Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What if political campaigns raised money for youth programs?

I've been sharing archives from the work I've done since 1993 to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in high poverty areas. Today I'm going to point to email newsletters I wrote in the early 2000s.

Below is the President's Message from the August 24, 2004 newsletter (open PDF here).

This text says:

Editorial: Which candidate is helping you get volunteers and dollars for your tutor/mentor program? Most of the tutor/mentor programs that I know of don't have large advertising and PR budgets. Many, like Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, struggle to find money for rent and payroll. Thus, during the election season it is even more difficult to get our call for volunteers heard.

That's a reason we created the T/MC. Its strategy is to create a larger public awareness of tutoring/mentoring by connecting tutor/mentor stakeholders via the Internet and face-to-face meetings. As hundreds of individual programs, networks, and business and professional partners take the lead in calling for volunteers, links to web site portals, like http://www.chicagovolunteer.net or http://www.tutormentorexchange.net create a larger flow of potential volunteers and provide multiple choices of where they might volunteer. If you use these services and participate in the campaign, you should be more effective at recruiting volunteers for your individual program.

As leaders in other cities and states build their own T/MC type strategy we hope to link web sites and link campaigns so that we ultimately have a voice during August and September that is as loud as those of commercial advertising and political candidates. If our strategy works we can create this level of public awareness at a fraction of the money being spent on the fall elections by our major political parties.

Maybe we'll even reach a point where the VOLUNTEER NOW button of a political candidate's web site has a link to the local volunteer center, not just to the candidate's campaign committee!!

In another part of the newsletter, this is what I wrote:

It says:

The Tutor/Mentor Connection web sites have hundreds of links to resources that programs can use to improve quality and support volunteers. In 30 years of leading a tutor/mentor program I've learned that every student and volunteer is different, and they are constantly changing. No training program or manual can provide everything each person needs. Thus, I've focused on building a library of materials that volunteers can use to develop their own skills. The focus of our training and communications is to lead our volunteers, staff and leaders to this information so they begin to use it on a regular basis.  

These messages are as relevant in 2024 as the were 20 years ago.

With the 2024 election season in full swing, millions (billions?) of dollars are being raised to fund political campaigns, just to get people elected or re-elected.  

In 2004 I called for part of that money to be used to support needed youth programs and other important causes.  That's still the case.

In 2004 I also pointed to the resources I was aggregating to help volunteers in tutor/mentor programs become more effective tutors, mentors and advocates, helping their own students and programs, and helping others in different parts of the cities where they live or work.   That's still the case.  Except, the library is much larger today than it was 20 years ago.

Last week I posed this article, sharing my 30 years of reaching out to universities.  And yesterday on the Mapping for Justice blog I posted an article showing my 30 years of using maps to draw attention and resources to every high poverty area of Chicago.

As I look at my archives I'm embarrassed by the number of spelling and grammar errors.  I could have benefitted from having a proof reader!

I can't change that, but you can.

As I share this archive, I also point out that too few people ever saw what I was publishing, because I never had the money to buy advertising, and never was a high profile celebrity who could attract readers just by asking.

Thus, everything I'm sharing would be "new" to most people.

In my final slides on the "Reaching out to Universities" presentation I included a map showing cities in the US with high concentrations of poverty.   Skim through past articles on this blog and you'll see many more stories showing that Chicago is not the only place where a Tutor/Mentor Connection type strategy is needed.

Thus, my archives represent a resource that anyone might use to create and lead a new campaign (with better editors and writers, and more high profile leaders), using my past work as a starting point for their own articles and visual presentations.

The starting point is your own curiosity and learning.  Dig through my archives. Find stories that resonate with you. Re-write them. Post them on your own blog. Share them with your own network. 

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

Maybe in 10 or 20 years you'll be able to share a similar archive.  Maybe you'll be able to point to thousands of kids who you've helped.  Maybe you'll have made a bigger impact on reducing poverty concentrations.

That's the goal.

Do you ever feel like my articles are similar to the messages I gave each year to youth and volunteers in the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011?   

Thanks for reading, and sharing.  

Connect with me on social media.  You can find link on this page.

