Monday, June 26, 2017

Supporting Youth Tutor/Mentor Orgs Throughout a City

I've been posting articles to this blog since 2005 and to a web site since 1998. All focus on actions that people in business, media, faith groups, etc. could take to help mentor-rich non-school programs be available to k-12 youth in more places, and for more years.  I've embedded maps and graphics into many articles, and I'm going to pull a few into this article.

You're welcome to put this into Hypothes.is for deeper reading and annotation.

See TQM Strategy
This graphic shows a youth, or a tutor/mentor program, as the hub of a wheel. The timeline in the middle shows different age groups from pre school through work and is intended to show that once a mentor, or tutor/mentor program connects with a youth, the goal should be to stay connected till that youth is an adult and in a job...or to connect that youth to others who help provide such long-term support.

The spokes point to different type of industries and careers kids might aspire to if they had adults to model these opportunities and help open doors as young people grow up.

The map shows that such programs are needed in all high poverty neighborhoods, not just a few good programs, in a few locations, reaching a small percent of kids who need such support.

It Takes A Village -article
At the right is another version of this graphic, with the heading "It takes a village to raise a child."  While both of these maps could be used to show youth program design, they could also be used to show how business, hospitals, faith groups, colleges and civic groups, etc. are helping well-organized youth programs grow in all poverty areas.

Here's another concept map, which I use to show the talent needed for any organization, big or small, to be successful.  Look at the yellow nodes, showing finance, legal, communications, etc. In small non profits a few people wear many hats, and few have all the talent and skills needed to be really good at what they do. Some are effective in raising money and hiring people, or can find volunteers, while others are not as good at this.

This is another graphic communicating the same idea. In every high poverty neighborhood, every tutor/mentor program needs the same mix of talent and support.

Below is a presentation that includes a theoretical organization chart, showing the different talents needed to build and sustain a strong enterprise.  It includes some of these graphics.




Now here's what I want people reading this to think about.  Instead of several hundred non profits competing with each other to find the talent they need to do good work, why can't every business, faith group, alumni group, philanthropy and civic organization look for ways to spread their members, talent and expertise to organizations throughout the city?

Service-Learning LOOP - video

Look at the horizontal figure-8 in this graphic and think of it as a volunteer engagement strategy. As you do, think of the hub/spoke graphic above.  On the right would be the different sources of volunteers and talent that is available in different industries. On the left are the existing tutor/mentor programs where someone might become involved.

Every time a volunteer connects with a youth in a tutor/mentor program he/she is learning about the poverty that causes the program to be needed, about the strength and weakness of the organization, and about the strengths and needs of the youth they meet.  As the volunteer returns to family, friends and workplace, she informally shares what was learned.  If that volunteer is well supported, by the program, or by his industry, he will stay involved longer, and ultimately, some will take greater roles and responsibilities. Here's a video that shows this idea.

The map at the right is a screen shot of the asset map section of the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, showing some of the banks in the Chicago region.

What if a version of this were created for each industry, with flags on each icon, indicating a volunteer support strategy that a) encouraged volunteers to be tutors or mentors; b) encourage volunteers to offer talent to support specific needs of programs, such as planning, marketing, technology, finance, legal, etc; c) encouraged volunteers to sit on Boards of youth programs in the area around individual locations; and/or d) encouraged volunteers to make annual financial contributions to support programs where other employees or church members were involved?

Another version of the map could be created or sponsored by each industry, showing known tutor/mentor programs in the region, with flags on the map indicating that volunteers from the industry were involved in one, or all, of the ways suggested above.  The screen shot at the left is also from the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. The green stars on the map are programs identified through surveys done until money ran out in 2010.

Tech volunteers could be helping create and update maps like this!

Now, as you think of the hub/spoke wheel, and the service learning loop, imagine the impact if volunteers from an industry, or faith group, or college alumni network, who were becoming involved with youth programs in every part of the city, now began to meet and share ideas with each other on a regular basis.

What works? What did not work? What are the needs of the youth, or the organization, that our industry could fill? What can  we do to help these organizations do more to keep the youth and their volunteers involved for multiple years? What other questions should we be asking and trying to answer?

What can we be doing to "pull" kids through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers that enable them to raise their own kids without the challenges of poverty?

What can we do to help volunteers from other industries get involved and take a similar leadership role, so that every youth program begins to have a mix of volunteers, leaders and resources representing every sector of the village, with everyone taking a role to help kids move through school and into careers.

