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 (12-2018 note: this site no longer active.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

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Looking Back - November 2009

I've been posting articles on this blog since 2005, all to explain what the Tutor/Mentor Connection is and ways you can adopt the ideas and strategies to help K-12 kids in Chicago or other cities move through school and into adult lives.   I've used graphics like the one at the left to visualize the goal, and the challenges.

I often re-post articles I wrote in the past and today I'm sharing one from 2009 with the headline of "Tutor/Mentor Connection. What is it?"

---- start 2009 article ---- 

I've led a volunteer based tutor/mentor program since 1975. I've learned that the lives of both youth and volunteers are enriched in different ways because of involvement in these programs. I've received messages from alumni telling me how important the tutor/mentor program was in their lives.

I know how hard this is. I know that there are more than 200,000 school age children in Chicago who would benefit if they could participate in a well-organized, mentor-rich program like Cabrini Connections.

Thus, I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help existing tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago area get the resources each one needs to constantly improve what they do.

I cannot do that by myself. I did not start this by myself.

Volunteers from the Montgomery Ward Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, which I led from 1975 to 1992, helped me start Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This timeline shows our growth since then.

Many other individuals and organizations have helped grow the Tutor/Mentor Connection, with short term, and long-term efforts. For instance, Montgomery Ward provided free space from 1993 to 1999. Public Communications, Inc helped us get media attention from 1993 to 2001. More than 40 volunteers, representing different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, have volunteered as speakers and workshop presenters at each of the 32 Leadership and Networking Conferences we've organized since May 1994. Volunteers in the legal community created a Lend A Hand Program, which now makes grants totaling more than $200,000 to different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago.

This list of who has helped is extensive. Visit this page and you can see a list of who helped in the 1990s and early 2000s.

If you visit the T/MC OHATS documentation system, you can read more than 1400 actions we've documented since 2000. Many of these show that other people have taken roles to help us. (OHATs is now only available as an archive.  Visit this page to see how it was described in 2001)

Yet, we're still a small voice in a big city, constantly looking for money and talent to help us help others.

Thus, I encourage you to consider some of the ideas posted in this presentation.

The graphic shown above emphasizes the role of YOU, the individual, the business leader, the faith leader, the student. You know people who have the skills, and the relationships, who could help the Tutor/Mentor Connection have greater impact, if they added their time and talent.   

The concept maps above and below show different skills and talents that are needed in any organization, including the Tutor/Mentor Connection. When we can put names of people in these boxes, knowing they share the same passion and vision as I do, we will have the small group of people that Margaret Mead wrote "can change the world".

Having the right skills is a great start. Having relationships with people in philanthropy, media, business, faith groups, colleges, etc. means that we will be better able to enlist these sectors and their resources to support the growth of tutor/mentor programs, helping more kids in more places.

----- end 2009 ----

I finished the article the way I do most of my articles.  

First, I used this graphic to emphasize the YOU role any reader can take.  Can you introduce people you know to the Tutor/Mentor Connection? Can you help find donors during this holiday season to fund Chicago area youth serving programs and the T/MC in 2024?

The Christmas Tree graphic was created by a student in the Cabrini Connections program.  I've reused it often.  It demonstrates the range of learning and leadership roles volunteers and staff can make available to youth who are part of organized, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs.

What's happened since 2009? 

In 2011 I left Cabrini Connections and took personal responsibility for continuing the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and helping similar intermediaries grow in other cities.  I created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to provide an organized structure.

I continue to maintain a library of resources, including my lists of Chicago area volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. I continue to try to motivate people to take on the YOU role on a consistent basis.

I've not found investors to help do this work so have depended on donations from a small group of supporters. If you can help, visit this page and use PayPal to send your support.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Veterans Day 2023 - Don't Give Up

Today is Veteran's Day. Let's give thanks and honor those who have served our country to protect our freedoms.  

I wrote this in 2005 and have posted similar articles most years since then. 

.... Begin 2005 article ....

I served in the US Army from 1968 to 1971. I was lucky to do time in Korea and not in Viet Nam where so many young people made the ultimate sacrifice.

I think that the best way to honor our veterans is for more people to be willing to make true sacrifices of time, talent and treasure to assure that every person in America has the same hope and opportunity as do the kids of the politicians who vote to send troops overseas to fight and die, but then don't provide funds to support those troops as veterans, or to support the many high poverty communities where poverty is breeding violence, feeding our growing prison industry, and creating two Americas.

Each person needs to look in their own personal mirror to determine what level of giving would be a sacrifice. However, we only need to look at a Military Cemetery, or a Military Hospital to see a standard for comparison.