If you're able, please make a contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and help me continue this work.  Visit this page

Thursday, April 11, 2024

30-year history of reaching out to universities

Last December I posted this article asking "What if students in every city did this?" 

Youth in every part of the world could be writing articles similar to what I've written on this blog since 2005 and in newsletters back to 1993. 

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

Today's the day to share that history.

Open this PDF presentation and stroll through 50 pages of history showing how I connected with universities throughout Chicago, the Midwest, and other countries, starting in the late 1980s when I led the Tutor/Mentor program at Montgomery Ward's corporate headquarters in Chicago.  

You'll see pages like the ones below, that show evidence of those connections and include links to documents on my Google drive.

These are just a few examples that show important work done by interns over the past 30 years, which I've highlighted on other pages in this PDF.

Please spend a little time looking at the slides. On your first visit, just walk quickly through each slide, so you can see the range of universities I've connected to.  Then, pick a university you're interested in, and open the links on those pages.  These show some of the interactions that I had which led to student involvement.

The slides show 30+ years of engagement. Valuable work was done. Yet, they all have one common weakness, which is a lack of ownership at the university, and no integration into a long-term university-led effort to support the growth of well-organized, non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs in all high poverty areas around the university, or the cities where they are located, or places where some of their student live.

The projects with Illinois Wesleyan from 1993-2004, Columbia College of Chicago in the mid 1990s and with IUPUI from 2002 to 2011 came closest to becoming a formal university based initiative.  But these never took root because I did not have the wealth, or fund raising ability, to fund faculty and student involvement, and no one at the university was willing to take on the fund-raising role.

Below is page 57 of the presentation.  Universities establishing Tutor/Mentor Connection programs and implementing the ideas I've piloted would represent "tipping points", or actions that change every thing else that happens.

At the bottom of the page I asked, "What if a wealthy patron, like MacKenzie Scott, who is giving millions of dollars to nonprofits, or Dr. Ruth Gottesman, who gave a $1 billion dollar donation to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, were to fund a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy on one or more campuses for 10 to 20 consecutive years.

Don't give the money to me. Set up a competition and award it to universities who spend time reading this presentation and digging through my blog archives, then present a plan for engaging students and faculty in long-term learning that continues well past the years they graduate.

What might universities do differently to prepare leaders to lead needed youth, tutor, mentor and learning programs in high poverty areas that help youth to, and through, college and into careers. Or to train other alumni to support them as on-going  volunteers, advocates and donors?

Yesterday was a day of raising money for Illinois Wesleyan. I made a small donation. they raised a lot of money.  What if such a campaign were raising money each year for non-profits led by their alumni?

That was the idea that a University of Chicago Business School student worked on in 2006. 

Creating leaders who are constantly learning from peers and leaders who are consistently providing needed operating and innovation dollars, could be a degree program at any university. The on-going flow of student interns could come to nonprofits with greater preparation to contribute to the work being done, building on work done by previous interns.

Please share this widely.  As this slide shows, neighborhoods of concentrated poverty are spread throughout the USA.

Without a consistent, on-going, comprehensive effort, not much will change over the next 30 years for people living in areas of persistent poverty.  I've proposed a strategy that might make a difference.

I suspect that my presentation could be turned into a book, or could have an audio narration.  I hope some people will be interested in doing that.

Thank you to all of the faculty and students who have helped me since 1993. The work you did was really impressive and of great value.  

I especially want to thank Dr. Minor Myers, Jr., President of Illinois Wesleyan University from 1990 to 2003, for his constant encouragement.  

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

And, if you want to help me pay the bills and continue to maintain and share this resource, visit this page and make a contribution.

Monday, April 08, 2024

HOPE for the future.

I confess. I did not go out and watch today's Eclipse.  I did follow it on social media and in news reports. I wonder how many people drew inspiration and renewed hope for our planet and its living beings from watching the sun disappear behind the Moon, then reappear a few minutes later.

Is that a metaphor for the way the problems in the US and the world seem to be blotting out hope for the future? 

