Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Steps Leaders Can Take

As news spread yesterday of Elon Musk buying Twitter I posted this concept map asking "what would happen if Elon Musk adopted this strategy?"

Then, last night, I had a nightmare that repeats often.  "How would I explain the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute in ways a leader like Musk might quickly understand?  It took me 45 years to develop my own understanding. I suspect the attention span of busy CEOs would be less than a few minutes."

Then I thought of a "Role of Leaders" essay that I created in the mid 2000s.  The graphic below is from page 2.  It asks "What will it take to assure that all youth in every poverty area of Chicago (and other places) are entering careers by age 25?  How can you and your industry help?"

The answer to my problem is that I don't need to teach people everything about the Tutor/Mentor Connection. I need to convince them to show their commitment by providing leadership, following the steps shown in this strategy essay.

Here's the full essay.  Bring a group together and discuss this with them. 

Make the commitment and appoint a "get it done" person to lead your company's effort. Start a research project, and start a communications campaign. At the end of the year recap what you did, what you learned from your work, and that of others, and launch planning that repeats your efforts the next  year.

Continue this for 10-20 years and you and people in your company will know more about what I've been trying to do than I do.

And, maybe, you'll have more impact.

This applies to colleges and high schools, too.  Create a student/alumni learning group that applies the same steps.  

Here's one article where I describe how universities could take the lead in helping youth in areas surrounding the university move through school, through college, and into jobs and careers. 

The article includes an outline of steps that could be taken at any university, or even at high schools.

I end the presentation with this slide, saying "it only takes two or three people on campus to launch a Tutor/Mentor Connection."

Well, what if Elon Musk or MacKenzie Scott, or some other billionaire, were to provide money for such a program to grow on a college campus?  And keep it growing for many years.

That would create a generation of new leaders who operate youth tutor/mentor programs, lead schools in high poverty areas, lead companies and universities, and hold political positions in every city and state.  And they all constantly network and learn from each other. They all work to generate a flow of operating resources that reaches every place within the ecosystem of people and organizations working to solve this problem. 

They all contribute to web libraries that anyone can use to constantly improve their own efforts.

View graphic in this "tipping point" article.

The answer to my nightmare is that I don't need to teach people everything that I've learned. I just need to motivate them to put one foot forward toward decades of learning and leadership. 

Who's taking this role?

Thanks for reading my articles. Please share.  I'm still on Twitter, and on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms. See links here

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Is Public Education in a State of Crisis?

Often in past years I shared articles from the UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools via articles on the TutorMentorConnection.org site. That's an archive now so I'm not able to add new articles there.  Thus, from time-to-time I will share on these blogs.  Below is there eMail from April 21, 2022.

----- begin -----

From the Center for MH & Student/Learning Supports at UCLA 

Is public education in a state of crisis?

We note that a great many folks are stressing that public education is in a state of crisis. (Google the matter for a sample of what the media are saying.) And most of the statements are better examples of problem-naming than problem-solving.

At the same time, Secretary Cardona notes: “We are at the doorstep of a new chapter in American education.” And he has some things he is asking to happen to make things better. However, who will make it happen is not clear from what he says.

How are most of you perceiving the current state of public education?

And if you think public education is in crisis, what do you think would turn things around?

Our view is that the key mechanisms for stimulating the magnitude of fundamental and transformative changes needed reside at the state level. Such changes require sophisticated and unified policy actions by state legislators, chief state school officers, and boards of education, with support from a wide range of public education leaders and stakeholders.

We suggest that three fundamental changes in state education policies are needed to counter the factors threatening public education and the inequities experienced by so many schools, students, and families. These changes involve

 (1) increasing school budgets so that are competitive enough to attract and maintain a high quality professional work force (i.e., teachers, student/learning support staff, administrators),

 (2) transforming the policy framework for school improvement and accountability to include a primary focus on establishing a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system of student/learning supports that weaves together available school, home, and community resources,

 (3) supporting the establishment of structured school-community collaboratives designed to facilitate the weaving together of school, home, and community resources (e.g., collaboratives that bring together the resources of complexes of schools, a broad range of family representative, and a wide range of community stakeholders to work on unifying mutually beneficial efforts and blending resources).

