Monday, March 27, 2023

What is a Tutor/Mentor Learning Network?

I've used this graphic for many years to visualize the role of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (T/MI) (2011-present) in connecting "people who can  help" with information they can use to support actions where they "help" people and organizations in places where maps show help is most needed.

In reviewing posts about Starting a new T/MC or About T/MI I saw that I've not included the presentation below, describing a Tutor/Mentor Learning Network.  

On page 12 of this presentation I show the graphic at the right. 

I've been building a library of "everything we can know" since the early 1990s, which is the "information people can use" that I referred to above.

In this graphic I refer to "hubs" which are websites hosted by other people that are comprehensive resources focused on specific topics.  I don't need to host "everything" about a topic on my website if I can point to someone else who does.  Thus, today I added a link in the Prevention Resources section of my library to an organization called Start Your Recovery, which is a substance abuse resource. 

Many of the websites that I point to are "hubs" like this. 

On page 13 I show the graphic at the left.  If "hubs" link to each other more information is available through the network of libraries. 

Unfortunately, many of the people who I've added to my library, and/or who have asked to be added, do not have a section of resources where they point to my site, nor do they follow me on social media. 

That's true for the Start Your Recovery site, too. However, they do include an extensive directory, pointing to resources for substance abuse knowledge and recovery.  

On page 16 I show the graphic at the right.   If everyone in my library, including "hubs" like Start Your Recovery, were pointing to myself and each other in our websites and our social media and newsletters, we could increase attention and funding for each of us.

On page 23 of this presentation I show that my goal is that the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) strategy be embedded in one, or many, universities, where student/faculty and alumni manpower can do the work much better than my small organization has the capacity to do.

The presentation below shows this "Invitation to Universities".

Take time to review these. Set up a learning group in your university network, your business or your community to read these presentations and consider how you'd adopt the ideas, and how a major donor might provide the seed money.

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Mastodon (see links here). I want to help people adopt these ideas and carry them forward, using the library and history I've established over the past 30 years as a building block.

As I share this information and seek leaders who will adopt and support this strategy in more places, I still rely on a small group of donors to help me pay the bills to continue operating the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Please visit this page and consider sending a contribution. 

Thank you for reading and sharing this article. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Talking about social capital

I was invited to participate in a chat on Twitter this week, hosted by the Christensen Institute, using the hashtags #SoCapChat_CI  and #EconomicMobility.  Their goal was "to help connect the people/organizations who are discussing social capital and economic mobility".  Click on the links and scroll through the Tweets that were posted and you'll gain an understanding of what was discussed. 

As I participated, I shared ideas from my own collection of social capital articles on this blog. Below is one example. During the chat I posted a Tweet to my friends at @NodeXL and asked if they would create a graph showing participation.  Below was the result. You can view the graph as this link

This graph shows that 116 Twitter users participated in the chat. If you zoom in you can see who these people are and who they connected with. 

I think expanding networks of adults supporting youth in high poverty areas is important and that organized, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are one strategy for doing this. I created the graphic below in the 1990s to visualize the type of support network that such programs might provide.

Unfortunately too few people who lead youth programs include the idea of expanding social capital in the information they share on their websites.  Too few youth program representatives were in this week's chat, and too few donors, policy-makers and/or business representatives were participating.  

Hopefully a chat like this will be repeated every few months and more people from the ecosystem will show up on NodeXL maps.  I'll try to help make that happen.

Below is one of my concept maps, showing intermediaries who support youth serving programs in Chicago. 

Each node on the top half of this concept map includes links to the organizations shown.  I follow all of them on social media and participate in virtual events that they host.  I try to generate deeper conversations, such as one I had yesterday with a team from Northwestern and the Chicago STEM Co-op.  

