Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Conflicted: How to focus long term when world around is in turmoil?

The graphic below summarizes work I've been doing for nearly 40 years.
Helping kids born in  high poverty in neighborhoods throughout Chicago and the world move through school and into jobs and careers, with the support of volunteers who are part of organized non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs, is a long-term goal, that requires people in many sectors to devote a slice of their time, talent and dollars on a consistent basis for many years.

Since I started writing this blog in 2005 the world has suffered from many disasters, ranging from earthquakes, to tsunamis, to hurricanes and to wars, terrorism and partisan politics. I created the graphic at the left for this 2011 article, to encourage people to budget their time, talent and dollars into three categories, so that while they respond to disasters they don't stop supporting causes that require daily support for many years.

With what's going on in US politics after the November 2016 election, and the installation of DT in the White House, I'm now not sure if there will be a future that offers hope and opportunity for disadvantaged young people...or for the rest of  us.  As I post articles about supporting well-organized tutoring and mentoring programs I wonder if this is time that I should spend in the streets protesting how DT is turning over our country, and our freedom, to a small group of radicals.

I don't think so, but I'm not certain.

So today I updated my graphic, showing that I feel we need to still focus on those things that we've been working on, and are important for our future well-being, while also devoting a slice of our attention to trying to prevent the potential disasters coming from DT and his handlers.

You can make this slice as big a part of your attention span as you want. Just don't make it 100%  or we may destroy all that we're fighting for.

PS: I created a sub section in the Tutor/Mentor web library with a few links to political activism sites that I feel are important resources.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sports Star Reflects on Violence in Chicago

In today's Chicago Tribune sports section is a David Haugh interview with Bryant Gumbel, who grew up in Chicago's Hyde Park Neighborhood, and who has become famous as a sports broadcaster.  The last line of the interview said
"Well, when your preoccupation is trying to stay alive and not get shot on the street on the way to and from school, it's very difficult to prioritize studying for a history exam."

Map from 2008 story
This reminded me of a series of Chicago SunTimes articles from 2008, under the title "schools in fear".  I wrote several articles following this, and hope you'll take some time to read them.

I've been using maps since 1994 to point to neighborhoods featured with high profile media stories. My purpose is to draw attention and support to volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs already operating in these areas, or to help new programs start in places where few, or none, exist.

I was leading a volunteer-based program in Cabrini Green when I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) strategy. I recognized how difficult it was to consistently attract the talent and operating dollars my program needed to stay in operation from year-to-year and knew from my work in retail advertising at the Montgomery Ward Corporation how big companies support multiple stores through work done by corporate office teams, including advertising.

Thus, the the T/MC strategy was to build a list/directory and maps showing locations of existing programs in Chicago, and create events and map-stories that would draw more consistent attention to programs. In the above graphic I include a photo of former President Obama, indicating that if visible leaders were to adopt the T/MC strategy, more people would respond, and more resources would flow through the map/directory to tutor/mentor programs in every poverty neighborhood.

In the mid 1990s I connected with a group of former professional athletes who were starting a company to sell apparel and raise money to support youth organizations. I explained my idea of athletes adopting neighborhoods and supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs in those neighborhoods throughout the year. They took one of my maps to a golf event and invited other athletes to sign the map, indicating neighborhoods they would adopt. The list includes several high profile former  players.

Unfortunately, like too many of the ideas I've dreamed up to support the T/MC strategy, I've never found leaders who would provide time, talent and dollars to fully execute them.

However, as today's interview with Bryant Gumbel indicates, the problem is still with us, so it's not too late to take a look at the ideas I've been sharing and look for ways to implement them in Chicago and other cities. If you're involved in sports, at the high school, college, or pro level, here are a few articles that you might read.

The tag cloud at the right was created using tags shown on the left side of this blog.  Click into any category and find articles that focus on leadership, planning, learning, etc.

Do a Google search for words "tutor mentor" plus any of the words in the tag cloud, and you'll find many articles posted here in in other blogs, related to that topic.

Pro athletes spend thousands of hours over a lifetime preparing to be the best in their sport. If we want to end poverty, inequality or solve other complex problems, we must spend the time reading and learning more about the problem and potential solutions.

