Wednesday, December 27, 2023

What if students in every city did this?

Today as I strolled through my social media platforms I came across a graphic created by Kevin Hodgson, from the #clmooc group.  You can see it in this blog article

I did my own remix, adding a New Year's wish. See it below.

The text in Kevin's graphic reads "We need to think differently about our culture. This is not simply augmenting our experience with technology. Claim  your space. Review. Remix. Make Meaning. Make Art. Damnit!"

I added a photo of me at my computer, with a map story on the screen. Then a photo of two of our interns from South Korea, looking at my articles and creating their own remix, their own interpretations.

The blog was created in 2006 by an intern from Hong Kong and I've used it since then to share the work interns were doing. 

My message was "What if... this (the student sitting at the desk in Kevin's graphic) were students sharing ideas from

That has been a message I've shared over and over for the past 16+ years. Youth from every part of the world could be writing articles similar to what I've been writing, focused on using information libraries to "review" and "reflect" and focus on strategies that would make life better for people living in areas of concentrated poverty.

At every high school, college, faith institution and even non-school program in the USA (and the world) there could be a blog sharing student work generated over many years, attempting to build greater and more consistent attention and involvement in solving deeply entrenched, complex problems.  

In a few weeks I'm going to be writing an article showing my efforts since 1993 to build strategic alliances with local and global universities, which would lead to students doing the research and writing that I dream of.  

Below is a 2010 example of what I hope for.

This is one of five blogs created by students from DePaul University, who were part of an Explore Chicago class that studied different neighborhoods to determine the need for, and the availability of, tutor/mentor programs in different parts of the city.  This article has links to the 2010 blogs. This 2009 article describes the launch of the partnership with Tutor/Mentor Connection.

It was a great start, but did not last beyond 2010 and did not extend into other parts of the student learning curriculum at DePaul.   Yet, it is an example of what's possible.

I recognize that helping kids in high poverty areas is one huge issue that needs more consistent involvement, but that there are many other complex problems that need to be addressed.  Below is a concept map showing multiple issues.

Imagine having a concept map like this on a college website, where each node opened to a page where student blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. were aggregated over many years, focusing on a specific issue.  Such a strategy could appeal to a wide sector of the student body and could engage alumni as well.

Maybe someone is already doing this.  In fact, I know that many colleges and universities have student research and reflection programs, which annually produce reflections on problems and proposed solutions.  However, I don't have links to any who are aggregating these projects, by category, over multiple years, creating a knowledge base that alumni and others can use to actually solve the problems students are identifying.

Share your links in the comment section if you know of anyone doing this. 

Thank you for reading.  Please connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter (x), Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook, Bluesky, Threads.  Find my links on this page.

Thank you to those who supported the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a gift to my 77th birthday campaign

If you want to help me continue this work in 2024 consider a gift to the FundT/MI campaign.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Building Great Tutor/Mentor Teams

I created the graphic shown below in December 2016 for this article.  In today's article I'm going to re-emphasize the need to teams with a mix of talents and networks at every tutor/mentor program in Chicago and other places to help build and sustain long-term birth-to-work mentoring programs in high poverty areas.

Below is another graphic that I've used often.

I've been a football fan since the early 1960s and know that for a team to have a winning record, or be the champion of their league, they must have talented, highly motivated, players, with specific skills and experience, at every position on the offence, defense and special teams. Even the coaching staff needs special skills. 

It's the fans, owners, media and city leaders who provide the resources to build and sustain great teams.  As a long-suffering Chicago Bears fan, I recognize that this is not easy.

So let's look at another graphic.  In the upper left is a photo from the mid 1990s, showing teens and a staff member from the tutor/mentor program that I led from 1993 to 2011. At the lower right is one of those teens, in 2010 when she spoke at the program's year-end dinner.

I'm still connected to most of these teens, and many others who were part of tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011 (I left the first program in 1992 and we formed the second program, which we named Cabrini Connections).  Visit this conversation on my Facebook page and you can see many student and volunteer alumni (and Claudia Bellucci, the staff member in the top left photo) posting "Happy Birthday" greetings to help me celebrate my December 19th birthday. 

