Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Giving - December and Beyond

Below is a Tweet showing how I've attempted to draw donors to Chicago area volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs in support of yesterday's Giving Tuesday campaign.
I hope they were all successful, but want to emphasize, that they need on-going support throughout the year, not just in November and December.  That's why the lists I maintain are so important. They help people find programs that may not have as much marketing power, but are still needed in different parts of the Chicago region. 

While I led Tutor/Mentor Connection as a non-profit from 1993 to mid 2011 I've led it via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since late 2011, which does not have a 501-c-3 status.

Yet, I'm still poorly funded and depend on contributions to help me keep writing this blog, hosting my library, sharing via email and social media, etc. 

Thus, I've created two December campaigns to help fund my efforts.

This first is my December 19th birthday campaign.  For those who don't want to donated to a non-charity organization, make a gift to honor my birthday.  Each $7.60 lights one candle on my birthday cake.

Click here to make that gift. 

The second way to give is through the "Fund T/MI" campaign.  Millions of non-charity people have set up "fund me" campaigns.  This is mine.  Click here and use the PayPal to send a contribution. 

On my "Fund T/MI" page I've posted a log, showing some of my efforts during 2022 to help tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago and other cities. I've done this for the past five years. 

At age 76 I'm not trying to create a new Tutor/Mentor Connection. Instead I'm trying to motivate people to duplicate my efforts and help build a similar structure in every major city of the USA and the world.  Read some of these "a new T/MC" articles to see what I'm asking. 

As I do this I need your continued help to spread the word, keep my efforts funded, and keep drawing attention and support to my library and lists of youth serving programs. 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed in past years.  Please repeat again in 2022 and in 2023.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Thanksgiving. Now and Past.

I wish you all a safe, happy Thanksgiving. I and my family are in good health. My wife and kids have jobs. The mid-term elections had much better results for Democrats and Progressives than was expected. That's all good.

During the 17 years I worked in corporate retail advertising for Montgomery Ward I saw an annual repetition of the same type of ads at specific times each year. The ads for Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays always looked the same and featured similar merchandise.

I mentioned to a senior VP how I thought the ads were redundant and he said, "While we may get tired of making them,  there are always new customers who will be looking for the merchandise we feature."

I feel the same way about my blog.

I've been writing this blog since 2005. I started sending e-Mail newsletters around 2002.  I sent print newsletters from 1993 until 2003.  They all followed the calendar with what I talked about.  

I featured volunteer recruitment in Aug/September; holiday giving around Thanksgiving, annual planning and process improvement in February, and  year-end celebrations and next-year planning in May-June.

So instead of writing a repetitive article today, I'm just going to invite you to read a few that I wrote at this time in past years.

In 2017 I wrote "My Life Since 2011 - Something's Missing" and talked about the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011. 

I used this 2020 article to review my use of maps to focus attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other places. 

In this 2014 article and this 2019 article I encouraged people to support youth tutor and/or mentor programs via the annual Give Tuesday campaign, which this year is on Nov. 29.  

In this 2012 article I reviewed the 38th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, which I continued to host every six months until May 2015. 

This 2015 article was titled "Planning needed to fight war on poverty in big cities". 

This 2017 article's headline was "Stick your neck out and support a cause". 

Prior to 2011 I was still leading a two-part strategy of a site based Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program and the Chicago-wide focused Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Thus, this article from 2009 used a graphic created by one of our students to encourage Thanksgiving donations. 

This 2008 article included another graphic created by students from our tech club at Cabrini Connections. 

In this 2007 article the title was "Let's redefine Christmas by putting more Thanksgiving into it." 

You can see the pattern here. I suspect next year and following years  you'll see more of the same.  

All of these articles are part of a "local-global" strategy launched in 1993.

Our single, small, Chicago-based tutor/mentor program was able to help change the lives of a few kids while our Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy aimed to help change the lives of thousands of kids located in different high poverty areas of Chicago and the world. 

I've constantly encourage others to take on the same role, but due to continuing competition for scarce resources, very few have done that.  

I wrote this "Can't drain the swamp?" article in 2012 to visualize the futility of doing "business as usual".  

Your Giving Tuesday and year-end giving, plus on-going giving throughout the year, can build financial stability in more programs, thus freeing them to adopt this two-part strategy themselves.