These and related matters are detailed in

 > Improving School Improvement 

 > Addressing Barriers to Learning: In the Classroom and Schoolwide

 > Embedding Mental Health as Schools Change
   Access at http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/improving_school_improvement.html

 >Improving Teacher Retention, Performance, and Student Outcomes    http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/newteach.pdf

Finally, it would help if the many advocates for specific initiatives temporarily moved their lobbying efforts to deal with an agenda that addresses a big picture for school improvement policy and practice. The reality is that they currently are competing for the same sparse resources, and the winners are pursuing initiatives that cannot have more than a marginal impact in countering the factors threatening public education.

We don't have email addresses for all who we hope will read this, so please share this with your colleagues. And as always, we ask that you share with us whatever you think others might find relevant. Send to Linda Taylor at Ltaylor@ucla.edu

------------------------- end ---------------------

Visit the http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu and get to know the many resources in their web library.  

6-15-2022 update - the UCLA Center is planning a national online summit focused on unifying student/learning supports with mental health concerns fully embedded.  Read more in this PDF issues by the Center on June 15, 2022.

9-15-2022 update - Here's most recent "Rethinking Learning Supports" PDF from the UCLA Center for Mental Health in schools.  click here

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

April Newsletter. What if....

I sent out my monthly newsletter today.  You can read it here.  

I've been sending out a newsletter, in print or email version, since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago in 1993.

At the right you can see the first page of the Jan/Feb 1996 newsletter, featuring a photo of Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and leaders of the Chicago Fire Department.  This was taken at the November 1995 Tutor/Mentor Conference, held at the Fire Department Academy.  Vallas was the keynote speaker. 

Below is a photo of former President Barack Obama, from 1999 when he was a speaker at another Tutor/Mentor Conference held in Chicago.  See it on page 5 of this newsletter

You can find archives of past newsletters on this page.  

Here's another Chicago leader. When Arne Duncan was CEO of Chicago Public Schools he gave small grants to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection and spoke at the volunteer recruitment campaign kickoff in 2001. You can see this image in a 2016 blog article I wrote. 

If you search for Arne Duncan, Barack Obama or Paul Vallas on this blog you'll find many articles where I've pointed to them. 

There's a common theme. I point to information people can use to help build and sustain volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas of Chicago.  I point to research showing where and why such programs are needed.  I point to articles showing how current fund raising practices don't do enough to support long-term programs.  And I encourage people to use the information. Or if they pointed to maps the way I've done in more than 250 articles.

Below are recent Tweets featuring Obama, Duncan and Vallas.

Now imagine how much more they might have accomplished over the past 25 years if they had been the authors of the newsletters I wrote, and the articles on this and the MappingforJustice blog.  Of if they had consistently read the articles and then encouraged people they influence to also read them and apply the ideas.

Would more people have been investing in programs reaching K-12 youth in high poverty neighborhoods, helping kids through school and into jobs and careers?

Would more people "who can help" be responding to their appeals, and reaching out to offer time, talent and dollars to support school and non-school youth tutor, mentor, learning and jobs programs in every high poverty area of Chicago?  Would this strategy have been duplicated in other cities and countries?

We will never know because they did not take that role, nor has anyone else of influence, celebrity status and power.  

Well, it's never too late. Start now. Maybe in 2040 we'll see less poverty and violence, less structural racism and inequality, because of what our leaders, and others, do consistently, every week, for the next 20 years.  