I was looking for inspiration for today's article and skimmed down the list of tags on the left side of this blog. I saw one for HOPE and opened it. I found this 2018 article, which I've re-posted below.

--- begin 2018 article - --

I've been building a web library for more than 20 years with links to articles that inspire me in my efforts, and hopefully help many others in their own work to create a better future for our kids.

The Connected Learning #clmooc group is one that I have followed since 2013. One of the ways members stay connected is by creating and sharing creative projects. I've hacked a few of these in the past (that's encouraged) so when I saw a Twitter post from Sarah Honneychurch yesterday, I saved it to my PC, then added some of my own ideas. See it below:

As we start another week I point to many places around the world, and the US, where people suffer for a variety of reasons.

View on Twitter

Here's Sarah's original, which she tagged with "AprilDoodle #ILLomo #Wish Upon A Star and #clmooc".  The "Wish" idea resonated with me, so I added a little color to the stars, and I pointed to some places around the world, and the US, where there's too many people suffering and where "HOPE" may be in short supply. 

Syria, Yemen, Sudan and  Mayamar are are among the places I've highlighted. I also point to racial and social justice issues, healing for planet Earth, and call for "peace in all conflict areas".

I ran out of stars to point to all the places where help is needed so included a graphic showing the United Nations' Global Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs.

It's not enough to "wish" for good things to happen and problems to be solved so I also included this "ENOUGH" graphic, which I've posted in this blog multiple times since the late 2000s.  Here's one post where I've put this into a video.

Thank you Sarah Honneychurch and  others in the #clmooc community who keep posting ideas that inspire me in my own efforts.

There's much to do.

---- end 2018 article ----

If I updated that graphic I'd add stars for Ukraine, Gaza/Israel, and parts of the USA where people seem to have lost their blasted minds as they pursue a religion-based government, fueled by money and self-interests of billionaires and the Russian government.

The eclipse only lasted for a few minutes, depending where you were (see this Space.com article). The troubles facing planet Earth and her living beings will last much longer, but if you have HOPE, you can believe that after the darkness, there will be light again.

But, we will need to work together to make that happen. 

Friday, April 05, 2024

More maps now in my archive

A couple of weeks ago I posted this article, showing map stories the Tutor/Mentor Connection created since 1994 to draw volunteers and donors to youth programs in high poverty areas of Chicago.  The graphic at the left is part of that collection. 

I've continued to aggregate maps from different files in the archive so I encourage you to take another look and see what's there.

While I received donated ESRI software in 1995 to use in making maps, I depended on interns from Northern Illinois University to set up my map-making capacity in our tutoring program office in Chicago.  Then, mostly depended on volunteers to make maps for me in following years since I could not find the money to hire someone with GIS expertise.

Then in 2007 an anonymous donor gave us $50,000 to build our map-making capacity.  Mike Traken joined us on a part time basis in January 2008 and made our maps until 2011 when, due to diminished funding, I was no longer able to keep him on staff.  

Yesterday I created a folder in my archive, showing maps Mike created, such as this one featuring the Illinois District 9 Legislative District.

The maps tell stories. This shows the level of poverty in the district and shows universities and hospitals with facilities in the district. Green stars on the maps show existing youth tutor and/or mentor programs in the area.  Hospitals, universities and businesses are assets who should be strategic in using their resources to help tutor/mentor programs grow, and help kids in those programs, and local schools, move through school and into jobs and careers.

Ideally there should be many more green stars in this district than what my map shows.  

Note, this map was made in 2008 or 2009. What would a map of that district look like now? 

This link will take you to the folder with maps that Mike created.  When you open it you'll see this screen.

Above the maps shown are 14 folders, each with maps related to that topic. Thus, the map of District 9 is in the "Political Leaders" folder, where you will find 9 other folders in addition to the one for District 9.  

Hopefully, these inspire you to make your own maps and map-stories to support the growth of needed services in Chicago or in other places.

I wrote an article in 2014 using these map-stories, with the headline of "Without Effective Leadership, Same Problems Will Continue".  

That's been my message since the 1990s.  