That would give myself, and millions of young people, much more to be thankful for at this time in future years!

Thanks for reading.

Please support my efforts through one of these giving options.

Dan's 76th birthday is Dec. 19 - click here

Help Fund Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC - click here

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Mapping Complexity

Below is a post I saw on Twitter, showing a "Social Change Ecosystem Framework" developed by Deepa Iyer, of the SolidarityIs and Building Movement Project.  

Here's an article by Deepa Iyer that describes a use of this Social Change Map.  I love the "hub and spoke" design she uses and how this shows the range of people and networks who need to be part of any problem-solving ecosystem.  

I've used similar visualizations for more than 20 years.

You can see these in hundreds of articles on this blog.  I've posted several dozen articles since 2005 that I've tagged "complex problems".  And many more tagged "network building".  Plus a few more tagged "ecosystem". 

Below is a concept map created more than 10 years ago that shows the range of talents and networks that need to be involved in solving any complex problem.

All of these emphasize that no single person can solve the many complex problems we face locally and globally.  If you scroll through the articles tagged complex problems you'll find many visualizations showing complexity. 

I found another on my LinkedIn feed this week.

This graphic by Christian Sarkar can be viewed in an article titled "The Ecosystem of Wicked Problems".  

One of the features of this graphic is that it shows relationships and how the problems are inter-related to each other.  

What would have made it better (in my opinion) would have been links from each node, to web libraries with information about each problem.

For instance, here's my concept map showing the research section of the Tutor/Mentor Library.  At the bottom of each node is a link to a specific collection of websites.

Linking to libraries like this would expand the information anyone has to understand a problem, to connect with others who are also trying to solve the problem, and to find work being done in some places to solve the problem that might stimulate innovation and/or duplication in many other places.

The challenge, of course, is building and maintaining such libraries, and attracting people to use the information.  And, finding consistent funding to pay for the work.  I was never able to do that. 

I hypothesize that every link I point to from my library represents an ecosystem of many people working for that organization and an even greater number who that organization and its employees connect with.  

Looking at the graphics by Christian Sarkar and Deepa Iyer, imagine people from each of these nodes connecting with each other in on-going learning, innovation, resource development and problem solving.

Who are all of those people? Who are all of the organizations working in each category? 

Someone who's been doing some deep thinking about part of this is Greg Bloom, Founder of Open Referral. He was the speaker at the November 15, 2022 ChiHackNight event.  

I encourage you to view the short video on the home page of the Open Referral website to understand the important work they are doing and the problems they are addressing. 

Greg's group has been bringing people together since 2012 to talk about the challenges of building and maintaining information directories and to "create a common set of data standards, that define and structure information, so that it can be readily transferred between systems".  Read through the FAQ questions and answers on the Open Referral website to understand this better. 

View Greg's Nov 15 presentation to ChiHackNight.  click here

That means many distributed directories could be connected in larger directories, making more information available to more people.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I and a few others created in 1993 and launched in 1994, has been collecting information about Chicago area volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs for 30 years, along with building a library that represents the ecosystem of research, resources, funding, businesses and everyone else who needs to be involved in helping kids in poverty move more safely from birth-to-work.

We published our first printed directory of Chicago tutor and mentor programs, and the ecosystem of those who support them, in 1994 and updated it annually through 2003. After that all of our information was put on-line. 

We had others ask us to share the data, but who never offered to help pay the costs of collecting and maintaining it.  I never did this for fear of the larger organization eliminating the need for our work, and then at some point in the future, ceasing operation, so none of the data we had been collecting would remain available. 

Furthermore, if our data was owned by a national organization, the people who managed it would not have local passion, or local purpose, to use the data regularly to help existing programs constantly improve, nor to help new programs form where data analysis showed more were needed. 

That was why we were collecting the information in the first place!

Thus, I proposed there be a decentralized collection of data that was shared in a system similar to what Greg has been working on. Back in the 1990s the technology, or motivation, to do this was not available.

Thus, I fully understand the challenges Greg describes. For the past 10 years I've been a one-person army trying to maintain the library, share it, and get people to talk to myself, and each other.  If you read though this blog you can find hundreds of articles that relate to this.