This blog will remain available, either at this address, or in the Internet archive

The www.tutormentorexchange.net will also remain available via the Internet archive

Thanks for reading. Please share. And let's connect on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Sharing Ideas With Nigeria

Yesterday I had the honor of talking with Aliyu B. Solomon, who lives in Abuja, Nigeria, which is the capital city of that country.  Here's the link to the recording of our talk.  

Here's the link to the slides that I shared while talking.  In this document you can see the questions I was asked to address along with some responses. 

We first connected via the Tutor/Mentor Connection Ning site in the late 2000s. A few years later we re-connected on Twitter, where we've done most of our interactions since then.  Yesterday was the first time we've actually talked to each other, which reinforces my belief in how people from around the world, or around your city, can connect and build strong relationships via the Internet. 

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa at over 203 million in 2018 and is projected to grow to about 401.31 million by 2050.   I've circled Abuja, where Aliyu B. Solomon lives.  It's the second largest city in the country, with Lagos, on the coast, being the largest.  See details here.

As with any large country there are substantial areas in each major city with high poverty, and there is much poverty in rural areas. In the interview I talked of the importance of building an information library similar to the Tutor/Mentor library, with a research section that collected information about poverty and inequality, and a programs section, that shows existing efforts to help kids through school and in to jobs. 

If you visit this group on the TutorMentorConnection Ning site you'll see that I've been encouraging people from Africa to take this role for many years. 

Anyone who views this interview is encouraged to form a group and begin studying the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies, launched in 1993.  Then begin to build a library, pointing to these strategies, my web library and to information you can find related to poverty, inequality, school-to-work and tutor/mentor programs in your own city and country.

As you and others collect this information, or look at different parts of my website, write blog articles showing what you are seeing and what it means to you and your city. Share these and let them be conversation starters among people in your group, and others who will join you.  View the work interns did while working with me between 2004 and 2015 and duplicate their efforts. 

At the right is a concept map showing actions and key events from 1965 to now, which led to the growth of tutor/mentor programs I led in Chicago, and to the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present).   See the 1992-present map at this link. 

Hopefully in 50 years many cities will have a timeline full of intentional actions like these. 

Thank you Aliyu B. Solomon, for inviting me to mentor you and your friends.  I look forward to similar conversations in the future with you and others.

I did not charge a fee for this conversation and don't charge others who ask me for help. I do have a page where I ask people to make contributions to help me continue to do this work.  

Monday, April 11, 2022

Religious Holidays - Time for Reflection

For the millions of people in the world who have strong religious beliefs Easter weekend is one of the most powerful celebrations of the year. Millions of people around the world will gather and renew their faith over the next few days. This year the Jewish Passover is also this weekend. 

I've written about this almost every year since 2005 so instead of writing a new story, I encourage you to read some of the articles I've written in the past.

I could have created a brand new article, but I' only be repeating the same themes that I've talked about in the past. I don't think the Christians create a new Bible every year. The scripture and themes that will be in sermons this Sunday will be the same scripture and themes that faith leaders have pointed to for over 2000 years.

If you click into some of the tags on the left side of this blog, such as poverty, public health, violence, etc. you'll see that the level of suffering in the world has not changed in the past year. It has grown with the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. 

The only thing that has changed in my own activities over the past year is that the www.tutormentorconnection.org site is no longer working and all links point to the http://www.tutormentorexchange.net site.  This is now where my web library is hosted.

When I first started writing this blog in 2005 I was leading a direct service tutor/mentor program, which I had done since 1975.  That continued until 2011 when I left that role and formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

I miss the direct involvement in a tutor/mentor program, but not the stress of trying to find funding to keep the bills paid and the program operating from year to year. I have even less cash coming in now than before but I'm only responsible for myself and my family. I'm still depending on others for the money and talent needed to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection operating.

I continue to draw from my experiences of leading a single tutor/mentor program to share ideas that others can use to help similar, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities. 

I hope that as you reflect on your faith you will also spend time reading past articles and take on a role that helps these programs do more to help kids move through school and into adult lives.

