Wednesday, October 05, 2022

WE instead of, just ME, in collective efforts

This week I saw a post about a new campaign from the Chicago Independent Media Alliance aimed at raising needed operating funds for more than 30 different local media outlets.
Each of the participating organizations is using their own talents to draw attention to this campaign, and draw donations to themselves and their peers.  It's a great example of applying "WE, instead of just ME", in the social sector where the fierce competition for scarce funding usually has non-profit campaigns focusing only on self-centered fund raising.

My vision, since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago in 1993 has been to generate attention and more consistent support for EVERY youth tutor and/or mentor program in the Chicago region.  

Read about this vision below: 


This is one of many maps you'll find on this blog and on the MappingforJustice Blog, which zoom into a Chicago neighborhood and tell a story of "why" kids and families need more help, "what" help is already in that area, if any, in the form of organized volunteer based tutor and/or mentor programs; and "what assets" and leaders share the geography and could be doing much more to help change the conditions and improve the lives of people who live there.


click to enlarge
I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (T/MI) in 2011 to support the growth of well-organized youth tutor/mentor programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago. This graphic shows four strategies that I've followed since they were developed in 1993.

While we accomplished much and built a huge resource library, we've never had consistent funding or significant leadership support from Chicago business, political, philanthropic or other sectors. Thus, what we wanted to accomplish is far less than what has been needed.

Data collection and GIS mapping have been at the heart of T/MC work since 1993. This graphic shows what the T/MC has been trying to do and what has not ever been accomplished.

Annual cycle of Tutor/Mentor Connection mapping. Click to enlarge 

We've built a list of youth tutor/mentor programs, organized bi-annual conferences (1994-2015) to bring leaders together, organized events to draw volunteers and donors to programs, generated considerable attention from local media, built a social media presence and more.  It's been too little to change the overall range of poverty in Chicago, but has had a positive affect on many individual lives.

I created this Wiki Page to show what we were trying to accomplish. Feel free to read it and offer your help, or create a similar strategy focused on your own city. 

When we started building a mapping capacity, and on-line program locator, the goal was that we could do more to support the fund raising capacity of programs in different parts of the city. 

There were three goals that never have been reached.

click here to view
1) There is a growing mountain of data showing levels of poverty and inequality in Chicago and the world.  In the concept map shown at the left I point so some of these data platforms.  The Tutor/Mentor Program Locator (since 2022 only available as an archive) used some of that data and like other platforms enabled people to zoom into small areas to look for the availability of tutor/mentor programs in small areas.

My vision was that we could create a form that would be accepted by grant makers, to show the need for tutor/mentor programs serving different age levels in different zip codes and/or community areas.  Right now every program has to build their own case statement showing why it is important for their program to receive funding. Some have greater talent to do this than others. It's a redundant and expensive process with too few consistent winners. Thus, creating a form where you'd only need to enter a zip code or community area, plus the age group you serve, and the type of program you offer, should generate a report showing that you are needed in that area.

7-29-2022 update - below is a video created by a company called RS21 who is building data mapping dashboards and using the data in an analysis process that determines where services are needed and where to put them. View the video at this link.  View other articles showing RS21 use of data - click here.


I point to the RS21 video because this is the type of analysis that was envisioned in 1993 when we began to plan the Tutor/Mentor Connection and it's use of maps.  We never reached the capacity to do this in all the ways imagined.

I'm  pointing today to the Chicago Independent Media Alliance because it's an example of what has been needed for the past 30 years and will still be needed for the next 30 years. 

If we had fully developed this capacity in the 2000s, it would have lowered the cost to individual programs and given grant makers a consistent way to help them decide where to provide funding and who to support in each area. 

click here to view

We got partially there in 2004 when we launched this on-line searchable program locator form (since 2022 only available as an archive).  However, the maps that this produced did not show demographic information or indicators such as poorly performing schools or violence.  The Interactive Program Locator that was built in 2008 provided this information. However, there was no "easy-to-use" narrative generated in a "form" that could be printed that someone could pull from the site and use in a grant proposal.

The financial melt down starting in 2008 led to this work being discontinued in 2009 and to updates being discontinued by 2013.

So this is one bridge that we never were able to cross.