If you rotate the graphic so that it is vertical, you'd see the message shown in the graphic below:

At every school and non-school program a range of age-level learning and enrichment opportunities are needed to help kids move from one grade to the next, then the next, until they graduate, more through college or vocational school, then into the workforce. Along the way volunteer tutors and mentors can provide support and open doors.

I was supported by many volunteers with many skills during the years I led a tutor/mentor program. That prompted me to create the two concept maps shown below:

Talent needed. Click here to open the concept map.

Network needed. Click here to open the concept map.   

These two concept maps show the different skills and networks that need to be involved at EVERY tutor/mentor program in the Chicago area.  They are also needed at the larger community area level, and citywide level, so that great programs grow in EVERY high poverty area.

If an organization can draw talent from a broader network they can accomplish much more than if all of their talent comes from one sector.

One of the challenges is that not every youth serving organization has the resources to hire this mix of talent, or the network needed to recruit volunteers to fill all of these roles.

That's why cities need a "Virtual Corporate Office" strategy that recruits volunteers with functional skills, from every industry, to support individual tutor/mentor programs.  

Between 1973 and 1990 I held various roles in the retail advertising department of the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago.  I learned how functional teams worked daily to support more than 400 retail stores in 40 states, while my advertising team worked to draw customers to those stores.  All of these roles were needed.

In the ROLE OF LEADERS essay shown below I encourage CEOs from every industry to take roles that encourage employees to take on roles that support tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods, with the goal that every program, in EVERY neighborhood, would have the mix of talent needed to do constantly improving work.

Role of Leaders - How CEOs ... by Daniel F. Bassill

There are dozens of other articles on this blog that relate to this article. I encourage you to spend a little time, over many years, reading and understanding them.  I urge donors to endow programs at universities where students study these articles over a period of years, so they  leave college knowing what it's taken me 50 years to learn.

That's because great teams require great leaders, with broad visions.  This country needs a disciplined, sustained effort to develop and support such leaders.  

If you understand this, then please share it with your network, via your own blog posts, videos, GIFs, podcasts, etc.  Help recruit the talent needed in Chicago and other cities with high concentrations of poverty to fuel a broad network of constantly improving, mentor-rich, youth serving programs.

Thank you to everyone who sent me birthday greetings and to those who also sent contributions to support my work.

Over the next two weeks and throughout 2024 I hope many readers will visit this page and make contributions to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

These "Calls to Action" Need New Energy

Yesterday I took a look at the first newsletter sent in June 1993 by the new organization I and six other volunteers had created in late 1992.  The message below was included.

This was the first page.

You can open and read the PDF at this link.  I put a President's Message in my newsletters in each issue from 1993 through 2002. After that I put the message in email newsletters and starting in 2005, in this blog.   In this issue I started by saying "There are kids all over Chicago who don't have anyone taking an interest in them. Cabrini Connections is changing that."

The headline of the newsletter was "Do the Right Thing!".  

I was prompted to form Cabrini Connections, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in October 1992, following the shooting death of 7-year old Dantrel Davis in Cabrini Green, the neighborhood served by the tutor/mentor program I had led from 1975 to September 1992.

The Chicago SunTimes front page said "7-Year Old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action"

Sadly, I've seen editorials like that in Chicago media often over the past 30 years. I've seen a lot of action, and a lot of money spent, but nothing strategic and on-going that would reach kids in all high poverty areas and do more to help them through school and into adult lives.

I put this 1993 Chicago SunTimes article and graphic in this 2015 article

Here's another from the same article

The 1993 SunTimes article concludes "While Chicago has “had all these sincere people making good efforts, one group working on poverty, one on education reform, one on community policing, these problems are too interwoven and too immense. The city needs all anti-poverty efforts “at the same table”.

Here's something more recent:

I included this in an April 2023 article with the headline "Crime and Violence in Chicago - Not New".  If you take time to scroll through the media articles on this blog, you'll find dozens of similar stories.

Below are two graphic you'll find in many articles, showing the need to build a distribution of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in every high poverty area of the city, with non-school locations where kids and volunteers can meet regularly.  