In the Easter article I wrote in 2008 I talked about the "Give us this day our daily bread" part of the Lord's Prayer.

I still look for this "daily bread" as well as a "bakery" that might provide enough "bread" to help me build out the ideas of the Tutor/Mentor Institute and provide more consistent daily operating support and talent to thousands of small volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs operating in neighborhoods of Chicago and other big cities.

I do a lot with a little.
I've been blessed in many ways because of the work I do. Many young people and volunteers have also been blessed because of the tutor/mentor programs I've led and that are led by others.

I have hope that in the coming months others will step forward with the talent and resources needed to continue to do this work. Visit this page if you'd like to make a contribution. 

Note: the graphic at the top of this article was created by one of the Korean Interns who worked with me in January/February 2012. Read about this project here.

Monday, April 04, 2022

Maps, Time, Social Capital

Below is a graphic that I've been working on this past week. If you work your way through it I hope you'll have a better idea, and commitment, to the work that needs to be done in many places.

At the top of the graphic I show an arrow, that represents support all kids need, for the first 20-25 years of their lives, to help them through school and then, into and through their adult lives. Some kids, like Bill Gates, or Jeff Bezos, or Elon Musk, had much greater support propelling them to career success. Those are extreme examples, but most kids have a larger natural network of support than kids in high poverty areas. 

That arrow comes from this "mentoring kids to careers" graphic, which I created in the late 1990s.  It shows first grade through 12th grade, then college or vocational training, as a series of steps. At each step kids need a variety of different supports and/or are influenced by people who work in occupations that youth might aspire to in their own futures.  If you open this concept map, you'll see a different version of this timeline.

As I said above, all kids need some of these supports and influences.  However, if you read many of the articles in this section of my library, you'll see plenty of evidence showing that kids living in high poverty areas don't have as many naturally occurring supports or career models as do kids in more affluent areas. That means someone, or many people, need to help make these supports available and keep them in place for 12 or more years.

This leads to the next element on the graphic, which are the maps.  

I've been using maps since 1993 to visually show areas of Chicago with high concentrations of poverty and many indicators showing kids and families need more help.  Without a map you could have a long list of places you're helping, but still be missing a larger number of other places that need the same help.

You can find the maps shown above in this article. You can find hundreds of articles on this blog, and the MappingforJustice blog, showing similar maps and encouraging leaders to use them to guide resources into all of these areas for many years. 

The map graphic I've used is a mashup of maps from three sources.  In this concept map you can find many data platforms that could be used to create similar map stories. 

We see media using maps every day to show troop movement in Ukraine. Why can't we see similar maps showing the growth of youth and family support programs in every high poverty area of the  USA?

My focus has been on helping long-term, volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas as a way of expanding the networks of support available to kids, helping them through school and beyond. 

Thus, the arrow, or timeline, indicates multiple years of support. The map illustrates that many places need the same type of support for many years.

The graphic below visualizes the need for every industry to have strategies that distribute volunteers, technology, dollars and more into every neighborhood...and for school and non-school programs to be places where kids connect with a wider range of learning and career opportunities than might be normally available in their own family and neighborhood. 

While I led a tutor/mentor program from 1975 through 2011, which collected inner city kids to a wide range of workplace adults, I did not start to understand this as a form of bridging social capital until the early 2000s.  

Here's a link to one of the earliest articles that have influenced my thinking about social networks. One introductory paragraph says:

“Social networks that can bridge across geography, race and class are key to success in the new economy”, says Professor Manuel Pastor, Jr., University of California, Santa Cruz, who has studied social networks in Los Angeles among Latinos. ‘Hard’ skills are essential, but it’s the connections and mentoring that provide information about what skills are necessary and a vision of how acquiring them can lead to new opportunities for all our residents”.

This was written by Bob Pearlman.  The research he points to can be found at this link.  His current website is at this link

Since then I've aggregated links to many articles about social capital, which you can find here, and have posted 30+ articles on this blog that focus on social capital.

