer.  Think of this as a blueprint for building a new skyscraper. On each page diagrams show a range of talent needed to accomplish the work on that page. Then the next page shows what work comes next, with what talent is needed.

Planning for each community area needs to create similar blueprints then action plans that generate resources and talent to make such programs available to a growing number of k-12 youth in the area. Such blueprints would show existing programs, the age group they serve, and the type of service provided.

From 1994 until 2011 my organization's survey attempted to segment programs by these categories. The image at the right shows a program locator built in 2004 (No longer active. View archive.) that you could use to determine what programs were in different zip codes.  The code for this could be a starting point for building a newer searchable program locator. 

Who else could be helping?  In the West Englewood area, where there are no programs shown, there are potential allies.   Below is a map view created using the Chicago Public School Locator.  

Western Avenue runs North to South along the West side of this community area. The map shows several auto dealerships and other businesses.  Each dealership is part of a lager corporate network, thus involvement of someone from a dealership on Western Avenue could provide access to financial and talent support from the corporate headquarters!  

I've only shown two out of 15 high priority community areas highlighted by the Chicago Sun Times.

To see the others, view this Slideshare presentation.  

If you are concerned about the quality of life and high poverty in these 15 community areas, or others where there also are huge needs for non-school youth support programs, then use this information and other resources that I share on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website to build a planning team, dig deeper into the information, create your own maps, and begin to work to fill your community area with world-class youth programs.

This article is one of more than 1000 that have been posted since 2005, focusing on this same topic. There's too much for most people to dig through if they're not willing to spend the time. However, if you consider this blog and the T/MI website as a "book" or a "curriculum" then it might not be so daunting to read a little at a time, then discuss what you read with others in your network.

I'd be happy to help you think through what you are reading.  Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn. (see links here). 

If you value what I'm sharing please consider a contribution to help fund the work.  

If you'd like to take a larger role and help rebuild the library and mapping platforms, or duplicate the process in your own community, let's connect.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Going for the Gold

 Yesterday was the start of the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.  It also was the beginning of the 2021 NFL football season, with players beginning to report to camp. These events prompt today's post.

Since Gold Medals are being awarded for outstanding individual and team efforts I want to inspire you to read articles I've posted since the mid 2000s about giving "Gold Medals" to those who do outstanding work to help mentor-rich non-school programs be available to K-12 youth living in  high poverty areas.  That could have categories for a) building public awareness; b) recruiting volunteers; c) raising and/or giving money; d) supporting program infrastructure; e) starting new programs in places where more are needed, or where specific types of programs are needed.  

These are medals that can be earned by people who "help" tutor/mentor programs thrive and constantly improve. A second category could be awarded to those working within individual programs, such as a) outstanding student effort; b) outstanding tutor/mentor volunteer; c) outstanding tech support or infrastructure volunteers, d) outstanding program design; e) outstanding communications via website and/or blog;  etc.  

What categories would you recommend?  Who would judge such events?  Who would provide awards?

When you think of team sports, do you think of all the resources and talent needed to put a winning team in the Olympics, or in the NFL or any other professional or college level sport?

I've used this graphic in many articles to visualize the different roles that need to be taken to make high quality, non-school, youth tutor and/or mentor programs available to youth living in high poverty areas.  

While it's the responsibility of the people who organize the team (or the program) to find all of  these resources, couldn't awards be given to those who help draw these resources to one, or many, tutor/mentor programs in Chicago or other places?

Below are two graphics that visualize the need for "teams" of talented people to help  youth have the support they need.  Such teams are needed in every high poverty neighborhood, in every individual program, and at the city-wide level, to assure that there are teams operating in every high poverty area. Here's one article using this graphic. 

This "Virtual Corporate Office" graphic uses a map of Chicago to signal a need for tutor/mentor programs in EVEY high poverty area of the city.  It shows a variety of activities that could be happening within each program.  And it shows support that industries could provide to help one, or many, programs operate at a high level of efficiency.  Here's one article using this graphic.

Imagine how many more people might be thinking about these graphics if they were being Tweeted by LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, or other star athletes, in every sport.  Imagine an award ceremony, attended by the First Lady, giving gold medal recognition to those who help tutor/mentor programs help kids move through school and into adult lives, jobs and careers.

These awards need to be given every year, in every city for many years if the goal is to help end poverty for every youth through education and a decent job.  

Awards should even be given to bloggers who create their own articles calling for people to build and sustain youth serving organizations in more places. 

