Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Planning for start of 2022-23 school year

It's only the end of March but if you lead a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program with a long-term commitment to helping kids in your program move from primary or middle school through high school and beyond, you need to be using the next two months to gather information about what worked, what did not work, and what works in other programs, so that as you finish your year-end celebrations in late May or early June, you have momentum taking your through summer planning and into volunteer and student recruitment starting in August 2022.

The graphic at the right under the "How can we do this better?" question has four elements.  At the left is a "mentoring kids to careers" graphic that conveys the same multi-year message as the graphic I show above.  At the right is a "leaders wanted" graphic, calling for leaders from every industry, sports, entertainment, philanthropy, education sector, etc., to help you get the ideas and resources needed to constantly improve your program.  

In the middle are photos of kids and volunteers who connect in these programs.  Every program will show a different collection of photos, based on who they serve.  The organization's website and blog (if they have one) should be showing these pictures and telling stories of what they do, who they serve, why they do it, what their successes are and what their challenges are.  This presentation show some of the types of information that should be seen on every website. 

In the lower left corner is a map of Chicago, shaded to show high poverty areas where tutor/mentor programs are most needed, with oil-well icons indicating the need for programs in every poverty area with long-term strategies.  While each program focuses primarily on their own needs, the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-2011) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011 present) focus on helping mentor-rich programs grow in ALL  high poverty area of Chicago and in other cities.

Good planning should lead to greater support for student and volunteer recruitment campaigns launched in the fall, that bring support to every program, so each can constantly move to becoming "world class" in what they do to help kids.  Read more about the annual planning cycle in this article

I've collected links to websites of Chicago and national youth tutor, mentor and learning programs since the mid 1990s with the goal that programs would share their strategies on their websites and blogs in ways that donors, parents, students and volunteers could "shop" and choose programs that best serve their needs. But also, so that programs could learn from each other and borrow ideas that help them constantly grow from "good to great". 

Not enough do this so one role of volunteers is to get to know programs and help them tell their stories. 

I've often said "You don't need to go to college to learn how to lead a constantly improving tutor/mentor program. You can use my library as a source of ideas and on-going learning. You just need to make time on a regular basis to dig through the different sections and read information you'll find on various websites and blogs."

The concept map above shows the "resources" section of the library. It includes information about fund raising, marketing, process improvement, evaluation, and more.  Share my blogs and web library with stakeholders within your organization and create a "learning organization" where everyone is engaged.  I've been writing about this since I started this blog. Here's a 2005 article

Thanks for reading and for everything you do to help well-organized  youth tutor, mentor and learning organizations reach K-12 youth in high poverty area of Chicago and beyond.

I'd love to see others writing similar blogs as mine and sharing these on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and other platforms. That's the only way we'll build the awareness and public will needed to do more of what needs to be done. 

This page shows my social media links. Please follow and connect with me. 

This page includes a PayPal button you can use to make a small contribution to help me keep doing this work. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

20 years of failed education reform - SSIR article

Last week I posted an article talking about the "Social Determinants of Education" and how important it is to look at the conditions of the community outside of a school to understand influences on performance of youth in the school. 

Today I read a 2020 article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review titled "How 20 Years of Education Reform Has Created Greater Inequality," written by Michael A. Seelig, Ed.D, the education policy director and senior advisor to the president of Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York,

This is a long article that shows "four major forces that converged since 2000 to shape how the school reform movement widened inequality: standardized testing, gentrification, school choice, and household economic downturn."

I highlighted text from the fourth factor:  

The highlighted text reads, "What renders so many education reform efforts futile from the outset -- so much so that we avoid talking about it -- is the fact that a student's academic achievement, with few exceptions, is completely tethered to the family's income and the opportunities it can provide."

Below is a paragraph from the conclusions part of the article:

The highlighted text says "We need much better measurement of organizational performance that both recognized the wider geography of schools and communities and accounts for the collateral damage we are leaving in the wake of our efforts." 

A process that collects information related to the "Social Determinants of Education" and a dashboard that measures progress toward goals would be a starting point. Take a look at the webinar that I point to in this article

This gap in opportunity between rich and poor was the theme of Dr. Robert D. Putnam's "Our Kids" book, which I wrote about in several past articles, starting in 2015. 

This gap can be shown on maps, which again is why I encourage you to read the article about "Social Determinants of Education" and look at the dashboard being suggested.  Since 1993 I've used maps to show the geographic gap between rich and poor in Chicago and other cities. I keep looking for other leaders to do the same on a consistent basis. 

Below I show a graphic that I've used since the mid-1990s to show the potential for non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs to help build a richer, more diverse community of support for kids in high poverty areas.  

Here's one article where I use this graphic.  This presentation shows it in another format. 

I recall one of my volunteers looking at this once and exclaiming, "You're trying to build a support system for these kids similar to what is already available to kids in wealthy, and more affluent neighborhoods!" 

Yes. That's been my purpose for more than 40 years, although I did not really begin to understand what it was that I was doing until the mid 1990s.  And it's taken many years of reading hundreds of articles like this SSIR article, for me to understand why this is so important.

