Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I've heard many volunteers describe their mentoring experience by saying "I think I've gained more than my student has." Because I've been involved for more years (40) and on more levels than most people in the country, I think I have probably more to be thankful for as well. My thanks don't come as a result of wealth or material benefit, but from the richness of many interactions and ideas resulting from my long term involvement.

Thus, as we head into the holiday I say "Thank You" to all who have enriched my life. May you enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How do you tell difference between youth programs?

The work I have been doing for the past 20 years aims to increase the number of volunteers and donors who support volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in different parts of the Chicago region so each can constantly improve in the work they do to engage youth and volunteers in life-changing activities.

One challenge is finding the advertising dollars to tell stories every week in ways that would motivate volunteers and donors to go to the web site library that I host and seek out programs to support. However, an equal challenge is educating and providing capacity at the program level so they can provide information on their web sites that would telegraph the work they do, why they do it, etc. I wrote this article in Dec. 2009 reflecting on this problem.

Last week I created the graphic below. I wrote about it here, with an invitation for technologists to help build a graphic that programs might be willing to put on their web sites. Imagine a common graphic showing what age you serve, what time of day, what part of the birth to work pipeline, etc.

While others head into the holidays hoping to find volunteers and donors I hope to find investors and partners who will brainstorm and innovate new and better ways to connect those who can help with those who need help.

I encourage you to browse the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site and the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator site. You'll see a number of ideas intended to support the growth of non-school tutor/mentor programs in more places. At this link you can see a list of people and organizations who have helped me in the past. In many places you'll see where more help is needed in the future.

I'm thankful to all who have helped in the past and hopeful that more will step forward to help in the future. I hope you have the same optimism and appreciation as you head in to this holiday season.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mobilizing Resources for "Birth to Work"

If you search Google for the words "tutor mentor strategy" my web sites will be on the first page. If you click on the images feature you'll see dozens of graphics that I've created since the mid 1990s to visualize a "birth to work" strategy that would help more kids in high poverty areas have an infrastructure of adult support and learning opportunities helping them move from birth to work without detours in the juvenile justice system, high school drop out system, or other negatives that are more common in high poverty areas than in more affluent communities.

Last spring I posted an article showing that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's anti violence program potentially was taking corporate funding from some neighborhoods and shifting that money to other places.

Recently I've connected with a new initiative from the Mayor's office, called the Chicago Thrive Initiative, which is modeled after the STRIVE Partnership initiative in Cincinnati. Below is the DRAFT visualization of a "roadmap" intended to lead more youth in Chicago from birth to work. I've not yet found a web site where this or other planning documents are posted. I'll provide a link when I do.

I post this because I've wanted leaders to show support for a "birth to work" mentoring strategy since I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Here are a few of the visualizations I've created to illustrate this concept.

I created this graphic to show the types of age appropriate support youth require as the move from one grade level to the next. This concept map represents an attempt to aggregate information specific to each grade level that people could use to make programs that work in some places available to youth in more places.

This graphic is intended to illustrate the need to provide age appropriate services in all neighborhoods, not just a few. Otherwise, like plumbing, there is not a smooth flow from one point to the next. Use your imagination to think of what the result might be.

These are just a few of the visualizations you'll find if you do the Google Search I suggested, or if you view some of the graphics I've posted on http://www.pinterest.com/tutormentor/ Many of these have been created by interns, illustrating my belief that youth in high school, college or within existing tutor/mentor programs could be involved in interpreting these ideas and communicating them to the adults in their own neighborhoods and networks.

In my articles I focus on what people in business and who don't live in poverty, need to do, not just what non profits, families, schools and youth in high poverty areas need to do. In fact, people living in concentrated high poverty areas can't do a lot of what everyone wishes because of the poverty surrounding them. Thus, I created this ROLE of LEADERS PDF and this STRATEGY MAP.

I've also used maps to illustrate a need to distribute resources, and programs, into every high poverty neighborhood, and keep them there for many years. I started building a map capacity in 1993. I launched an on-line program locator in 2004. Instead of investing in what I've been building the city and others have been building their own map based program locators, yet not necessarily with the same goal of connecting resource providers to programs, or of making mentor-rich programs available in more places.