I wrote, "I can not find evidence that any leader, from any industry in the Chicago region, has devoted consistent advertising resources to draw attention to tutoring/mentoring, and to draw volunteers and operating dollars to programs throughout the city, or to programs near places where they do business, or where employees or customers live.

I can not find evidence that the current, or former mayor of Chicago, or any alderman, state elected official or county president, has led a weekly, yearly campaign, intended to draw needed volunteers, dollars and technology resources to the tutor/mentor programs operating in various Chicago neighborhoods. Even the occasional public declarations of support for Chicago's kids don't work like a Polk Bros ad to draw attention to tutor/mentor programs all over the city, and to motivate people to volunteer time, or give operating dollars, to support existing programs, or to help new programs start in neighborhoods with great need, but too few programs."

I think the Tutor/Mentor Connection offers a template that others can learn and build from. That's why I've been archiving all of my records.  Now I just need to find some wealthy visionary who will fund a program at a university, where these records are part of a study curriculum that prepares leaders to adopt the strategy in every city with high concentrations of persistent poverty.


Connect with me on Twitter (x), LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky and my blogs. (see links here).

And, if you're able, support my work with a small contribution. Visit this page and use the PayPal button.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

What You Can Do to End Poverty - 2005 Letter

I've been digitizing more of my archives for the past few months, and again today. I've been sharing some files, like these yearbooks, on social media. The result was 67,200 views of this blog in March 2024.

I did another batch today, which requires looking at old files and seeing if I should put them in my Google drive folder.  I found a letter I wrote in October, 2005, as a "Letter to the Editor" which I hoped the Chicago Tribune would publish.  I was going to post it here, but decided to look first, to see if I had posted it in 2005.

Yes. I did, on November 3, 2005.  So I'm going to share what I wrote then: 

---- start Nov. 2005 article ----

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, I attended a meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, where more than 200 people were given information that showed the "State of Latino Chicago". This highlighted the huge contribution Latinos are making to the Chicago area economy, and the need for more programs to help Latino youth move through school and into careers. On Nov. 2nd I attended a meeting at the Union League Club of Chicago where the No Child Left Behind law was discussed. At the same time a lunch was being held where others were focusing on ways to build better schools.

What these meetings had in common is that they were not connected to each other with an internet strategy that would have enabled participants from all three meetings to connect with each other, and with the speakers. They also did not have a strategy for engagement, that would increase the number of people personally involved in long-term efforts that help kids in poverty move to careers.

In September, people from the Connect for Kids group in Washington, DC helped me develop a letter to the editor that illustrated the role of tutoring/mentoring as a civic engagement strategy. I met Connect for Kids through internet networking and this is an example of what's possible when such networking is a strategic goal of people who host face-to-face meetings.

I sent my letter to the Chicago Tribune in mid October and it has not been published. So here it is for you to read:

What you can do to end Poverty, by Daniel F. Bassill

Alicia and Marquita were in elementary school when I first met them 15 years ago. They were normal kids, except they lived in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood of Chicago, where the role models and life experiences were anything but what normal kids in most parts of America grow up with. The Cabrini Green neighborhood has a high concentration of poverty, many people living on welfare, and strong street gang involvement. This is the neighborhood that shocked the nation in 1992 when 7-year old Dantrell Davis was shot and killed while walking to school. It’s a neighborhood where more than 40% of the kids drop out of high school before graduation, and where many who do graduate never move on to college and careers.

Today, Marquita has graduated from college and Alicia will do the same next year.

What happened to take these girls off the path toward poverty, and place them on a different path toward college and careers? The answer is simple, but powerful. They were able to participate in a comprehensive volunteer-based tutor/mentor program that connected them with adults who mentored them, helped with school work, talked about options and choices, and just plain cared. In elementary school they were able to participate in a program hosted by the Montgomery Ward Corporation in Chicago. After 6th grade they were able to transition to the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program, which has supported them for the past 12 years. This year they have become part of the adult tutor/mentor corps, and are now volunteering to help other Cabrini Green children move through school and into college then careers.