I added the article to the research section of my library, where it joins more than 100 other articles. 

The problem, which I've focused on since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 is that "too few people really care" enough to make the changes needed.  

In fact, it may be that the self-interest of too many people means they work actively, or unconsciously, against needed reforms. 

Dr. Seelig's article ends, saying "We must recognize the existential threat a system that enhances inequality poses to democracy and need to push through the inevitable fatigue that emerges when we see something before us as too big, or too ambitious."  He ends with "American democracy depends on it."

If you've read this far, and you care about this issue, become the YOU in this graphic and share the article, my library and other articles like this with people you know and encourage them to do the same.

Keep doing it for the next 20 years.

I share my articles and highlight those of others on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.  (see links here).  I hope you'll follow me, share my posts, and introduce me to others who may be doing work similar to what I do.

Furthermore, if you are able, I'd appreciate a small contribution to help me continue doing this work Visit this page to learn more. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Build Social Determinants of Education Dashboard

In today's article I want to inspire you to learn more about the Social Determinants of Education and data dashboards that public schools could fund using ESSER dollars.  I confess, I had not heard this term, nor thought much about Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Federal Funding (ESSER) dollars until attending a webinar yesterday.

This was a three-part presentation.

Part 1, featuring @RS21smarter showed ways to "use data "outside the four walls of a school" to improve student outcomes.  The presenters talked about how a growing understanding of social determinants have been used to inform public health and healthcare initiatives, and how "Social Determinants of Education" can be blended with school data to understand the impact on achievement."  Then they showed how data dashboards can support decision-making.

Below are three graphics from the @RS21smarter part of the presentation: 

The first shows things outside of the school that affect education outcomes. 

The second goes into greater detail showing the type of information educators should be looking at and that can be accumulated in the type of data dashboard @RS21smarter demonstrated.  I appreciated how clearly the presenters described this information.  

The third is a screen shot from a demonstration of how the data is mapped with a geographic interface. 

Part 2 was a demonstration by Bill Barberg, Founder and President of InsightFormation, Inc. showing how strategy management dashboards can support and monitor multi-stakeholder strategy success.  

Part 3 focuses on how ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Federal Funding) funding (Covid19 government funds) can help with the cost of building dashboards that combine both elements.  

I can't really do justice to the information presented, so I encourage you to take time to watch the video recording of the webinar. click here

3-19-2022 update - here's a blog from RS21 with their section of the webinar featured.

7-27-2022 update - here's another demonstration of using data and maps the target location of social services. 

Here are four articles to help you expand your understanding of Social Determinants of Education:





Why does this excite me so much?

When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 we intended to build a master database of Chicago non-school, volunteer-based tutor and mentor programs and share that information using maps that showed where they were located and where they were most needed, using indicators like poverty, school performance, violence, etc. 

We also wanted to show assets within the same geographic region of different programs, who could supply volunteers, dollars, ideas and technology to help programs constantly improve their impact on the lives of kids and volunteers.  Initially we published this information in a printed directory, but in 2004 put the directory on-line in a searchable format, then in 2008 in a map-based format.  

Visit this page and this page on my wiki to read about the goals of the program locator and our GIS mapping. 

The dashboard I saw demonstrated yesterday by @RS21smarter represents 15 years of knowledge and technology advancement over what I had started in 1994!  Furthermore the demonstration model is built using Open Source technology, making the code available to every city and technology hub in the world! 

The second part of the presentation also resonated. In 1999 a volunteer from the University of Kansas built an Organizational History and Tracking System (OHATS T/MC) for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, based on work being done by the Work Group on Health Promotion at the university.  In 2007 a team of volunteers from India rebuilt the original OHATS.  This PDF shows how information from the original version was reported in 2002.  This video describes that information. 

When OHATS was rebuilt in 2007 the new site included animated charts showing information for each strategy step.  Thus, we were beginning to build data dashboards in the early 2000s!  Imagine what we might have done since 2011 if we'd continued to receive funding! Sadly I was not able to update this after 2013 and now it's only available as an archive.

It's because I've been collecting and sharing information since 1975 to help people become more effective tutors and mentors and to help programs like the one I led get the resources each needs to constantly improve that I saw so much potential value in the dashboards and ideas about Social Determinants of Education.

The challenge is a) how do I (and others) help more people look at this and use available ESSER dollars and local technology talent to build versions to support kids in their own school districts?  b) how do I help them add some of the ideas behind my own use of maps, to build on-going campaigns to draw volunteers, donors and youth through the dashboards, to the out-of-school resources that are so valuable in student development -- such as tutor/mentor programs? c) how I motivate others to consider using similar dashboards in their own work? 

Here's an example.  I attended another webinar this week, which in this case was an introduction to the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, established by Congress in August 2020 and now up and running.  This looks like one potentially good thing done by our former President and his GOP Senate.  This event was hosted by Brookings and launched with this article

While I post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram I seem to have the most interaction on Twitter. Here's an example of how I tried to tie the information in this article together in one Tweet.

Final thought. There are other dashboards.   