In past blogs I've talked about how difficult it is for non profits to sustain funding over the long term. That was from the charity perspective. What about the donor perspective? If you want your contributions of time and money to add up to a difference, you need to think of what it took for you to earn that money or talent.

For most of us we were not born to wealth. We had to go to school, perhaps college, then work our way up in a job to the point where we could make charitable gifts. For those who started companies, it took many years of hard work before turning a profit, then expanding the business. For those with inherited wealth, your fathers or grandfathers did the heavy work of earning the money. It's up to you to do the heavy work of making sure the money builds a better world.

If you want your dollars to have an impact, pick a charity and a cause and stick with it for many years...or a lifetime. Get to know what they do. Volunteer time if you can. Be an advocate if you can. Help them find others who will add their support to your support. If you jump from cause to cause, or charity to charity, you may feel good about your giving, but those you give to may never be able to sustain their work long enough to do the good that your original donations intended.

If we want world peace, it is not just the responsibility of the peacemakers to do all the work, it is the responsibility of every one who benefits from peace.

We will honor our veterans when more of us take this responsibility as a day to day responsibility.
--- end 2005 article ---

In my study of history while in college and my US Army training I learned to use maps.  In the 30 years I've led the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present) I've piloted uses of maps and data platforms to focus attention and resources on places where people need extra help, specifically focusing on helping well-organized, long-term, volunteer-based, tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in more places.

I hope you'll join me in those efforts. 

Monday, November 06, 2023

Giving Tuesday will be Nov 28, 2023

Last year I posted this GivingTuesday article, and included the map shown below, from the GivingTuesday website

Giving Tuesday will be November 28, 2023 this year.  I still have not found a Chicago organization aggregating links to all the different groups raising money using the #GivingTuesday theme.  

Do you know of such a website? Share it in the comments, and I'll point to it.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Connecting the network - conferences

For 20 years, between May 1994 and May 2015 I hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago. During the first conference we shared our first printed directory showing volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago and an ecosystem of researchers, foundations, support groups and others who needed to be working together to make sure well-organized programs were reaching K-12 youth in every high poverty area of Chicago.

In the tags at the left you will find a category for conferences with many posts from past years.  This 2017 post includes a presentation showing the different universities who hosted these conferences. That was part of an effort to build strategic partnerships where universities would use their own student, faculty and alumni talent to help build a pipeline of youth from high poverty areas through college and into jobs and careers. 

Visit this page on the conference website to read the goals.

- Draw leaders, volunteers, and stakeholders from more than 150 agencies together for networking and information sharing.

- Draw business and philanthropy partners into ongoing learning and partnership with tutor/mentor leaders

- Provide a vision for comprehensive, long-term mentoring that leads youth to careers

- Build trust and relationships among stakeholders to generate partnerships and information sharing during the months between each conference.

- Build awareness of online learning and networking resources and motivate a growing number of participants to use these tools for capacity improvement

The May/June Conference was intended to celebrate the work of youth and volunteers during the school year. It is also a time to share best practices, strengthen next year’s programs, and raise public awareness about the need for renewed support in the coming academic year. The work done in May can lead to more successful volunteer-recruitment strategies in August and September and more powerful resource-development strategies in November and December.

The November Conference took place shortly after the start of each school year when programs have recruited and placed students and volunteers. The focus of this conference is on teaching volunteers to be more effective tutors and mentors and fostering the leadership skills necessary to help programs grow. Since this conference is just before the year end holidays, its goal is also to make potential donors more aware of tutor/mentor programs so that when they choose to make a year-end donation, more tutor/mentor programs benefit from these gifts.

The work continues.

While I no longer host the conference I continue to try to draw people to information they can use to support youth and organized, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs during the May and November time frames, and throughout the year.

Visit this page and read e-Learning goals that were first published in the early 2000s. 

Visit this page and see a map showing participants from throughout the country. 

If you're concerned about poverty and inequality in America, or education and workforce development, or social justice, there are actions you can take every day.  I created this list in 2007 and have shared it often since. Here's one article to read.

While we hosted conferences at most Chicago universities and have had interns from many colleges working with us, this has never led to a long-term strategic alliance.  Read this invitation to universities. This is needed more now than ever, because as I grow older finding a new owner for this vision, my websites and my archives, is more important than ever in the past. 

Thank you for reading.  Please connect with me on one, or more social media channels. Find links on this page

Finally, if you're able please visit this page and send a small contribution to help me do this work.