If you're doing this I'd love to see your article.  Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and/or LinkedIn. See my links on this page

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Multiple Site Tutor and/or Mentor Programs in Chicago Metro

 Since 1993 the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC have attempted to maintain a comprehensive directory showing every non-school, volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor program in the Chicago region.  That list now includes many school based programs, too.  These are all shown on the map below, which you can find at this link.  

If you know programs that should be added to the map, or programs that no longer offer tutor/mentor services, please help me update the database.  Email updated information to  

What this map does not show very well are organizations who operate multiple locations throughout the city.  In some cases, such as Tutoring Chicago, we show all four of their locations. In other cases, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, we only show their headquarters (and website) on our list.  Visit this page to see the T/MI's  list of multiple site programs in the Chicago region. 

Below I show maps and web pages for four of the largest organizations who offer multiple sites of youth tutoring and/or mentoring.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago (

Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago (

Union League Boys and Girls Clubs (

Chicago Youth Centers (

Help draw attention, volunteers and donors to these programs, and to the many other tutor and/or mentor programs that serve youth in different parts of the Chicago region.   Use your social media and traditional communications to point to individual programs, or to articles like this where I point to programs throughout Chicago. If you're in another city someone should be duplicating what I've been trying to do in Chicago. 

This graphic shows the public awareness strategy I've led since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  Every day, or every year since then we've tried to connect "people who can help" to our list of programs and library of information, then directly to individual programs operating in different parts of the Chicago region.

In this concept map you can find the T/MI list of Chicago programs, organized by sections of the city, multiple-site and school-based. You can also find other resources that might help you located youth serving programs in Chicago, or any other city.

While most of these programs are recruiting volunteers and donors throughout the year, many work on a school-based schedule, so in August as schools are starting these programs are actively recruiting volunteers and students.

Visit their web sites. See where they are located. Look at what they do. (some websites are much better at communicating this than others). Find the "contact us" button and reach out to programs that interest you, to learn more, and to get involved.

If you're a foundation, philanthropist, or individual donor, look at maps that use indicators like poverty, poorly performing schools, violence, etc. to show where programs are most needed, then choose a neighborhood you want to help.  This concept map shows many platforms that you can  use. 

Then, use the T/MI map (or similar) to locate programs in that area. Visit their websites to see what these programs are trying to do and decide who, and how much, you want to help. Then send your contribution. 

DON'T WAIT FOR THEM TO SEND YOU A PROPOSAL.  If they have a program, and a website, they do need help from you, and many others, on an on-going basis.  They can't wait six to nine months to decide if you will, or will not help them.  Their website IS their proposal. 

When you look at websites you may feel that the program you're looking at is not as good as programs operating in different parts of the city. However, if that program is in the area you want to help, then use your talent to help them grow to become great at what they do.  If you're someone with communications, marketing, web design or other skills, you and your company could act like a "virtual corporate office" helping multiple youth tutor and/or mentor programs throughout the city.

Thanks for reading this and past articles. Almost everything I've posted since 2005  has this goal in mind.  It "takes a village" to raise a child and that means people from throughout the Chicago region need to help non-school youth tutor, mentor and learning programs be available to k-12 kids with high quality learning opportunities and adult support systems.

I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. See web addresses here. I hope you'll connect with me and share these ideas. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Take a Tour of

The website was created in 1998 by Steve Roussos, a PhD student from the University of Kansas, to support the annual Chicagoland tutor/mentor volunteer recruitment campaign. 

In 1999 I started putting my visual essays on the site, using PDFs created with Power Point and Quark Express. In 2006 the site was rebuilt on a Joomla platform and I made it into a library and planning tool that anyone could use to help youth and adults connect in organized, on-going, tutor, mentor and learning.

When I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 I made this site my main resource.  I've added to it every year since then.  

In 2015, Wona Chang, an intern from South Korea, created two videos offering a tour of the website and the strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, developed since 1993. They can be found as links on this Getting Started page. 

I've posted articles on this blog in the past to try to help people navigate the site.  This week I created a new presentation, using screen shots of each sub section, to aid people in understanding what was available in each section. 

I hope you'll go through this the same way you've go through a new shopping mall the first time.  Open each section, just to see what's there. Then return later to those you want to know more about.

While I focus this strategy on Chicago, where I've piloted it since 1993, and led a non-school tutor/mentor program from 1975 to 2011, the ideas, the concept maps, and the resource library, can be used in any area with high concentrations of  poverty spread over a wide geographic area.  

