Thursday, June 29, 2023

Using Our Resource Links to Tell Stories and Create Change

I've been building a resource library since the early 1990s intended to help people develop strategies that support more kids in high poverty areas as they move through school and into adult lives.  I added two new links today.

First, is an article by Thom Hartmann, which I saw in this Twitter post. 

I read the article and I hope you will, too. Then I added it to a list of similar articles which I've been aggregating since 2017 on this Dropbox page. If you skim the list you'll find numerous articles about race and class in America.

The Dropbox list is just one place where I've been aggregating links to articles about race, poverty, inequality, social justice, prevention, etc.  The nodes on the concept map shown below open to sections of the library. At the bottom is a "New Links Are Added Regularly" note, with a "see also" node where you can find links to my Dropbox pages. 

The second resource is a map on the CARES (Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems) website, which shows data at the county level for indicators such as Children In Poverty, Mortality, Rank by County, etc.  This is a "build your own" platform.  Start at the home page and choose what information you want to show on your map. 

I added a link to this CARES map in this section of my library.  That means anyone can use this site to build a map that focuses on any part of the USA.  Student activists can learn to do this. 

So how do you combine these two resources?

If you read the first article, you can use a map view from the CARES site to emphasize the levels of extreme poverty in Southern states, fed by the self-interested policies of the rich and powerful in these states.   You can also use other data maps, which I share in this concept map.

I'm just one person. Thousands of people need to be digging into this information and creating articles, videos, promotional materials, etc. that aim to increase the number who use their time, talent, dollars and VOTES to blunt the efforts of oligarchs and racists in the South, and across the country, then REVERSE their policies, creating a brighter future for America and the world.

Below is a Tweet that's an example of work that needs to be done.

This Tweeter, Charles Gaba, is trying to raise money to help progressive candidates win seats in RED, GOP controlled states, as well as in traditionally BLUE states.  Scroll through his Tweets for the past six months and you'll find Tweets that focus on many different states.

YOU can do this too.  Or you can just help draw attention to this information, using your own social media and communications skills.  

Below is a graphic that I created several years ago to visualize the choices we have.

Imagine a snowball rolling from the top of a mountain, down toward the valley. As it grows it collects more snow, ice and rock, and gets bigger. Unless something stops it, it will eventually demolish every home in the valley. The snowball is the problem of inequality, and the challenges of getting millions of people from beyond poverty personally engaged in helping kids born or living in poverty have the opportunities they need to climb the ladder of social mobility.

YOU have a choice. You can say ENOUGH, and try to stop the forces of evil, or you can let it gain momentum, and destroy any future of peace, hope and opportunity for generations to come.

Thanks for reading.  Share this article and you've made your first choice. Create your own version and share it and you've made two more choices.  Keep making these choices every day.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mastodon and Instagram (see links here). I hope you'll follow me and introduce me to your networks. 

If you're able, please visit this page and send a small contribution to help me fund this work. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

New Article on Mapping Blog

While the articles on this blog focus on "all we need to know and do" to help youth in high poverty areas have support that helps them move safely from birth to work, the Mapping For Justice blog, started in 2008, focuses on ways that maps and visualizations can be tools to help meet this goal.

I posted a new article yesterday, using the graphic shown below. I hope you'll read it and skim through other articles on that blog.

While I'm aware of some groups collecting information about youth serving organizations in Chicago and other cities, I've not found any who are doing the analysis of "What programs exist, where are they most needed, where are the voids?"  or writing stories weekly that intend to increase the number of people using this information to help well-organized non-school tutor/mentor and learning programs reach more K-12 youth in every high poverty area of Chicago or other cities.

If you know of such research please share links in the comment section, or on any of the social media channels where  you can connect with me.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week. 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Focus on program design. Drawing attention.

Since 2005 I've posted more than 1200 articles on this blog. That means there's a lot to read. That's a problem.   So I use my Tweets to try to draw attention to specific sets of articles.  I posted these today.



These can be viewed in this collection of articles.  I realize that most people won't take the time to read many of these articles, which is why I've continued to encourage high schools and  universities to create a Tutor/Mentor Connection type study group on their campus, building this into on-going learning and leadership courses.  I shared that invitation in this Tweet.

Thanks for taking time to read this article.  If you go a step further and share it on social media and with your own personal network, you're taking an active role in helping kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places get the on-going extra support most need to move safely through school and into adult lives.

