Sunday, March 18, 2018

Next Tutor/Mentor eNews coming. Share with your Network

I've been writing articles on this blog since 2005 and before that used email newsletters, print newsletters and bi-annual conferences held in Chicago to connect people who want to help all kids move through school and into adult lives, with ideas and each other.

I'm actively sharing ideas every day on Twitter, Facebook and Linked in, but only send my email newsletter once a month. It's loaded with information so I encourage people to bookmark it and bring it up frequently as a support for the work each of you do to build and sustain needed programs that reach kids and families in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

I post a link to the newsletters in this archive so you can refer to past issues. 

Between 1994 and 2002 I sent a print newsletter three times a year. While my mailing list started with about 400 people in 1993 it grew to about 12,000 people by 1998-99. That meant I was reliably putting this into the hands of one or two people at every Chicago tutor/mentor program on my list, as well as a large number of people in foundations, business, Chicago universities, libraries, schools and Chicago politics.

It was also reaching a large number of people in other cities and states.

When financial circumstances forced us to stop sending the printed newsletter in 2002 we created an email version, but the list of people receiving that never was the same as the print newsletter list. As spam became an issue it became more and more difficult to simply add people to the email list.

You needed to subscribe. That meant we were reaching fewer and fewer people in different tutor/mentor programs, and the ecosystem of people who need to be actively involved in supporting programs in every neighborhood.

That's where we stand today. Thus, if you are connected to leaders of any of Chicago's tutor/mentor programs, foundations, businesses, political groups, etc. , encourage them to visit the archives to see what I include in the newsletter...

....then subscribe, using this form.

At the same time I urge you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Linked in and actively share ideas about what's happening in different Chicago area and national tutor/mentor programs, as well as what challenges you face that limit your ability to do everything you feel needs to be done.

After nearly 10 years on social media I think Twitter offers the greatest potential for interaction. If you're not sure of how to get involved, there's a New Teachers to Twitter (#nt2t) chat every Saturday morning from 8am to 9am that you can follow, and join in on as you become confortable with the platform.

Or you can visit this cMap where I show some of the Twitter chats I follow. Click the link to go to each chat, then scroll through the latest posts to see who's posting comments and what they are sharing.

While you cannot solve the challenges you, your students and your organization face, by yourself, we all might make a difference if we were connecting more frequently in our efforts. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Spreading good ideas to more places. What's needed?

If the carrot represents a good idea we want to support, or we want to duplicate in more places,  how do we get more people to "chase the carrot"?

Especially if we don't have an advertising budget?

I've been writing about this for many years. Rather than re-write a former blog article, I'll just point you to a few and hope you'll open the links and take a look.

What is Information Based Problem Solving - written in March 2016 - click here

What do I do? What is a MOOC? - written in February 2013 - click here

What if 1% of Election Spending were focused on problem solving? - written in April 2015 - click here

What does Knowledge Based problem solving mean? - written in Nov. 2014 - click here

Problem Solving, Systems Thinking. Hacking: Violence, Education, Jobs - written July 2014 - click here 

These are just a few of many articles written on this topic since 2015. Click here and scroll through the articles and you'll find these, and more.

I share these with the goal that readers will gather a group of friends, co-workers, and family members and read these as a group, then spend time talking about how the ideas might apply to them, in their own community, and in their own efforts to help economically disadvantaged kids get the extra, and on-going, support they need to move safely through school and into adult lives.

If you're having this discussion on Twitter, Facebook or Linked in, please invite me to join  you.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Solving complex problems. Do the homework. Make your own luck.

It's a week before St. Patrick's Day and time to bring out an image I created a few years ago and repeat each year at this time. Here's the article I wrote last March. Please take time to read it.

View cMap version

There are several elements in this graphic that I want to highlight.

First is this "Mentoring Kids to Careers" graphic that I've used since the late 1990s to show that kids in high poverty areas need support from pre-school through employment..which is a 16 to 20 year journey.  Few leaders and/or donors are able to sustain a commitment for this many years.

Yet, to various degrees of success, we do maintain an on-going commitment to public schools, faith groups, colleges, hospitals and other place based institutions.

Why not to mentor-rich non-school youth serving programs?

In both of the above graphics I include maps of Chicago, where high poverty areas are highlighted. At the left you can see me pointing to newspaper stories about violence, gangs, poorly performing schools, and to maps that show where these problems are most concentrated. 

Well organized, mentor-rich non-school programs are needed in all of these areas and I've been trying to teach this to anyone I could reach since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011.

Finally, I embed the four steps of the problem solving strategy the T/MC has followed since 1993 into the four leaves of the clover graphic.  I describe these four steps in many articles on this blog, such as this one.