2)  Motivating programs to provide data for the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and keep it updated has always been a challenge. One way we partially overcame that was to have our annual survey included in the grant guidelines of the Chicago Bar Foundation's Lawyer's Lend A Hand Program. About 40 out of our list of nearly 200 programs submitted applications each year from 1995-20003 which I could use to update the list. However, that was too few and too time consuming for my small staff. Thus as we built the interactive portal in 2004 we developed an on-line form that programs could use to add themselves or update their data (not working since 2013).  However, this still did not provide "motivation".

Note: I was sorry to learn recently that the Lend A Hand Program has ceased making grants to support multiple tutor/mentor programs, and will instead focus only on their own program.  That's a perfect example of the "ME instead of WE" thinking.  

click to enlarge

My strategy for motivating programs to provide information and keep it updated is shown in this PDF. The graphic at the right is part of it. As on-line fund raising portals grew since the mid 2000s I felt that we might create a portal that would work with the Program Locator maps, to encourage donors to support programs in different parts of Chicago and give media a resource to use in developing stories following incidents of violence, reports on schools, reports on gangs, etc. 

On one level, we could draw from the list we were maintaining to give donors information to create the platform. However, on another level we felt that as programs began to generate donations, and learned to use the site to build their own campaigns, we'd create greater motivation to keep their data updated.  We could even organize events at different time in each year to draw volunteers and donors to the platform.

Imagine the potential of stories about tutoring and mentoring calling attention to our maps and database and drawing needed resources into every high poverty neighborhood.  Imagine the visibility this would generate if similar campaigns were happening in every city! 

This is another bridge that has not been crossed. This has never gotten further than me putting the idea into this PPT and sharing it on my planning wiki.

click to enlarge
Media stories continue to remind us that some people in Chicago and other cities live with fewer resources and fewer opportunities than do other people.  Thus, there's still a need for organizations that provide a bridge, connecting youth and families to resources and connecting people who don't live in poverty with people who do.

3) The final bridge - As we developed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in the 1990s we felt we could generate income to support our continued operations and innovation by making it available to other cities and offering our expertise to help them use it. When I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC that continued to be the goal.  However, that has not happened.   Now my goal is to find people who will take time to understand what I've been trying to do and will want to take ownership and carry it into the future.   One idea that might offer promise is to make the code for the Program Locator and any new platforms freely available on GitHub, so it could be more easily applied in other cities, and to other causes.  That might attract more developers to help build in the features I've not been able to construct, and to keep updating it as technology and needs change.  Having parallel portals in every major city of the US and the world would certainly contribute to greater visibility and greater traffic, and thus a bigger flow of donations through the portal and the maps to individual tutor/mentor programs in different places.

That's always been the goal.  So far it's still a bridge to far to cross.

Does any of this interest you?  I'm on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Let's connect.

Can you send a contribution to help fund this work? Click here to find a PayPal link. 


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Role of Leaders in Mobilizing Corporate Support

In building the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993  (now Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC) I've borrowed from many sources.  One was Chicago's United Way/Crusade of Mercy, where I served as Loaned Executive from 1990 to 1993. 

Below is a concept map that visualizes the African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child."  


If you click here, you can find 30 articles where I've used this "It Takes a Village" concept since I started this blog in 2005.  I use the ideas as a strategy that needs to be growing in cities all across the country, and demonstrated with web sites that show a commitment visualized in the strategy map below.



When people in business, media, entertainment, politics, religion, education, colleges, and every other part of the "village" adopt this commitment, with themselves shown in the blue box at the top of the graphic, then we can begin to build the public will and long-term commitment needed to fill every high poverty neighborhood in a city with a wide range of supports needed to help kids move successfully and safely from birth to adult lives free of poverty.

When I was a Loaned Executive I collected donation history for 10-15 companies, showing per capita giving, percent participation, leadership giving, etc. within a company and within similar companies in the Chicago region.  I then briefed CEOs of major corporations who then met with CEOs who they did business with, or had an influence, (and were my accounts). The goal was to solicit campaign pledges each year that grew each company's giving history. 

I borrowed this strategy when forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

My goal since 1993 was that leaders in each industry (shown as clusters on the village concept map) would adopt a Chief Crusader role and would a) commit to recruiting volunteers and providing funding for youth tutor/mentor programs from their own company; and b) would recruit other leaders in their industry, or geographic region, to make the same commitments. 

Over time that would have led to consistent funding and volunteer support to tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of the region.  

That has not happened. Yet, to reduce violence and improve workforce readiness, it needs to happen. 

