Monday, August 28, 2023

Read the Monthly Newsletter

I've published an eMail newsletter almost every month for 20 years.  Before that I published a print newsletter four times a year from 1993 to 2003.   Here's the link to the August 2023 issue.

While you can subscribe to receive this in your in-box, you can also read it on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website.  You can also view past issues, back to 2012, at this link

Every newsletter and all of the resources on the website and my blogs focus on helping kids in high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago connect with adult tutor, mentors, friends and coaches, in organized, on-going non-school programs.

There's one common, on-going question.  How can we do this better?  
This question needs to be asked and answered daily, for many years, by thousand of people in Chicago and every other part of the country.  

I hope you'll share the newsletter and my other posts with people in your network, so more people are asking the same question and using the resources to help constantly improving tutor/mentor programs reach  more kids in high poverty areas.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and other social media places. Please follow me and share your own ideas.  Find links on this page. 

Finally, if you can make a small contribution to help me pay the bills, please visit this page for details. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

What Am I Doing? Why Do I Keep Trying?

I've posted variations of this article often since 2005 when I launched this blog.  Here's what I wrote in 2015:

----- start 2015 ------

When we first launched the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in November 1992, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection in January 1993, we had no money and no deep pocketed friends. We just had a 20-year history of connecting workplace volunteers and inner-city kids in organized non-school tutor/mentor programs, and a firm belief that this was a "good thing to do".

While leading a single program at the Montgomery Ward Headquarters in Chicago from 1975-1990 I built an understanding of how important it is to be able to connect and learn from others, and a realization that without someone maintaining a master database of programs, it was not only difficult to invite people to connect and learn from each other, but for city leaders to build a sustained, long-term master plan, that would make high quality, mentor-rich programs available in all high poverty areas of Chicago and its suburbs.

Not having a committed source of revenue makes it difficult to do this work. While I raised over $6 million from 1993 to 2011, I started from zero every year and constantly had to find new donors to replace those who stopped giving. I had to put nearly $100k of my own money into this effort, and never was paid as much as I had been earning in 1990 when I left my retail advertising job at Montgomery Wards. The financial meltdowns between 2000 and 2010 had a negative impact on my personal finances, as well as my ability to raise the money needed for the work I was doing.

Thus, over the years I've had to occasionally remind myself why I do this. Since I'm at a low period, both in terms of confidence, and revenue, that's what I'm doing now. The image below shows the progression of my thinking. I have gone through this over, and over, for more than 20 years.

The first panel says "connecting a youth and non-family adult in a supportive relationship is a good thing." If you don't agree with that then you don't need to read any further.

The second panel says that in big cities like Chicago, where poverty is measured by miles and the number of kids in poverty numbers over 200,000, organized non-school programs are needed to enable volunteers from many different backgrounds to connect, and stay connected, to kids for multiple years. Some of the programs themselves become anchors in the lives of kids, offering safe places and a community of supportive adults and learning activities beyond what a single mentor might offer. I've been building a list of organizations that provide various forms of tutoring and/or mentoring in Chicago, which you can find here.

If you agree that organized programs are needed, then the next progression is to think of ways to make high-quality, mentor-rich programs available in every high poverty neighborhood for kids as early as first grade and as old as age 16 to 26. While non-profit organizations compete with each other for limited resources, making it difficult for more than a few really great programs to operate in the city, businesses use sophisticated corporate office strategies to support the growth of retail stores reaching customers in multiple locations. I've been trying to apply that thinking to my leadership of the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993.

Below is a 1995 story about the work I've been doing, written by John McCarron of the Chicago Tribune

This is evidence that what I write today is something I've been trying to build support for over many long years. Below is a presentation I created in 1998, showing the strategy I was sharing with city business, political and philanthropic leaders then, and which I now share with leaders in cities across the country.

View video from 1997 President's Summit for America's Future in this article.

This graphic is one of many that I've created to communicate ideas and strategy. If you look at the top of the pyramid, it shows we all want kids to "finish school, graduate, stay safe in non-school hours".

I believe that the work at the bottom of this pyramid, which I've been doing for over 20 years, is essential for making that happen. I still don't find others who incorporate this four-part strategy or this learning network strategy in their own efforts. That makes me believe what I do is still needed.

Every article on this blog, and each section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site are active parts of this strategy, and each is an example. However, so much information also represents a weakness. Too much information and too little time for busy people to try to understand it is a problem. Too few dollars, or talent, to create new web sites, or fix things that are broken, or out of date, like the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, make it more difficult to demonstrate what I'm trying to do. This is something you need to take some time to read and understand.

Even though I'm at low point now, I still believe Chicago and other cities needs someone doing what I'm doing, but from a much stronger organizational base, such as a stand-alone Institute and think tank, or as a college-based Institute funded by one of those people who I seek continually donating $25 to $100 million to various universities.

In fact, I think there needs to be someone doing this work in every major city where poverty and inequality can be plotted on maps and where leaders can mobilize people and resources to fill map-areas with needed programs and services. I've a library of ideas that others could use and I'm hopeful I can become part of your planning teams if you want to take on this role. You don't need to start from scratch if you take some time to investigate and get to know what I've been doing.