The goal?  Better information, with more people looking at it, and understanding it, can lead to a more consistent flow of needed resources to every existing tutor/mentor program in Chicago (or any other city that adopts this strategy) and can lead to new programs being formed in places on the map where they are needed.

Building the information base and an on-going communications and learning strategy is what I've been piloting and attempting to do since 1993.  I've had a lot of bad luck over the years as a result of business conditions, the environment, wars, terrorism, and leadership changes. Yet I've also been lucky from time to time to have someone step forward with a  major cash contribution to help me do this work, such as in 2007 when an anonymous donor gave $50,000 which we used to rebuild our in-house mapping and develop the on-line Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program locator platform. Or to have volunteers step forward an offer to help build or update a web site for me.

If you want to help me keep doing this work, visit this page and make a contribution.

If  you want to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection and re-build it in Chicago or apply it to your own city, introduce yourself with a comment or on my Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook pages.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Grant Competitions. Few Winners. Many Losers.

I have used this graphic for many years to visualize the need for leaders to mobilize support on an on-going basis for tutor/mentor programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago.

I've supported that thinking since 1993 by building and maintaining a list of Chicago area non school, volunteer-based tutor and mentoring programs.  Visit this cMap and you can find links to my list of programs, and platforms managed by others which you can also use to find youth programs in Chicago and other cities.

I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago in 1993 with the goal of helping every neighborhood have great non-school programs reaching kids starting as early as 1st grade and staying connected to them all the way through high school, college and into work.  The map graphic at the right illustrates that every program has common needs, that need to be met annually, for programs to operate, grow and improve.

One of the unmet goals of my work is to create a map platform where icons on the map indicate where donations of time, talent and dollars are landing in different neighborhoods. Without an accountability tool like this we'll never know for certain if were providing support to all the places where it's most needed.

Over the past 15-20 year's I've seen a growing number of high profile grant competitions, from the federal and state government, from foundations, and from business. In most cases many organizations spent countless hours of staff time, consultant fees, and emotional energy preparing submissions for these grants.

But the reality is that only a few programs win, and they many not win every year.

I first created this "good to great" graphic in mid-2000s and have used it often. Here's most recent article, from 2017.

In these articles I'm pointing to the Jim Collins booktitled "Good to Great and the Social Sectors"

To be great you need to build strong organizations, and that requires an on-going flow of resources.

Grant competitions with only a few winners don't fill a map of Chicago or any other city with great youth serving programs in every high poverty neighborhoods. 

That's got to change.

Here's how that might happen.  I created this map graphic a few years ago after reading the annual Forbes article about the world's richest people. The local Chicago papers featured this story again this past week, showing 17 super wealthy people living in the Chicago region. 

I wrote articles suggesting that these people adopt different sections of the city and provide on-going operating dollars to support needed non profit and social enterprise organizations in their adopted areas.  (see article)

Three of these guys are asking to be governor of Illinois. None has a visible track record of using their personal wealth to fund multiple programs as I've suggested, or to influence other wealthy people to join them. I'm sure they each can point to individual programs they've supported.

Funding youth tutor/mentor programs on an on-going basis, and helping new ones form where more are needed would be a great start, and could be happening in every city. However, as the graphic below shows, there are many challenges that need to be addressed, in every high poverty neighborhood. 

All, or most, of these need to be addressed or we'll continue to spend tons of money with too little impact.

View this Race-Poverty map

Those wealthy leaders who adopt neighborhoods could also adopt and fund the intermediary organizations who build the information libraries that are needed to support this effort.  When I say "Information Library" I'm pointing to the Tutor/Mentor web library as an example. 

This includes many articles showing uses of maps to help understand "who" is in the community who need to be at the table in efforts to create greater opportunities for all youth growing up in those communities.

These maps are among many that can be found on this blog (see maps tag) and on the Mappingforjustice blog. There's also a map gallery, showing maps created between 2008 and 2011, with links to blog articles that show how the map was integrated into a story. 

Without building this information base, and the map resources, too few of those who need to be funded will receive consistent funds to enable them to constantly learn from their own work, and from others, and grow from year-to-year. Too few of those with roots in a community area will have a voice at the face-to-face or virtual on-line table.

Grant competitions will never solve this problem. They may raise visibility for the donor, and even the issue, but they do as much to harm organizations who constantly seek to win, but most often lose.

This is not like the business world, where one soap producer can distribute soap to people all over the city (if there are distribution points available). We need great youth tutor/mentor and family support programs in every high poverty neighborhood. 

One more map!