What can our industry, faith group, family group, etc. do to share responsibility with non profit leaders for making well-organized, long-term, tutor/mentor programs available to k-12 youth in more places?

A small group of volunteers within each industry could be facilitating such conversations, just as small groups organize United Way campaigns every year.

Many leaders needed.
What I'm suggesting is that leaders from any sector, or each spoke on the wheel shown above, could put themselves in the blue box at the top of this concept map and apply this Role of Leaders strategy to help more kids born or living in poverty move through school and into adult jobs and responsibilities. If they can make this work for the poorest kids in the city, it will support every other youth at the same time.

This strategy applies in any city, and can apply to any service that needs to be located close to clients, meaning multiple distribution points are needed throughout a geographic region.

If you'd like me to meet with you or someone from your organization to talk through these ideas, just let me know. I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook and Linkedin.

If you'd like to make a financial contribution to help me continue to share these ideas, click here, and use the PayPal button to send your support. 






Saturday, June 24, 2017

Applying innovation and problem solving to anti-poverty strategies

One of my Twitter friends posted the short video below, that focuses on teaching innovation and problem solving to K-12  youth and adults.



As I viewed this some of the graphics and articles from this blog came to mind. Below is one concept map, that focuses on filling high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago with mentor-rich non-school programs that reach kids when they are young and provide on-going support through high school and on to jobs and careers. What are all the things we need to know, and do, to make that happen, not just in a few places, but in every poverty neighborhood in the region?


This is a complex problem, and if you'll take some time over the next few months, you can read articles that I've posted since 2007 that focus on this problem.  If you're an educator, or lead a non-school program or a youth program at your church, synagogue or mosque, you could lead young people to these articles, and encourage them to apply the thinking to innovate solutions.

4-part strategy

As you skim through you'll frequently see the graphic at the left, which shows four steps that need to be included in any innovation and problem solving strategy. Read about this in this presentation.

You'll also see presentations, like this one, that focus on each of the graphics in the concept map above.

This past week the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service was held in Seattle. Due to lack of funds I've not been able to attend this for many years. I try to follow on-line sessions when they are available, and engage on Twitter or Facebook.  If you search for this #serviceunites hashtag you can see some of the information posted and try to connect with the people who are sharing that information.

I last attended in 2008 and I created the graphic at the right as part of a week of articles that I wrote following the conference.  In this case I'm emphasizing the use of information, and maps, which is part of the information needed that I refer to in step 1 of the four-part problem solving strategy.

I'm also showing how leaders in business, religion, media, education, politics, etc. (the village) can be drawing people together to use the information to innovate ways to make more and better youth supports available to k-12 youth in all high poverty areas of Chicago or any other city.

While I'm not able to be physically present at most meetings and conferences that focus on poverty, inequality, violence prevention, education, workforce development, youth, tutoring, mentoring, etc. my ideas and the resources I've aggregated for more than 20 years are available 24 hours a day to anyone who attends these meetings, or to all the other people who can't attend, or are not invited.

The real question is, "How much do you care about these problems, and how willing are you to spend time on a consistent bases reading articles and viewing videos that give you a deeper understanding of the problem and potential solutions?"

Can you look in the mirror at the end of each day and check off actions you've taken?

Are you also writing about this? I'd love to find blog articles on web sites of Chicago youth organizations showing how they were reading and reflecting on articles I write, and how they are innovating ways to bring solutions to their own neighborhood, or to other neighborhoods, in Chicago or around the world, where others need help.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

If we keep doing things the way we always have, we'll keep getting the same poor results

I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with a goal of helping every non-school, volunteer based tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region get a more continuous flow of the dollars and talent each needs to become great at connecting urban youth with adult volunteers in on-going programs that transform the future for both.  This 1994 Chicago Tribune article announced our launch.

I've struggled for over 20 years to find the talent, dollars and support to do every think I was trying to do, which means I also was never able to build the flow of resources to Chicago area programs that has been needed.  In 2011 I read a book by Dan Pallotta, titled Uncharitable, which outlined some of the struggles I and others in the non profit sector have consistently faced. I wrote about it in this article and several others.

Today I saw this video and want to share it with any who read my blog, with the goal that you'll share it with others.  If we want to get different results we need to invest in the talent and organizational structure that enables great work to be done.



As you look at this video and rethink how you support people doing social benefit work, under a 501-c-3 tax status, or an LLC tax status, take a look at the video below.