I'd be happy to walk people through the site, and would love to work with a university to set up a program to teach students to build and sustain information-based problem solving strategies, based on what I've tried to do in Chicago for so many years.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn (see links here). I look forward to connecting with  you. 

There's one other page I'd like to call your attention to. It invites you and others to send small contributions to help me continue to do this work. 

Thank you to those who read and share my posts and to those who also send contributions! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Racism and the Economy - Get Informed

Today I watched 3 hours of panel discussions hosted by the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis and Boston, with participation from all 12 Feds. The topic was Racism and the Economy. You'll be able to watch this, and find previous events, on this page.  Read this blog article, summarizing the event.

I Tweeted comments and shared those of others using the #RacismandtheEconomy hashtag. 

Below I'm posting a few Tweets that were made. I really hope that many people will visit the Twitter conversation and read these, then visit the home page and look at this and past events hosted by the Federal Reserve Banks over the past year.

The first panel provided the statistical background, showing the severity of this problem. 


another: another: another: Tweet by me: Imagine the power and influence of the 12 Federal Reserve banks adopting this commitment, and supporting this 4-Part Strategy. 

View this article to understand the components of the strategy map that I've invited the Federal Reserve Banks to adopt.  In the upper left corner it shows that one role they would take is to enlist leaders from every industry, in the cities where they have influence, to also adopt the strategy.

In this article I show Step 2 of the 4-part strategy that can be accessed from the middle link on the strategy map.  Step 2 focuses on building public awareness, while Step 3 focuses on helping people understand the information your are putting in your library. 

Thus, the Presidents of the Federal Reserve would be making a long-term commitment to collecting and sharing information and solutions related to Racism and the Economy.

Here's one more Tweet

When one of the Presidents referred to the Rodney King riots in L.A. I pulled an image from my own library that I have used since the 1990s to motivate people to "never forget" and continue working toward solutions.  I encourage you to read my "After the Riots, Do the Planning" article of April 2015. 

Imagine how much could be accomplished if the different Federal Reserve Banks adopted the Tutor/Mentor Connection commitment and strategy and led it for the next 25 years, using the full weight of their influence and resources, just as I have done for the past 25 years.

Interested? Recruit a "get it done" person, a rising star, and assign her to review this Role Of Leaders PDF, and the concept maps I've shared. At the end of each year ask "What have we done? What did we learn? and What will we do next year?"

Maybe much would be different in 2045 than now. 

Note: I've attended events hosted by the Federal Reserve Banks in the past.  Here's a 2005 article following one of these.   Here's a 2008 article.  And I wrote this article, just a few weeks ago. 

Thank you for reading this far. If you visit the Twitter feed, please follow me and let's connect. 

Friday, July 09, 2021

Network Building - Learning from the Past

Today I participated in ZOOM meeting organized by the Social Capital Research Group who I connected with first on Twitter, then on Facebook.. Today's speaker was Daniel P. Aldrich, who I'd met last year on Twitter. After the formal session I was invited to host a breakout, which I did. I was joined by Christopher Chinapoo from Jamaica, and Marion Cornish, from the RCRG. I was able to share resources of the T/MC and Tutor/Mentor Institute and opened connection with Christopher on Twitter.  

I've been entering this type of event for 25  years and it's never certain who I'll meet or what will happen.  Below is an example taken from two articles I wrote in July 2005, the first year I wrote this blog.

On July 29, 2005 I wrote this: 

I attended the O-Net conference in Chicago (Oak Park) today. More than 20 people from different parts of the world gathered to brainstorm ideas on how we might work together to make this a better world. 

The wonderful thing about this is that up till today, most of the people had never met face to face. They had met in the portal (available now only in web archive). The conference was the result of the efforts of just a few people who said, "let's get together" and who then used the o-net space to plan the entire event, even raising nearly $4,000 to provide scholarships so that seven people could attend, from as far away as Germany!

I met many people who shared exciting ideas and who may someday be partners with the Tutor/Mentor Connection. I even met one person who had come to a Tutor/Mentor Conference many years before. The conference will continue tomorrow, and hopefully on the Internet after that.

I hope that tutor/mentor stakeholders participate, and that some begin to use the new portal as a meeting space where some of them can launch actions that lead to more people coming together to help each other do good.  Thanks gang. 

Then on July 31, 2005 I wrote this: 

I was only able to attend the O-net conference for half a day Saturday. However, I read through all of the summary reports and blogs this morning. I hosted a conversation on Saturday, focused on creating a group of active o-net members who work to draw people from universities into o-net conversations, with the goal of recruiting resources to support o-net projects. 