How to get started? Make a leadership commitment, as a teacher, a college professor, a Rabbi, a CEO, then appoint someone to take the lead. Start a learning process, where you open and close every node on the strategy map so you know the information it's sharing, and you know what your commitment involves.



View these presentations, created by interns, as part of their own learning between 2006 and 2015. Youth and adults could be creating similar presentations, focusing on their community and their strategies.

Create a version of the strategy map and share it on your website and blog. Teach others to use it.

Raising kids and helping them be healthy, productive, contributing adults who can keep America great, and keep this planet safe and nurturing of all of its different populations and resources...human, animal, plant... is something that everyone should be able to agree on.

It does take a village. But until we have responsible, on-going, commitments of time, talent and dollars from every part of the village, supporting youth in the most economically challenged parts of every city, these will just be empty words.

That means students, volunteers, college researchers, and others will need to learn to create maps that show who in the village is involved, and who is still not involved.  You can see some examples of event mapping of past Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, at this link. Many different forms of mapping are highlighted in articles on the Mappingforjustice blog.

Part of the learning that people do will need to include finding ways to map participation .

I've been posting ideas on this blog, on web sites and in printed newsletters since 1994. The tags on the side of this blog are shown in this graphic, and in articles like this,  in an effort to help people navigate through this vast web of information and ideas.

If you share this commitment, please share this and other ideas shared on this blog and my Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.  Help build the village in every part of the country.

Thanks for reading.

Please connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  

If you value the ideas I'm sharing, please visit this page and send a small contribution. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Areas with concentrated poverty

Below is a map showing cities in the USA with neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. It's from a new BrookingsMetro report.  I point to it in this article on the MappingforJustice blog. 


Another graphic in the article focuses on 12 cities, including Chicago, showing areas of  high poverty. 


I started using maps in 1993 when forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  With a map a leader can focus attention and resources on every high poverty area within a geographic region.  Without the map a leader can point to a long list of organizations he supports, but still miss most neighborhoods where people need extra  help.

The graphic at the left is myself, at a presentation where I'm showing a 1994 ChicagoTribune article with the headline "City kids at risk".  That map shows the same areas on the West and South sides of Chicago as places with high poverty as do the maps in the 2022 BrookingsMetro report.

The only difference is that there are fewer kids in some of these Chicago neighborhoods now than in 1993 due to thousands of families leaving the city.

Here's one report showing CPS enrollment decline from 431,750 in 1999-2000 to 330,411 in 2021-22.   

That means there still are a lot of kids who could benefit from extra support provided by an organized tutor, mentor and learning program. 

Since 1975 I've been building a library of articles and research showing where poverty is concentrated and why tutor/mentor programs and other forms of support are needed. When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we dramatically expanded the library and launched efforts to share that with others in Chicago. When we launched our first website in 1998 we began collecting and sharing information with people throughout the USA and the world.

I use concept maps to show information in the library. The one below shows sections with poverty maps and with articles about race, poverty and inequality.  The 2022 BrookingsMetro report is just one more addition to this list. 

Building public awareness and motivating more people to look at this information, and helping them understand, then apply what they are learning, has been part of the 4-part strategy launched by the T/MC in 1993.  Yet, too few people are doing what's needed.

In this April 2015 article I showed a Chicago SunTimes article from 1993, which bemoans the fact that so little was done in the previous 20 years to reduce poverty in Chicago. 


Today's article is just one more reminder that anyone reading this can be the YOU in the graphic below, sharing this article and the research with people you know, who will then share it with others.  


All of the articles I've posted since 2005 in this blog and since 1993 in printed newsletters are templates anyone can use to create their own communications and network building campaigns.  

If you want the maps of Chicago or other cities to look different in 2040 you need to start doing what's needed now.  

Thanks for reading. Please connect and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram (see links here)

If you'd like to help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, click here. Your help would be greatly appreciated. 


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

New additions to Tutor/Mentor Library

Since 1970s I've been building a library of information that supports my efforts, and those of others, who are involved with organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.  

I used this graphic in the 1990s to show what type of information was being collected.

In the mid 2000s when I started building concept maps I created a set of maps to show the four main sections of the library.  

Open the concept map below then click on the small boxes at t he bottom of each node. 

These will open new maps showing the type of information in that section, and provide links to the actual library.  For instance, the map below shows the research section of the library.