I point to many from this concept map.  To help people build the most effective dashboards I feel someone needs to be building a library of these, just like my library of Chicago tutor/mentor programs.  Then, someone needs to look at each and determine what features are most valuable, intuitive and easy-to-use. Then, constantly share this information in ways that help everyone constantly improve.

By the way. That's been needed for my own library since I launched it in 1994.  So far no one  has taken this role. 

Thanks to the people who organized these webinars and made it possible for myself and others to attend.  I hope many will find the information useful and valuable for helping kids who are being left behind by the opportunities of America. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The new war - "disinformation"

The last two weeks, as Russia has invaded the Ukraine, the use of information, or "disinformation" as a tool of war, and/or political domination, has really been highlighted for myself, and probably many others.

This is a topic which I have almost no expertise in, yet as social media use has grown, I've witnessed the ways a creative, and focused disinformation campaign has been waged to destabilize America and Western democracies. 

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to aggregate information that others might use to understand poverty and structural racism, and see how volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs expand the network of adult support, social capital, for kids living in high poverty areas.

A few years ago I created a section in the Tutor/Mentor Library that focuses on progressive issues and campaigns to elect people who would champion those issues.   I've another section that focuses on "race, poverty, inequality, social justice, etc."  

These contain dozens of links that you can use to build your own understanding and response to these issues. 

As I've done this, I've also used some of my blog articles to aggregate links to specific topics.  This article about "redlining" is an example. Look at all the links I've added to the bottom of the article. 

Thus, I'm going to use this article to do the same, focusing on information about information wars, and disinformation.

To start, I'm posting a Tweet using the words "disinformation war". 

Just by visiting this thread on Twitter you can begin to expand your own understanding of disinformation.

In the coming weeks and months I'll add links to specific Twitter threads and articles that you might look at.  

I feel that this is one of the biggest challenges we face, if we want to preserve our democracy and freedoms.  

Monday, March 07, 2022

Global conflict - local focus

 Below is a map showing ongoing conflicts around the world of concern to the United States, from the Council on Foreign Relations website

Click on any dot on the map and you can learn more about the conflict in that area. In Europe the conflict is the attack on the Ukraine that started in late February 2022.  While this one is dominating much of the news, we need to focus on all of these in efforts to reduce or end them.

At the same time we need to continue to work daily to help youth living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities have the extra support needed to help them move from birth to work. 

I've used this blog since 2005 to focus attention on the challenges facing youth living in high poverty areas and the potential help that can be offered by volunteers who connect with them in on-going,  tutor, mentor and learning programs.

Yet at the same time, I also have shared graphics that focus on surrounding issues that affect these kids, and others around the world.  The graphic below is from a Nov. 2020 article

As we start a new week, and continue to follow the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine and in other places I encourage you to create your own maps and blueprints, to help you keep track of all the different issues that you need to focus on daily, for this week, and many weeks to come.

If we can do this we can help kids in Chicago and US poverty areas move through school and through the journey of their adult lives.

And, we can build networks of support for kids and families who are being driven from their homes by man-made and natural disasters. 

While the graphic above shows me in 1974 with Leo Hall, and again in 2014 at his 50th birthday, it could also picture kids from any of today's conflicts, with adults who are helping them rebuild their lives and their futures. 

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn (see links). I hope you'll follow me and share your own blog articles and graphics. 

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Using maps to draw resources to high poverty areas

With the tragic war in Ukraine we're now seeing maps showing troop movements, occupied territory and besieged cities. If you're old enough to remember the first Gulf War you might remember the evening news reports with Generals using similar maps to show progress of Allied forces in Iraq.

I've been using maps since 1993 for a similar purpose, in the "war on poverty".  I posted three Tweets last week that draw attention to this strategy. Take a look.

I share these on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, too, but have found greater engagement on Twitter than on the others.

Here's an example.  One of my Tweets was noticed by Anthony Brogdon, from Detroit, last week. That resulted in a conversation where Anthony told me of a movie about mentoring he is producing (see link) and that he was interviewing people involved in mentoring to help draw attention to his movie.  I joined him in a ZOOM call and below you can see how he shared our interview in another Tweet. Click on the link to view the video.

This is what I want to have happen as a result of this blog and my activity on social media. I want to enlist others in drawing attention to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities, and to my own efforts, which I hope many will duplicate.

Here's another Tweet illustrating this goal. We need leaders from every sector using their own visibility and communications networks drawing daily attention to information showing where and why kids need extra help, and to maps and databases that people can use to distribute their help to youth, and youth-serving programs, in every high poverty area of Chicago and other places.

If you see an athlete, business leader, politician, student or other person pointing to a map saying "get informed; get involved" and "let's fill all of these highlighted areas with great programs helping youth through school and into adult lives and jobs" please share this information on social media and be sure to tag me on Twitter @tutormentorteam.

Browse articles on the MappingforJustice blog for more examples of ways maps can be used as well as articles describing my own use of maps since 1993.  This is one of several articles where I describe my past use of maps and the need for someone to step forward and rebuild this capacity. 

If you'd like to take this role, please reach out to me.