It is great that the Thrive Chicago team is visualizing this road map and working get everyone on board, and that this visualization of "birth to work" is now coming from the Mayor's office. However, until more leaders from business, religion, philanthropy, universities, entertainment, media, etc. adopt the strategy and support it consistently with their own actions we'll still reach too few kids, with fragmented strategies, and too little impact.

In April 1997 I was a Chicago delegate to the President's Summit for America's Future. The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 Teaching Examples selected to host a booth at the summit. Mayor Daley spoke at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1997. However, he never embraced the strategy or became a spokesperson or champion for the ideas. The Summit did not result in reinforcements coming to my organization and others already in the field. Instead it resulted in a new group of people and organizations launching a new planning process, with new ideas and new resources.

We need new ideas and new resources, but we don't need to reinvent the wheel. But I encourage leaders to reach out and support those already in the trenches, at the program level, and the intermediary level. Use the Chicago Programs Links to find existing youth organizations. Use this concept map to identify other intermediaries that you can support.

What level of talent is needed? Read this Deloitte report about "transforming the supply chain". As you do, imagine the talent and costs involved in this process. Poverty costs America billions of dollars every year. American industry faces a huge talent shortage. What will it take to bring the type of talent described in this report into the work of designing a new supply chain supporting birth to work strategies throughout the country?

Ask "How can I help you?" If the Mayor and other leaders demand this of those getting city contracts and getting wealthy doing business from managing money of the poor, or of philanthropic organizations, perhaps we'll build the flow of operating resources and talent needed to sustain and constantly improve the organizations needed in every high poverty neighborhood to help more youth move from birth in poverty to jobs and careers within Chicago industry.

We'll need this fuel on any "road map" that leaders put in place.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How do we reach youth with support systems in all places where youth need extra help?

Since 1993 I've been attempting to motivate leaders in business, politics, philanthropy, etc. to use maps (see examples here and here )to identify all of the zip codes where kids need extra help, because of poverty, poorly performing schools, violence, English as a second language, or other indicators.

In the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library I've aggregated links to dozens of articles that show "place matters". Anyone can assess these and include them in building their own understanding and commitment to becoming involved in providing solutions.

The challenge is mobilizing leaders from every industry who will act as Chief Crusaders (a term used by the United Way for CEOs who enlist other CEOS)in on-going efforts to expand the number of people who are working throughout the year to provide needed resources to all of the schools and non-school organizations that need to be operating in every one of these neighborhoods.

While it may be unrealistic to expect 100% participation or 100% market share, it would be nice to find some leaders who are publicly talking about reach and market share when they talk about volunteer and philanthropic involvement in supporting programs that help kids move through school and into jobs and/or into their customer base.

I've created a library of essays that are available on Scribd.com, Slideshare, and in the archives of this blog that teams from any company, college, high school and/or service organization could use to support their growing leadership in building a distribution of resources that leads to a distribution of needed resources. The graphic below is included in this essay, and shows steps required in making sure youth in all places are reached with needed resources.

Interns from various colleges have been looking at the essays and blog articles I've created, then are creating their own visualizations to interpret these ideas. This page is one of several showing work that has been done. Volunteers and youth working in teams could be creating similar visualizations as part of their own effort to mobilize and sustain the flow of resources needed to make constantly improving youth serving organizations available in more places.

If you're interested in doing this work, or if you're already doing it, join the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum and share your work or create new visualizations.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Anyone Can Take this Role. Can You?

We can talk for forever about wanting to help kids have a brighter future. However, if we don't make operating resources consistently available to the organizations working in different neighborhoods to help kids through school and into jobs, our words have little impact.

The next six weeks are the biggest charitable giving period of every year. Thus, I've added this graphic to my blogs and will put it on my other web sites. It has a link to a list of Chicago area youth serving organizations, which I organize by sections of the city and suburbs.

My goal is that others put this graphic, or something like it, on their own web sites, in their social media, and in church bulletins and holiday greeting cards, with an encouragement that people browse through the list of web sites and pick programs they want to help. Then send a non-restricted donation. You could even send it without adding your name. Do it however you want. Just do it.