This is a photo from 1993 with myself surrounded by kids and volunteers in the new tutor/mentor program that I and six other volunteers created in November 1992. 

As you read my articles imagine such connections being established in thousands of safe places.  

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mastodon, Instagram and a few other platforms (see links here).  Please connect with me.

If you can help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a small contribution, visit this page and use the PayPal.  Thank you. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Happy Father's Day

I created this graphic in 2018 to celebrate Father's Day. Nothing has changed since then.  

My own father, siblings and children.

My Dad died on Father's Day in 1986, so this is kind of a sad day for me (my Mom also died in mid June, in 1992). He and my Mom are shown in this photo. I also show my Dad with his nine living children, in photo taken in early 1980s. I show myself with my two Philadelphia brothers, Billy and Chris and with the two brothers I grew up with, Steve and Nick. I show my son and daughter, Amanda and Jacob, along with my wife Emily, my Mom and my sister Rose and her husband Pete.  It's a big family with dozens of nieces, nephews spread all over the country.

I share my love for all of them as the celebrate this day.

This second photo is from my mentoring and tutoring family, which I joined as a volunteer in 1973.

While I was born into my biological family, I was recruited into this second family. First as a tutor/mentor matched with a 4th grade boy named Leo, shown in the upper right in 1973 and just below in 2014.  Leo posted a message on Facebook in 2018 saying:

fathers to me while growing up.
Thanks to:
William Holden
Daniel F. Bassill

Dr. Leon E Drouin
Clifford Gibson
Ajamu Jabari-Akil
You guys have been there one way or another.

For the past few years Leo has been seeking a kidney donor. He received that this spring and is now recovering from his surgery.  That's great news.

I was recruited to lead the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward's corporate  headquarters in Chicago in the summer of 1975 and spent the next 48 years doing what was needed each year to recruit others to volunteer and donate time and talent so that several thousand youth and adults could be connected to each other in on-going and growing tutor/mentor relationships.

"Thank You, Dan" card
I've received many awards for this work, such as the 1999 Publisher's Clearing House Good as Gold Award, but the best were the friendships and thank you's offered by kids and volunteers over the past four decades, as well as the photos I see on Facebook showing the sons and daughters of former students now finishing high school and going to college, and/or starting their own families.

In organized and informal mentoring programs throughout the world extra adults are serving as informal "fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles" to kids who need a few extra adults in their lives.

I want to say "Thank you" to all of them. I also want to say "Thank you" to the many donors who have provided the dollars every year to enable formal, volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs to exist.

Let each Father's Day be a time to reflect, share photos and offer "thanks and well-wishes". But let it also be a renewal of the commitment volunteers, leaders and donors need to make every year to support existing programs and help new ones form where kids still don't enjoy this type of support.

Thanks for reading, and (hopefully) sharing my posts.

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mastodon and Instagram (see links here).

Help me pay the bills with a small contribution. click here to learn more.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Who else is writing articles like these?

I try to post two articles a week and often skim through my most recent blog articles to see if there is a strategy that I've not written about in a few months.  I did that today and posted a couple of maps from this article to Twitter. I encourage others to skim through my articles, going back as far as 2005, to find ideas and strategies intended to help mentor-rich youth programs grow in more places, and do more every year to help kids living in high poverty areas move through school and into adult lives, with jobs, that enable them to raise their own kids free of poverty.

I've been trying to make it easier for people to search for collections of articles. One way is to use the tags at the bottom to find selections focused on specific topics. 

Another aid that I've created is to post collections of blog articles on Wakelet.  Below is my home page on Wakelet, showing five hashtag collections that I created a few years ago.

View this article and you can see Twitter posts where I've shared these collections.

I've created a huge library of ideas and information, with links to over 2000 other web sites, who each link to many thousand of additional web sites.  Working through this information will take years of study. Universities could make this a degree-earning process and provide manpower to support organization growth at the same time. Below is a presentation that outlines my goal. If you're connected to a university, or looking to put your name on a building at your alma mater, I hope you'll make this your mission.

I've written more than 1000 articles on this blog since 2005, and host even more information on the website. There's a lot to learn, but the problems they focus on are complex, deeply rooted, and will require thousands of people diving deeply into libraries like mine, to find new ways to solve these problems. 