Ideally there would be on-going chats hosted by these groups on Twitter and NodeXL type maps would show participation of multiple organizations from my concept map in each of these chats.  In addition, while many are now hosting face-to-face meetings, I urge them to add virtual components.  One reason is that COVID is not over for many of us. A second, is that I feel each participant in a virtual meeting has a closer connection to the speakers and to other participants.  In a room of 100 or more that is not happening. 

Chicago will have a new Mayor after the April election.  I've been sharing posts on Twitter, inviting the two candidates to look at strategies I've been sharing and incorporate those ideas in their own plans. 

I have been sharing these ideas since the mid 90s.  Maybe in the coming months and years we will see evidence that staff from the new mayor are looking at this blog and borrowing the ideas.

One piece of evidence would be chats about "how to help kids in Chicago" on Twitter, with NodeXL maps showing participation from a broad section of city leaders and citizens.

I'm available to help mentor that process.  Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Mastodon (or all of them). See links here

If you want to help me continue this work, visit this page and use PayPal to send a small contribution.

Thank you for reading. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Habitat for Humanity and LinkedIn

I was invited by LinkedIn to join a conversation led by Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity, who wrote about how he translates a bold mission into action. In the LinkedIn interview, Jonathan shared tips about how to combine the urgency of field work with a careful strategic focus on societal issues. 

LinkedIn's message to me was:  'If you also are trying to change individual lives – and society – at the same time, it would be great to include your story in the conversation, too. Check out the active discussion around this post and then add your perspective."

I started to do that then found that there was not enough space. So I'm posting my comments here.

I first connected with Habitat for Humanity in the 1990s. I felt that they had a great opportunity to educate the people who were building houses and providing funding about the greater issues that caused there to be a need for the organization in the first place.

Below is a map story that my organization created.

Since houses are built following plans laid out in blueprints, I felt that organizations like this would be unique in their ability to help people think of "all the things that need to be done, in the proper sequence" to help reduce the poverty surrounding so many people.

People who entered this work as carpenters and home builders could become disciples who turned around and got more people involved in other work that needed to be done. Imagine if that had been happening across the country for the past 30 years.

I led volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help similar programs grow in all high poverty areas, and constantly improve how they help kids through school and into adult lives free of poverty. In the programs I led I shared a library of information I had been collecting, in an effort to educate our volunteers and turn them into evangelists for tutoring/mentor programs.

Thus, my suggestion to Habitat for Humanity was based on my own leadership efforts for the previous 20 years. 

In 1993 we started building a list of nearly 150 Chicago tutor/mentor programs and connecting them to us and each other via conferences and newsletters that library became available to every program, along with the goal that each was educating their volunteers so more people were focusing on all the work needed to help kids to careers.

As the Internet became a tool our library expanded and so did the number of people potentially using that information.  

In early 2000s I posted a list of eLearning goals on this page of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website.  Imagine if thousands of nonprofits who focus on youth, education, poverty, inequality, etc. were all contributing ideas to concept maps like the one below, which represents a blueprint leaders could follow in every part of the country.

Creating a library and drawing users to it is a huge challenge, in a single organization, and across organizations.  Below is a 4-part strategy that I launched in 1993 and have followed since then.

Step 1 focuses on collecting information about a problem and potential solutions.  Step 2 focuses on building public awareness and drawing people to the information being collected. Step 3 focuses on helping people understand the information and ways to apply what they are learning.  Step 4 uses maps to focus actions on all high poverty areas within any geographic region, instead of just a few high profile places. 

I think any organization can adopt this strategy, and help innovate ways to build a larger, and larger, collection of people who give time, talent, dollars .... and votes, to build the systems needed in every high poverty zip code to "change individual lives, and society, at the same time".

However, it's 2023 and as a nation we're not even close to the type of connected ecosystem that I envisioned in the late 1990s and when I posted our eLearning goals.  Thus, there's still much, much more that needs to be done.

Maybe LinkedIn can help make that happen. 

Thanks for reading.

I hope to connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Mastodon. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Creating more luck for kids in high poverty areas

St. Patrick's Day is coming so I'm reposting a few past articles where I talk about creating better luck, and brighter futures, for kids born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places.

