Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Opportunity for All? Involvement of More.

Last week I posted some maps created from an interactive dashboard built by the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) that enable you to zoom into different places in America to see, at the census tract level, where poverty persists.  

Today they released another dashboard, showing where economic prosperity is more prevalent, and where distressed communities are located.   The poverty rate is part of this index, but other factors are also included. Read about the DCI on this page

Below is one view of that dashboard.

Here is a second view, this time centering on the Chicago region, where I've worked for the past 30 years to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow.

This map shows that there are many places in the Chicago region and Northwest Indiana that have distressed communities. So do other cities surrounding Lake Michigan, such as Milwaukee and Kenosha, Wisconsin, Waukegan, Illinois, Benton Harbor and cities further East.

To help you understand the data shown on this map, read some of the stories shared on the platform.  This one, titled "Economic inequality often divides neighboring communities", is especially relevant. It shows how communities, like the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, have a huge variation in economic well-being.  If you zoom into the Chicago region, or other big cities, you'll see the same pattern.

Since I began serving as a volunteer tutor/mentor in 1973 I've been building a library of articles to help me understand why tutor/mentor programs were needed and where. Over the past 25 years I've accelerated that information collection, building a wide range of articles about race, poverty, inequality and social justice.  

I use this concept map to point to the various sections of my library where I share these links.

When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 our mission was   

"to gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region."

 On the mission page of my website I show that


On the strategy page I show this concept map, outlining four concurrent strategies. 

I created this graphic many years ago to show the intermediary role the Tutor/Mentor Connection has taken since 1993 and that I've tried to continue via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since 2011.

The information I share can be used by anyone in any part of the country to help people living in distressed communities move toward economic prosperity. It can be used to understand our long history of racism and inequality and current threats to democracy and freedom.  It can be used to draw people from all sectors into conversations and learning that leads to problem solving and solutions.

Using the EIG map anyone can create a different version of my graphic, replacing the Chicago region with their own part of the country.  Anyone can build a library showing local issues and link to my library showing a broader range of information (and in my library I point to many websites which themselves are extensive libraries).

So why aren't more people involved solving these problems?  Maybe one reason is that too many people don't want them to be solved, for their own self interests or political/religious beliefs.

I'm sure a major reason is that there are so many other competing issues, and most people struggle with their own personal well-being and that of their own families.

Maybe another is that most people don't live in distressed areas. These are not their problems, or their daily lived experience.  The map views below illustrate this point.

This is a view of the EIG dashboard showing persistent poverty by census tract.

If you look at the map from this view, you can hardly see the persistent poverty areas around Lake Michigan or in Ohio.  You need to zoom in to see high poverty areas around Lake Michigan.

However, these are small islands in an ocean of opportunity.  Unless you live near, or in, one of the shaded areas on the map, this is not your lived experience. You only understand the problem from what you read in the news, or on social media, which is often a very biased point-of-view.

3-7-2024 update - Here's an article using the EIG dashboard to show patterns of neighborhood distress in US metros

The reason I support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs is that they not only can offer life-changing opportunities for kids lucky enough to participate in an organized program, but they draw people from beyond poverty into a shared experience with kids and families who do live in these areas.

I created this concept map to show how volunteers who are well-supported, and stay involved for multiple years, begin to learn more about the challenges facing youth and families, and in some cases, become willing to do more to try to help remove those challenges. 

I did not have the library of information that I now host 49 years ago when I began leading a tutor/mentor program.  In fact, I did not begin to intentionally collect race-poverty information until the mid 1990s.  Initially, I focused on the benefits of being part of a tutor/mentor program as "diversity training".  

Here's an article from page 2 of my January-February 1997 T/MC Report newsletter report that shows how "One-on-one tutor/mentor programs offer the best diversity training program any company might invest in." (It's always embarrassing to find typos in past articles that I wrote. Ugh.)

As we built the Tutor/Mentor library in the 1990s and 2000s we began sharing the information with our students and volunteers, encouraging them to use the learning resources to help students succeed in school and to help volunteers understand the history of slavery and racism and the continued challenges faced by people who live in areas of concentrated poverty, which are the areas highlighted on the EIG dashboards.

I've been singing this song for a long time as the 1997 T/MC Report newsletter shows.  Here's a more recent article, posted in 2015.  It includes the graphic shown below.

I highlighted the part that reads "We can give ourselves a cozy feeling of cheaply acquired nobility by apologizing for past injustices. Or we can stop patting ourselves on the back and cross the tracks to the other side of town to take small, concrete, unglamorous steps to end present-day suffering."

This was written in 1997 following the President's Summit for America's Future, hosted by President Clinton and every other living President, to focus on improving the lives of the 14 million youth living in poverty in America.

