Sunday, January 28, 2024

Visual Essays Created Since 1990s

In 1990s I started using desktop publishing to create visual essays showing the strategies of the tutor/mentor program I was leading and of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

I began putting these on the website in 2000 and have added to my list, and updated my presentations, on a regular basis since then.  

In 2011 I started sharing these on platforms like and, as PDFs, so I could track visit counts.  I updated most of these in late 2023.  

I'm sorry to say that since these sites no longer are FREE they fill my presentations with advertising, which, unless you are a paid subscriber, makes them difficult to read.

Thus, over the past few days I've set up a new page to share PDFs that I host on my Google drive. You can view some on this page 

I hope you find these easier to view and that you'll apply the ideas to helping kids in Chicago and other cities.  The only way I'll know they are being read is if you post them on social media and if you make a contribution to support the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Use the PayPal on this page and leave a comment, such as "I love the visual essays!".  

Monday, January 22, 2024

30 Years Later. New Year. Same Goals.

On the lower left side of this blog you can see a list of years that I've written this blog, starting in 2005. This shows articles written each month, of each year. Thus, you could look at January in past years and find reflections that I've posted, like this one that says "What the heck am I trying to do?"

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program from 1975 to mid 1992 (while holding full time retail advertising management roles with the Montgomery Ward corporation), which connected 2nd to 6th grade kids from the Cabrini-Green homes with volunteers from Montgomery Ward's corporate headquarters and many other Chicago companies.

We created Cabrini Connections as a strategy to help kids who aged out of the first program after 6th grade have support through high school.

We launched the Cabrini Connections program in January 1993, meeting with 5 teens and 7 volunteers on Saturday mornings in the day room of St. Joseph's Church on North Orleans Street in Chicago.   Our volunteers had backgrounds in video production so our weekly activities centered around improvisation, as a form of relationship-building.

At the same time we started meeting at Wells High School with a small group of high school students who had been part of the first program. 

In July 1993 Montgomery Ward donated space in its corporate office tower for us to operate, and we moved the program there, meeting on Thursday evenings.  That first year we recruited 30 teens. Each year after that we added more 7th and 8th graders until by 1998 we were serving close to 90 teens with over 100 volunteers.  Due to available space, we never grew larger than that over the next 12 years.  I left the program in 2011 and sadly, it is no longer operating.

Last week I received a message from one of the teens who joined us in 1993.  She said, "y'all help me grow in so many ways so I want to say thank y'all for being a great team helping us out in the neighborhood."  

I've received variations of this comment consistently over the past 10 years as I've connected to a growing number of alumni on Facebook who were in elementary school in the 1970s and 1980s and were in middle school and high school in the 1990s and are now adults raising their own kids.

These are an affirmation of the importance of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and why I start each January with a new commitment to help such programs grow in more places. 

When I first started leading the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward in 1975 one of the Vice President's said "Dan, you don't know  much about leading a tutor/mentor program. Why don't you find others in Chicago who already lead programs and invite them to lunch. See what you can learn from them."

That began 17 years of informal leadership in building a network of Chicago tutor/mentor programs and drawing them together to share ideas and work jointly in training volunteers.  It's probably one of the main reasons I stayed involved for as long as I did.

Then, in October 1992, after I left the original program (read The Tutor/Mentor Business, by Sara Coover Caldwell), and was working with a small group of volunteers to determine a next step, a 7-year-old boy named Dantrell Davis was shot and killed on his way to school.  The front page of the Chicago Sun-Times had an editorial demanding action.

This inspired me to create the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

From my previous years of networking with Chicago programs I realized that no one was keeping a master list of all the different volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs in Chicago, thus, no one, other than myself, could invite programs to gather regularly.

From my retail advertising career at Montgomery Ward I had learned how the company used weekly advertising to draw millions of potential customers to our 400 stores, spread across 40 states.

I saw a pattern in which media would occasionally give featured attention, and anger, to a tragic shooting, or a poorly performing school, or a street gang, but that the story only focused on one neighborhood of Chicago, and seldom included a "call to action", motivating readers to support existing youth programs in that neighborhood, and all others in the city,  as volunteers or donors.