Here's an article I posted in 2019 saying "We Need a Lot More Good Luck in the World Today".  That was before Covid! 

I wrote this article in 2018, with the headline of "Solving Complex Problems. Do the Homework. Make your own Luck". 

In 2017 the headline of this article was "Hard Work, Creative Thinking Brings Good Fortune"

The first time I used this graphic was in this 2014 article with the headline of "Change Fortune for Youth in High Poverty".  

I started this blog in 2005.  Since St. Patrick was a religious symbol, here's an article I wrote in 2005 about making religion relevant. 

We need that in 2023 much, much more than we did in 2005, which is saying an awful lot about how times have changed.

I ended my St. Patrick's Day articles with a link that would help change my own luck, and ability to keep posting these articles. You can help. Visit this page and use PayPal to send a contribution to help fund Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Building Future Youth Program Leaders - ChatGPT article

On March 20, 2019 I wrote this article about the role universities could take in growing future leaders, and supporters, of youth tutor/mentor programs. The title was "Tipping Point - Growing and Supporting Future Leaders"

A couple of weeks ago during a ZOOM reunion with educators I'd met via the #ETMOOC event held in January 2013 we started talking about ChatGPT, which is an artificial intelligence tool used for writing articles.  We decided to create a mini MOOC to explore this and help each other learn to use it.

I've never used ChatGPT before but I looked at this video and decided to give it a test today. 

My interest is in how I, or others, could use Chat GPT to rewrite my past blog articles, making them more readable, and more interesting.  I used the March 20, 2019 article. After a few prompts, below was the result:

Begin ChatGPT version - 

Tutor/mentor programs are essential to helping young people from underserved communities succeed in school and prepare for successful careers. Universities have a critical role to play in building future leaders for these programs and fostering support from businesses and philanthropists to help them grow in more places.

While it's important to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to build and lead mentor-rich youth-serving organizations, it's also essential to recognize that only a few graduates from each university will become leaders and staff in these programs. Most will go on to careers in business, entertainment, medicine, and other fields. However, universities can still play a vital role in supporting these graduates to be proactive in providing ongoing funding to support the few who do become directly involved with tutor/mentor programs.

To achieve this vision, universities could offer a comprehensive four to six-year master's or PhD program, starting in the freshman year of college, designed to train students to become effective tutors and mentors and to build and lead successful youth-serving organizations. This program could include coursework in education, psychology, social work, leadership, grant writing, fundraising, and program management, essential for building and sustaining successful tutor/mentor programs.

Students could participate in on-going practical learning, serving in existing programs and reaching youth as young as elementary school. This service could be tied to coursework being studied on campus at different points over their college career. The program could also offer opportunities for students to connect with local tutor/mentor programs, as well as networking events with business and community leaders who are passionate about education and youth development.

Additionally, universities could provide ongoing post-graduation support to both the few graduates who become directly involved with tutor/mentor programs and the majority who go into other fields. By training all graduates to be proactive in providing ongoing funding and support for these programs, universities can help to create a sustainable network of programs that can make a real difference in the lives of young people.

By investing in the development of future leaders who are committed to this cause and supporting ongoing funding and support for these programs, universities can help to build a strong and sustainable network of programs that can make a real difference in the lives of young people. By working together, we can create a future in which all young people have access to the resources and support they need to succeed in school and in life.

---- end ChatGPT version ----

I think this is a pretty good summary of what I've been trying to say to universities through articles in this section, and in this section, of this blog. 

Students in high school and college who are exploring artificial intelligence writing tools such as ChatGPT, could do what I did today and pick out articles on this blog and explore ways to rewrite them to help share the ideas with people at their schools and in their communities.

I've only begun my exploration. One thing that ChatGPT did not do was pick up the many images I've embedded in my articles or the links I embed to other articles or other websites.  That might be possible, but I don't know (and I'm only using the FREE version). 