In the aftermath of Katrina, people in Chicago and across the nation are asking what we can do about poverty. I’m not a teacher by training and I don’t have special skills. I started mentoring a fourth grade boy living in Cabrini-Green in 1973 and became leader of a volunteer-based program in 1975. Thus I have 30 years of experience in recruiting volunteers and connecting them with inner-city kids. While I did not have much experience when I started, my understanding of the issues and my commitment to volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring has continued to grow with each passing year. I’ve learned the difference between being poor and being poor without hope.

I’ve also learned how tutoring/mentoring can be one of the best strategies for civic-engagement, workforce development and education reform. Long-term programs connect youth and adults from both sides of the economic and social divide in a long-term process of service and learning. This leads to a better understanding of poverty, and a stronger commitment to do what is needed to provide paths to hope and opportunity for kids who need extra support to succeed in school, move to college and find help in starting jobs and careers.

I would like every adult who is not living in poverty to become personally involved in helping build and sustain long-term tutor/mentor programs in every neighborhood where concentrated poverty is the largest obstacle to succeeding in school and moving to jobs and careers. That is how we are going to improve our schools, reduce youth violence, lower the costs of the juvenile justice system and meet the workforce needs of the 21st century.

The way to get everyone involved is for people from every walk of life – business, churches, hospitals and universities – to step up as leaders and make children living in low-wage families a priority. Businesses can use their intranets to provide information about where tutor/mentor programs are needed, and ways to contact existing programs. They can use their advertising to encourage employees and customers to volunteer in programs throughout the Chicago region. Universities can encourage their students to talk with local children about what college is like, and can develop research and teaching programs that connect students and alumni with training resources and tutor/mentor programs throughout the country. Every organization can use its website to publicize volunteer opportunities and to increase the number of people who are learning ways to become involved in tutor/mentor programs. The ways to take action are as endless as the numbers of children in need.

Such a leadership strategy needs to guide volunteers and donors to all neighborhoods where there are high concentrations of poverty, not just to the few brand name programs in highly visible neighborhoods. If we increase the number of people who are willing to commit time, talent and dollars to efforts that help end poverty, we will reduce dependency on government and build programs that last more than a few years.

No business would be successful if it advertised sometimes, and sometimes not. Children take a long time to grow up, and they will only be successful if adults like us get personally involved, stay involved, develop an understanding of poverty, and grow into leaders who bring in new volunteers to do the same. We’re building a system of support for this type of involvement. We call it the Tutor/Mentor Connection. You can find us and similar support networks that operate in other cities by using Internet search tools like www.Google.com .

By the time you read this, the media will probably be turning its attention away from poverty and to the next "hot" issue. But that doesn’t mean we have to turn our attention away from the children who need us.

---- end 2005 article ----

I'm pleased to report that in 2024 Alicia and Marquita are both doing well. I'm connected to them on Facebook, along with many other alumni from the tutor/mentor programs I led since 1975.  I'm seeing many now report on their own kids, or grandkids, finishing high school and college.  And, I'm seeing many starting new families.  

I found another letter in my files today. I wrote it to university contacts in 2008.  It included this paragraph, asking "What are all the things we need to do to assure that all youth in the city where your  university is located, or where your students and alumni live, are starting jobs/careers by age 25/"

You can read that full letter here.   

Imagine if students and faculty at various universities were looking at the documents in my archive, just as I am, and then were sharing them with others at their universities and where they alumni live and work.

Could we build a more consistent and innovative strategy to connect with kids and families in areas of persistent poverty with long-term support that helps them build jobs and careers so they can raise their own kids free of poverty?

I hope you'll share this and that another 65,000 people will view my article in April and every month after that.  Maybe that will increase the number who follow me on social media.

Maybe it will also increase the number who go to this page and make a contribution to help me continue collecting and sharing this information. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

What motivates me

If you've read any of the articles posted on this blog since 2005 you'll see that I'm constantly advocating for the growth of comprehensive, long-term, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs that operate in non-school hours and connect k-12 kids living in high poverty areas with adults who work in a wide range of industries and have many different backgrounds.

What drives this passion?  Experience.