Here's another graphic with the same idea

A citywide strategy needs to recruit and support teams of leaders who support individual programs, neighborhoods full of programs and a city full of programs.  Such a strategy needs to be part of a "learning organization" where everyone involved is constantly learning from the work being done by others, so they innovate improvement from year-to-year, rather than constantly starting over.  And such a strategy has to be supported by business, philanthropy, politics and every other sector, so their is a distribution of resources to fund every part of this ecosystem.

Such a "learning organization" is supported by libraries and websites such as the one I host at 

I've been sharing these ideas for over 30 years, since launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  However, now I'm turning 77 and don't know how many more years I have left to do this.

Thus, new leaders who share this vision need to step forward and take ownership, preferably by putting my archives in a university structure where the articles and PDF essays are curriculum that students learn from in preparation for leading this strategy during their adult lives.

I've posted several articles in the "A New T/MC" collection that will give you an idea of what is needed. I hope you'll read these, share them, or encourage others to do the reading and sharing.

In the short term, please consider a contribution to help me pay the bills and keep sharing these ideas in 2024.

You can contribute to my 77th birthday campaign - click here

Or to the Fund T/MI campaign - click here

Thank you for reading and sharing. 

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Spreading the Good News

When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the goal was to draw more consistent attention, and resources, to all of the volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in Chicago, including the one I and six other volunteers had started in January 1993.

Here is one of several articles on this blog where I've described the public awareness strategies that I've led for the past 30 years. 

I've never had consistent funding, nor adequate funding, to do this as well as needed, so I've innovated ways to use events and the Internet, and for the past 15 years, social media.

Below I'm giving you an example of my social media posts from the past week.  You can find links to my Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Mastodon and Bluesky platforms on this page.

This was posted on LinkedIn

This was posted on Twitter (now X)

This was posted on Facebook

This was posted on Mastodon.Social

I'm posting on three Mastodon accounts. So this was posted on Mastodon.Cloud

I posted this on Bluesky

I posted this on Instagram

I'm working on my year-end fund-raising letter and while I appeal for small contributions (click here) to support my birthday appeal or my Fund T/MI appeal (click here), I'm also asking people to share my posts, create their own blog articles and versions of my strategies, and help build needed public awareness and involvement.

For the past 10 years Twitter has seemed to generate the most engagement and drawn the most support for my efforts.  Yet since the site was sold to its current owner, people have reduced their use of the platform and even abandoned it completely.

Yet, if you look at my message on the Bluesky post shown above, I'm not finding many talking about the issues I focus on on that platform, or on my Mastodon accounts.  That means it is more important than ever that you make an effort to help share the strategies I post on this blog and on the site.

Thank you for reading this article and others that I've posted over the past year, and past decade.

I wish you a safe, healthy, happy and hope-filled Holiday.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Happy Holidays However You Celebrate

Is it too early to wish everyone a JOY-filled holiday season?


Sunday, December 03, 2023

Maps. Planning. Teach Youth to Do this Work

Last week I posted an article showing a new data platform created by Argonne Labs, in partnership with the Northwestern University Digital Youth Network.  In that article I asked "How will it be used to make STEM learning and career opportunities available to youth through out the area?"  

That's what I'm addressing with today's article.  As you look at the rest of this article, keep the concept map below in mind.

What are the actions and programs that are working in some places, that could work in many other places, to help kids in high poverty areas move from birth-to-work? Is someone aggregating these into a library that others can draw from in their own planning?  Will people who build the data dashboards, build these concept maps?

Below is a collection of articles about ways to use maps and data dashboards to determine where youth and families need more help as young people move through school and into adult lives,  jobs and careers.

Since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 I've tried to teach people to use maps to focus attention and resources on specific places. This could be an entire city, or a small neighborhood.  This concept map is an example.

The articles I've shared in this collection are just a few of what you'll find in this blog, the Mapping for Justice blog and in the library of PDF essays on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site.

My hope is that educators at colleges, universities, junior colleges, high schools and other institutions will use these articles in curriculum that results in more people applying these ideas in more places.

I've been focusing on this problem for over 30 years and thus there is an extensive collection of ideas on these blogs and in my website.  I realize that very few people visiting this blog will take time to read more than a few articles, at most.  Thus, there needs to be another way to draw consistent, long-term, attention and reflection.  Creating a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, or embedding these ideas into a strategy with a different name, such as the Digital Youth Network, is my solution.