The links in the library are in alphabetical order, which means you need to scroll each list to find what's included or to find specific articles.  It's not ideal, or as interactive as the library I hosted between 2006 and 2016, but with limited resources, it's the best I can do.

I keep adding new links and set up a page in July 2022 to list those, as I add them.  You can see the most recent additions below.

Under each description I include a link to the section of the library where I've placed that link.  I hope it helps.  Of course, after a few months, or a year, this list might become too long to be of value.

Between 1995 and 2015 I was supported by interns from various universities. However, I was never able to establish a formal, on-going program, at any university, that would take ownership of the library, my archives, and the goals and strategy that I've piloted.


Here are a few articles where I've shared this invitation. I hope you'll share it with colleges and universities in Chicago and around the country.  I also hope you'll share it with people like MacKenzie Scott, who has been making multi-million dollar gifts to non-profits in Chicago and around the country.


The Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is not a non-profit, so does not qualify for such a gift.  However, a university who wants to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, library and archives, could qualify. 

MacKenzie Scott could make that happen, and in doing so leverage all the other gifts she has been making to youth serving and violence prevention organizations.  

View the concept map below, showing work interns did to help me in past years. Visit this blog to learn more about these. 

These projects demonstrate how interns have spent time learning about the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, then have created visualizations and blog articles to share what they have learned with people they know.

These are examples of how anyone who is still reading could share this article with people who might provide the money and leadership to create a new T/MC on a college campus.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram (see links) and hope you'll connect with me. 

Thanks for reading.  If you're able to support me with a small contribution, click on this page

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Tutor/Mentor Connection Vision - 2001

I started this blog in 2005 to share ideas and strategies from a two part organization that I and six other volunteers created in 1993. We called it Cabrini Connections. Its first priority was helping teens in the Cabrini Green area of Chicago move through school with the help of volunteers who served as tutors, mentors, coaches and friends.  

Its second priority was to help similar programs reach k-12 youth in every high poverty area of Chicago. We named that the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  

Last week I searched for "Cabrini Connections" on the Internet archive and found many references. I opened the June 28, 2001 version which you can find at this link.  This was a website hosted on the Chicago Tribune platform. 

The graphic below shows the "home page", which features the Mission and describes the two program components.  

The links at the left all open to additional pages, which I will show below. Unfortunately, the next level of links which you find on these additional pages do not open. 

The first linked page was titled "CEO Editorial Letters".

Look at what I was writing about.  "Thinking Out of the Box"; "Another Shooting In Chicago";  "Bridging the Digital Divide"; "Who Wants This Challenge?"  Look at the short paragraphs under each heading.   It's 2022 and I'm still talking about the same things.  

The next page I'm showing is the "Tutor/Mentor Technology Center".  


This shows a vision of creating an Internet-based learning network, connecting youth and volunteers from many programs, with researchers, donors, policy makers, business leaders and others from around the country.  It's never been achieved, yet we're more connected now, in 2022, than ever.

From 1993 to 2003 we published a printed newsletter four times a year.  We created two versions. One, called "NewsLink" featured our own tutor/mentor program, which we called "Cabrini Connections Kids Connection".  This version also told of work being done by the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

You can few topics from the Fall 1998 issue in the graphic below. 


Below is the second version of the newsletter, which we called T/MC Report.  You can view the PDF of this newsletter at this link


The final page that I'm showing is a "Strategic Planning" page.  Note that the subhead says "A continuous process that focuses on "what could be". 


Here's an enlargement of a portion of this page


Under "Vision" it says "A few people, with persistence and a deep commitment can change the world. The most important tool is "a mirror". We must look at it each day and ask "What have you done?"

Under "Strategy" it says "Poverty and poor schools were not created in a day. Solutions to these problems will not come from silver bullets or short-term solutions."

Under Tactics and Goals: Strategy 2, it says "Create a learning organization which seeks out information and applies it in an on-going process of reflection, comparison, application and innovation to improve our own actions, help others improve their actions,"


Under Tactics and Goals: Tutor/Mentor Connection,
it says "Build the city’s most comprehensive understanding of the availability and quality of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and use as a baseline for an annual increase in programs, volunteers, students served, as well as geographic distribution of programs in high poverty areas" 

Under Implementation - Kids' Connection, it says "Build it, and they will come. Make it better each year, and more will come."   We started the Kids' Connection in January 1993 with seven volunteers and five 7th and 8th graders, plus 8-10 older teens at Wells High School. We added more kids each fall until 1999 when we enrolled about 80 teens and 100 volunteers.  As we moved to smaller space we kept our annual participation at this level due to space limitations.  