And, then, those stories went away after a few days, replaced by other stories.   My advertising career taught me that you need to keep your story repeating over-and-over, to reach more people, and to have a frequency that would capture readers attention, and ultimately motivate action.

None of this was happening in Chicago.  So we spent 1993 planning a strategy that we launched in January 1994 as the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

You can read the 1994 Tutor/Mentor Connection Case Statement at this link.

Each year between 1993 and 2011 I used part of the money we raised to support our own Cabrini Connections program. And I used part to build a library of Chicago tutor/mentor programs and lead efforts intended to help each program (including our own) get more consistent attention and a better flow of volunteers and dollars, while sharing ideas that each could use to constantly improve based on what they learned from their own work, and what they learned from others.

While initially we published our list of programs in a printed Directory, and shared ideas via a quarterly printed newsletter, one of our volunteers built our first website in 1998 and by 2000 we had moved our library and list of programs on-line.  That was a needed strategy as we did not have the money to continue our print newsletter strategy and needed to reach more people than the 10-12,000 we were sending that newsletter to.  

This concept map shows highlights of the Tutor/Mentor Connection's growth.   

In mid 2011 after I left the Cabrini Connections program (long story) I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection available to Chicago and to try to help similar intermediaries grow in other cities.

If you read some of my past January articles you'll find more details of what I've been trying to do and the challenges I've faced to do it as well as is needed.    Here are some other articles that show my 30 year history. 

So as we enter 2024, Chicago and other cities still have areas of concentrated poverty and youth in these neighborhoods attend poorly resource schools and a influenced by too few people modeling a wide range of career opportunities and expectations and too many who model negative habits.

Chicago still needs a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy (even if it's not led by me, or called the Tutor/Mentor Connection). So do other cities.  So I continue doing what I do with whatever resources I can find, just as I started doing in 1993.

Will you help me?

Read some of my past articles, like these about forming a new Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Share my articles with your network.

Help me find a benefactor and/university that will take ownership of my archives and this strategy and teach leaders to do what I've been doing for the past 30 years.

Make a contribution to help me pay the bills. Click here 

Thank you for reading and if you made a contribution in 2023, thank you for continuing to support my efforts.

Monday, January 15, 2024

What if Dr. King, Jr. Followers Had Applied Spatial Thinking?

Today our social media posts will be filled with quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many will call for actions that make his dreams a reality.  I've posted many article that focus on this. I hope you'll read them.

As you do, ask the question that I show in the graphic below. "What will it take to assure that all youth born, or living in high poverty, are entering careers by age 25?"

As you ponder this question, focus on spatial thinking.

What are all the places where kids need help?  You'll need to use maps to show all those places.  This concept map shows data maps you can use.

Think of the 20 to 25 or 30 years support that is needed to help a single youth from birth to work, and all the help which is needed. This concept map visualizes the long-term support kids need and the type of support they need at each age level.  Using maps, visualize all the places this 20-30 years of support is needed.

Then, think about all you need to know, and do, to be able to figure this out.  The four sections of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library, shown on this concept map, include resources you can draw from.

This blog has more than 1000 articles, posed since 2005, that focus on this question.  You can see my library of concept maps on this page.  Create your own versions, focused on your city or state. 

As I write this, I realize that over the past 60 years millions of dollars have been spent and countless hours of service have been contributed to make the Dr. King, Jr. vision a reality.

But we're not there yet so "How can we do this better?"   In the current political atmosphere, we might even be regressing.

As I researched ideas for this article I asked, "How often have I used the term 'spatial thinking'.  So I did a search and found these articles.  Surprisingly, there are only four (five now, counting this one), starting with this one posted in 2005, where the headline was "Jon Bon Jovi and Polo Ralph Lauren want to make volunteerism 'hip'.  New Operating System Needed".

I hope you'll read each of these.  

When I say I was surprised by finding only four articles using the term 'spatial thinking' that's because I've posted nearly 280 articles using maps.  There are another 88 articles which I've tagged with "concept maps" although I've used concept maps in more than that.

In another of my four spatial thinking articles I included the graphic shown below.