I'm creating an archive to show my exploration and once I have a few articles I'll share it via my Google Drive so others can see how I asked multiple questions and looked at multiple revisions.  

Below is a graphic created by an intern from South Korea, vis IIT in Chicago,  in 2013.

View the graphic on this page and find more articles showing intern work on this blog. These show work interns did between 2006 and 2015 to build and share understanding of ideas I've shared since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.

A blog like this could be at every university and high school in the country (or the world) sharing work students have done to communicate these ideas, using any tool available to them, including ChatGPT.

The key point in all of my articles is that this work needs to be on-going, for multiple decades, and reaching youth in EVERY high poverty area of Chicago and other places.  Strategies that support on-going involvement are needed in every city and they need to last beyond the term of any Mayor, Governor or President.

If you're already doing this please share links to your work. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Borrow from Lessons of Tutor/Mentor Connection

Does Chicago have a Master Plan for saving its kids?  Does your city? 

That was the headline of a Chicago Tribune column about the Tutor/Mentor Connection back in 1995. 

It's what I've been sharing in these blog articles since 2005.  See this "Master Plan" article and PDF in my December 2020 article

I offer this blog and my website as a library that anyone can use to build a strategy that helps k-12 youth move through school and into adult lives, with the help of volunteer tutors and mentors who they meet in organized youth serving programs. 

In April 1997 I was one of 10 people representing Chicago at the President's Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia.  The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 Teaching Examples invited to have displays and present information at the Summit.

Below is a video that we shared at the Summit. It was created with much help from Public Communications Inc, who helped form the T/MC strategy in 1993 and was our pro bono PR partner through the 1990s.  


In the video we share strategies developed in 1993 and launched in January 1994.  I've described these in many articles on this blog, but here are four collections that I urge you to spend time viewing.

From 2006 to 2015 I encouraged interns who spent from a week, to a year with my organization, to dig into the blog articles and visual essays that I had created, then build a new presentation that shared their understanding.

Browse articles on this blog to see work they did.   This is a form of learning that can be duplicated in schools across the world, where young people do the first investigation, then share what they learn with their family, friends, teacher networks, etc. If done consistently it's a strategy that engages a growing community, which is essential for any long-term, city-wide strategy to be effective.  Read more about engaging students and universities - click here.

I urge you to invite youth and volunteers in your community to do the same.  Just use maps of your city instead of Chicago.

As you do your research read the T/MC Case Statement from 1997.  

T/MC is introduced with this description

"T/MC is a network that is inventorying every community in Chicago to identify afterschool tutoring/mentoring programs. It is continuously promoting the need for tutoring and mentoring and volunteer involvement so that more programs become available in each coming year. It is providing a means of sharing successful strategies among new and existing programs and will identify and focus public attention — on a continuing basis — on the areas where tutoring services are most needed." 

Then view this Tutor/Mentor Learning Network Proposal from 1999.

In the introduction it states".....

"At this time, the biggest obstacle to involving children and caring adults in tutor/mentor programs is the need for more of the programs themselves, as well as the need for a more consistent flow of resources (dollars, volunteers, training, technology, etc.) to existing programs. While most people look to the government to provide funding for schools, non profits and all other social problems, the reality is that there is not enough public money, nor taxpayer will power, to fund all schools to the level they need, let alone fund a comprehensive network of nonschool tutor/mentor programs to the level of funding they require to be effective — and available in all of the places where they are needed.

This obstacle is compounded by an even greater challenge. The issues of big city poverty are complex.

“In an era of globalization, when knowledge and scholarship are becoming increasingly universal and universally accessible, problems, too, with all their complexity, no longer recognize borders of geography, language, time, culture, or a myriad of other factors and so they demand an integrated approach. They demand the best ideas from all of us and the wisdom to work together to see that ideas turn into actions and solutions.” … Carnegie Corporation of New York: Meeting Challenges of the 21st Century.