We built it. We constantly tried to make it more appealing.  They came. 

I've used the image below many times to illustrate the role of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since 2011) to collect information that people from around the world would use to build and sustain programs that help kids in poverty move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives. 


This could be a study program at any high school or college in the world!  The June 2001 archive of the Cabrini Connections website is just one version that you'll find that's saved on the Internet Archive between 1999 and 2022.  

The http://www.tutormentorexchange.net site also has archived versions (click here) dating back to 2001. Click on any of the hash marks on this timeline to open a website version for that date. 

Click here and open January 20, 2002 version.   Click here and view Cabrini Connections Art Festival page from October 2001. 

You can also find archived versions of the TutorMentorConnection.org website, which was the primary site for the Tutor/Mentor Connection from 1998 to 2019.  

From these archives and the current live website anyone can learn from my efforts and build a new, better, and more effective city-wide strategy to help kids in  high poverty areas.  It just takes some leaders with persistence and a deep commitment.  It would make a huge difference if you have the long-term backing of a few deep-pocketed philanthropists. I never had that and we lost our major supporter, the Montgomery Ward Corporation, when they went out of business in 2000. 

Thanks for reading. Please share this with others.  While I draw breath I'm able to coach anyone to use these archives and help you think through steps toward building your own Tutor/Mentor Connection type structure.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Please reach out at these links and connect with me. 


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Football and great teams.

College football started a couple of weeks ago, but to me, it's the kick-off of the NFL season that signals the real beginning of the fall sports season. 

My team, the Chicago Bears, have new leadership and many new players. They are still trying to put a winning team on the field.  That requires involvement of ownership. coaches, fans, investors, players and all of the high school and college feeder programs around the country. They all play a role.

I've been using this graphic since the late 1990s t
o visualize the need to support kids in high poverty areas with school and non-school hours programs, that offer many types of support for many years.

Such programs are needed in every zip code.

Thus, as we enter another football season, I want to draw your attention to the infrastructure that is needed to build great teams. Then I want to ask you to think of ways volunteers in business, civic and alumni groups, sports, entertainment and faith groups, etc. can take on roles of fans and team owners to build and sustain great tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities.

Below is a graphic I've been trying to develop for many years.


The team on the field consists of youth and volunteers who are connected via the efforts of the staff and leaders of organized tutoring, mentoring and learning programs. Youth in poverty face many obstacles, thus the defensive line in this graphic represents some of those barriers. However, organized tutor/mentor programs in high poverty neighborhoods also face many challenges.


Unless we as a city can overcome these challenges
(visualized in this concept map) there will be too few great tutor/mentor programs in the many Chicago area neighborhoods where they are needed. Or in neighborhoods of other cities where NFL, NBA and other pro sports teams operate.

In my football field graphic, the fans in the stands are people who work in business, attend faith services weekly, attend local colleges, etc. These are the people who support great sports teams by their attendance, by watching on TV, or listening on the radio. They support sport teams, and sponsors, by the way they purchase sports apparel, and the way they talk about their teams on a daily basis. These are people who could be volunteering time, talent and dollars to support tutor/mentor programs.

In the sky-boxes are team owners, boosters, investors and others who pay millions of dollars to make great teams available...at the professional level, and at the major college level. Unless we find investors like this to support the growth of great tutor/mentor teams in more places, there will be too few, and there will be few who have long-term commitments to building great teams.

This next graphic shows the role of intermediaries. The articles I write and graphics I create are limited by the talent I have to do this work. The number of people who see these is limited by my own lack of personal visibility and advertising dollars. Thus, if we want more great teams we need more people doing what I do, taking on an intermediary role to help connect people they know with ideas and with programs where they can help implement these ideas.


I send out a monthly email newsletter, with graphics like these, and with links to different sections of my web library. This section points to almost 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations who need support from fans and owners to be world class at what they do.

The goal is that people use the information I'm aggregating to expand the range of ideas they have to support actions they take to help great tutor/mentor teams be available in more places. Volunteers from different places could help create a better design for this newsletter, could write articles, and could create their own versions to circulate this information to their own network of family, friends, co-workers, etc. 