One last graphic.  Take the YOU role and share this information.  Do what I've been doing.

I've written this blog since 2005.  I've shared this information on websites since around 1998.  I shared via print newsletters from 1993 to 2003 and email newsletters from the early 2000s till today. I've posted regularly on social media.  

All to motivate more people to "cross the tracks" and "take small, concrete steps" that would help kids living in areas of concentrated, persistent poverty have mentor-rich pathways from birth-to-work.

If thousands of people in Chicago and other cities had shared this information as often over the past 25 years, and with their own creativity, perhaps there would be fewer areas of distressed communities and/or persistent poverty.  Maybe we would be closer to solving some of the other problems buried in our history as a nation.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing.  Please spend time reading other articles on this blog.  Help me find leaders who will carry this work forward in future years. 

Find me on Twitter (X), LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon and other platforms (see links here).

I don't have a salary for doing this work (since 2011). So if you want to help, visit this page and make a small contribution.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Athletes Adopt-A-Neighborhood Vision

I've been digitizing my files over the past couple of years and the big questions are "Who will look at these?" and "Who will take ownership, preserve, share and teach from these after I die?"  

One answer to the first question is "ME".  In looking at conversations and vision statements from the past I remind myself of what I've been trying to do and gain new ways of sharing messages that too few ever saw in the past.

Here's an example.  

In the 1990s a group of retired professional athletes was trying to set up a social enterprise where they would raise money by selling branded apparel and use that money to fund causes they supported. 

I told them of my vision of athletes using their visibility to draw attention and resources to youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in every high poverty area of Chicago. During one meeting they told me they were holding a golf outing and that other athletes would be participating.  I asked them if they would present my Adopt-a-Neighborhood idea and have athletes sign their name on a map showing high poverty areas of Chicago, to indicate their support for the concept.  

They did. That map is shown below.

The map was signed by Carlton Fisk, Tim Fisher, Steve Avery, Darryl Ingram, Jim Miller, Robyn Earl, Jason Herter, Otis Wilson, "J Peterman" - Sinfield, George Foster and Emery Morehead.  As noted on the map, signing this indicated support for the concept, but not a commitment to "adopt" a neighborhood and participate in the program. 

I've shared this graphic in several of my sports-focused blog articles, but without a lot of background information.  Today as I was looking at my digital library I saw this map and opened this PDF, created in 2011, which provides more detail on what I was hoping the Adopt-A-Neighborhood program would become.

Unfortunately, the group of athletes who had approached me never got their business off the ground and no one has ever provided the leadership and money to make this Adopt-a-Neighborhood idea a reality.

What if?  What if it had been adopted by a local sports team and if a year-end event for the past 20 years had featured high profile athletes and celebrities boasting about what they did to draw volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs in the neighborhood they had adopted.  What if there were a library, like my T/MI Theater page, showing athletes describing what they had done to support their adopted neighborhood for the previous year?

I think there would be a lot more comprehensive, long-term, mentor-rich youth programs spread throughout Chicago and other cities, and more kids would now be adults talking of how these programs had helped them through school and into jobs and adult lives.

I keep posting information about persistent poverty in America that shows the need to expand networks of support for youth and families in these places, so as we head further into 2024 and beyond, there's still a need for athletes and celebrities in every major city to adopt this idea.

I keep sharing ideas of what athletes and celebrities can do beyond what they already are doing.

So I encourage you to share this "Adopt-a-Neighborhood" idea.  Start a conversation. There are plenty of athletes and celebrities doing great work, yet I don't see any with a map saying "great work needs to reach every high poverty area of my city" and "I can't do it all myself."

Maybe one or two will adopt this as their "game plan" for making the world a better place.

I'm on social media so please connect with me on Twitter (X), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon, BlueSky and/or Threads. See links here.

My Fund T/MI page is at this link.  If you value what I'm sharing please make a contribution to support my efforts. 

PS: I've not found an answer yet for the second question I started this article with.  

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Locating places with persistent poverty

My Twitter feed brought a new report to my attention this week. It's titled "Persistently poor, left-behind and chronically disconnected" and was written by Kenan Fikri who I've been following for a while.  (I'll use Persistent Poverty to refer to this report in the rest of this article.)

The map below was what caught my attention.  It shows areas of concentrated poverty in six Ohio cities.

I wrote about this on the Mapping For Justice blog a few days ago. You can read that article here

Today I zoomed into the interactive map shared on the Economic Innovation Group website to look more closely at different parts of the country where some of my #CLMOOC educator friends live. 