 As I said after Friday's day-long session, I'm really impressed with the talent of the people who are participating in the conference, and who have posted introductions at One person I talked to yesterday was a PhD student at Purdue, who is organizing information intended to be used to help connect people doing good work with resource providers. Another person was a technologist who had great ideas of creating alternative currencies that would encourage people to share talent with each other. A third was a women with an idea of creating visual databases to map assets. 

I was really inspired by the Peace Tiles project. I hope we can duplicate this in Chicago tutor/mentor programs and connect our kids with kids in African and on other continents. 

When I read one of the blogs, one person was questioning whether or not O-net was just a lot of talk, or if it was stimulating action (providing resources for O-net members to do their various projects). I'm hoping that my participation accelerates the rate at which people help each other, or draw new resources into o-net that end up helping members of the community do their work. 

One of the people I met through the Omidyar network was Steve Habib Rose. He took time to get to know what the Tutor/Mentor Connection was attempting and started this conversation in 2007 to help me find others who would help. Unfortunately, Steve died suddenly shortly after starting this and the potential support never was realized. However, his demonstrated interest and initiative of starting the conversation, is what motivates me to keep joining in new conversations, such as today's ZOOM meeting.

Unfortunately, until on-line events and forums like actually draw attention and resources to participants on a regular basis,  it is just idealism within a world where the daily papers remind us of reality. 

A few weeks ago I did a Mind Map of the Sunday Chicago Tribune. Today I did another. I found a really great story written by Mary Schmich, one of my favorite writers, telling how people had responded to an earlier story about a computer center in Cabrini-Green being flooded, with all computers destroyed. Because of her first story, people provided new computers, and everything else needed to get this site up and running again. That demonstrates the power of the media. 

Below is a media map from 2007, which demonstrates what I had created in 2005.

However, in the same section of the Tribune Metro section was a story about a boy being fatally shot at a playground on the far South side of Chicago. There was another story on the same page about a Muslim teen center re opening, after being closed since 2003. These neighborhoods don't have a feature writer of the Chicago Tribune, or SunTimes, writing regular stories about life in these neighborhoods. Most of the times they get in the news is when something bad happens.

My mind map linked these stories. Every time I read a story about Cabrini-Green, written by Mary Schmich, I just wish she'd end with "and this is just one neighborhood of Chicago where kids live in poverty and need extra help with volunteers, donors, technologist, etc." (and provide a link to web sites that people could use to learn about other places where volunteers, donors and technology are needed).

If she and other reporters were doing this regularly, maybe people would have been helping the Muslim teen center get computers, and maybe the boy shot on a playground (or the shooter) would have been inside sitting at a computer rather than out on the street where something terrible happened. 

In my ZOOM call today I encouraged people to enlist students as story tellers, and as network builders.  This article shows how students could follow negative news with "The Rest of the Story", generating more consistent attention and public awareness and drawing volunteers and donors into neighborhoods where these stories were taking place.  This blog includes stories showing work interns did with Tutor/Mentor Connection for many years.   Websites throughout the world could be hosting work like this, done by local youth, pointing to their own communities.

When I sat with my friends at O-net and talked about ideas, it was with an urgency of putting these ideas to work to help more kids in cities like Chicago have safe places where they can gather to learn, be mentored, have access to computers and the world around them. The reality is that while we talk of great ideas, we are losing kids to the streets and to poverty. 

Maybe I cannot convince the media to consistently tell the rest of the story when they write their stories about individual tragedies or triumphs, but maybe I can enlist a few technologist at O-Net to help me create a map gallery that would show where negative news happens and where volunteers and donors are needed. If hundreds of friends at communities like o-net were to take on the same goal, we might create a much larger public involvement and flow of resources to every place in the world where good people are trying to do good work to help people who need extra help. 

Actually, this  has happened. Just not often enough, or with multiple year sustained commitments.  At the right is a map gallery built by Jim Corey, a volunteer from Wisconsin, who I met in one of these on-line forums in the early 2000s.  This link points to a newer map gallery, built in 2009 by Mike Trakin, who I was able to hire at a part-time map maker from 2008-2010, with donations from HSBC North America and an anonymous 2007 donor who gave the T/MC $50,000 to rebuild our mapping capacity. 

Neither of these is now active, due to losing funding support in 2009 due to the financial melt-down, then the separation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2011 from the non-profit where it was given birth in 1993. 