I led one volunteer-based program from 1975 to 1992. It served 2nd to 6th grade kids. I led it as a volunteer while holding a full-time retail advertising job until 1990, then became the first paid executive director when we turned it into a non-profit organization in mid 1990.

Below are two of the yearbooks that I created for that program.

The first if the 1976-77 yearbook.   View at this link. About 100 pairs of kids and volunteers were involved.

The second is the 1988-89 yearbook.  View at this link.  Over 280 2nd to 6th grade kids and 300 workplace volunteers were involved that year. 

When I joined as a volunteer tutor in 1973 the program was already eight-years-old.  I became its leader in the 10th year.  We grew over the next 15 years because of the organization I brought to the program and the way we engaged volunteers as leaders, not just tutors and mentors.  

I left that program in October 1992 and with the help of six other volunteers we formed a new program, called Cabrini Connections, to help kids who aged out of the first program after 6th grade have continued support all the way through high school.

Below is the 1994-1995 annual report for Cabrini Connections. View at this link

Below is the annual report for 2008-09.  We stopped doing print versions around 2000 and did PPT reports through 2010.  Here is the link.

Here's a folder with Cabrini Connections-Tutor/Mentor Connection Annual Reports from 1995 to 2010. Each report shows the activities that we offered to support student and volunteer involvement.  If you lead a program you might duplicate some of this work in your own program.

We held the first sessions of the Cabrini Connections program in January 1993, meeting with some teens monthly at Wells High School and others every Saturday morning at St. Joseph's Church on the North side of Cabrini-Green.  We were reaching 42 kids by June of 1993.

Then in the fall of 1993 Montgomery Ward gave us an entire floor of their corporate tower, over 20,000 sq ft of space, and we began expanding. 

If you view page 6 of the 1994-95 annual report you'll see how the number of students enrolled grew from 42 in June 1993 to 90 in the fall of 1995.  Page 7 of the report shows similar growth in the number of volunteers, from 30 in spring 1993 to 103 in the fall of 1995.

By 1998 our graduating class of high school seniors included five teens.  In 1999 it was nine. Thus the size of the program did not grow much since seniors were graduating each spring. 

In 1999 everything changed. Montgomery Ward was sold and we had to move to rented space in Cabrini Green to continue operating.  We lost Wards as our major donor in 2000 after they went out of business. And we lost many more donors in 2001 and 2002 due to the financial crisis after the 9/11 attack and the Dot-Com melt-down. 

Our move to rented space meant we had a much smaller facility for two years. Then we moved to a bit larger space on Huron, near the intersection of Halsted and Chicago Avenue. Our average enrollment from 2000 to 2010 remained at about 80 teens and 100 volunteers.   Open this PDF and see photos showing the 10 years from 1993 to 2003. 

In 2010, I created a report showing a decade of work. On page 10, I show HS graduates each year from 1997 to 2010. View that report at this link

We did all of this while also building the Tutor/Mentor Connection, to help similar  programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago. 

In November 1992 when we decided to form Cabrini Connections we realized that one more small non profit could be life changing for a few teens, but would have little impact on the more than 200,000 kids living in high poverty areas of Chicago. So we decided to split our resources and create an intermediary that could help tutor/mentor programs grow in many places.  We spent all of 1993 doing research and planning and launched in January 1994 with our first survey to learn about other tutor/mentor programs in the city and suburbs.  That led to our first published Directory of Programs and first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1994, and first citywide Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign in August/September 1995.

In each of the annual reports from 1995 through 2010 you can see work done to help tutor/mentor programs, including our own, get the resources they need.  If  you look through the articles I've tagged with "history" and "archives" you can see more evidence of what we were doing.

Then browse through the sections of www.tutormentorexchange.net and see everything that is available to help tutor/mentor programs start and grow and to help leaders be more consistent and strategic in supporting them.  

I often said that I was an effective leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection because I also led a single tutor/mentor program. I knew how hard it was to attract kids and volunteers and keep them coming week-to-week and year-to-year. I knew how difficult and frustrating it was to attract and keep donors.  

Yet I've often heard from parents and alumni how important our program was to them.  I often heard from people in other places how much they appreciated what the Tutor/Mentor Connection was doing.