This map shows Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

This map shows Kentucky and Tennessee

This map shows Washington State

This map shows Chicago, Milwaukee and the area surrounding Lake Michigan. 

This map shows Washington, DC and Baltimore

What these maps show is that the places of concentrated, persistent poverty, are not everywhere. They are small parts of big cities like Chicago, or big states.  The mapping  platform is interactive, so you can look at other places and you can zoom in to the neighborhood level.  

Below is a screen shot showing the abstract describing the research where I found these maps.  

The abstract shows a focus on social networks and social capital and says "these problems tend not to resolve themselves naturally".
I've used maps since 1994 to try to draw attention and resources to high poverty areas of Chicago to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow and stay connected to youth and volunteers for many years.

Below are two images that illustrate this commitment:

The first is the front page of the 1995 Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs Directory.  The map's shaded areas are places of concentrated, persistent poverty.  In the Directory, I listed volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs and provide contact information so parents, volunteers, donors, media, educators and social workers can find them.  View PDF of the Directory.

The second is my Total Quality Mentoring graphic.  This shows the goal of connecting youth living in high poverty areas with volunteers from different places and backgrounds, as mentors, tutors, activity organizers, friends and coaches.  

View this PDF to see my vision of leaders from different industries using their own time and talent to mobilize volunteers and donors to support tutor/mentor programs in different high poverty areas of Chicago. 

The role of intermediaries.  The graphic below shows the role the Tutor/Mentor Connection has taken since forming in 1993, and that the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC has continued to support since forming in 2011.

Read articles posted on this website since 2005 and the Mapping for Justice blog since 2008, and the site since 1999, and you'll see the information I've aggregated and shared to support efforts to help build and sustain mentor-rich programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other places.

The maps showing persistent poverty in America show other places where an information-based intermediary like the Tutor/Mentor Connection is needed.  My graphics and articles show the active role the intermediary needs to take to draw users to this information, help them understand it, and help them apply it to bring volunteers and dollars to every youth serving program in every high poverty place, for many years.

Colleges and universities in every city and state could create tutor/mentor connection research programs do duplicate the work I've piloted since 1993.  This PDF shows this goal.  All it takes is for one, or two, wealthy alumni to provide the money to pay for such a program, along with a dedicated faculty member who wants to lead this for the next 30 years or more. 

I've shared this story for many years. Every city needs people doing the same, for as long, and reaching more people.  Learn from my example. Borrow from my files Create your own libraries, blog articles and visual essays. 

Or, accept that we'll still have areas of persistent poverty 30 years from now.

You can find me on social media at Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and more places. Find links here

At the right is a 1994 story from the Chicago SunTimes, showing how I traded my advertising job at the Montgomery Ward corporation to lead a tutor/mentor program.  The teen in the photo is now the mother of two college age boys, holds at least one MBA, and is a successful business woman.  That was our goal when we launched our program.

That can be the future for many kids living in high poverty areas, if you'll help organized, on-going, tutor/mentor programs reach them.

Do you value what I'm writing? Make a small contribution to help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute,  LLC. visit this page

Monday, February 12, 2024

Multiplying Good - Map the Network

Over the past few months and years I've seen many posts on social media, showing a professional athlete's support for mentoring. During last week's Super Bowl I saw players from each NFL team nominated for the 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, given for outstanding community service. You can see them here.

It's great to see the generous, community-focused, work these people are doing. 

As I watched the NFL Honors program I posted this Tweet.
It shows a map of Chicago with high poverty areas indicated.  It was signed in the mid 1990s by eleven retired professional athletes to indicate their support of an "Adopt-a-Neighborhood" idea that I began promoting in the 1990s.   

As I looked at the many posts about athletes supporting mentoring, and the NFL Honors videos showing athletes supporting many different efforts in their communities I wondered if anyone had tried to create a web library, and/or concept map, building lists of athletes/celebrities from every sport, focused on specific issues.

Below are two examples of what I am thinking about.

This concept map shows organizations in Chicago who serve as intermediaries, supporting multiple youth-serving organizations who provide specific types of support, such as STEM, Arts, tutoring and/or mentoring.  Under each node is a link to the organization's website. 

This next concept map shows issues that affect people in every community, both affluent and economically challenged. Note that in the lower left corner I show the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) graphic. That shows issues many athletes/celebrities already support. 

Now, what if someone were creating a map like the first one above, showing athletes and celebrities in each major city, and/or the foundations they support.  For instance addiction and drug abuse is on my map and it affects rich and poor people, in some similar ways, but in many different ways.  Many athletes have adopted addition as their cause.  A map like the one above would show all of those.

A map like the one below would have links to web libraries, or other concept maps, that aggregated this information from every city across the country.