Don't let the guy in the White House distract you from doing this work.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Drill Down into the Maps

During a phone conversation yesterday my friend said "When people drilled down to see what map said, some stark realities began to stand out".  He was talking about how the maps I've been sharing since 1994 are intended to be used.

Below is a concept map that shows this process.

In the concept map above you see a map at the left created by zooming into one section of a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, which was built for the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2008 (needs much updating now).  Using Power Point, I added information showing the number of youth, age 6-17, living in poverty in each Chicago community area, then put this map in this presentation which shows the number of youth in poverty in every Chicago community area.  It's free. Anyone can use it. I created this presentation to show how you can create your own map stories.

The "stark reality" is that if the area has 1000 or more kids living in poverty, it should have 5 to 10 youth serving organizations offering volunteer-based tutoring or mentoring in the non-school hours.

In the planning cycle above, I show that the goal of the maps are to help people look closely at a small geographic area, to learn about the needs of the people in that area, and the availability of resources to meet those needs. This could be prompted by a shooting reported in the local media, or by a report on poverty or poorly performing schools.

As a group of people begin to look at the "stark realities" the goal is that they begin to compare what's available in their neighborhood, to what's available in other neighborhoods, in Chicago or throughout the world, and begin a "what if thinking process"  "What  if we added that service, or that program to our neighborhood."

The web library that I've been building since 1998 is intended as a resource to help people learn what programs are available in other places, as well as "why they are needed" and "how to build great programs".

The next step is how do we do that information? How do we  bring together the ideas, talent and other resources needed to start a new service, or how do we help existing services get the resources they need to constantly improve and stay available for many years?


In the concept map above, I emphasize the need to build a public comment to this effort, bringing together people from business, media, politics, colleges, hospitals, faith groups, etc.  I call these "assets". They are people and organizations who can, and should, help needed youth serving organizations grow in neighborhoods where they are located.  You can see the map story shown above, and many others created since 1994, in this slide show.    Most of the articles written on this blog since 2005 deal with learning, leadership and network building in one form or another. You need to spend time reading some of these to build your own passion for this work.

On the maps, and on the presentation board, I've listed some of the assets in the map area. In the asset map section of the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, you are able to build your own map, showing assets in an area as small as a few blocks.

Knowing who these are is the first step toward inviting them to gather and take part in the learning, and thinking, and the "what if" process.  

Anyone can use the map platform I've created, or others that are now more and more available on line, to send an invitation to "gather and learn" and to innovate ways to fill the map area with world-class programs, businesses, schools and opportunities that are already available to youth and families in thousands of other places.

The Tutor/Mentor Program Locator is out of date and needs help from others to be what I've always wanted it to be. However, it is a  model of what's possible, and still usable to create map stories. However,  I've seen a growing number of other map platforms that show data visualizations. The concept map below points to many of these.



The final graphic in the concept map at the top of this article, and shown at the right in this graphic, focuses on the on-going cycle of learning, innovating, planning and actions that need to repeat for many years, involving a growing number of assets and community stakeholders, in order to fill a map area with the types of supports and opportunities it needs to move from being a place of inequality to a place of opportunity.

I've provided quite a few links already. Here are a few more.

War on Poverty articles - think of yourself as the leader of an army of people who are combating entrenched poverty and inequality.  Arm yourself with these articles.

Systems Thinking - my articles describe a logical process, that requires step by step actions repeated over many years. It takes 12 years for almost every first grader to finish 12th grade, and several more years before they are starting a career. Most kids have the support they need. Many kids don't. These articles focus on systems thinking.

If you are thinking TLDR (Too long: Didn't Read) you are leaving the responsibility for solving problems to other people. Don't try to read it all in one day. Bookmark this article and read a little every day.


If you are thinking you need to do this by yourself, that's a path to failure.
Find a few other people and read these together. Think of ways you might reproduce these in formats that are easier for others to read, or that motivate more people in your map area to spend time reading, or to join your group.  The graphic above shows the design of a "mentor-rich" youth program. It also could be the design of your planning group.  Here's a concept map you might use to think through who you need to invite to join you in this process.