Since most of my library points to Chicago youth programs, every city needs someone duplicating my efforts and building their own library of local programs, maps and research.  

Below is an animation that illustrates a role athletes could take on a regular basis to mobilize fans and owners to support constantly improving youth programs in high poverty areas.



This animation, and other videos in my library, could be re-produced in many ways, with hundreds of different athletes, celebrities, etc. giving the message.

This isn't something that happens once a year, like the Super Bowl, or NBA AllStar game, or every 2 years like an Olympics. But if it is given the same attention, the result will be better support of hundreds, or thousands of different youth serving organizations operating in Chicago and other cities.

And ultimately, that will provide more of the support youth need to move through school and into adult lives and careers.

I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam, which is where I'll be commenting during weekly football games and as I attend webinars focused on understanding and reducing poverty, racism and inequality.  I do that every day. 

 I've been sharing these ideas for many years. Here's a late 1990s article from Crain's Chicago Business, describing what I've been trying to do. 

Join me. Follow me. Share your own game plan in blogs like mine. Feel free to use my articles for your own game plan and play book. As you share your own strategies, I and others will borrow from you.

Thanks for reading. Let's go out and help great youth tutor/mentor programs grow in more places.

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Vance Stevens, Webheads leader. A giant no longer with us.

As I scrolled through my email this morning I received tragic news of the passing of Vance Stevens.  

Most of you probably don't know who he was.  I met him in the early 2000s via an on-line community called Webheads, which connected ESL educators from around the world.  

Vance was the glue that brought that community together in the late 1990s and held it together for 20+ years.

If you view some of these past articles, you can see many of my interactions with Vance and the way he archived those interactions on his on blog.   Below is a screenshot from an article he wrote in 2019 following the 21th year on-line reunion of some Webheads members. 


As with many people who I've met on-line and grown relationships with over many years, I only met Vance once, which was a few years ago when he was in Chicago for an event.  I treasure that memory and the way he always made me welcome, even though I'm not an ESL educator. 


I encourage you to visit Vance's Facebook page and read the testimonials that have been posted as people are learning of his passing.   Here's one post that provides links to many archives that will enable you to learn who Vance was and what he accomplished. 

I often wonder if my own work and archives will remain available to people in the future.  I ask the same question when I think of the much larger body of work that represents the life of Vance Stevens.

A few weeks ago I wrote about using the Internet Archive to find posts which have broken links.  Here's a  link in the archive to the post Vance wrote in 2019 following our reunion.  As long as the archive is available, so will the legacy of Vance Stevens.  

Monday, September 05, 2022

Labor Day - Volunteer Recruitment

I hope everyone enjoys this Labor Day and honors workers who have helped make this country a great place to live.   Since 1995 I've hosted volunteer recruitment campaigns each year to draw volunteers to youth-serving tutor and/or mentor programs in the Chicago region, just as school is starting for the new year.

Over the weekend I posted Tweets pointing to articles I wrote in the past.  Take a look. 

This is from 2018 I wrote about mentoring programs as a jobs creation strategy in 2011 and again in 2015 This was from 2017 I started this blog in 2005. Below is a September Tweet from 2006 Find my list of Chicago area youth tutor and/or mentor programs at this link.   

If you're part of a Chicago area tutor/mentor program I encourage you to post at least one Tweet a week pointing to work your organization is doing.  Below is an example of what's possible.  If I can draw attention to a youth-serving program with a Tweet, so can anyone else.  I use Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as Twitter. I hope you'll connect with me on one or more of these platforms.  

Let our labor be efforts that make life brighter for others, not just for ourselves or our immediate families. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Creating year-round attention

I have used graphics for 20+  years to communicate ideas. Almost all related to what we need to do to build mentor-rich non-school, and school-based, support systems to help kids in high poverty areas move through school and into adult lives.

Because this blog has a vertical structure (you only see the most recent on the home page), some graphics don't get as much attention as they should. Here's an example.


We did the planning for the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and launched it with a first Chicago tutor/mentor programs survey in January 1994.  Over the next few years we developed a year-round series of events intended to draw attention, volunteers and donors directly to the youth programs we were learning about in our surveys, while drawing those programs together to learn from each other.  

View this video to see animation showing  year-round strategy, created by intern in late 2000s.