This concept map shows four actions that I've been taking daily for the past 28 years.  It involves 1) collecting information; 2) creating public awareness to attract more people to the information; 3) helping people understand the information; then 4) motivating them to use the information in one or more specific places to help solve a complex problem, such as helping kids in poverty move through school and into jobs and careers.  

It also shows help I've needed every year since creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011.  

I think this 4-part strategy should be duplicated in every city, state and country, to support local problem solving focused on any issue. 

Interested in knowing more?  Can you help?  Let's connect.  I'm on social media at these sites

Thursday, July 01, 2021

A picture is worth 1000 words

In the 1990s I used wall space at the tutoring program headquarters to show strategies for helping kids in poverty connect with adult volunteers in on-going non-school tutor/mentor programs.  I often led potential volunteers and donors through this information, and heard many comment, "I see that he's excited about this, but I don't understand what he's talking about."

So I began to use desktop publishing, then Power Point, to create visualizations, and visual essays, to share my thinking.  I started putting these on this page in the late 1990s and began putting them on and in 2011.  I also enlisted interns to help communicate these through videos.

I consider these "teaching" and "planning" tools. Anyone can pull up one of my presentations and start a conversation asking, "How does this apply to us?" or "How can we use this idea to help kids in our area?"

Below are three examples, one from each platform.  This is one posted on, which is now owned by  This used to be free, but now people are being asked to subscribe.  

This is from the collection on  There's a duplication between this and I started posting to both because of the different presentation formats and because one was free to users.  

Building Learning Circles I... by Daniel F. Bassill

 This is a YouTube video created by me several years ago.   


 You can see my collection of videos on this page.

All of these can be remade, over-and-over, by students, volunteers and/or professionals. Substitute a map showing your geography, instead of Chicago, or showing a community area within Chicago, to focus the ideas on other places.  Just give an attribution link, showing where the idea originated, and send me a link so I can help you draw attention to it.

Maybe you will be the one who captures the attention and imagination of thousands of others who need to be giving time, talent, votes and/or dollars to help kids living in every high poverty area of the USA, and the world, grow through school and into adult lives free of poverty.

Thank you for reading and sharing my stories.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Mentoring as a Workforce Development Strategy - Updated 2005 Article

I often look at articles I wrote in the past for inspiration for new ones. Today I'm reposting this article, which I wrote in 2005, as one of the very first articles on this blog.

I've not changed much, since what I wrote then is still needed today, in 2021.  I've just added a few graphics created since then such as this one showing that the "pipeline to careers" for kids in poverty has too many blockages. 

Here what I wrote: 

In a Sunday, April 10, 2005 Chicago Tribune article titled "Workforce needs polish, U.S. businesses declare", the secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO was quoted as saying, "If we infuse education and job-training with an emphasis on 'employability skills,' then we develop workers who not only can get jobs, they can keep them as well."

This was  not a new issue in 2005.  My friend Edward Gordon, of Imperial Consulting Corp, has been writing about the job/skills crisis since the 1990s.  Below is a Tweet I posted last week, pointing to his latest White Paper.  
That's a message the Tutor/Mentor Connection (Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since 2011) has been saying for more than two decades. We believe these skills need to be mentored, not just taught in short classroom sessions. Furthermore, we believe that youth living in inner-city poverty struggle to succeed in school and jobs because there are too few adults who have jobs and careers in diverse industries modeling the expectation that everyone works, and that there are many career opportunities available to those who develop their personal, academic and employment skills.
While the Tribune article shows the traditional approach of business and schools lobbying legislatures to develop and fund such initiatives, the T/MC believes that business has the most to gain or lose from any delay in the development of comprehensive mentoring-to-career strategies that parallel higher academic goals.

This graphic visualizes the role business needs to take, to "pull" kids through school and into jobs.

This graphic visualizes that businesses in every industry need to be leading strategies that help kids in every high poverty zip code move through school and into jobs and careers.

I encourage you to visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute strategies library and read some of the short power point essays that I started creating in the 1990s. From these you'll see that our focus is on helping comprehensive, volunteer based tutor/mentor programs be in all the places where they are needed and that we serve as an intermediary connecting people, ideas and resources from all over the world. In one power point we illustrate a PUSH and PULL strategy (see graphic above). Parents, teachers, tutors, mentors, coaches are all PUSHING kids to maximize their potential. If these resources are available consistently in the lives of kids, there's a good chance most will respond.