Between 2005 and 2015 interns from various universities spent time looking at my blog articles then creating visualizations, videos and their own blog articles to share what they were learning. You can see their work on this blog.

Imagine if you were able to find a blog like this Intern blog, embedded on the website of dozens of universities, junior colleges, high schools, etc. in 2035, showing 10 years of learning and actions. 

That could change the world.

I created the concept map shown below to visualize the commitment leaders need to make to help kids born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places be starting jobs and careers by their mid 20s. 

One role any of these leaders can take is to provide the funding that would motivate an institution to create a learning program based on the ideas in this blog.   That might not be YOU, but it might be someone you know. If you share this article with them, they might be inspired to take this role.

Thanks for reading. 

Connect with me on one of the social media platforms I show on this page.

Support my work in 2024 with a year end contribution to my Fund T/MI campaign

Or support Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a gift to recognize my 77th birthday on December 19. 

Last week I posted an article showing a new data platform created by Argonne Labs, in partnership with the Northwestern University Digital Youth Network.  In that article I asked "How will it be used to make STEM learning and career opportunities available to youth through out the area?"  

That's what I'm addressing with today's article. While data shows "where" people  need extra help, we still need blueprints to show "what help" is needed, and in what sequence.  For instance, in building a tower you don't start on the 4th floor.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Data Platform Maps STEM Ecosystem in Nine Chicago Community Areas

I posted an article this morning on the MappingforJustice blog showing a  robust data visualization site created by Argonne Labs in partnership with Northwestern University’s Digital Youth Network.

I encourage you to read the article and think of ways you can create map stories using platforms like this, to draw attention and resources to specific neighborhoods where kids and families need more help moving through school and into adult lives and opportunities.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Looking for "Scout Bees" and "Worker Bees"

Below is a graphic I've used often on this blog. 

It shows how YOU can share information you find on this blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website with people in your network, who then share it with an even larger network of people.

Below is text from an article I wrote in 2007 where I shared this idea.

A couple of months ago I pointed out a report titled "Reframing School Drop Out as a Public Health Issue."

Today I found the web site of the Oxford Health Alliance Initiative. It's LINKS sections is extensive, and the site offers excellent networking and collaboration features. (12-2018 note: this site no longer active. Use Community Health Solutions as a resource.)

I wish I had time to browse all of these links and see what connections I can make between them and the work the Tutor/Mentor Connection is doing, but I don't. So I'm appealing to readers to take on this role.

In a way, I'm looking for volunteers to take the role of "scout bees" who go out looking for food sources, then alert "worker bees" who bring the food back to a bee hive. Here's an article on eLearnspace that prompted my thinking on this.

If you follow this analogy, the T/MC web site is the bee hive/colony. People who go out through the internet and share information, like I do here are acting like scout bees. They are sharing our information in a wider network and are connecting the people and information in these networks to the T/MC web site and those who visit it.

In many ways the scout bees are network weavers, acting to connect information and knowledge, with a purpose of making good things happen that are not possible by the efforts of people working in small groups, and in isolation from each other.

By reading this blog, and passing it on to others, you're taking the role of a scout bee, worker bee, and network weaver.

.... End 2007 text ....

At the left is a graphic created in 2011 by Sam Lee, and intern from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago.  She used the graphic at the top of the page as her inspiration.  View this article to see how she divided my graphic into two separate graphics. 

My goal since I started leading a single volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975 has been to inspire other volunteers to use the information I make available to help other volunteers and students have greater success.  Since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 that goal has expanded to helping hundreds of other youth programs grow, and helping more form in areas where additional programs are needed.

As we enter December 2023 that goal has not changed.  Yet, the tools to communicate these ideas have become dramatically different. 

One of my mentors is Kevin Hodgson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts, who I met via an online Connected Learning event in 2013.  In this article Kevin shares poems that he found on various social media sites.  And in this article, he demonstrates how to use a Google AI tool to dig deeper into poems written by another CLMOOC friend, Terry Elliott.

Both articles (and many others on Kevin's blog) demonstrate a form of learning and sharing that I hope many will duplicate, using the many articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website since the late 1990s. 