This article is also included among six that I've tagged "tipping point", meaning "A critical moment in a complex situation in which a small influence or development produces a sudden large or irreversible change."

Imagine if over the past 60 years a few billionaires had invested in education systems that not only connected kids and volunteer tutors and mentors, and helped those kids through school and into adult lives, but also pointed them to information in libraries like mine, with the goal of creating more leaders who think spatially and apply maps and systems thinking, to building needed support systems in every place where they are needed.

Such a system would also grow more people (starting in elementary school) who were spatial and systems thinkers who would volunteer time, talent and dollars to consistently support those programs for many years, until we really could say we've climbed the mountain and achieved the dream.

Imagine that being a degree program at one, or many, universities.

Thank you for reading and for your service.   

Please connect with me on one or more social media platforms (see links here) and share your own ideas, or share my posts with your network.

Thank you also to the small group of donors who made contributions in 2023 to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  Please continue in 2024.

Visit this page and use the PayPal to send your support.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Copy this idea! Support Tutor/Mentor Programs.

I started building a list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs in the mid 1970s as I was looking for ideas to help me lead my own program.  When I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I formalized this process and began to build a list of all Chicago volunteer-based, youth tutor, mentor and learning programs. I shared this information via a printed directory until 2004 when we put our list in an interactive, on-line portal.  

I created the graphic shown above around 2011 to show what we were trying to do with our mapping tools and what we still wanted to do, which was create a portal that enabled donors to find and fund programs included in our database.  I describe this goal on this wiki page and in this article.

I've not been able to do this, and have not seen anyone in the non-profit sector doing work like this since the mid 2000s.

In the past year I've found an innovator in my social media accounts who is modeling what I have wanted to build.  His name is Charles Gaba and he hosts a website called where he is raising money for Democrat candidates at the Federal and state level.

Here's what you will find on the site.

This collection of photos show 42 Democrats running for seats in the House of Representatives. He's focusing on competitive races, where if enough Democrats win, they regain control of the House.  Below the collection of photos is a line that says "Act Blue Link: US House Races"

Click on that link and the screen shown below will open.

You can make one donation, which will be split evenly across all races listed, or you can pick choose who to donate to using the "Customize Amounts" option.  

Below is the "about" page on the website showing that he raised over $6 million in the 2020 Presidential cycle and another $1.3 million in the 2022 cycle.  He receives nothing.  This also shows that you can find donation pages for the U.S. Senate, Statewide Executives, State House and State Senate races.  

Building and constantly updating the website as new candidates enter the race, or some drop out, is a huge task and it's not Charles Gaba's full time job.  Read his introduction on this page.

What makes this special is that Charles Gaba posts daily on several different social media platforms, like the example I show below, which you can see here on Mastodon.Social.

I've written articles about the 4-Part Strategy
that I piloted in 1993 and have followed since then. Step 1 is collecting information (which Charles is doing). Step 2 is trying to get people to find and use the information, which Charles does daily.

Duplicate this to support youth-serving organizations.

So what if during next week's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service or January's National Mentoring Month celebrations, a group of technologists decided to duplicate this, creating a platform that could raise money for tutor/mentor programs in every city and state.  Then, once the platform is created, it could be championed by all sorts of people, with social media posts, newspaper and TV stories, one-on-one conversations, etc......all aimed at increasing funding for youth serving organizations throughout geographic areas.

While I focus this idea on helping youth serving organizations gain more consistent funding, the idea can apply to supporting any category of social and environmental benefit organization.  If a platform were built using open source technology it could be duplicated in many places without the need to start from scratch.

If we want to help high quality, mentor-rich, long-term, youth programs reach k-12  youth in every high poverty area of Chicago we must fix how programs are funded.  Building a platform like might be one way to help.

You can support Democratic candidates by using your own social media to either boost posts by Charles Gaba, or to create your own posts, pointing to the Blue24.0rg website.

If you build a platform that raises money for youth serving organizations, please share the link so I can boost your efforts.  If you already host such a platform, let's hear from you.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 based upon my own frustration about finding funding for the youth program I led.  

Now that I'm operating as Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC I've found it much more difficult to fund my work. Yet, I've been able to raise a small pool of dollars to help me keep the site available, along with this blog and my monthly newsletter and social media efforts.