Visit the Tutor/Mentor Intern blog and see how college students have created their own articles and reflections to share these ideas. There could literally be thousands of blogs like this, hosted at colleges, high schools, nonprofit youth programs, etc. throughout the world.  Go for it!

Thanks for reading.  Please share and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and/or Mastodon. (see links here)

Help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. Visit this page and use PayPal to send a small contribution. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Building Public Awareness in a Cluttered Media Landscape

"We created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 because we recognized the problem charities have of consistently attracting donors. While a few programs are great at getting funds, not every program is as good, thus there is a poor distribution of good programs in all places where they are needed."

Step 2 of our four-part strategy focused on building public awareness and drawing volunteers and donors directly to various youth tutor and/or mentor programs in the Chicago region.  

Getting media attention for youth tutor/mentor programs in a world where the latest negative news can put your story on the back page, or out of the news all-together, is a problem I've dealt with for many years.

Above is a photo from the 1999 Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign kick-off press conference, held at the James Thompson Center in Chicago. We had media from every major news station. Yet, our story did not make it into the news because on the same day the Mayor was attending an event hosted by a major corporation. On a different year, it was news about President Bill Clinton that knocked our event out of the electronic news.

This illustrates how difficult it is to draw attention to important issues.  If we'd had the Internet in the 1990s we could been creating and sharing our own stories. 

Yet, this would not have guaranteed public awareness.  With all of the people on social media looking at news about the indictment of our former President, how many will take time to look at my posts? 

Below is a letter to the editor that I wrote, published in Crain's Chicago Business in 2013.  

This week a Chicago business coalition announced that it was making a multi-million dollar commitment to fight violence in Chicago. I posted the Tweet below, encouraging them to look at the ideas I've been sharing and apply them in their own leadership.

For several years I have used this graphic in an article, to illustrate how volunteers from different work backgrounds could help build learning activities in different programs that would help build youth aspirations and skills for careers not modeled consistently by family or community in high poverty neighborhoods.  Imagine what might happen if Chicago business leaders adopted this commitment. 

When I write about "business teams" my vision is that teams from media, arts, video, banking, engineering, etc. might work as a "virtual corporate office", with goals of identifying existing examples where youth already are exposed to different types of learning, then recruit and support volunteers from their industry who would help embed these types of learning activities in other programs throughout the Chicago region (or in other cities).

I've already created a section of my web library with links to Chicago tutor/mentor programs, and with links to organizations that include health, STEM or arts as part of their activities. Existing programs can learn from what other programs are already doing. They can bring these ideas into their own programs if volunteers and business partners will help make that happen. 

How do we make mentor-rich programs available to K-16 youth in all place where they are needed? This can only become a reality if businesses, and business volunteers, help make that happen.

How do we get attention for this message within the ocean of other news?  

Anyone reading this can share it on social media, in their own newsletters, or in one-on-one conversations with others.  If those people do the same we create a chain reaction that reaches people throughout the world.

 I created this graphic more than 15 years ago to visualize how an idea shared by one person, and shared by a few followers, can reach throughout the world. 

This Tutor/Mentor blog provides 18 years of templates that others could use to create their own articles, focused on helping youth in different cities, or in different parts of the Chicago region.  If others were writing such stories, and linking to each other, and amplifying each other's articles, more would be seeing these.  

I do this all the time. Here's an example, where I reTweeted a Mentoring New York post with a link to their blog. 

Here's another Tweet that I posted, while listening to a webinar hosted by the Brookings Institute. You can find my posts an more at #BrookingsRacialEquity

You can do this, too.  

If you're writing a blog share it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and/or Facebook.  If I see it, I'll try to amplify it to my own network. 

Thanks for reading.  All of the issues the media point to are important and need attention.  However, kids need constant attention too.  Without millions of dollars for advertising we need to be creative and consistent in telling our stories. 

If you're able to make a small contribution to help fund the work I'm doing, please visit this page and use the PayPal to send your help. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Youth Tutor/Mentor Programs Need Time and Resources to become Great

The idea for this article came to me over the past week.  Since May/June is the time of each year when most tutor/mentor programs are shutting down activities for the current school year, my focus is on helping with their planning so they are even better when they start again in the coming year.

I led one volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 1992, then with the help of six other volunteers, started a new program in November 1992, which I led until June 2011.  These were hosted at the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters until 1999.  

When I say "volunteer-based" I'm not just talking about the adults who serve as tutors and mentors, but those who do more, helping to organize and operate the program.  