If we think connecting a youth with an adult mentor has value, how do we build and sustain high quality non-school programs in all of the neighborhoods where kids need this support from first grade until their are in their adult years and starting jobs and careers?

If this is something that interests you I hope you'll browse other articles on this blog and reach out to start a conversation around ways you can help.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Urban Youth as Data Scientists and Network Builders

My friend Sidney Hargro, posted an article on Linkedin today, which I started to respond to, but ran out of characters.

Here's what I wrote:

More than 15 years ago I began to see the potential of data management and information networking as a skill and 21ct century career opportunity and recognized that since the Internet was an emerging tool, the starting line for rich kids and poor kids was almost the same....IF...patrons were willing to put mentor-rich non-school programs in high poverty neighborhoods, filled with computers, the internet, and opportunities for young people to learn to use those in ways richer kids would also be learning.

A youth who learns coding, web design, blogging, video creation, data visualization, and story telling and how to build an on-line network and motivate people in a desired direction, is learning leadership skills that will have great value.  These skills can be learned without the help of local schools, if the people making learning opportunities in the non-school hours have enough vision and resources.  Kids could be leaving  high school and starting their own consulting businesses or information networking companies --- transporting themselves and their families from poverty to the upper middle class and beyond, in one generation.   Unfortunately , I know of too few places where such programs are operating in high poverty areas of Chicago or other cities.

The opportunity still exists.

Following are a couple of visualizations that illustrate what such a program might look like.  The first is a graphic I've used for over 20 years to describe a program with volunteers from many different industries and backgrounds serving as tutors, mentors, leaders, organizers, etc.  This Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) PDF illustrates the idea.



This next graphic visualizes three forms of learning that would be happening in such a program, if the leaders shared this vision.  This concept map shows a focus on academic, social and work skills and the goal of building habits of using the internet to find and share information.

It's difficult to know how many, if any, Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs have such a vision because few use visualizations on their web sites to show program design and strategy. I've been browsing a list of organizations that I host on Facebook, and just a few attempt to show program design with videos they share.  This East Village Youth Village Program video is one way of showing program design.

When I write about extra roles volunteer tutors and mentors might take, or the role of talent volunteers, I'm thinking of people who work with kids and other volunteers to help programs communicate their own program vision and design better, by borrowing ideas from what others are already doing.  


This vision needs to be shared by philanthropists, business leaders, volunteers and others, as well as by program leaders, if it is to become practice in more than a few places.

I'd be happy to help others explore this idea and others that I share on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Building Systems of Support for Youth. Where Do I Start.

This graphic includes a lot of ideas, all focused on what leaders in a community need to do to build systems of school-based and non-school-based support that help all kids move through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers.

I share these on Pinterest and in blog articles I've written here since 2005, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, which I started in 1998 as a component of the Tutor/Mentor Connection library.

I learned what I know, and built this library, over a period of 40 years, drawing from many experiences along the way, and borrowing ideas from many other people and organizations. Thus, my biggest daily challenge is to figure ways that other people can become familiar with these ideas in a much shorter time frame.

A few years ago I created the concept map below, as a learning guide for staff who joined me at the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  It's now a guide for anyone else who wants to journey through this information.

Learning Path

Then in 2015 an intern from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago, spent time opening and reviewing each link in the map, and then created a visualization to describe what was included. She used Prezi to do this, then transferred the work to YouTube, which you can see below.




This is the solution to my problem and to similar problems faced by others who aggregate content related to local and global problems.  

Youth and adults from faith groups, business, middle and high schools, colleges and other organizations in Chicago or in cities throughout the world, could take their own journey through this concept map, and other resources in my library, then create their own presentations and discussions to bring others from their community to the information, and into brainstorming and innovation sessions intended to build and sustain long-term systems of support helping youth move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives.

Yesterday I viewed a video of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's presentation last week at ChiHackNight. As I viewed the video I tweeted some things he was saying. I encourage you to take a look, too.



He's one of the people I hope will look through these ideas and want to start a conversation about ways he can champion them and apply them via his own office.

There's much to learn, and much to do.  It starts with learning what's already available.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Another Chicago Murder - I Hate Writing These Stories

The senseless shootings and killing or Chicago young people continued this week. This time the young man killed was the son of Ra Joy,
a long time civic activist, who I've interacted with off and on since the early 2000s. The map below shows where the shooting took place just South of the University of Chicago campus, in the Woodlawn neighborhood.