I've added this "read Tutor/Mentor blog!" text to a photo of me speaking to volunteers and youth at a year-end celebration during the mid 1980s.  While I did not have a blog then I was saying "Get involved".

Helping kids in high poverty areas have the on-going support system they need to move safely from birth to adult lives and jobs where they can raise their own kids free of poverty, requires the involvement of millions of people.

Solving the other complex problems facing our selves and the kids we mentor, will require the involvement, and learning, of even more people.

Become a "Scout Bee". Or a "Worker Bee". Or both.

Thanks for reading.  I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, LinkedIn and now Bluesky (I have 4 invite codes for anyone who wants to join Bluesky.  Just connect with me on one of my social media platforms.)  

Finally I have three wishes.

1) Visit my list of Chicago youth tutor, mentor and learning programs and choose at least one to receive a year-end gift from you. 

2) Visit my December 19th Birthday page and "light a candle" on my 77th birthday cake to help me continue this work in 2024

3) Visit my Fund T/MI page and make a year-end contribution. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Next Monday is the annual Giving Tuesday event, which attempts to motivate donors to reach into their pockets and provide support for non-profit organizations in the USA and around the world.  Visit this page to learn more. 

Since 1993 I've maintained a list of Chicago area volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs and plotted locations of more than 100 on my map.  My goal has been to help programs in every poverty area get the support they need to connect kids and volunteers in on-going learning and mentoring, not just a few high profile programs.  

If you look through the list of programs and visit their websites, you can usually find a donations page.  I'm not sure you'll find a special GivingTuesday page.  A few years ago Forefront organized an ILGive campaign and provided a searchable list of participating non-profits. This graphic shows the 2017 campaign website, which is now only available as an archive

For the past couple of years I've been trying to find someone who was aggregating information about youth serving organizations who were promoting #GivingTuesday on social media, and hopefully, their websites.  So far, I've not found anyone doing this.

Below are a few promotions I have seen.

826 Chicago - website

Gads Hill Center - website 

Girls in the Game - website

Alive Center - Naperville - website

Project SYNCERE - website 

Polished Pebbles - website 

IEEE Foundation - Try Engineering - website

CBO 4 Success - website 

Chicago Scholars - website

I point to more than 100 Chicago area youth programs from my website, but while many have social media accounts, not many use them regularly, and not many have been posting Giving Tuesday campaign posts.  If I see more I'll add a few to this list.

That does not mean programs are not raising money.  Here's just one example, from Tutoring Chicago. This was posted on LinkedIn. 

While I try to maintain an accurate list of Chicago area youth tutor, mentor and learning programs I don't have the talent and/or help needed to do all that needs to be done to draw attention and resources to tutor/mentor programs throughout the region and in other cities.  

Yet someone should be building a website that shows fund raising campaigns of more than the few organizations I am able to highlight in a single blog article. 

Below is a graphic from a presentation I created nearly 10 years ago showing the type of fund raising platform I was hoping to build, as an enhancement to the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator that we built in 2008-9.  See it in this PDF presentation.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to recruit the team, find the investment, or the talent to build this, and I no longer am able to maintain the Program Locator which we built in the 1990s and 2000s to collect and share this information. If you visit this page you can see my vision about using maps to build program capacity.

It may be a bridge too far for me, but the need is as urgent in 2023 as it was when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. 

That's why I've been reaching out to universities (via articles like this) for many years to motivate one, or more, to create on-campus tutor/mentor connection type teams to duplicate my work, and carry it forward into the coming decade.

If you're reading this, thank you.  Please investigate the programs I've highlighted, or the programs in my library, and send a contribution next Monday, or during the year-end giving period. Continue giving through next year.

Then, look at your network (or your bank account) and try to find one or a few people who would provide funds to establish Tutor/Mentor Connection programs on a college campus.  I want to share my archives, and my history (what worked, what did not work, what we never were able to try, etc) while I'm still alive and able to do that.

Which leads me to this. I'll be 77 on December 19th. Since 2011 I've invited people to make contributions to support Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, as birthday gifts to me.  You can use the PayPal at this page to do that. 

Or you can contribute to my on-going Fund T/MI campaign, using the PayPal on this page