Bringing people together.

When we were planning the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and talking about building a directory our PR partner from Public Communications, Inc. in Chicago, said "You've got to host a conference!".  

Using the contact information from organizations we learned about through our survey and our networking, we hosted a first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1994 and hosted one every six months after that until May 2015, at which time I had to stop due to lack of money.

In this article you can see a map showing participation over 20 years.  Here's a presentation showing how universities hosted these conferences and how I reached out to them for many years.  Between 1996 and 2002 attendance ranged from over 150 to over 300. Our mailing list grew from 400 to 14,000. This represented quite a large ecosystem, yet, it was not attracting business, philanthropy, government or university participants.   Thus, there were always too few of "the right people" to fully build the Tutor/Mentor Connection to what I hoped it would accomplish.

Since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 the range of people I've been reaching dramatically declined and conference participation dropped to around 100 per event. 

So let me sum up.

1) the world is dealing with complex problems and some people are creating great visualizations showing this complexity;

2) some people recognize the difficulty of collecting and sharing social service information and are trying to innovate new solutions;

3) knowing "who" should be included in a directory, or in an "invitation list" is part of the problem in a big city like Chicago;  getting them to come to "your event" or into "your conversation" is a huge challenge if you're not well-connected, or have a reputation that draws people to you.  Getting into "their conversations" and "being heard" is just as difficult.

4) I find very few people creating visualizations of who should be connected, or who they are bringing together via their events.

5) even if you have a list of "who" unless you do some sort of network analysis of event participation and/or social media conversations, you don't really know how well your network is connecting.

I'm sure readers might list more problems. I'd love to hear from you.

This has already been a long article, but if you've made it this far I encourage you to go one article further.  Review the 4-part strategy described in this concept map.

The "information collection" described in this article is just STEP 1. Getting people to look at the information (step 2) and helping them understand it (step 3) and use it (step 4) also need to be funded and supported as part of any problem-solving process.

Thanks for reading. I hope you'll share this.  I'm on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Mastodon. (see links here).  Let's connect.

If you appreciate these articles please visit my FundT/MI page and send a small contribution. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Follow media stories with actions

Yesterday's Chicago SunTimes had a feature commentary with the headine "We should not accept any more children being gunned down"

I highlighted one of the recommendations which was "Invest heavily in both data driven programs and in mentoring programs that have proven outcomes.

Below is another issue of the Chicago Sun-Times. This was October 15, 1992, following the murder of a 7-year-old boy in Cabrini-Green. 

The headline was "7-Year-Old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".  That was 30 years ago!  There have been other stories and other "call-to-action" headlines and editorials in both major Chicago newspapers in the years between, but none have a) consistently (or frequently) pointed to a list of existing Chicago area youth tutor and/or mentor programs; and b) called on people to support those programs with time, talent and dollars.

Nor have they led an on-going analysis asking "where are these programs most needed?; where are existing programs located?; are we reaching kids in every age group from 1st grade through high school?; and where are more programs needed?." 

They might even have gone so far as to ask "What businesses are supporting programs throughout the city with dollars, talent and employee volunteer involvement?" 

Every year since 2012 there has been a Giving Tuesday campaign, intended to raise money for charities throughout the USA and the world.  The map below is on the global Giving Tuesday website.  

This year Giving Tuesday will be November 29th.  Visit the US Giving Tuesday site and scroll down to see this map (image shown above). Each red dot is a participating organization seeking donations. 

Unfortunately there are few Chicago area organizations on this map.  I did a Google search for "Giving Tuesday 2022" and found many organizations seeking donations for themselves, but no organization (that I know of) is aggregating links to all tutor/mentor programs in the region, or all anything. 

However, if you want to "invest heavily" in youth mentoring, here are some resources: 

You can use my Twitter list to see posts by Chicago tutor and/or mentor organizations, such as this one by Christopher House.

Many organizations will be running Giving Tuesday campaigns and those with large support groups or able to build extra media attention, should be able to attract donors.  However, many won't.  That's why I've been building a comprehensive list since 1993 and have been using maps to show a) where they are needed; and b) where existing programs are located.  

The goal is that every neighborhood has a full range of youth serving programs helping all kids from birth-to-work. Or, to "hope" and "opportunity".