I'm not certain how many more years I can sustain this work, but I'm confident that I need to keep trying. If you want to help, please introduce yourself or email me at tutormentgor2 at earthlink dot net.

---- end 2015 ----

It's August 2023 and I'm still trying.  But it gets more and more difficult as the places where I've been able to connect with others, at minimum expense, like Twitter, and before that Google+, and Vialogues, all are deteriorating or have been shut down.

You can still find me on many platforms. I share links on this page

Thanks for reading. I look forward to connecting with you. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Think globally. Act locally.

One of the blogs I've followed since the late 2000s is written by Dave Pollard and is titled "How to save the world".   That's a pretty big idea.

I include Dave's blog on my Inoreader page and looked at a recent article last week.  Below is a screenshot of the top of the article which you can read at this link.

There's good advice in this list and in Dave's article.  He quotes from another blog, titled "So where do we go from here?" which you can find in this link
Below is one of the paragraphs from that blog that Dave included in his article.

He recommends acting locally, building a community focused on local problems, since the big  problems are not likely to be solved by our current orchestra of political leaders.  

So what does this have to do with volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs? Everything.

The graphic below shows that while we launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago, we were also launching a new program in the Cabrini-Green area to help 7th and 8th grade teens move through high school and into adult lives.  

Our actions to help ALL programs were intended to help our SINGLE program, too.  

When I became the volunteer leader in 1975 of a tutor/mentor program that already had 100 pairs of kids/volunteers, I held a full time retail advertising job with the Montgomery Ward corporation. As the tutor/mentor program grew to 300 pairs of kids and volunteers from 1975 to 1990, so did my job responsibilities. I had to find a way to enlist volunteers as leaders who would help other volunteers succeed in the program.

I enlisted other volunteers to help me organize and lead the program. This shows the tutoring program committee in 1976-77.  By 1990 it had grown to include 3 or 4 times as many volunteers, coming from companies throughout the Chicago region. 

And, I started building a library, sharing resources I was using to build my own weekly tutoring activities, and what I was learning from other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, with the volunteers enrolled in my own program. I shared this information and pointed to 'recommended reading' via my weekly newsletters and encouraged networking events to help volunteers connect with each other.

I expanded this strategy to reach programs throughout Chicago when we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.

The strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection aimed to build visibility for all tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, including our own, to help each program attract and keep volunteers and donors.

This strategy was to PUSH resources directly to individual tutor/mentor programs, and to make them available to individual volunteers. They are the smallest unit of community change, via their one-on-one connection to kids.

We organized networking conferences and a public relations campaign to draw programs together and draw attention to the resources in our library. 

I created this graphic a few years ago to visualize what I'm saying. Each volunteer- based tutor/mentor program is a small ecosystem, built around the connection of a single volunteer, or group of volunteers, with a single youth, or group of youths. 

The volunteers who serve on Boards of Directors, and the volunteers who work directly with kids, have a range of talent that can help programs do more to help kids, if that talent is mobilized.

As I shared information via print newsletters in the 1970s and 1980s, then email in the 1990s and websites, blogs and social media since then, I used the weekly tutor/mentor sessions to connect in one-on-one conversations with our volunteers.

We organized after tutoring social activities for volunteers and field trips that connected youth and volunteers with each other, all to help build bonds and relationships and encourage people to dig deeper into information they could use to be a more effective volunteer, or to help the tutor/mentor program grow.

Over the past decade I've expanded the library of articles that show some of the "global" issues that need to be solved, which Dave's article offers pessimism that they "can be solved". 

While these are global issues, they are also issues many of the kids in our tutor/mentor programs are facing.  Educating volunteers and mobilizing their talent can lead to local actions that help kids, and linking programs can lead to a growing army of volunteers working to solve these problems at a larger level.

Thus, everyone who reads Dave Pollard's "How to save the world" article could be using their personal time, talent and treasure to help a single youth, or a group of kids who are part of an organized program. This is "acting locally" and can fill the map with many icons representing constantly improving tutor/mentor programs led by teams of talented, motivated volunteers and staff.

This begins with making sure well-organized tutor/mentor programs are reaching K-12 youth in more places.  I encourage you to visit this section on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website. 

It includes PDF essays that share my own experiences and strategies that others can use to start and sustain on-going, constantly improving volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs.

It's just a small part of the resource library that I've been building over the past 30 years.

Thanks for reading.  Please share this article and these resources with your network.

And, connect with me on social media. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and more. Find links on this page

Finally, if you're able to make a contribution to support my work, visit this page


Friday, August 11, 2023

I Wrote this in 2005. Still Applies.

I often look at articles I wrote in past years and find that what I wrote still applies today.  So I share some of my posts on Twitter, then point to them in this blog.  I hope that encourages people to visit these older posts and apply the ideas to new actions.

Take a look. I started with this post.

 Then I added this. 

Then I added this.
Then I added this.

Then I added this. 

Then I added this post

Then I pointed to this 2006 article. 

I followed that with this post 

In 2005 and 2006 blogging was a new thing and if you look at my posts you'll see much more engagement on my articles then in the comment section than I have now. Yet the ideas are the same, and the problems I'm focused on are the same.