In all these years I've really only had one mentee, which was Leo Hall, who I was matched with in the fall of 1973, when he was entering 4th grade. We met weekly during the school year for the  next 3 years.  After 6th grade Leo continued to volunteer to help the program as one of the Junior Assistants who passed out milk and coffee. So we stayed connected.

I did not take another single youth as a mentee because as leader of the program, they ALL were my mentees.

I received a call from Leo this morning. He spotted a scam on Instagram, where someone had set up a duplicate account, using my profile picture. I reported it, and so did a couple of other people and that account has been removed.  I'm at https://www.instagram.com/danielf.bassill/ on Instagram. 

As we talked Leo told me to expect a call from an event organizer who was putting together his 60th birthday celebration. He wanted me to be there, or to record a video, if I could not be there.

Thus, my own experiences leading a single tutor/mentor program drive my passion and make me a credible advocate for cities building and sustaining  volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

The other thing driving my work is this front page from the October 15, 1992 Chicago SunTimes, following the shooting death of a 7-year-old boy in Cabrini Green.   The headline says "7-Year-Old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".

If you open this folder you'll see many similar stories that I've collected over the past 30 years. They "Demand Action" but very few follow that with the type of on-going effort I have modeled.

Which is not enough.

As I talked to Leo today I again encourage him to use his own talents to amplify my "call to action" and to encourage other alumni to do the same.  As I write my blog articles I encourage you to share them and get other people involved.

Be like Dan.

You can't just say "ENOUGH". 

You need to act regularly to draw people to information they can use to be better informed and to be motivated to use their time, talent, dollars and votes to build and sustain volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in more places and to help remove the structural racism that has roots extending back over 300 years in America.

I think I've written enough for today.  Please connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms and share my posts with your network.  

And, if you can spare a dime, please visit this page and make a contribution to help me keep these archives and my library available to you and others. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Learn more about Poverty in America

Last May I posted an article with the headline, "Poverty in America. Why so Much?"   I pointed to a presentation by Matt Desmond, and encouraged readers to watch it.

Today on Twitter (X) Matt Desmond shared a slide presentation that people can use as a study guide to understand poverty and take actions to reduce it.  Here's the website where you can download the presentation. 

Below is a slide from the PDF version. (scroll down to bottom of home page to find "Teaching Resources".

There are a lot of slides, with great visualizations, and each chapter has questions that can be used to stimulate discussion in learning groups.  

The only thing missing from this is a chapter on social capital and ways volunteer involvement in on-going tutor/mentor programs can increase the number of people motivated to spend time reading Desmond's book and sharing these slides with their network.

Below is a concept map that shows the birth-to-work timeline.

Look at the text box in the lower left corner, showing the role volunteers in tutor/mentor programs might take.  Desmond's book mostly focuses on policy and what voters can do to reduce poverty. I'd like to see a chapter showing the support that needs to be made available, at each grade level, to every youth living in a high poverty area, and what policy, philanthropy and business involvement can do to make these supports available in more places. 

Here's another concept map showing growth of volunteers who are well-supported in on-going volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs. 

I show this graphic in this blog article. I also show how interns created to animated versions of this graphic more than 14  years ago.  It takes an intentional effort for leaders in volunteer-based programs to educate volunteers on this issue. It take consistent, flexible funding from donors for programs to hire and retain staff who do this well, and to make long-term, mentor-rich programs available in more places.

It takes network-building, like I keep repeating with this graphic.  

Unless more people become personally involved, and get friends, family, co-workers and their professional networks involved, and stay involved for decades, we'll still see "poverty books" 20 years from now, with little change from today, or 30 years ago.

This is EASTER week. Millions around the world will be celebrating.   

I've posted EASTER week articles almost every year. Here's one from 2018 which has a link to a PDF presentation with the maps shown above.  

I've been preaching this message for 30 years.  This blog and my website could be additional resources to people trying to understand the issues and solve such a complex problem.

However, too few have ever seen what I'm writing. You can change that if you share my blog articles and create your own versions to communicate these ideas.