If enough people take this role, the flow of operating and innovation dollars into programs in different neighborhoods will grow, and we all will be taking real steps toward helping kids connect with resources and mentors who can give them a better chance for a future beyond the threat of daily shootings, poverty and poor schools.

Once you start to look at the list of web sites you'll quickly come to a conclusion that some programs communicate what they do better than others, and some really are better than others. If you want to go beyond sending money, inventory your own skills and those of your friends, and offer to help programs operating in different neighborhoods have web sites that communicate what they do more effectively, or help them build services that make them the best in the world, not just in Chicago, at what they do.

I created this "Shoppers Guide" to suggest things that programs might show on their web site to communicate their history, strategy, successes, etc. A team of volunteers from a company, faith group, college, or even high school, could adopt a program, or all of the programs in a neighborhood, and help them do work they can't do on their own.,

Every year on New Years Eve people make resolutions telling what they plan to do in the coming year. I want you to make your resolution to help tutor/mentor programs in Chicago now, and on New Year's Eve, post a blog article or Twitter message, or Facebook story, telling what you did to help one or more tutor/mentor programs during this holiday season.

If you're not in Chicago, look for leaders who will create a similar list of youth serving organizations, then take the same role of helping these organizations get the on-going resources each needs to constantly improve and become the best in the world at what they do.

The kids deserve it.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Building "Network of Networks"

In the opening comments to Monday's Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, Brandon Bodor, Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Volunteering and Service, talked about the need to build a "network of networks" connecting more of the people and ideas related to the work we are each trying to do.

I've been maintaining a database of non-school tutor/mentor programs operating in the Chicago region since launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I share this information using maps and an on-line directory so anyone can find and connect with any of these organizations, and so leaders can build strategies that support existing programs while helping new programs form where there are voids.

I've also been building a web library with information people can use to better understand where programs are most needed, and ways they can help programs constantly improve. This concept map shows part of that library, which now contains more than 2000 links. When I host a conference my goal is that people from the different organizations and web sites I point to will volunteer to share their own expertise, while using the conference to connect with others doing similar work.

Over the past 18 years I have seen numerous intermediary organizations form in Chicago who had goals of helping kids in poverty. Some still exist. Others ran out of funds and disappeared. I created this concept map to show some of the intermediary organizations and networks I'm aware of. These represent the "networks" that Brandon was referring to who need to be connected to each other in a "network of networks".

I've created dozens of visualizations over the past 20 years, like this one, to illustrate a goal of helping kids from first grade to a first job and steps toward a career.

I include these graphics in blog articles, and in illustrated articles on Scribd.com. At some point in the future, my hope is that you could find a graphic similar to this on the web site of anyone who is working to help every youth in the Chicago region move more successfully through school and into a 21st or 22nd century job.

Network building is a process. It requires building a list, a web library, a database, etc. showing who else is involved in doing similar work. And it involved sharing this information on a regular basis so others can use it. It involved organizing events, like the Tutor/Mentor Conference so people can come together and network and share ideas with each other. This PDF essay shows some of the steps I've taken to build this network. I think others could apply these ideas in their own efforts and at different times each year we might find ways to gather together.

Ideas for Expanding Network of People Working for Social Benefit by Daniel F. Bassill

As you look at this information I encourage you to create your own visualizations showing the information you share, the strategy of your youth organization or your corporate volunteer program. Recruit a team of youth and adult volunteers to create map stories during November and December, showing where tutor/mentor programs are needed, where your program is located, and ways volunteers and donors can help you with year end giving.

I'll be hosting another Tutor/Mentor Conference on May 19, but the next major event is January National Mentoring Month. If we keep repeating these events, and drawing more networks and network supporters together, we can increase attention and resources, and improve the distribution of resources in more neighborhoods.

If you attended Monday's conference, or if you were not able to attend, I hope you'll use the web resources I host in your own efforts and that you'll want to reach out and connect with me on web platforms or at a coffee shop in Chicago. Let's find more ways to give visibility to these ideas and draw more consistent support to the youth-serving organizations working in different neighborhoods.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

40th Conference in 20 Years. Tomorrow.