Here's a TED talk about expanding students' social capital - click here

In this article I point to an earlier influence. It was a book that I read in the mid 1990s, titled American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, by Douglas Massey. This book emphasized how disconnected people living in highly segregated, high poverty, neighborhoods were from the resources that might make lives in those communities better for residents.

I created this presentation more than 20 years ago to show why organized tutor/mentor programs are needed in high poverty areas and actions the Tutor/Mentor Connection had piloted since 1993 to help such programs get the attention and resources each needs to constantly improve.   The graphic I've included here visualizes some of the different types of learning, mentoring and tutoring that might take places in a site-based program.

These strategies have been based on the premise that areas of concentrated, high poverty, have too few people working in the wide range of careers that are modeled daily by parents, family and neighbors in more affluent places.  Thus, such programs need to be built in order to expand the social capital for kids in poverty areas.

However....  that does not mean there are "no people" living in high poverty areas who have jobs and careers.   That's the final element included in the graphic above.  Kids and adults need to learn "who you already know" who might be someone who can mentor them and help open doors to opportunity.

This was emphasized in a social capital research webinar that I attended last Friday. The speaker was Edward DeJesus, who leads a group called "Social Capital Builders".  He is teaching "social capital literacy" to businesses, organizations and young people.  

I encourage you to read this blog article by Edward, titled "The Case for Social Capital Literacy".  

You can also view the webinar, at this link

The need for social capital literacy is not really a new concept. Bob Pearlman's early 2000s article said, "Networking, or acquiring a social network, is a key skill of the 21st Century. It’s how you learn, and how you connect."  

What I'm trying to emphasize is that these skills are not being taught in enough places and that programs like Social Capital Builders are trying to do that.  If you're working with kids you should reach out to Edward and see if his lesson plans might be used in your own efforts. 

Here's another version of the "hub and spoke" graphics shown above. 

I share it in a presentation titled "virtual corporate office" and in these blog articles.  

This shows how different industries could "distribute" learning and mentoring opportunities to kids in all high poverty areas, via school and non-school programs.  Social capital literacy could be a separate box, or could be a part of the mentoring coming from each industry.

The map reinforces the need for these forms of learning and mentoring in EVERY high poverty neighborhood. The timeline emphasizes the need for such learning to be consistently available for many years.  The other graphics emphasize that businesses in every sector could be supporting organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in multiple locations, not just one or two favored programs. 

Let's look at the timeline arrow once more.  If you click and enlarge it you'll see different types of learning activities that are appropriate for different age levels.

Here's another quote from Bob Pearlman's article:

"But the most significant finding in the study was that a student's social network can have a significant impact on his/her career choice. Students whose parents are both in high-tech careers are more likely to be interested in technology careers themselves. In addition, 83 percent of students rely on personal connections for career-related information and guidance."

I believe that the earlier a young person becomes involved in a well-organized, mentor-rich non-school program, the more benefit that program will have. Stronger bonds will be built with mentors, and with the program itself.  That's important because while a volunteer might leave after a year or longer, the program's ability to provide continuity, and a replacement mentor, helps keep the youth involved.  As a youth moves from middle school to high school the support offered can lead to part time jobs, internships, college access, scholarships and ultimately job and career opportunities. 

The type of mentoring and social capital literacy Edward DeJesus teaches depends on the maturity and motivation of the mentee. This is true with most forms of workplace mentoring that I've looked at. 

Kids in primary school where fundamental learning habits can be reinforced, and career aspirations nurtured, don't yet have that level of maturity.  However, by middle school, and early high school, I think most kids would be ready to take more control over their own futures, if there were people helping them.  

We need to make that happen. 

This  has been a long post. Thanks for reading. I hope we connect on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn.

If you want to support my work, please visit this page and use PayPal to send a contribution.