Already doing this? Share your stories. I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook, too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Can One Person, or a Small Group, Really Change the World?

I created this graphic several years ago to show how the ideas of one person, or a small group, could spread throughout the world, as a result of a consistent effort to share ideas and expand the network. You can see the graphic in this presentation.

So, yes. One person, or a small group, can change the world. But it's really, really difficult.

I've been trying to apply these ideas in Chicago for over 40 years. Initially my focus was the tutor/mentor program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago, which I began to lead in 1975 when the program was starting the school year with about 100 pairs of employee volunteers and 2nd-6th grade elementary school kids.  By recruiting other volunteers to share leadership and organizational roles with me, and applying mass communications strategies learned in my advertising work, the program grew to 300 pairs of kids/volunteers by 1990, with less than 24 hours a week of part time college student staff.  We were changing the world for the kids who participated. That program still operates. It's called Tutoring Chicago now.

During the 1970s and 1980s I began to draw leaders of other programs together to share ideas that helped me in my own program, but also helped them in their programs. Through my work at Wards I was learning how a small group at the corporate office could support the activities of 400 stores in 40 states reaching millions of potential customers. I began to understand that the work of a single program could have a positive impact on a few kids, but well organized, mentor-rich programs, were needed in every poverty neighborhood of Chicago, where more than 200,000 kids lived.

I also began to see that while we were serving 2nd to 6th grade kids, there was a need for programs that helped these kids move through high school and into college and work.  Furthermore, while volunteers could provide tutoring and mentoring support, parents, youth, schools and communities often needed other support such as health care, jobs, transportation assistance, which was more than we could provide in our single program.

In late 1992, no one had a master database of tutor/mentor programs serving Chicago, thus no one could organize and lead an on-going effort to help each program be great (which was the store support goal of the Montgomery Ward Corporation), so when the opportunity presented itself in late 1992, I and six other volunteers formed Cabrini Connections to serve 7th to 12th grade youth, and we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) to help programs grow throughout the Chicago region.  That started with building a master database of tutor/mentor programs, launched in 1994.   This 4-part strategy presentation and this Tutor/Mentor Learning Network presentation are two of many similar presentations that show the work I've been trying to do.  I'm still leading the T/MC strategy 23 years later, but through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC structure.

There have been many, many challenges to helping tutor/mentor programs grow in all poverty areas of Chicago. One is that new organizations keep emerging to do similar work, or to segment the market, both locally and nationally.  That would be fine if they were also applying the same thinking and network building strategies, but just by looking at web sites, it's difficult to see that happening.

This concept map shows organizations who are intermediaries, focused on the well-being of youth in the Chicago region. They support multiple organizations doing similar work, such as arts, technology, STEM, etc. They are not direct service organizations themselves. Click on the link at the bottom of each node and you go to that organization's web site. Look for maps, visualizations of a birth-to-work thinking. Look at the resource section and see if there are links to the T/MC or the other organizations on this map.

While I've been creating maps and visualizations for many years and writing this blog since 2005, too few people have actually seen these ideas. Many of my visualizations are out of date.  I'm constantly updating the concept map showing intermediaries, and my other maps. I have less help today, than I did prior to 2011. And had far too little help before then.

I started creating videos in 2010, using a screen capture feature that I learned from a lady in England. However, after leaving Cabrini Connections in 2011, these all need to be updated, just to provide new contact information.

In the past couple of years I've been gathering new ideas from educators I've met via a Connected Learning #clmooc network.  One idea was the use of Vialogues to post and annotate videos. Last week I decided to post my videos, and use the annotation to provide updates. Below is one.



This video is relevant because we're nearing the conclusion of National Mentoring Month. While there have been hundreds of social media posts recognizing volunteers and showing the impact of mentoring, I've not seen many (any?) showing strategies intended to expand what volunteers do to help youth move from poverty to careers, or to help programs constantly improve, or grow in more places.

This has always been needed, and important. However, as we head into a new era of government that may have less interest in helping the disadvantaged in America, it's even more important that volunteer-based organizations learn to influence what their volunteers will do to help keep America Great, or make it as great as it should have been since its founding.