Most leaders, donors, corporate sponsors and potential volunteers are only superficially involved in discussions of poverty, workforce development, school reform, racism and related issues which comprehensive “total quality” tutor/mentor programs can address. Too many tutor/mentor programs are isolated. Too little infrastructure exists. There is not enough time to get all of the right people in the same room often enough to come to a deep enough understanding of the problems and the solutions that already exist.

This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to build common understanding, and a convergence on solutions which need to be sustained for the 25 years it takes for just one child to move from birth in poverty to a first step on a career.

There are about 15 million children in America who need such help. While the Internet has great potential to offer virtual meetings, and collaborative action, too few dollars are available to innovate ways to bring disconnected stakeholders to on-line meeting places (see Policy Link 2001 report titled, "Bridging the Organizational Divide").

The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) was created as a response to these needs. The T/MC is an innovative, visionary effort to build tutor/mentor programs. The T/MC is not an effort to develop a single tutor/mentor program, or even a few tutor/mentor programs, that will serve a limited number of children who are referred for services. Instead, the goal of the T/MC is to support the development of an entire universe of tutor/mentor programs that will serve low-income children BEFORE problems occur."

------ end of introduction ----- 

In the final segment of the 1997 video shared above, I summarize the work being done by the Tutor/Mentor Connection and invite others to duplicate the strategy in their community and help me build it in Chicago.

I repeat that invitation today, but with 25 years of further experience beyond what we had in 1997.  

Please read the articles I point to and others on this blog.

Share them with your own network. I'm on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Mastodon, and Instagram and I invite you to bring your network and connect with me.

If you value the ideas and resources I'm sharing, please consider a small contribution to help Fund T/MI. Visit this page to learn more. 

Monday, February 20, 2023

What Youth Programs Exist in Your Area?

My small non-profit published it's first Directory of youth tutor and/or mentor programs serving Chicago in May 1994.  The goal was to help volunteers and donors find and support existing programs and to provide a source of information leaders could use to determine where more programs were needed, based on what already existed, and the population of kids in poverty in different zip codes.

We continued to publish the printed directory until 2003, but started putting the information on the Internet in 1998.  Since 2004 all the information I've shared has been on our websites.

Read more about the Directory and Program Locator - click here

The survey we used to collect information about programs segmented responses by a) type of program - pure tutoring, pure mentoring, combination of on-going tutor/mentor supports; b) age group served - elementary school, middles school, high school; c) time of day services offered - school day, after school, after 5pm & weekends; and d) address.

With this information people could search specific areas for programs serving specific age groups.  Unfortunately the websites we built in the 2000s to share this information are now only viewable as archives.  I'm only able to share my list of programs through the map shown above (see this site) and this list on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website. 

Furthermore, I'm not the only one collecting information about youth programs serving Chicago and Illinois.  Here are a few others.

Peace Hub Chicago map - click here

Use the tables at the left to narrow your search. Click on the red icons to get contact information and website address.  Under services you can search for "tutoring" or "mentoring".  

ACT NOW! Afterschool for Children and Teens - maps entire state - click here

You can refine your search for grade levels served and type of programming offered.  Click on the icon for program information.

MyChiMyFuture - Programs Map 

This is the Mayor's initiative, aimed at helping youth find out-of-school time programs they can participate in.  There are many ways to narrow your search, however, for some reason I don't see a category for mentoring.  Many of the resources shown are libraries and park district facilities.  I'm not sure how many community based organizations are on this map.

If Chicago gets a new Mayor in 2023 will that Mayor continue to support this initiative? I hope so. 

These are just three directories that I'm aware of. I'm building a list at this location, so you can visit and see directories for Chicago and for other cities and states, too. 

What I don't see yet....

I don't see blog articles or social media posts using these on-line directories to focus attention on areas with high poverty, poorly performing schools or acts of violence.