I did not create a new map view for this story. Instead, I searched this blog for "Woodlawn" and found stories I've written since 2009.  I used one of those maps, and added an image from the front page of today's Chicago Tribune.

Look at some of the headlines from these past articles.

Crime down in Chicago. What about shootings? What's the rest of the story? 8-8-2009







Chicago SunTimes Oct. 1992



I started using maps in 1993, as part of a strategy designed to create more frequent stories that drew attention to neighborhoods where kids and families and schools need extra help and where volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs were trying to reach k-12 youth during non-school hours.

My goal then, and still, was to help existing programs get a more consistent flow of dollars, talent, ideas, technology, etc. so each could constantly improve  how they competed for the attention and participation of young people and volunteers so they could have growing impact on the choices kids make and their ability to move through school and into jobs free of poverty.

The maps show too few programs in many neighborhoods, including Woodlawn, so the goal was also to help business, faith groups, celebrities, media, universities and others connect with a library of ideas showing work being done in other places that could be duplicated in their own neighborhoods, helping new programs grow where none now exists.

Too few have responded to the newsletters and blog articles I've posted for the past 20 years so the full strategies I've outlined and have on the drawing board have never had nearly the support they need. Yet, I've developed a set of strategies and ideas that could be given new life by others, in Chicago and other cities, over the next decade, if just some people would step forward to offer help.

Maybe 20 years from now we would not need to be writing stories like this.

Read what I wrote about a "do over" back in March 2017.

How About a Do-Over? Oscars. Election. Tutor/Mentor Connection

Thursday, June 08, 2017

I'm up to my neck in alligators. How can I drain the swamp?

In dozens of past articles I've used maps to show all of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago where kids and families need extra  help, and graphics like the one at the left, to show the role each of us can take to draw others into the work of making such programs available in more places.

Over the weekend I was reminded of how difficult it is to attract people from their own busy, complex, lives, to devote time, talent, thinking, learning and dollars to help others who live on another block, another part of the city, or in another state or country.

My neighbor, Casey Jablonski, died of a sudden heart attack. As we gathered for the wake, my wife and I reached out to an elderly couple across the street, and one comment was how "every Sunday after church Casey had visited to offer them help".  I constantly saw Casey reaching out to help neighbors, while spending countless hours mentoring his grandsons.  He also worked long shifts on his job.

Every day, citizens like Casey, are doing different acts of service, helping their neighbors, their local schools, the local sports programs, their church, and even local politics. At the same time they are taking care of their own parents, kids and grandkids.

With eating, sleeping, working, and caring for close neighbors, how much time is left for caring about people who don't live near you, don't look like you, don't share the same belief systems, etc?

From this blog
So today I read an article about digital citizenship, written by Sheri Edwards, a school teacher from Washington state, who I've met via the Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc).   The graphic at the right was one of several in her article. This one shows family at the center of a person's universe with rings of involvement surrounding each person and their family.

I love the graphic, but felt that it was missing some of the complexity that I've been focusing on. So I created my own interpretation.


Instead of showing "city, state, country, continent, world" in one ring, I separated them into different rings, with the intent of illustrating the growing distances between your family, close friends and neighborhood, with other parts of your city and its suburbs, your state, other cities, your country, and the world.


I've used this graphic often to show how conversations, and interest, need to turn into planning and on-going efforts to build public will to support the distribution of resources into high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.  The further away the problem is, and the more complex it is, the more difficult it is to get people to devote a fraction of their waking hours to get involved in finding solutions.

I led volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs from 1975 to 2011 and in one we grew from 100 volunteers to nearly 550 volunteers over a 17 year period...with almost no paid staff until the final two years.  I learned through those years that the commitment of most volunteers to the tutoring program was seldom higher than 4th or 5th on their life priorities, behind family, work, faith, friends and often a few other interests. Because I was able to build an on-going organization with this level of support, I've always believed we could draw enough people into on-going efforts focused on helping every neighborhood have high quality, mentor-rich programs.

I'm constantly reminded of how difficult this is.  But I'm also reminded of how important it is to keep trying.

I created this "drain the swamp" graphic for an article I wrote several years ago, to illustrate this problem. The article is still valid. I hope that I can connect with others who are also thinking about this.

I encourage you to read and share other articles I've posted, in the past few days, and the past few years. Create your own interpretations of my graphics.

I look forward to adding my experiences into your own discussions and borrowing from your own ideas at the same time.