However, in neighborhoods of high poverty, most kids don't consistently have access to adult who are PUSHING them to do their best (view concept map above). Even when such programs exist, they compete against negative traditions and influences such as welfare, gangs, illegal income habits, etc. that reduce their influence as youth grow older. In these communities a vocational mentoring strategy needs to be in place, led by industry, unions, chambers of commerce, etc. Such a strategy uses business resources (people, ideas, technology, dollars, jobs) to create a PULL system, that reaches kids as early as first grade and stays connected with them in age appropriate mentoring, job shadowing, internships, etc. until the youth is an adult and in a job/career.

This graphic visualizes the idea of "mentor-rich" youth programs operating in every high poverty area of Chicago.  

Such programs are needed in every major city of the world, not just Chicago. If we wait for the school bureaucracy to recognize this as a responsibility, or if we wait for elected leaders to make this public policy, we'll still have this need 50 years from now and America may be a second class economy. Business must take the lead, innovating ways to reach kids in every neighborhood with programs that mentor kids through school and careers.

While the Internet can connect the T/MC with others around the world who want to learn about this vision, or who already incorporate these ideas in their own work, local intermediaries are also needed to lead and implement this vision in their own community, with their own business and universities as partners. While T/MC maps point to Chicago, Philadelphia maps should point to Philadelphia and Miami Maps should point to Miami.

That's what this graphic intends to communicate. Intermediaries like myself are trying to connect people "who can help" to information and ideas they can use, to support youth, families, schools and youth programs operating in places where help is needed.

Instead of leaders of networks and individual programs constantly competing with each other for resources, I want to create a meeting place on the Internet where we can talk of ways of working together to increase resources for each of us. In such communities we'll look at what works and try to innovate ways to make what works available in this network of tutoring/mentoring and education to careers programs.

In the graphic above I divided Chicago into sections, suggesting that teams of community/business and university partners could adopt sections of the city and take on the intermediary role that Tutor/Mentor Connection began piloting in 1993. 

No matter where you are in the world, you have the potential to be gathering people in your network to participate in this discussion, for the purpose of building more and better places on the East Coast, West Coast, in the UK or in Australia, where good programs meet more youth.

I created the concept map shown above a few years ago to share links to articles where people are writing about the ideas I've been sharing.  If you begin to do that, I'll add a link to your site. However, in the tutor/mentor web library I point to blogs and websites of more than 2000 others who are sharing their own information and ideas.  

Since 1993 I've maintained a list of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs. I show where they are located,  using maps like the one at the left, which you can see in this article.

As we locate programs working with youth and do more to help them get visibility, volunteers, dollars, technology, ideas, etc., we'll begin to stimulate the growth of better programs and that will soon accelerate the movement of more kids through school who are prepared for careers.
Are you already involved in such work? Let's find a way to connect. (when I wrote this in 2005, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were not yet available). They are now. You can find my pages on these sites at this link

Dan Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993 - present)
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Creating a Service-Learning Organization that Mentors Kids to Careers

I started writing this blog in May 2005. I'd already led the Tutor/Mentor Connection and a site-based tutor/mentor program called Cabrini Connections for 12 years.

If you've read some of the messages I've posted to this blog you'll see that I seek to connect workplace volunteers with children and youth living in neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty.

When we launched our programs in 1993 they were based on my experiences leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago since 1975.  Its goal, and the goals we adopted in 1993,  and which I still support today in 2021, is to create an organized framework that encourages volunteers to serve as tutors, mentors, coaches, advocates, friends, leaders in on-going efforts that make a life-changing difference for these kids. By life-changing, I mean that the kids will not be living in poverty when they are adults because they will have the academic, social/emotional and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs, plus a network of adults who can and will open doors to jobs and mentor them in careers.

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

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

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

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

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

In 2006 and intern from Hong Kong created a visualization showing what I call a "service learning loop". Then in 2011 one of my interns from South Korea created a new version. Since this was done in Flash Animation I've created the video below to show that presentation.

The Internet is our meeting place. It's a virtual library of constantly growing knowledge. On Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web sites we collect and host information that shows why kids in poverty need extra help, where such help is needed, who is providing help, and what volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs can do to connect adults, kids and learning in an on-going, constantly improving process of mentoring kids to careers.

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

This process started nearly 45 years ago. I accelerated it's growth in 1993 when we formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection. I've kept it alive since 2011 via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Now it's time for others to take the lead and grow it beyond 2021.

Can you help?

Visit the various sections of this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website and start your own learning. I encourage you to read the Power Point Essay titled, Theory of Change . This illustrates our goal and the community that we seek to engage.