I don't see blog articles or social media posts using these platforms to do an analysis of type of programs, age group served and number of youth in specific areas who need these services.

Furthermore, I don't see an on-going, multi-year attempt to draw volunteers and donors through these platforms to individual programs where they offer support for operations and constant improvement.

I  urge you to browse articles in the maps, media and violence categories on this blog to see examples of how I've used the program locator directories the Tutor/Mentor Connection created to draw attention and resources to programs in specific parts of Chicago.

Read these "Rest-of-the-Story" articles to see how young people could be creating regular stories using maps and intended to help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places, helping more kids through school and into adult lives. 

Raising kids continues to be a two decade effort and in some places parents and schools need extra support that can be offered by well-organized non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs.  

Helping existing programs sustain their efforts and helping new programs grow where more are needed is something many people need to be doing, in Chicago and in other cities and states. It's not something one person can make happen.

Thanks for reading.   Please connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, LinkedIn and other platforms.  

Share these ideas. Create your own versions, with maps of your community if you're not in Chicago.  

Finally, if you can help fund my work, please visit this page and send a contribution. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Super Bowl, Tutoring and Mentoring

Today's the big football game. It will be watched by millions of people from around the world.  I hope a few of those from every city will find, and read, this and other articles I've posted on this blog since 2005.

My friend Brian Banks, who posts on LinkedIn, sent me an article about a virtual tutoring company called Paper.  I read the article, visited the website and added it to this collection in my library.  

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 (joined as a volunteer in 1973).  I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to try to make this type of program available to more kids in high poverty areas.  

Two things stood out in the article about Paper.  

1) the $40 cost per student is paid by the school, not the family, but there are still many schools that cannot afford this cost.  (I did not find cost information on the website, such as how long the $40 fee applies. Is it for a full school year? A shorter time frame?)

2) according to the article "the biggest hurdle is 'awareness'.  If students don't know the service exists, the district buys it, and it sits on a shelf. It's not good for Paper and it's not good for the school, or the students. So building that awareness is the number one most critical thing."

Below is a graphic I've shared often on this post.  

The map in the lower left corner shows high poverty areas of Chicago. As kids grow up different events in their lives influence their learning, and their motivations to learn. This could be lack of reinforcement at home, traumatic events such as shootings, or deaths from health issues. It could be a growing awareness of poverty and racism as the youth moves from middle school to high school. It could be the change in adult support as they move from elementary school, to middle school, then high school. It could be the influence of street gangs, in their own family, and/or in their neighborhood.

These affect each youth differently, at different times.  

Open the concept map shown below and look closely at the supports kids need at each grade level as they move through school and into jobs and careers. 

I've not found a similar map for Chicago or any other city.  Nor have I found an analysis showing on a school-by-school basis, which of these supports are available.  However, at each level homework help and good teachers are needed. Thus a virtual learning option like Paper could be really valuable...if it was available, and if they knew about it.

This is where organized, non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs can make a difference.

In the programs I led kids came to our site once a week throughout the school year, where they met with a primary one-on-one tutor/mentor, and connected with a variety of other volunteers and learning experiences.  View some of the yearbooks to see the range of activities and volunteers.  

Many students continued for multiple years, often with the same volunteers.  Staff and program leaders provided additional continuity.  

I would have loved to have had access to a learning tool like Paper.  Our volunteers could have coached kids to use it, when they needed extra help, solving part of the awareness problem.

In addition, since our volunteers came from many different companies in the Chicago region, and often from families with significant wealth, they could have helped raise funds for schools to afford services like Paper.

Take another look at the concept map shown above and consider the role volunteers can take to help draw needed resources to schools and families. 

A few days ago I posted an article that included a 2013 map showing participation in an Education, Technology and learning MOOC.  

On Friday evening I participated in a ZOOM reunion with a few of those people, who've stayed connected for the past 10 years. This was posted on Twitter following the gathering.
When I look at a participation map like the ETMOOC map I'm thinking of all the people, from so many different places, who are gathering to talk about ways to help kids.