Thank you to those who make contributions in 2023. Please repeat in 2024. If you were not able to support me last year, please renew your support this year.

Visit this page to send a contribution. 

Thursday, January 04, 2024

National Mentoring Month

Below is a photo from 2001 when the US Post Office issued a mentoring stamp to help celebrate and draw attention to mentoring in America.  My organization (Tutor/Mentor Connection, 1993-present) introduced it during the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago, which I began hosting in May 1994 and continued hosting every six months until May 2015.

The conference was part of an on-going effort to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs reach K-12 kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places and help those kids through school and into jobs and careers, with the help of adults they met through these programs.

I began my volunteer involvement in 1973 when I joined the tutoring program at the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago. I was matched with a 4th grade boy named Leo and we met every Tuesday after my work day ended.  We're still connected over 50 years later!

During mentoring month much of the focus will be on the "act" of mentoring, which could be workplace mentoring and could be mentoring of youth with disabilities.  

I want that to expand to focus on the infrastructure of mentoring.  I demonstrate this below.

I created the graphic below several years ago to visualize the many different reasons mentoring and/or tutoring are needed and the different types of organized programs needed to meet each category.

Below is an another graphic, showing this information in a different way.

I've posted several articles in the past few years (here, here and here) talking about building a "segmented understanding" of what types of mentoring and tutoring are needed based on "who" is being mentored.  During National Mentoring Month I urge you to read some of these.  

While the above graphics visualize the different needs of youth in America, they don't show where these kids live and/or where organized tutor/mentor programs are most needed.  I've been trying to use GIS maps since 1994 to do this.  Below is a concept map that shows my history of using maps.

Between 1993 and 2010 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was able to collect and maintain information about organized volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, which could be sorted by type of program (pure mentoring, tutor/mentor, pure tutoring), age group served (elementary, middle school, high school), time of day (school day, after school, evening/weekend), and location.

While we shared this information in a printed directory from 1994 to 2003 that rarely reached more than 1000 organizations (non profits, foundations, media, political, universities, etc.)  In 2004 a program locator was created that made this information available to the world. In 2008 a map-based program locator (shown above) was created that had the same search features as the 2004 program locator, but reversed the process, starting with a map of the Chicago region, then enabling a process of searching for programs and program supporters in specific zip codes, community areas or neighborhoods.

Visit this page to learn about our efforts to build the program locator and to find ideas for building your own version. 

Unfortunately, I've not been able to raise money or find partners since 2011 to systematically collect and segment information about Chicago programs or maintain the program locator directories. They are now only available as archives.  

That brings me back to National Mentoring Month.  

While most efforts will focus on the act of mentoring I hope leaders will step forward to build Tutor/Mentor Connection-type learning programs at one, or more universities in  Chicago and other urban areas, where students will duplicate the work my organization did from 1994 to 2010 and what I've tried to continue since then, through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

I urge leaders to build a segmented understanding that not only shows what types of programs are needed and where they are most needed, but shows what programs already operate in these areas and are constantly searching for volunteers and donors.  Here's another page that shows uses of geographic information systems and data. 

Use this blog, the MappingforJustice blog and the website as a text book to build your understanding of what a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy might be and how you might build it as part of a degree program on a college campus. 

Share what you are learning through your own blog articles and on social media so others can learn from you, just as I've been sharing so you can learn from me.  

Thanks for reading.  I hope you'll share this article with your network and connect with me on social media platforms (find links here). 

Finally, I want to give a special thank you to those who sent contributions in 2023 and in previous years to help me continue to do this work.  Please continue in 2024 and help me find a benefactor who will bring this strategy into a university. 

Visit this page to make a 2024 contribution. 

Monday, January 01, 2024

Happy New Year!

 Welcome to 2024 and Steamboat Willie, which is now part of the public domain (read more here). 

I hope during the coming year and beyond that Steamboat Willie will guide you through sections of the website and my blogs and that you'll use the ideas I share to help create mentor-rich paths to the future and to opportunities for kids now living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places. 

Happy New  Year. Let the journey begin!