Imagine a strategy in faith communities that engaged their congregations in an on-going study of poverty, using resources such as Matt Desmond's study guide and book.  What if they created maps showing which of their congregations had such study groups in place?  

I found Matt Desmond's post on Twitter (X). That's why I still use the platform. I'm also using many others. Find the links on this page.

Thanks for reading this article.  If you want to help me continue this work, please visit this page and make a contribution.  

Friday, March 22, 2024

Using maps to draw attention and resources to high poverty areas

This week I watched two panel discussions hosted by Friends of the Children - Chicago.  One is shown below. You can find the second at this link.


Friends of the Children has a long-term model of supporting kids from first grade through high school.  In these videos the speakers make a case for why volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed in areas with many indicators of need, such as high poverty, violence, poorly performing schools, etc. 

I've used graphics like the one below to emphasize the need for long-term programs in high poverty areas of Chicago, so I'd like to see more programs who build such support for kids into their core strategies.  

What I did not see in the videos was anyone holding up a map of Chicago, saying "We need programs like this in every high poverty neighborhood, not just a few."

I've been using maps since 1994 to show where tutor/mentor programs are most needed, and where existing programs were already operating. I've also used them as part of a "Rest of the Story" public awareness strategy.  Below is an example.

This map-story was created in 1996 following a feature story in the Chicago SunTimes with a headline of "Slain children mourned: 'When will this end?"  My strategy was to leverage the public attention of the news report to show the areas where the shooting took place, and to show any tutor/mentor programs in the area (if there were any).  In creating these maps, we also showed "assets", businesses, faith groups, hospitals, universities, etc, who shared the area, and who should be strategic in helping tutor/mentor programs grow near where they do business.  

Unfortunately, we did not have the Internet available in the 1990s so few people actually saw these map stories.  I've been sharing them on this blog and the MappingforJustice blog since 2008. 

Over the past two weeks I've posted several articles showing some of my archives.  Now you can look at two more sections.

This folder includes more than 90 map stories created since the 1990s. 

This folder is even larger.  It contains more than 600 maps and images, mostly created since 2008, which I've used in blog articles, strategy presentations and newsletters.  

Not all of the images in this folder were created by myself, or the volunteers and paid part-time staff, who created maps for me.  Some are screenshots from other websites that we used in stories on one of our blogs.  Some are images of work done in 2008-10 to build the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator Directory (which has been an archive since 2018). 

By sharing these archives I hope to serve as a resource for students and learners throughout the USA and the world, to demonstrate strategies for helping draw attention to places where the people and the planet need extra help, and extra, on-going, long-term, resources.

Between 2006 and 2015 interns from various universities in Chicago and South Korea spent time looking at articles on my blog and website, then created their own visualizations sharing what they were learning with people they know.  You can see their work on this page

My goal is to inspire a donor to make a major gift to a university that would fund a Tutor/Mentor Connection study program, where students do similar research and build a similar library of media stories and maps.

Imagine finding an archive like mine on a university website 10 to 15 years from now.

The graphic below visualizes my goal. Universities could be creating future social problem solving leaders who are constantly learning from each other and constantly feeding their own experiences into central depositories of wisdom.  

This blog article describes this as a "Tipping Point", because it not only grows a new cadre of leaders who use AI and other tools to aggregate information and draw from these libraries to support their own work, but also educates alumni who go into business and professions, rather than social service, to be proactive, on-going, and generous in supporting those who do go into social service work.

Since the 1990s, I've been building a library of information to support what people do to help kids in high poverty areas connect with adult tutors, mentors, learning opportunities and jobs.  The concept map below shows that library.

The challenge with such a growing amount of information is motivating people to spend time looking at it, and using it to support what they do to help themselves and their family, and to help others create a better future for all of us.

Thanks for reading. And thanks for sharing.

I'm on Twitter (X), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and a few other platforms (see links here). I hope you'll connect with me.

If you'd like to help me pay the bills, please visit this page and make a contribution.  

I'm not a 501-c-3 nonprofit, so cannot offer you a tax deduction, but can promise to use your contribution to keep this library of ideas freely available to you and the world.