Here's a page from my library, showing links to websites with information about Black history.  This could be a list of athletes/celebrities who focus on addiction and drug abuse, or self esteem, or mentoring, or any of the many different issues shown on my concept map and the SDGs map.  It could be focused on a single city, or nationally and internationally.  

And below, is a concept map showing the categories of homework and learning resources that I host in the library.  

The nodes on this map could be the same as the ones in the Race-Poverty map I show above. The links would point to other concept maps showing athletes/celebrities in different cities who support that cause, and to web libraries that contain lists of websites with the same information.

Why collect this?  To learn from each other and improve work being done.

This should be a no-brainer for sports professionals. Coaches are constantly learning from each other. They have libraries of film that they study to spur innovation and constant improvement.

Why can't something like this support what athletes and celebrities do to help create a better world?

Who could be doing this work?  

This could be a project of students in any school, starting in middle school and continuing to PhD work at a local university.  

I've posted articles in the past about universities adopting the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, which is based on this type of information gathering and sharing. 

I hope you'll read some of these and that local sports stars will also take a look. Maybe the NFL, NBA, WNBA or another sports business will provide the funds for this research and will host it on websites where they honor athletes for the good work they do.

Maybe an award will go to those doing the best work of aggregating and sharing this information.

5-1-2024 update - here's an example of aggregating and mapping information about athletes.  This is a map showing where NHL players were born. 

Like the idea? Share it.  

Skim through articles I've posted in the past about the role athletes and celebrities could be taking, beyond the good work they already do.

Connect with me on social media and let's talk about ways we can use information to support problem solving.  You can find links to my social media platforms on this page.

If you value the ideas and information I'm sharing, please make a contribution and help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC


Wednesday, February 07, 2024

Letters-to-the-Editor. Was Anyone Listening?

Have you ever submitted a letter to a local or national print media outlet and had it published?  When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 one of our main goals was to increase the number of media stories drawing attention to volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in Chicago. 

This graphic visualizes our goal. 

We created quarterly events to draw programs together and draw volunteers and donors to our Directory and list of Chicago programs.  These motivated local media to write stories about our events (see list here) and that built our reputation as an "expert" and led to media coming to us for quote in stories they were writing.  

However, another way to get our story into local newspapers was to "write it" myself, as a "letter-to-the-editor".  Below I'm sharing some of those.

Chicago Tribune - 10-29-1995 - open PDF to view

Chicago Tribune - 12-7-1995 - Open PDF to view

Chicago Tribune 9-3-1997 - Open PDF to view

Chicago Defender 4-1-1998 - Open PDF to View

Chronicle of Philanthropy 5-21-1998 - Open PDF to View

Chicago Tribune 4-30-1998 - Open PDF to view   The same letter appeared in the Chicago SunTimes on 4-30-1998 - Open PDF to view

Chicago Sun-Times 4-12-1999 - Open PDF to View

YouthToday - July 2000 - Open PDF to View

Ecumenical Child Care Network Newsletter - 2001 - Open PDF to view

Daily Southtown - 3-30-2001 - Open PDF to view

Directions - 3-3002 - Open PDF to view

Youth Today -
January 2003 - Open PDF to view

Crain's Chicago Business - 4-12-2013 - Open PDF to view

By 2000 I was spending much more time on the Internet, connecting with people and ideas from Chicago and the world.  I made less effort to write Letters-to-the-Editor because I was sharing the same information on my website, in email newsletters, and on-line eMail discussion groups.  

Below is a message I posted on October 2, 2000 in a digitaldivide list hosted by Open this PDF to read my post and others in that discussion.  I'm still connected to some of these people today. 

In each of these letters I'm sharing ideas that other people need to implement.  That's more difficult than doing the work yourself, but I've never had much money to do everything that needs to be done, and frankly, the whole strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been to provide information that others can use to build the "Village" needed to help more K-12 kids born, or living in high poverty areas, of Chicago and other places, move more successfully, and safely, from birth-to-work.

I have been doing this since 1975 when I became the volunteer leader of the tutoring program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago and needed other people to help me.

All of these images are part of an archive that I've built over the past 50 years.  I've been able to put a large part on my Google drive as I've down-sized and had to through original copies away.  

My wish is that a research group from a local, national, or international  university will take ownership of all of this information and then teach young people what I was trying to do, and how to do it better.  There still is so much that needs to be done. 

That wish could come true if a major donor were to provide the money for a university to build such a program, and name it after the donor.  If you've any ideas, please reach out.

You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other social media platforms. You'll find links on this page

If you've appreciated what I'm sharing and what I've been trying to do, please consider a small contribution to help fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  Click here