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

Thank you all for reading my messages. I hope you share them with others. 

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. See links on this page. Please connect with me and help me connect with others. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Get to know Dan Bassill

I've spent so many years thinking of ways to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in high poverty areas that the ideas and experiences from the past fill my dreams.  A few nights ago I asked "Who is Dan Bassill?" and realized that while I've a ton of articles that share my ideas I wasn't sure if I had a place with a few articles that answered that question.

So I browsed a few sites and found this Tutor/Mentor Business article, written by Sara Coover Caldwell, in 1997. You can read it here

Sara joined the tutor/mentor program at Montgomery Ward in the late 1980s and during one social event I said to her, "I'm looking someone to write a book about the tutoring program."  She responded, "What about making a video instead?"  From my advertising experience I thought of how much that might cost and shared my doubts.  She said, "I can do it. I'll raise the money."  Over the next nine months she created the video below that was shown on WTTW TV in Chicago in late 1990.


If you view the video and read the comments, you'll see many asking, where are these kids now? I've never had funds to do an extensive study, but I am connected to dozens of former students on Facebook, extending back to 1973 and the student I first mentored. He has finished college, and has raised to sons, who have both finished college (or are close to it.). He's one of many with similar stories. It's great to see these successes and hear many say how important the tutoring programs were to them.

If you read the article, you'll see that Sara Coover Caldwell became one of the founders and first Board of Directors members of Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I, Sara and a few others formed in late 1992.  Today she's living in California and using her talents to teach Film and Media Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara and to make award-winning horror films.  Learn more from this Wikipedia page.

I added a link to the Tutor/Mentor Business and a couple of blog articles where I've reflected on the past 45  years to this page on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website so now when my dreams ask me "Who is Dan Bassill?" I'll have a better place to point people who want an answer.  

Sara wrote the Tutor/Mentor Business in an attempt to find a publisher who'd fund a full book.  We still have not found that, but as you read through my blog articles and dig through my websites, you'll find a wealth of information for anyone who does want to write a book about my work over the past 45 years as well as my ideas for building and sustaining long-term mentor-rich programs, like the ones I led, in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities. 

Some might ask, "Why don't I write the book?"  I have. The chapters are blog articles and pages on my website. It's available to everyone in the world, through the Internet.  I keep adding to it.

I don't have the discipline, or energy, to try to put this in printed book format myself. Furthermore, since I embed links in so many of my articles, I'm unable to visualize how this would work in a printed format.  Thus, I invite others to take that journey.

I hope you'll take a look.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Find links on this page.

Let's connect. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Expanded Role for Volunteers in Tutor/Mentor Programs

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993, and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, to help draw extra attention, and a more consistent flow of operating resources, to volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs in every high poverty area of Chicago.

The ideas I've been sharing can be applied in any part of the country, but especially in big metropolitan areas where the geographic divides between rich and poor are greater and the population numbers are much larger.

I studied history in college, spent 3 years in US Army Intelligence, then 17 years working in the corporate retail advertising department of a big company.  Thus, the strategies I've developed focus on information-based solutions, which depend on building, and using, comprehensive information libraries.

One thing I've tried to do is build a deeper understanding of the different types of mentoring strategies that exists within a geographic area like Chicago, and the different youth and adults who are the intended beneficiaries of various types of programs.

Furthermore, I've tried to expand the roles volunteers can take to help youth, and help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places, beyond being a mentor, or without being a mentor.

Let's look at this graphic first:

All youth and adults would benefit from mentors helping them journey through life. However, much research shows that youth living in high poverty, segregated, and/or isolated, areas need more help to move from first grade toward their adult lives.  Here's a concept map that illustrates this differently. People living in more affluent areas have more resources to help them overcome challenges. 

Then look at this graphic (click to enlarge). Kids face many different challenges based on differing abilities, health conditions, family structure, etc.  The T/MC and the work I do focuses on kids living in high poverty, where the environmental condition of poverty is the root cause of many challenges they face as they grow from birth to adult lives.   

Volunteers in organized non-school and school based programs can have a huge impact on the lives of these kids.  However, volunteers normally do not have the specialized training needed to address the challenges of kids with special needs. These need much more sophisticated services.  

So, what programs exist serving kids in poverty? How do we find them? How do we help them get the ideas, talent and dollars each needs to be the best it can be? That's what I've focused on since 1993. 