That means more programs need to be creating and sharing videos like this, to show their own theory of change and strategy.  More need to be creating concept maps to show who else focuses on similar goals.  More need to be following each other's blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, etc. It also means business, universities, foundations, etc. need to encourage, recognize and provide talent and dollars to support this work in hundreds of locations.

If you are doing videos or maps to show these strategies, please share with me on social media, or via the comments section.  If you'd like to help me, or discuss these ideas, I'd be happy to connect.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Marched in #Women'sMarch in Chicago - What's Next?

I was one of more than 200,000 people attending the Chicago Women's March, and one of several million attending Women's Marches across the US and the world. Hopefully this is the beginning of an on-going effort that results in a different type of political engagement and representation than we now receive from either of the US political parties.

In many past articles I've used this ENOUGH graphic to show steps of engagement needed to make mentor-rich, non-school, volunteer-based, learning programs available in more places.  I've tagged 185 articles in this blog with the category "learning", which is the first step that I recommend anyone take to build their personal engagement.

This week I found two web sites that I encourage you to look at to learn more ways to be politically engaged in the coming years.  One is titled the "Invisible Guide" which is copying some of the organizing tactics of the Tea Party and Occupy Movement to draw new political strength to progressive issues. Follow them on Twitter at @Invisibleteam

The other is SwingLeft.org which is identifying legislative districts that will be contested in the 2018 election and encouraging people who live near one of these to take an active role in assuring that progressive candidates win. Taking a progressive majority in the US Congress and/or in state legislatures, can blunt many of the drastic ideas proposed by the new GOP leadership. Follow them on Twitter at @swingleftorg

I put both of these in this section of the Tutor/Mentor web library.

I'm particularly interested in the SwingLeft strategy because of its use of maps. In the presentation below I showed a strategy to build support in the Illinois general assembly for drop out prevention strategies, including non-school tutor/mentor programs. The strategy seeks to identify legislative districts that should support such efforts based on their closeness to areas with high drop out rates.




In another presentation I used maps to show many overlapping political districts in Chicago where there are poorly performing schools, high rates of violence, and a great need for youth supports such as well-organized non-school tutor/mentor programs.

In the above EDUCATE graphic I focus on Learning, as the first follow-up step for those who engage in the Women's March. Unless you take time to read articles I post, and follow the links, then share the information with others in your network, you're not applying the first, and most important step toward creating the future we want in America and in the world.

Start today. Make time every day.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#InternationalMentoringDay - Connect Cities, Volunteers Throughout World

My Twitter feed is full of #internationalmentoringday motivational messages. So is my Facebook feed. This is an annual day of celebration that recognizes people involved in mentoring and (hopefully) encourages others to give a donation, their time, their talent, or even a hug to support people involved in local and global youth serving organizations.

Since I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor organization for 35 years that has depended on the contributions of time, talent and dollars from many people, I’m delighted to write about this.

In fact, I’ve been writing about the challenges of making mentor-rich non-school tutor/mentor programs available in hundreds of locations for the past 23 years in my role as leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (T/MI).

I hope you’ll take some time to read some of the past articles.

The challenge of a non-profit leader is the same challenge I had when I worked as a retail advertising manager of the Montgomery Ward Corporation between 1973 and 1990, yet larger.

At Wards during the 1980s we had a $250 million advertising budget to reach out to 20 million people three times each week with advertising intended to draw customers to our 400 stores located in 40 states. In these ads we provided a range of merchandise and services that we knew some people were looking for each week. We also provide incentives to motivate people to come to our store instead of someone else's store. These included HALF PRICE, NO MONEY DOWN, LIMITED TIME ONLY and many similar messages.

In the non-profit sector each organization competes with each other on a daily basis for dollars and volunteers and public attention and few have the advertising budgets that are available in for profit corporations. At the same time as they are searching for dollars to pay the expenses they also are innovating ways to use the dollars effectively to provide public benefit.

Few non-profits have the ability to say HALF PRICE SALE, or THIS WEEK ONLY.
Thus most don’t have the consistent involvement of volunteers and donors that are essential to build and sustain the work each program is trying to do.