In addition to my Twitter list you can also visit the website and see my lists of Chicago area programs and find my Instagram and Facebook lists of programs.  

If you begin "shopping" now, by looking at my lists and posts made by various programs on social media you can a) decide what program(s) you want to support on Giving Tuesday; and b) provide information to friends, family and others in your network, so they can also add their support.

The SunTimes, Tribune and all other Chicago area media could write an article like this one, providing the same encouragement to give, and give generously, or as the commentary in Sunday's SunTimes said "invest heavily". 

They could be pointing to program lists following every negative news story. Every week.

A donor like Mackenzie Scott could even provide money for a new platform to be created to aggregate links to tutor/mentor programs and plot them on maps, as I was doing from 2004 to 2018, but also adding a "donate" feature, so people using the site could also make contributions, not just one Tuesday of the year, but "every Tuesday". 

Had the media been following their negative news with "Giving Tuesday" type of capacity building over the past 30 years maybe Chicago would not now be facing so much anger and violence.  Too late to look back, but not too early to look forward.

Thanks for reading.  Please connect with me on social media platforms (see list). 

Also, Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is not a non-profit, but does depend on contribution to fund its work. Click here if you'd like to help. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Veterans Day - Never Forget

That's me, in South Korea, in 1971.  I was in my third year with the US Army.  I was part of the Army Intelligence unit stationed in Seoul, having completed training for collecting information that leaders could use to support US force distribution in any war that might be fought.

That was in 1970.

Since Veterans Day is today I encourage you to visit articles I wrote on past Veterans Day celebrations. 

On many you'll see this graphic. It shows the planning needed to make resources available in every high poverty area of Chicago and other places, to help kids through school and into jobs, where they can raise their own kids free of poverty.

You can find this graphic at as well as in these blog articles.  

If you're on active duty or in the military reserves, or a veteran, I salute you for your service. I encourage you to use the skills you learned to help neighborhoods and communities build a map-based planning process that draws an on-going flow of talent, dollars, technology and ideas to every high poverty area and sustains that support for many years.

If you're on social media I hope you'll connect with me on one of these sites.

If you're able to make a contribution to help me do this work for another year, visit this page

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Focus on alumni

The national elections were yesterday and votes are still being counted.  It looks like Democrats and progressives will do better than expected. It's still not clear if they will maintain their majority in the House or Senate. Let's hope they do.

In the meantime we still need to do all we can to make organized, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs available to youth in every high poverty neighborhood of the country.

More than 4500 K-12 youth have been part of the tutor/mentor programs I led in Chicago between 1975 and 2011.  I'm connected to many on Facebook and keep encouraging them to become leaders of mentoring programs themselves and to take up the work I've been doing to help such programs grow in more places.

Here are three promising examples.

I wrote about Kaeaiya Holmes a few weeks ago.  Since then she's posted this article on her T.Js Angels T3 Services blog.   

In this article you can read about the I Am Her78 - An End to A New Beginning book, that she co-authored with Toi Dickson-Fuller, another student alumni (see below).  The book launch is November 19.  Here's a post on Facebook about the book.   

Here's where you can purchase the book.   Here's the link to the TJs Angeles T3 Services website. 

In the mid 1990s Toi Dickson-Fuller was also part of the tutor/mentor program I led in Chicago.  As you can see from this graphic she's become a published author and is co-author with Kaeaiya Holmes and a few other women on the I Am Her78 - An End to A New Beginning book.

In addition, Toi has launched a mentoring program in Chicago called I Am Her 78 Ministries, which you can learn about here

Kaeaiya and Toi are two of several dozen former students who I'm connected to, and still mentoring, via Facebook.

Tramaine Montel Ford is another alum from the 1990s.

Tramaine got his "acting bug" while part of the Cabrini Connections program's video club, which was started in the mid 1990s while he was in high school. Now he's in New York city and doing all sorts of great work.  At the right is a photo from this 2011 article, showing how Tramaine was a keynote speaker at the 2011 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. 

Over the years since then we've had a few ZOOM calls and Facebook conversations where I've encourage him to use his communications skills to share the ideas I've been posting on this blog. 