What's changed is that people's attention span is much more fragmented and my ability to purchase advertising and professional marketing support does not exist. Thus, unless readers share my Tweets or blog articles with their networks, the ideas just sit in a dark corner, waiting to be discovered.

At the left is a photo taken in 1993 or 1994 showing me surrounded by kids and volunteers from the new tutor/mentor program we had launched in late 1992, at the same time as we are launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago.

My life has been shaped by such interactions, extending back to 1973 when I first became a volunteer tutor/mentor. 

My goal is that thousands of other people make the same life-long journey and that this leads to quantum changes in how we help kids in high poverty areas move through school and into adult lives and jobs that enable them to raise their own kids free of poverty.

Please connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and other social media platforms. See links on this page.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Support long-term mentoring.

 A couple of weeks ago I shared new research on mentoring in this article.

I hope you'll take time to read it. One of the key points was the  mismatch between how philanthropy funds long-term programs and the need for long-term programs to build and sustain relationships, or "who you know". 

Then take a look at this article, which includes the graphic shown below.

If we want to help more kids living today in high poverty areas move safely through school and into adult lives, with jobs that enable them to raise their own kids free of poverty, we must innovate ways to generate on-going operating dollars to a wide ecosystem of organizations in Chicago and other communities.

On Saturday I watched via ZOOM a  panel discussion from the STEMM Opportunity Alliance conference held in Chicago. One of the speakers used the term "Cathedral Building" to describe visionary work that will take many generations to complete.

I think my work is Cathedral Building, too.  Maybe it's impossible.  It certainly will take decades. This reminds me of an article I posted several years ago about the Tower of Babel, from the Old Testament

According to the Bible story God saw that men might work together to solve impossible problems and thus he gave them different languages so they could not communicate with each other.

But, is this God's will, or the will of people in power and privilidge, who are supported by religious leaders?  Below is an image from an article I read this weekend, titled "How we got stuck: The origins of hierarchy and inequality"

These are all related.  People in power don't want to solve the problems we face. They want to protect their positions of privilidge.  

I keep sharing the graphic at the right. If YOU are reading this you have the power to help change the future, just by sharing my articles, and my library, with your network, and the world.

Furthermore, you can read the articles I point to and form study groups, where others read and reflect on the same articles.

From this comes brainstorming and new solutions.  

While I've been sharing these ideas for over 20 years, too few people have ever seen them.  That's why it's not only important for you to pass them on, but for you to help me find one, or more, places that will collect my archives and use them for research, study, reflection and inspiration for the next many decades.

Will you help?

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and my blogs.  

Help me pay the bills, with a small contribution

Take ownership of these ideas. 

Friday, August 04, 2023

Be a Volunteer in Area Tutor/Mentor Program

School starts soon so volunteer-based youth tutor, mentor and learning programs are ramping up their volunteer recruitment efforts.

You can help them. 

Below is a PDF essay sharing tips for volunteer recruitment. This was created more than 10 years ago.

Strategies for recruiting v... by Daniel F. Bassill

While this focuses on helping individual programs recruit volunteers, my efforts have aimed to motivate businesses, professional groups, sports teams and others to use their media to mobilize volunteers, and donors, to support youth tutor/mentor and learning programs in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities. Below is a PDF essay I title "Virtual Corporate Office".

Virtual Corporate Office: S... by Daniel F. Bassill

I worked at the Chicago headquarters office of the Montgomery Ward corporation from 1973 to 1990 and learned how functional teams, including retail advertising, worked to help all 400 of our stores be the best they could be at serving customers and attracting them with creative advertising and sales promotion.

Imagine if the talent of big and small businesses, universities, faith groups, sports and entertainment, professions, etc. were all working to fill high poverty areas of Chicago and other places with mentor-rich school and non-school programs that expand the network of adults and learning opportunities, helping more kids move safely through school into adult lives.

Please read and  share these with your network. Build the support systems I describe.  

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

If you're able to help, make a small contribution to support my work and Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. 

Thank you for reading. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Ugh! Broken Links

One of the most frustrating features of the Internet is its inability to maintain links to websites and platforms that no longer exist, or that have been updated, and now have a new address.

I often point to articles I created in the past, and before sharing them, I check to see if links are broken. If they are, I can sometimes find an updated link on the website where it was first published, or I can find a link in the Internet Archive.

Sometimes I create my own problems.  

For instance, I've been updating the PDF essays I've created since the 1990s to visualize ideas. I started posting these on in 2011 and in 2012.  

I've been updating these and find that accepts updated PDFs without breaking links.  However, requires a new post of the revised PDF, and deletion of the old one.  That breaks the link.

Below is a ROLE OF LEADERS presentation that I've pointed to often.  

If I had embedded the version in a blog article, the new version shows up when you look at the article.  However, if I embedded the Slideshare version, you get a blank screen.

If you find an article with a blank screen you can always go to my page and find the updated article.  I don't think I'll ever be able to update all of the articles where I've used that version.

That's life with the Internet.  Expect more of the same in the future. 

Thanks for reading.