We published our list of programs in a printed directory each year from 1995 to 2003 and have shared the list on-line since 1998. You can find it now at this link

We started using maps of Chicago in 1993 to show where non-school tutor/mentor programs were most needed, based on poverty, poorly performing (and poorly funded) schools, etc. We plotted locations of existing programs on these maps. I've posted more than 250 articles demonstrating how maps can be used and created an entire blog focused on uses of maps. 

Conferences in May and November, a city-wide volunteer recruitment campaign in August/September, a Tutor/Mentor Week in November were events my team organized.  We drew upon the January National Mentoring Month publicity to try to build renewed attention to tutor/mentor programs in February, when many were looking to replace volunteers who had dropped out over the holidays.  We had other goals but they never were able to be developed.

Visit this page to read more about these activities. 

We're now in the Back-to-School volunteer-recruitment period and this morning I looked at this blog to see when I last used this graphic.  It was last November, in this article

It's an important concept because it emphasizes the role anyone can take to draw attention to youth serving programs in their community.  I'll share this on Twitter because while there are countless politicians calling for your votes, and your dollars, I don't see many (if any) using their Tweets to draw volunteers to youth serving programs in the districts they want to represent.

Maybe this can encourage a few to add this message to their posts. 

While I no longer organize conferences or a site-based volunteer-recruitment campaign, I still host a library and encourage youth programs, volunteers, youth, business, donors and others to draw ideas from it that they use to help kids in poverty move safely from birth to work.  Furthermore, I share history of events I organized, such as the recruitment campaign, and the tutor/mentor conferences, with the goal that others in Chicago and other cities will create their own versions of these, and their own year-round calendar of youth support events.

You can find me on each of these social media platforms

And, you can help me cover the costs of keeping this information available to you and others around the world by visiting this page and making a small contribution. 

Thank you for reading and sharing my articles. 

If you scroll back to articles from past years are there some graphics that I used in the past that you think I should emphasize with a new post?  Let me know. 



Friday, August 26, 2022

Expanding role of volunteers

Over the past two years I've watched a series of Racism and the Economy webinars hosted by the Federal Reserve Banks.  I viewed the July 2022 webinar yesterday and called attention to it with this post on Twitter.

In this Tweet I pointed to articles on this blog where I pointed to previous Federal Reserve Bank events. I hope you'll find time to look at these.

I became a volunteer in a tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1973 and the leader of that program in 1975. I continued leading programs for the next 35 years.

During that time I've learned more and more about the challenges kids in high poverty areas face and that too few others are on the same learning path.  My learning was motivated by my personal involvement. Thus, my actions have aimed at getting more people like me involved in organized tutor/mentor programs, then pointing them to materials that help them better understand America's history of racism and inequality, reinforced by intentional policy choices.  

The only way to create change is to get many, many more people personally involved.  Thus, making more and better tutor/mentor programs available through Chicago and in other places, would increase the pool of volunteers, and potential activist.  That's been my focus for the past 28 years. 

To support my learning, and the volunteers in the program I led (more than 4000 from 1975 to 1992), I started building a library in the 1970s. When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we dramatically expanded that library, and made it available to leaders of any tutor/mentor program in Chicago.   

In 1998 we started putting the library and our ideas on the Internet, where they have been available for the past 24 years to people throughout the world.  

I use concept maps to show information in the library as well as strategies for helping programs grow in more places.  One section aggregates links to websites and articles with information similar to what was presented in the Federal Reserve Bank webinars. 


School is starting and all tutor/mentor programs are seeking volunteers. See my list of Chicago area programs at this link.  If churches, businesses, media, sports, etc. use their media to point potential volunteers to lists like mine we help volunteers connect with programs in every part of a city.  Do this in addition to pointing to your favorite programs.

Getting volunteers involved is only the first step. Keeping them involved, helping them become effective tutors and/or mentors is an on-going step.  Growing their understanding of issues and turning them into activist is a step further. 

Here are blog articles I encourage you to read:

Volunteer Growth. Helping Kids Through School: How Can We Do this Better?  click here

Mentor Role in a Larger Strategy - click here 

There are many, many more related articles on this blog. I hope you'll make it a consistent part of your personal learning and you will encourage others to do the same.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and hope you'll connect with me on one or more of these platforms.  

I also have a "Fund T/MI" page where you can use PayPal to send me a contribution to help keep these resources freely available to you and others.