That’s why events like International Mentoring Day are important. Someone is taking the lead on January 17 to motivate people all over the world to seek out and support mentoring-based organizations, locally, or globally. The many messages on social media fill an important role by encouraging bloggers, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook people to write about mentoring, thus expanding the “advertising reach and frequency” that is needed to attract the attention of millions of people who might make small donations of time, talent or dollars to fuel the work of non-profit tutoring and/or mentoring programs.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection supports the involvement of volunteers and donors by maintaining a map-based Directory of Chicago organizations that offer various forms of tutoring/mentoring in different neighborhoods of Chicago. T/MC also hosts a library of links to web sites of these organizations and to information that people can use to understand why and where tutor/mentor programs are most needed.

Since 2011 I've led this effort through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. I've not had much financial or volunteer support to maintain the on-line resources as well as they need to be updated and so forth, and still don’t yet have a giving feature tied to the maps that works like crowdfunding platforms, but we’d like to add this if we can find the money, or a technology partner.

If #InternationalMentoringDay and the weight of many on social media can draw a few more donors and volunteers to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities, this is a good thing.

However, it will be even better if the following happens.

a) Groups of people who support the goal of tutor/mentor programs will begin to innovate ways to duplicate Wards Sears, McDonalds and other businesses, to create events 365 days of the year that draw the attention of the world to small charities doing needed work

b) Some of these groups will see the value of map directories and portals like the T/MC and will add their own time, talent and dollars to help innovate more ways that we can draw volunteers and donors directly to programs, the way mass merchants draw shoppers to stores. Help us build this capacity and help us share this with people in other cities.

c) People focused on other social benefit causes will see that the T/MC concept can duplicate in other sectors and will reach out to partner with us for their own self-interest

d) Some people will begin to use visualizations, such as concept maps, to show program design, planning processes, and the need to build public will and long-term support for mentor-rich programs in thousands of locations, and these will be shared in future events like #InternationalMentoringDay.

Margaret Mead talked about how a “few people can change the world”. Events like #InternationalMentoringDay can reach millions of people and inspire them to spread their time, talent and dollars to all corners of the earth where they can become part of the few, the proud, the difference makers.

I hope the resources I share can  help that happen.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Still far to go to achieve Dr. ML King Jr's Dream

I'm looking at my Twitter feed and seeing a flow of inspirational Tweets related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and service to those in need.

I've been writing articles to encourage people to become involved in  helping kids living in high poverty neighborhoods move through school and into adult lives free of poverty since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I started writing this blog in 2005 and if you look at January articles every year since then, you'll find articles that mirror these same thoughts, over, and over, again. Here's my January 2006 article.

Here's me at an event where I am showing a 1994 Chicago Tribune article, where the map shows poverty neighborhoods in the city, and the headline says "240,000 city kids at risk".

While we've made many gains, this nation and the world still have too many youth and families living lives with too much "inequality and lack of opportunity".  View maps shown here and in the MappingforJustice blog that point to where these places are.

I've used maps over and over to repeat this message and to motivate people to become involved in building and sustaining mentor-rich non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs for k-12 kids in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, its suburbs, and other cities and states.

In many articles I use visualizations like the one above, which was created by a student intern, and the one below, to illustrate a program design, with volunteers from many work backgrounds connecting in an on-going effort.  In the 1990s I tried branding this type of program as "Total Quality Mentoring (TQM)" since it borrows from business practices of constant learning and constant improvement.


I have created a variety of power point presentations to communicate these ideas. This presentation illustrates the idea of Total Quality Mentoring.  I keep looking for other youth serving organizations to show their program design and theory of change using maps and visualizations like this.  If you know of any who do this well, please share a link in the comment section below.


As you do  your service today, or on January 20th, when one organization is encouraging another day of service, look for ways you can use your time, talent and dollars to help others get involved in deeper learning, on-going actions and many places.

In 50 years let's show even more progress in the US and around the world than we have achieved in the past 50 years.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Tutor or Mentor Programs are in your zip code?

This is a map of the West Side of Chicago, created using the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator that was developed for the Tutor/Mentor Connection between 2004 and 2009.  Here's a presentation showing how to make map views like this.