While continuing his work in New York City, Tramaine is now also working with the 1 JAR Foundation, which honors the memory of 9 year old Janari Ricks (Tramaine's nephew), who was killed in Cabrini Green in 2020.   

Their programs offer mentorship and other resources intended to empower youth and children towards achieving a better future and contributing positively to society

The featured program of the foundation is an annual toy drive, which this year will be held on December 22.  Find details on the foundation's website.

Below is Tramine's Facebook page.    In this ensemble photo Tramaine is in the top row, far right.  

These are just three alumni who are beginning to do organized work to help younger kids have the same opportunities which were offered to them via the tutor/mentor programs I led.  

Here's another example of a former student supporting a tutor/mentor program - Isaiah Brooms. 

Isaiah was part of the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward while I led it in the late 1980s.  That program is now Tutoring Chicago and Isaiah supports if via fund raising efforts like this one on Facebook. 

Network Building

I share posts from this blog and my website regularly with all of these alumni and with many former volunteers, with the goal that they will begin to support existing programs and help new ones grow where more are needed.

Here's a May 2022 Facebook post from a former student, which is an example of the type of questions I hope more students and volunteers will be asking as a result of my social media network building.

At the same time, by hosting space on social media sites I'm trying to help these alumni connect with each other, with former volunteers, and with people in other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other places.

Those who have been given much need to step forward and provide the same opportunities to future generations.

Thanks for reading.  Maybe there will be a few more positive election results to view by the time you look at this.  There's much work ahead.  

Friday, November 04, 2022

Examples of Tutor/Mentor Library

In today's article I'm going to show two examples of the type of information that's in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web library.

Below are two concept maps, creating using free cMapTools:

The first is an outline of the Our Kids book written in 2013 by Dr. Robert Putnam.  click here to view.

Putnam focuses on social capital and how "benefits accrue to kids born in affluent areas" and "negatives accrue to kids born in low income areas".  I outlined the book and point to articles on this blog and my library that expand on this idea and show volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs to be an ideal strategy for expanding bridging social capital and narrowing the impact of "where you were born" for kids born in low income areas. 

The second is an outline of a book titled Uncharitable, written by Dan Pallotta. click here to view

Pallotta offers challenging ideas for how social sector organizations should operate and be funded, focusing on "if you want charities to do important work you need to change how they are funded."  Links from different nodes in the concept map point to sections of the tutor/mentor library with information related to philanthropy and fund raising. 

Thus, a big part of the library focuses on building and sustaining constantly improving tutor/mentor programs that have a quantum impact on the lives of kids in poverty, as well as volunteers who become part of their lives via organized programs.  

Next I'm showing three map-based information platforms.

First is the Georgia Statewide AfterSchool Network website and data map.  

Take time to browse this site and see all the information that's available to help leaders support the growth of high quality afterschool programs throughout Georgia.  A second map on the site is a program locator

Next is the 50 State Afterschool Network map, funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation. 

Run your mouse over each state and the afterschool network for that state is shown, with a link to a page with extensive information, and a link, to that network.

So, I clicked into Washington State, then followed the links to the Elevate Washington website that has a map-directory showing afterschool programs in that state. 

I added links to both sites to this section of the tutor/mentor library, where I point to afterschool networks and resources.  I've another section with "program locators and directories" where I could have put these links. 

Anyone in the country could be viewing these links with the goal of finding ideas and "best practices" that they could apply to help youth tutor/mentor and afterschool programs grow in their own state.

That's the goal of the library.  

As one person gets to know what's in the library they can share links with other people, who do the same.  In this way it becomes a "learning resource" available to anyone in the world who is committed to helping reduce poverty, violence, inequality and many other problems by providing more support to kids in high poverty areas as they grow from birth to work.

I keep looking for people who will share ownership of the library, provide funds, and even rebuild it, to make the information easier to find and to fix broken links and continually add new information.

So far no one has stepped forward to take this role, so I'll just "keep on, keeping on."  However, I'll be 76 in December and that means for the library to remain available, someone(s) need to begin to take ownership.  

I'm still using Twitter. Here's a set of posts that show some good reasons why I plan to stay.  I'm also on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram and have re-started my Mastodon account.  I hope you'll reach out and connect with me.

I'm also seeking contributions to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. Click here if you want to help. 

Thanks for reading.