The T/MC launched a survey in January 1994 to determine what volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs operated in Chicago and segmented this information by asking "What type of program?  Pure tutoring; pure mentoring; or combination tutoring and mentoring."  And by age group served:  Elementary School, Middle School and High School.  We shared that information in print directories until 2002 then in 2004 we launched the directory on line, with the searchable Program Locator screen shown at the right.  This is now only available as an archive. 

Visit this article to see the current Chicago tutor/mentor programs map and list of programs. 

As we collected data on youth tutor/mentor programs we plotted it on GIS maps, with overlays showing indicators of need for programs, such as high poverty and poorly performing public schools.  In 2008 we created an interactive map enabling people to search small sections of the city, or look at layers of information, such as mixed tutor/mentor programs serving high school youth.  You can view the archive here. 

If you visit the MappingforJustice blog you can find many articles where I've used map images created from the Program Locator or with our desktop GIS.

While all of this information can help  youth, parents, teachers and social workers find programs, the maps and directory were intended to help leaders make sure that k-12 youth in every high poverty area were being reached by mentor-rich programs.  Our goal was to influence what resource providers were doing to help programs grow while also sharing information that programs could use to constantly improve. 

Unfortunately, I no longer have the resources or capacity to do the survey or create these maps.  Furthermore, while I find some websites with interactive youth program map/directories, I don't find any who are segmenting the information with the layers I was using, or to the degree that I visualize in the graphic at the top of this article.  Nor do I find many attempting to draw volunteers and donors through their platform directly to youth programs in their city. 

Without that information cities will spend millions of dollars and still now know if they are reaching kids in every age group, in every high poverty neighborhood, with a wide-enough range of programs. 

The question we should be asking ourselves, if our focus is on youth living in poverty, is "How can we fill all high poverty neighborhoods with organized, age specific programs, that can build and sustain long-term connections with children as the grow to become adults?    How do we pay for it? Where do we attract and retain talented leaders? How do we keep volunteers involved for multiple years?  

There are another set of questions that need to be answered. Why are these programs needed?   Where are they needed most? The answer may be obvious to many, but I created this concept map to visualize the many obstacles kids and families face if they live in high poverty areas.  Kids in affluent areas also face many of these challenges. However, their families and neighborhoods have far greater resources to overcome them.

Thus, how do we mobilize and educate potential volunteers to build this information base, share it with millions of others, and address these challenges?   How can we teach volunteers, students, alumni and parents to tell stories using this information, powerful enough to draw more people into support of youth in every high poverty zip code?

This is in addition to the questions volunteers and youth program staff must answer weekly.  What do I do as a tutor, mentor to help the youth I'm working with, or the young people in the program I'm involved with? 

These are just a few of many questions to be asked an many places. For instance, of all of the organizations that offer mentoring, which focus on children living in high poverty poverty areas? Which have long-term strategies? Do cities have  maps showing what neighborhoods are being reached with existing programs? Do they use that information to expand the number of kids reach every year?

Furthermore, who's providing the money and talent to collect, organize, analyze and share this information on a continuous basis?  

Finally, where are the on-line spaces where people are talking about these things?  

So what role do volunteers, and people who don't  have the time to meet directly, and regularly, with youth, take to make this happen?  Here's one presentation titled "Mentor Role in a Larger Strategy".  I hope you'll look at it.

The questions I've posted here just scratch the surface of the questions that might be asked.  Visit this section of the Tutor/Mentor Web library and read the research articles. Visit this section and read some of the blog articles.

Throughout the year, I invite volunteers, program leaders, media, donors and policy makers to dig into this and other articles I've posted since 2005 on this blog, and in my library on  Do a Google search for "tutor mentor", then look at the images. You'll find dozens more intended to stimulate your thinking.

Become the YOU in this graphic.  Build a deeper  understanding of what types of  programs serve the different needs of youth from different age groups and different social/economic backgrounds. Talk about proactive roles business, volunteers and donors can take to help strong, long-lasting tutor/mentor programs reach youth in more places. Create a "learning organization' where many are involved in this effort.  

If you're hosting this conversation share links on social media so I and others can join you.

Every child is special. Every child deserves a support system that offers hope and opportunity. Some have this when they are born. Others won't have this unless many adults who don't live in poverty make a consistent, heroic, on-going effort to make such supports available. 

If you're writing similar articles on your own blog, or host on-line forums where people are discussing these questions, use the comment box to share a link to your web sites or forums. I hope there are many leading this discussion.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN and Instagram. Please reach out and connect with me.  Find links to these sites on this page

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