The green stars on the map are sites of organized, non-school tutor and/or mentor programs that I located via an on-going survey process started in 1994.  Double click on a star and you go to the organization's web site, where hopefully, they provide information showing why they are important, what they do, their history, and how you can help them.  Not all do this very well, so a role of volunteers from communications and technology fields might be to help programs tell their stories more effectively.

I've not been able to update the Program Locator since 2012 due to my lack of funds to hire tech support and do the on-going survey.  I have been able to maintain a list of Chicago area youth serving organizations that include various forms of tutoring and or mentoring, which you can see here (on another web site that needs an upgrade in design).

In 2011 I created a presentation with maps that showed Chicago community areas, and the number of kids, age 6-17 in each area who were living in homes below the poverty line. The maps were made using the Program Locator. Here's the presentation.

Every area with one thousand or more youth in poverty would benefit with several age appropriate, mentor rich programs located near where kids can easily, and safely, participate. 

President Obama gave his farewell address last night and ended with a call for citizen involvement. I wrote this article in 2009 where the President called on citizens to volunteer.

One way to do that is to help collect and  update information about known non-school tutoring, mentoring, learning organizations operating in different parts of the city and suburbs.  I've written dozens of articles since 2009 showing how youth programs, schools, faith groups, etc. could take on the role of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, focusing on a zip code, community area, or a small section of geography surrounding their own location.

Here's a presentation showing community information collection to be a shared effort:



If you want to create greater opportunity for youth in disadvantaged areas, you can be a direct service volunteer, or a donor, and help a few kids. However, if you take on the role I've modeled in Chicago for the past 20 years, you can influence the growth of an entire community of needed youth serving organizations, and help each become the best in the world at helping kids through school and into adult lives,  while also helping to bring together people from different backgrounds, professions, races, in a common cause where everyone, including our democracy, is a winner.

While I've piloted this strategy in Chicago, it applies to any city, and any region of the country. It applies to big cities throughout the world. 

Thus, many people from many places can take on this role.  I'd be happy to be your mentor or coach.

Hopefully a few of you might also want to offer your talent and technology skills to helping update and rebuild the Program Locator and other Tutor/Mentor web sites. 



Friday, January 06, 2017

Dig Deeper into Tutor/Mentor Ideas and Articles

I've been writing this blog since 2005 and began putting ideas on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site in 1998 via embedded PowerPoint presentations. Earlier than that I was putting these graphics in printed newsletters.

This represents a lot of information, and few people are willing to make the time to read, digest and share the ideas. Thus, one strategy I've used is to engage interns from various colleges in short, or long, periods of study which results in presentations that they create to interpret what they read.  You can see the image shown above with a collection of other presentations on this page.

The inspiration for my articles and graphics has come from my own experiences in leading a tutor/mentor program in Chicago, as well as from how I'm continually connecting and learning from others. The web library that I've aggregated over the past 30 years is really a collection of links to people and ideas that I've found valuable, and that I feel others would also find useful.

Finding ways to motivate others to dig into this information and then share what they are learning with others has always been the big challenge. When I can, I try to point to others who are already doing this, as an example of what I feel many others can do.

Below is a screen shot of a video created last week by Terry Elliott, a college professor from Western Kentucky, who I first met in 2013 via an on-line Connected Learning, #clmooc.


Over the past couple of weeks Terry introduced me to an RSS feed aggregation called Inoreader. He first mentioned this on a Twitter message and when I asked for help understanding it, he created a video, which he then posted on Vialogues so I could ask questions and he could respond. Then he created this blog article to show several different uses of Inoreader.

A year ago I did not know anything about on-line annotation and Terry was the one who introduced me to this at that time.  In this Jan. 2016 article I share this introduction to annotation.  And in this Feb 2016 article I show many ways that Terry and others who I've met online are expanding my range of ideas.


What's even more important is that Terry has been expanding his own understanding of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC over the past four years and he is sharing this understanding with members of his own network via the blog articles he writes and our interactions on Twitter, Facebook and similar spaces.

Here's another example. When Terry introduced me to annotation last January I suggested that this would be a way for myself and others to share thinking from books and PDF articles we had read in the past.  I suggested that we look at a 1992 report from The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, titled Redefining Child and Family Services: Directions for the Future.  