Back in 1993 and 1994 when we were working with volunteers and partners like Public Communications, Inc, a public relations firm in Chicago, I was encouraged to "host a conference" to connect the programs I was learning about in the Tutor/Mentor Connection Program Survey, which we launched in January 1994.

I had no idea that I'd be doing these for 20 consecutive years.

The idea of an intermediary collecting information about tutor/mentor programs throughout the Chicago region, and using this information to support the growth of every program, was something that began in 1975 when I first began leading the volunteer-based program at the Montgomery Ward Headquarters in Chicago. One of the VPs suggested that I should seek out other programs in the city, invite them to lunch, and see what I could learn from them.

I started doing that and soon realized that no one had a master list of programs, and the one who did have a list was the only one who could be consistently inviting people to gather and share ideas. They also were the only ones who could provide reliable information about the range of programs in Chicago.

During the 1975-1990 period I held full time advertising management jobs, thus my leadership of the tutoring program at Wards, which grew from 100 pairs to 300 pairs of kids and volunteers by 1990, took up most of my volunteer leadership capacity. It was not until I left Wards and began to lead the tutoring program in a non-profit structure that I began to have the time, and resources, to think of formalizing this information gathering/networking process.

We started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with no money and a huge vision.
One of our first partners was PCI where a VP said "We've worked with organizations like yours before. We'll help you develop a plan and get it launched, then as you raise money, you can pay us part of our costs for helping".

With the help of PCI we built this Case Statement, launched the first program survey, started sharing information through a printed newsletter, and then organized a first tutor/mentor conference, held in May 1994.
With the first conference we distributed the first printed version of the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Directory. We also launched a partnership with the Lend A Hand Program that is now the Lawyers Lend A Hand to Youth Program.

While the first conference attracted 70 people the second held at the Shedd Aquarium, attracted 200.

In 1995 we added an August/September Volunteer Recruitment Campaign to our strategy, working with Chicago Access TV and several partners to promote tutoring/mentoring during August when every program was looking for volunteers.

By 1997 we were recognized well enough to be invited to host a "Teaching Example" booth at the President's Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia. I was one of 10 people representing Chicago at the event. We had developed a year-round strategy for supporting tutor/mentor programs throughout the region, which is described in this video.

Unfortunately, this strategy was never embraced by city leaders nor consistently funded.
We have never had more than $150,000 in a single year to support everything the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been doing, which is an insignificant amount of money in the third largest city in the country. The T/MC depended on volunteers and organizational partners doing what they could, when they could.

This list of "helpers" was compiled in late 2000 to show people who helped in the first decade. In 1999 our major sponsor, the Montgomery Ward Corporation, began to down size and we were forced to move from donated space in the corporate headquarters to rented space in the Cabrini Green area. In 2000 when Wards went out of business we also lost their $40-$50,000 per year financial support. The dot-com financial bust in the 1999-2001 period was followed by the 9/11 attack, and a decade of financial challenges that led in 2011 to the Tutor/Mentor Connection separating from the Cabrini Connections program.

Despite these challenges, I've continued to try to provide regular attention to the needs of youth and the potential offered by well-organized non-school tutor/mentor programs. I've continued to invite people to gather in spring and fall conferences, and in on-line forums or face to face conversations.

The chart below shows attendance from 2001-2010. Since then conference attendance has ranged from 75 to 100 per conference, and around 150 total participants each year. At the same time web site traffic has continued to grow, with more than 150,000 visitors to our various web sites each year.

Visit this page on the Tutor/Mentor Conference web site and view videos showing what participants of past conferences had to say about the conference.

If you browse through the articles I've posted on this blog, or the pages of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, you'll see that I have been consistent to the goals we established when we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and launched the first conference in May 1994.

The next conference is tomorrow, November 4, at the Metcalfe Federal Building. Pr-registration is close to 100 but we hope a few more will attend.

We'll be focusing on the same question I've been focusing on since 1975. What are all of the things we need to do to make constantly improving tutor/mentor programs available to youth in all high poverty neighborhoods, and to engage more people in figuring out ways to assure that every child born in Chicago today is starting a job/career in 25-30 years.