Imagine a similar map showing Super Bowl viewers.  What would it take for hundreds, or thousands, of people in every city to be looking at information and sharing ideas for building mentor-rich, birth-to-work support systems for kids in every high poverty area, including virtual tutoring resources like Paper offers? 

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

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

I hope you'll think of these ideas as you watch the Super Bowl and reflect on it in coming days and weeks.  

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game.  My family has roots in Philadelphia, so I'm rooting for the Eagles!

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and/or Facebook.

Help me pay the bills!  Check out the Fund T/MI page

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Fix how youth programs are funded

Last night I interacted with some educators who I met in 2013 via an Education and Technology MOOC (#ETMOOC).  I mentioned a participation map that I had seen late 2012, which drew my attention to the event.  After looking around for a while, and exchanging some Tweets with the organizers, I found the map. You can see it below and at this link.

I've been encouraging leaders to use maps since 1994 because they point to all of the places within a geographic region, like Chicago, where people need extra help. Participation maps can show "who is in the conversation, and lead to a discussion of "who's missing".  I wrote about this in 2016 and 2017 articles. 

That's not really the focus of this article.

While I was scrolling my blog via my phone, looking for the ETMOOC map, I found a 2013 article I wrote about foundations who fund youth serving programs in Chicago and around the country.  I'm reposting that article below:

----- start ----

I’ve been part of an Education Technology MOOC (#ETMOOC) this week where more than 1000 people from around the world are connecting on-line and sharing ideas about uses of technology in education, learning, media and network building.

I’ve been trying for the past 20 years to build this type of learning community, connecting all of those who are concerned with the gap between rich and poor in America, the education system, workforce diversity, social justice, violence, public health, and a number of other reasons to be involved. Some people talk about the "village" it takes to raise kids. I write about it and try to bring members of the village together.

I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975 (see history) while I held a full time job with the Montgomery Ward company. While our program grew to include over 300 pairs of youth and volunteers by 1990, funding was not an issue because all of the leaders were volunteers.

However, in 1990 when I converted this program to a 501-c-3 non profit and needed to raise money to pay salaries for myself and others to stay involved, the funding of non profits began to become a real issue. Over the years I’ve aggregated a wide range of personal frustration on the challenges small non profits face in finding consistent operating funds, and I’ve built a library of articles that show how others think on this topic.

I illustrate my thinking visually so let me show some maps that I think many of you will find interesting, and useful.

This is a map showing nearly 400 foundation (corporate and private) in the Chicago region and Eastern part of the United States who I put on my mailing list between 1993 and 2005.

Every year I send copies of my printed newsletters to these people, showing why tutor/mentor programs were needed and what I was doing as a direct service provider, and as leader of the intermediary Tutor/Mentor Connection.

The green icons on the map are foundations that funded my organization at least one time. Few funded me more than 2-3 years in a row. Some, like Montgomery Ward, funded me for seven consecutive years, then went out of business, and thus were not able to continue their support. None of the grants was larger than $50,000 and most were in the $1,000 to $10,000 per year range. Some were for general operating expenses, which I could use flexibly to build the organization, while many focused specifically on activities of the Cabrini Connections direct service program or the Tutor/Mentor Connection. In total I raised more than $6 million between 1993 and 2011, with a peak of $500,000 in 2000. This money split with 40% funding the Cabrini Connections direct service program, 40% the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and 20% funding operating and fundraising expenses. With no multi-year commitments, each year since about 1998 I started from zero in raising $300 to $400,000 from a wide range of donors.

This map shows a close up of the Chicago region so you can get a better sense of how many foundations I was reaching out to.

My organization never had more than 3 or 4 people on staff, and never had a full time professional development officer. I was CEO, chief innovator, chief marketing officer, newsletter writer, grant writer, janitor. Yet every year I was challenged to write letters of introduction, letters of inquiry, grant requests, grant reports, each with different requirements and different questions.