This was one of the primary resources that I used to show why the Tutor/Mentor Connection was needed and what it was going to do.

We were not able to do that then, but in the past month we were able to load a 1995 update and use Hypothes.is to add comments in the margins. Here's the link. Take a look.

Had more people adopted and supported the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies from 1993-2016 I feel that there would be more supports in places helping kids in high poverty Chicago neighborhoods move safely from pre-school to jobs and careers and the strategy might have spread to other cities.

Part of the reason I did not get that support is that too few people actually knew the Tutor/Mentor Connection existed or what it was trying to do...because I did not have the tools now available to share my ideas, and did not have people like Terry Elliott, helping me build understanding and awareness in more places.

Poverty and inequality are still entrenched in Chicago and America. Thus, it's not too late for people to dig into these ideas and look for ways to apply them locally and globally.

Since I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I've encouraged colleges and high schools to adopt the T/MC strategy, with students doing the same work I do, but focused on the geography around their university.  This article from June 2015 shows that vision.

Over the past twenty years many people have done what Terry Elliott is doing, but few have done it consistently.  I created the concept map shown below as one way to aggregate links to people like Terry, so others could see what they are writing about, and connect with them, not just with me.

Anyone can take this role. The more who do, the greater will be the visibility and application of these ideas.  If you do start using your blog, videos or web site to share and interpret the ideas on my blog and web sites, send me a link and I'll add you to the map.

If you want to set up a student involvement project modeled after the T/MC I'd love to help you do that. 

Thanks to all who inspire my work on a daily basis by how you spend time networking and sharing your own ideas.







Thursday, January 05, 2017

'Too many walls and not enough bridges"

I just read a fascinating article about how bridges enhanced the growth of major cities around the world. In it's conclusion the author wrote "We build too many walls and not enough bridges".

I created the graphic at the left in 2008 for this blog article which is one of many that focus on mentoring as a form of "bridging social capital". The divides I seek to bridge are social, economic, age and racial, not rivers and canyons.

I've used it often, along with other graphics, such as this one, to show how people can take on intermediary roles of connecting people and places where help is needed, with people, ideas and resources in places where help is available.

Volunteers who serve as mentors to young people who live in concentrated, segregated, high poverty neighborhoods, are filling that role, even if they don't recognize that they do it.

As we head into 2017 and a new Presidential administration I feel it's more important than ever to find ways to build bridges instead of walls.

Let me know how you're doing that.  Dig into past articles on this blog to find more ideas that you can apply in your own community.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Violence Prevention as Public Health Strategy

Yesterday I posted an article with the titled "Reducing Violence, Poverty in Chicago. What's the Plan?" in response to articles on the front page of major Chicago media.  Today in it's editorial page the Chicago Tribune writes "Chicago's Crime Epidemic: How can  you help?" and highlights mentoring as a solution.

That's not enough.

In past articles I've shown roles of hospitals and universities as anchor organizations who could influence the availability of youth and family support systems in the areas surrounding each institution.

Today my Twitter friend Valdis Krebs pointed me to an article titled "Modeling Contagion Through Social Networks to Explain and Predict Gunshot Violence in Chicago, 2006 to 2014" which I've added to my web library and recommend as "deeper learning" for anyone concerned with this problem.

Toward the end of the article the authors added this statement:

"A fully realized public health approach centered on subjects of gun violence includes focused violence reduction efforts that work in concert with efforts aimed at addressing the aggregate risk factors of gun violence, namely, the conditions that create such networks in the first place or otherwise determine which individuals are in such networks (eg, neighborhood disadvantage and failing schools)."

As readers look at the charts in research papers like this, and look for solutions to violence in Chicago and other cities, I encourage you to look at the concept maps shown below.

The first shows supports kids need as they move from pre-school to jobs, over a 20 to 30 year period.
See the map here.


This second map shows that people raising kids in affluent areas have some of the same challenges as people in poor areas, however, as Robert Putnam says in his "Our Kids" book, they have more resources to help kids overcome those challenges.