This cMap is just one more way of showing that kids need many different supports as they move through school and into adult lives. Such supports need to be available in every high poverty neighborhood, just as they are naturally available in most affluent neighborhoods.

Adults who get involved as volunteer tutors, mentors, tech support, board members, etc. can help make this happen.  Billionaires can provide the fuel.

Competitions don't work.

Visit this section of the Tutor/Mentor web library to read about challenges facing non-profit organizations, such as this article titled "The NonProfit Starvation Cycle".

Like what I'm writing about? I'm starving for funds, too. Click here and use the PayPal button to support my efforts. 

Friday, March 02, 2018

What Can You Do to Help?

I wrote a couple of "do over" articles a year ago after the Oscars. And since 2011 I've met with a lot of people.  I need to figure out a better answer to this question than what I've given in the past because too few conversations where someone asks "What Can I do to Help?" result in them actually doing work that helps me further the goals of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC) which I started in 1993.

Let me try this. 

First. I'm trying to find people from different industries, universities, faith groups, etc. who will build their own understanding of the strategy map shown below, and put a version of it on their own web site, with their name/photo/web site, etc in the Blue Box at the top of the map.

People who make this commitment can be from any place in the world.
In the middle of the graphic, right below the blue box, is a node that says, "Four-Part strategy to achieve this goal". If you open the "four part strategy" link you'll see the concept map I'm showing below.

This article describes 4-part strategy

By making the commitment (to goals of strategy map) you're making a commitment to help build the information library, which includes GIS map directories showing location of existing youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in Chicago, or other cities. That's all part of step 1

Then you're also committing to "act like Dan" and help increase the number of people who read our blogs and look at the information in the library (step 2); and to helping form groups in colleges, churches, businesses, etc. that help people understand and apply the ideas and information in the library (step 3).

When I say "act like Dan" look at this concept map to see all the places I share information regularly. Imagine how many more people would see this information if 100 people were posting and tweeting and speaking at events and meetings every day.

Finally (step 4),  you're using your own visibility and communications tools on a daily basis to draw more people directly to youth and family serving organizations that information (step 1) shows are needed in every high poverty neighborhood of the world (also in step 1).

It's step 4 where I feel I differ from most others. I want to draw volunteers and donors directly to individual programs, with their web sites serving as their grant proposals and donation requests.  Here are a few articles to read about this goal.

If you are willing to make this commitment, demonstrate it by your actions, which include (a) putting the strategy map on your web site; and (b) using  your blog, web site, Tweets, etc. to explain in your own words what the Tutor/Mentor Connection is and what it's trying to do, and to draw people to the Tutor/Mentor library and blogs and web site.  See how interns did this between 2005 and 2015.

Talent Needed
At the left is a concept map that shows the range of talent that I hope some day is making this commitment.  I'd like to be able to put links in each node to point to people who are doing the two steps described above. 

On another concept map I point to blogs and videos where people are already writing about the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. If you're doing this, send me a link to your story and I'll add you.

Out of this network of leaders I need to find a small group who will provide future leadership for Tutor/Mentor Connection as a 501-c-3 non profit, and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC as a social enterprise.  I have not figured out how to do this, so finding someone who can bring together a team for this purpose is really important.

How do T/MC and T/MI differ, other than tax status? Take a look at this concept map

You don't really need to dig any deeper to look at the strategy map and decide if that's your commitment too, or to look at the 4-part strategy and decide if you can  help with one, or all four, steps.  You don't need any type of permission or formal alignment with me to do either.

However, if you want to dig a lot deeper, visit this wiki and read through it to see what has been done in the past, where help is needed, and ideas for what could be done in the future by a new set of leaders.

In the short term, you can also go to this page and make a small (or large) contribution to help me keep doing this work.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Non Profit/NGO use of Social Media - 2018 report

Since creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993, and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, a core part of my strategy has been to draw more consistent attention to volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs throughout the Chicago region, to  help attract volunteers and donors to each program, to share ideas, and to draw programs and resource providers together to learn from each other.

Below is a newspaper article from 1994 that shows this commitment:

View pdf of this article - here

The costs of communications has always been an issue for those with small budgets so our strategies have encouraged others to help tell the story.

When the Internet became available in the mid 1990s, then social media in the late 2000s, we found these to be low-cost, high potential ways to reach and engage with others.  However, that potential has not been maximized.

Two articles came to my attention this week that I want to share with you.

1) 2018 report of social media use - The Global NGO Technology Report was just released. If you read the blog articles you'll find one on social media  use, and another that talks about a missed opportunity, which is using blogs to tell your story. 