Yet we all were focused on helping expand the network of programs supporting inner-city kids during the non-school hours. By 1998 I was using web sites to show the work I was doing and what I was trying to do.

This map shows the Chicago LOOP area.

When I begin using maps I started following media stories about kids being killed in Chicago, with maps showing where this was happening, and with links showing what tutor/mentor programs were operating in those areas,
and what knowledge was available to community leaders, business and foundations so they would work to build programs that would provide more mentoring, tutoring, learning opportunities. Visit this Map Gallery to see a collection of maps created in the past.

This week I attended a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at the University of Chicago,
where panel members were asked to talk about their experiences with mentoring.

They each talked about mentors who “helped them stay in school” and who provided life lesions, such as “never, ever forget where you come from”.

Here are some other quotes from the event:

“Who ever is talking to them and showing an interest is a mentor.”

“We need to mentor each other’s kids since our own don’t listen to us enough”

“Foundation of mentoring is caring.”

“Mentoring is a two-way street. Mentors learn from youth.”

“Students who are successful have great networking skills.”

“Since the middle class has left the inner city, how are we going to connect mentors with youth living in inner city neighborhoods” “How do we reach those kids.”

“The politicians don’t care. These kids and parents don’t vote.”

“Why are there only 30 people attending this event when this is National Mentoring Month?” Why don’t more people care?”

I handed out business cards to each of the participants and said “Let’s find ways to change this.” I share these ideas on my blog, and in MOOCs so that people in more places will come together to find ways to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in more places where they are needed.

I host a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator with maps that show where tutor/mentor programs are needed. Why can’t leaders in these foundations use my maps, or similar directories, to adopt neighborhoods, then adopt tutor/mentor programs in those neighborhoods and make long-term commitments to help each program become the best in the world by borrowing ideas from each other and using a constant flow of operating/innovation dollars and volunteer talent to implement these ideas.

Here’s an interactive version of the map of foundations. You can enlarge the map and zoom in and see the name and location of each. Some no longer exist since this list was last updated in 2005. (2023 editor note: this map may not show up in your Chrome browser. It does show up when I view it from my phone. It also can be seen if you use Microsoft Edge browser.)

With more than 200 youth serving organizations in Chicago offering various forms of tutoring, mentoring and non-school support, we can have 200 development officers and/or Executive Directors reaching through this list to find foundations who will give them funds each year, which is a tremendous redundancy.

Or we can build strategies that educate and motivate donors and business partners to reach out and build proactive support systems for tutor/mentor programs in neighborhoods that need such programs.

We can discuss ideas like this in face-to-face events, like the May and November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences. We can also connect in on-line events like the Education Technology MOOC.

We can do both. We can do better.

---- end 2013 article ----- 

Sadly, I still don't find people using maps to show participation in events, or to expand participation to more of those who need to be involved.  I've not seen many foundations using maps to show who is receiving their grants, or anyone aggregating this information to show all of those funding specific types of service categories, like youth development and/or tutor/mentor programs, within specific geographic areas.  

I've had almost no response to the business cards I shared in that January 2013 mentoring event. I still don't find youth development, tutor and/or mentor program leaders, staff, funders, researchers, and business leaders interacting in on-going MOOC-like events.

While I've actively reached out to build lists of stakeholders on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I find few doing the same (or adding me to their lists). 

Maybe this is happening in different parts of the country, or the world, but I don't see it.  

If you share this article in your networks, maybe some people will send me links to websites showing this work being done.  I'll add those to my library and share them with others.

Thanks for reading. You can find me on these social media pages

Since writing the 2013 article I've added collections of articles in the About T/MI, History, and A New T/MC sections. Read these to understand what I've been trying to do, and to learn how you might duplicate this work in different places.

And, you can help me keep sharing these ideas by visiting my "Fund T/MI" page and sending a small contribution.