The program I started leading in 1975 was already 9 years old when I became its leader. It had 100 pairs of volunteers and elementary school-age youth participating by the fall of 1975, after starting in 1965 with just a small group of corporate volunteers.

I had started as a volunteer in 1973, then joined the leadership committee in 1974. I took over when the previous leader decided to take off for Europe, saying "Dan should lead, since he talks the most!"  

The graphics below illustrate the growth of the program from 1974 to 1992. 

The committee in 1974-75 had nine members. It was led by Roger Kennedy, a copywriter in the MW Catalog Advertising Department.

By 1976-77 I had increased the committee to 13 people.  I was a retail advertising copywriter. 

By 1987 the program had grown to over 250 pairs of kids and volunteers. 33 volunteers, including students in grades 7 through 12 who were graduates of the program, were offering time and talent to lead the program.  We had a part-time paid staff, of three students from Moody Bible Institute.  My own jobs had grown and I was now a divisional advertising manager. 

In the spring of 1990 I left my corporate job with Montgomery Ward and we converted the program to a non-profit, named Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, Inc.  This enabled me to raise money to pay myself a salary to continue leading the program and to hire others to help.  The 1991-92 volunteer leadership structure reflects the growth of the program to 440 kids and 550 volunteers by June 1992. More than 60 volunteers, including student alumni, were involved in planning and operating the program.  I was the only full-time employee.  We had three part timers helping. 

As we ended every school-year, starting in 1975 I had to recruit new volunteers to take on leadership roles. While this was a year-round process it peaked in April-May.  My year-end speech always included a "help me" message. We spent the first part of every summer teaching new committee members about the work involved in operating the program and then the rest doing the work of starting the next year's program. 

I starting a written annual plan in the late 1970s and rather than starting each new year from scratch, we built on what we'd done before, getting better, adding new elements, discarding what was not working. Here's an example of this annual plan. This is from 1984-85.  

That's one of the secrets of growing a tutor/mentor program from "good to great" over many years. 

My departure from the CGTP was painful, and the result of a lack of agreement on how the program should operate and what its future growth would be, between myself and the volunteers who I had recruited to be our Board of Directors in 1990 when we created the non-profit.

It was during this timeframe that 7-year-old Dantrell Davis was killed in Cabrini-Green.  While Chicago media were "demanding action" I remember driving down the highway and saying to myself, "I don't need to lead an under funded, under supported program with over 900 participants, to share what I've learned to help similar programs grow in all parts of Chicago."

I immediately began to focus on what had divided myself and the other program. First was the decision to expand and serve 7th to 12th grade kids who had graduated from the original program at the end of 6th grade.  Second was to help similar programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago.

We created Cabrini Connections to help kids from the original program go from 7th grade through high school. Starting with 5 teens and 7 volunteers in January 1993 we grew to 80 teens and 100 volunteers by 1998 and due to the limited space we had, we stayed around that number until I left in 2011.  We used our first grant in 1993 to hire two part time staff (veteran volunteers from the original program).  As we raised more money in 1994 I began to draw a salary. We never had more than 3-4 full time staff members and 3-4 part time staff and interns between then and 2011. 

We spent all of 1993 planning what became the Tutor/Mentor Connection and launched it in January 1994.  In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue to operate the T/MC in Chicago and help similar intermediaries grow in other cities.

In both versions we drew upon volunteers to help.  

In both cases we applied the "Good to Great" principles that Jim Collins made famous in his book, "Good to Great and the Social Sector".  

I first used the graphic at the right in the late 2000s, then in a 2011 article, which I updated in 2022.  If you have read this far, I urge you to visit the 2022 article and read more about "Good to Great" and what it takes to build constantly improving tutor/mentor programs. 

Then read this article about re-thinking philanthropy.  If we don't change how programs are funded there will be too few great programs and far to few programs of any kind reaching K-12 kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places.

This 1994 Chicago Sun-Times article shows how I traded my advertising job at Montgomery Ward to build Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

I've shared much of what I learned over those years in the articles on this blog and in the information I share on the site.

However, the details of what I learned and how I did this are in my archives.  I hope that someone who reads this will recognize the potential value of this history and will recruit a university to take ownership, so students can learn from what I've learned and more systematically share it to help "good to great" youth programs grow in more places, reaching more kids. 

You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and a few other places (see links here).

If you want to help me pay the bills, please visit this page and make a small contribution.