The next map shows a planning process that needs to be taking place in many places, supporting t he involvement of many people.  Note that on the right there are maps, indicating a need for solutions to be available in every high poverty area of the Chicago region.  On the right are graphics that focus on building and sustaining public will and the flow of resources to support such an effort, and the need to influence what leaders and resource providers do, not just what non profit leaders and volunteers do.


This next map shows four concurrent strategies that need to be taking place to support this planning. The first focuses on collecting information, or intelligence, that can be used by anyone involved in the planning. The second and third steps focus on the advertising and marketing and facilitation that are required to bring more people to the information and help them understand it and apply it in actions that support needed work in all the different poverty areas shown on maps developed as part of the first step.  This four part strategy is described in this pdf.


These concept maps are available to anyone in the world and can be used as visual aids and discussion starters for leaders, volunteers, donors, policy makers, etc.

Throughout my articles I also use geographic maps, showing all of the high poverty areas of Chicago.

At each age level, pre-school through high school, kids in high poverty neighborhoods need a full range of supports, as illustrated by the two concept maps.

Mentoring by itself, can't help kids overcome the lack of these supports on a consistent basis as they grow up.  In many cases, without organized programs operating in different neighborhoods, volunteers representing different career options than what is most often modeled in high poverty neighborhoods, won't even be able to find ways to connect with youth.

My articles have been freely available on this blog since 2005 and on web sites since 1998. I'd love to see more leaders including visualizations and  maps in articles that show strategies and invite others to become involved....and that draw direct and on-going operating and innovation dollars to all of the organizations needed in every one of these high poverty areas.

If you're aware of people who do this, please share the link  in the comments section below.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Reducing Violence, Poverty in Chicago. What's the Plan?

Both of Chicago's major newspapers ended the year with front page stories about violence in Chicago on their front pages.

This image is from an article I posted in November 2015.  If you browse this blog for past articles tagged "planning", "leadership", "media", etc. you'll find ideas I've been sharing for over 20 years.

Had leaders in Chicago embraced and supported those ideas since 1994 I wonder what the level of violence and inequality would be in the city today?

The ENOUGH graphic at the right is from a June 2012 article titled "Stopping Violence. Do the Planning", which focuses on the learning that is essential for development and commitment to a comprehensive, regional wide strategy supported by people in business, faith groups, politics, media, etc.

At the core of my strategies is the use of maps to focus attention on all of the high poverty neighborhoods in Chicago and the suburbs, and on existing non-school, tutoring, mentoring and learning programs already operating.  With an on-line map platform such as the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator which I have been developing since 2008, people can zoom into sections of the city, and use maps as part of a community building effort, enlisting all of the businesses, faith groups, colleges, hospitals, etc. within the map area as supporters of programs that help youth through school and into careers.


Below is a map I created in early 2016 showing non-school tutor, mentor and/or learning programs in the Chicago region. View the map here


I don't give endorsements of one program or another as the best. Instead, I say, “look at the map to see where these programs are needed, based on poverty, violence, poorly performing schools, etc.”

Then pick a neighborhood to make a long-term commitment to help. Once you've done that look at the programs that operate in that neighborhood, using their web site to help you understand who they are, what they do and how you can help them.

Some programs have great web sites and show great work. Other programs don't have great web sites, or don't show comprehensive plans for what they do to help kids.  I created this PDF shoppers guide presentation to show some of the things I would like to see on program web sites to help volunteers, donors and parents choose which programs to support, or to find ideas for helping neighborhood programs constantly improve. 

If you've adopted that neighborhood, your job is to 

a) help good programs get better; 
b) help not-so-good programs become good programs; and 
c) help new programs form in places where no programs are located, or where specialized types of service are still needed.

If enough people take this role, adopting each of the high poverty Chicago and suburban zip codes where kids and families need extra help, there soon will be great programs in more places doing more to help kids have networks of support, safe places in the non-school hours, places for enrichment and extra learning, and places that offer hope and help more kids move safely through school and into careers.

This will not happen over night, or in one year, or even three or four years. However, in 20 years will we still see the same year end news reports showing violence in Chicago and calling for a "master plan"?  Or will we see 20 years of growth in how the city and the region help those who need help the most?

Make this your New Year's Commitment. This  year. Next year. The following year. In 10 years.