I have maintained this list of Chicago area Tutor and/or Mentor organisations since 1993 and find very few using blogs, or using them for more than bulletin boards announcing grants and events. This is a missed opportunity for engaging youth, volunteers and staff in writing activities that have multiple purposes.  One entire section of the Tutor/Mentor web library focuses on blogs. Take a look.

2) Why Facebook is a Waste of Time--and Money-- for  Arts NonProfits.  This article offers one organization's perspective, but I feel it applies to my own efforts, and those of many others. 

I built two lists on Facebook in 2015. One is a list of Chicago youth organizations and the second is a list of Chicago intermediaries who support individual organizations.  So far I've not had one person comment on the list, ask to add another organization, or ask to delete inactive organizations.

I use this list to scroll through pages, see what programs are doing, add "likes" and comments.  But I don't see much interaction among programs the way I have seen among some other groups, like the #clmooc group, or like I see on Twitter among the #clmooc, #worldgeochat and #engageMOOC groups.

I have had success engaging with some former youth and volunteers from the tutor/mentor programs I've led, and connecting with social entrepreneurs from Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. So I'm not planning on leaving Facebook.

However, I've not purchased any ads, nor do I have the  money to take that route.  Thus, the criticism offered by the second article still resonates with me.

What's your experience?  Offer a comment here, or connect with me on one of the social media sites where I'm trying to reach out, engage and draw greater attention to youth tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and around the world.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Building Local-Global Problem Solving Connections

I've been connecting with people and ideas via Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook for the past 10 years. I currently find Twitter chats more valuable than either other platform so I created this hashtag concept map so others could connect via the same groups I've found.

For the past two weeks I've been part of an on-line #EngageMOOC course focused on "Engagement in a time of Polarization".  The content (videos, articles) for the course is hosted on #EdX, so you need to be logged in to read. However, some materials are also available on YouTube and   I put the 2/12/18 YouTube hangout video on my Vialogues page, so others could view and offer comments.  I read and commented on the article titled "Power, Polarization and Tech" using

The course content will remain on line for at least one year, in archive format, but without the chatter on Twitter, I'm not certain how many more people will find the information, read it, and engage with others. Furthermore, after a year all of this may disappear.

The problems we focus on will extend much longer than that.

I've been building a web library for the past 20 years (which before that was a paper-based library hosted at my office in Chicago).  If you view tweets I've posted about #tutor #mentor and #learning, you'll see that I point to this regularly, as a resource for anyone in the world who wants to get involved in reducing poverty, which includes building and sustaining non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs that reach k-12 youth in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and any other city.

I created the cMap shown below today to illustrate the need to archive information and keep it available for decades and to motivate growing numbers of people to spend time learning from the library to support ways they use their own time, talent, dollars and civic engagement, where ever they live, or in what ever issue they focus on.

Yesterday I attended a lunch event at the Chicago Hyatt Regency in Chicago, along with at least 300 others. I sat between the General Consul from Japan and the General Consul from South Korea. We listened to Senator Tammy Duckworth describe 21st century threats and opportunities.

As I listened I tweeted out a wish that all these people were connected and engaged via Twitter chats and other social media platforms, the way I've been growing my engagements. Furthermore, I hoped that more and more of the on-line interactions would point to reading material and videos the way the #engageMOOC course has been doing.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) is an "information based 4-part problem solving strategy, visualized in the cmap at the right, and in this article. It uses information to support decisions and actions, including the flow of resources into high poverty areas.

I hope that my conversations on-line and with people I sit next to at lunch will lead them to look at what I'm writing, and will lead them to engage youth as intermediaries, like myself, in bringing more people to on-line forums and on-line libraries.  The video below is an example of what's possible. It was created by an intern from South Korea and it shows work that previous interns did when they were working with me.

This is one of many visualizations created by interns between 2005 and 2015.   On this page you can see a list of interns who have worked with my organization, and the universities they came from.

I've been reaching out to universities since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993, with a request for shared ownership that involves students, faculty and alumni. While I've been fortunate to have many interns take short term roles, up to one year, I've not been able to embed a Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute program on any campus, where it shares the goal of the university and many different departments of the university, as well of many different alumni.

I've never been able to bring money to the table, thus my ideas get polite nods and "go find a younger professor" suggestions.

Many of the people who I'm meeting in on-line communities come from high schools and higher education.  Here's an article where I invite universities to form an on-campus program that duplicates what I've been trying to do, and does it better, and for many more years into the future. I think this could be happening at the high school level, too.

Learning Communities
Graphic created by Intern 
At some point in the future a #clmooc that I point to should be one where students and alumni from different universities, in different countries, are sharing work they've been doing to learn what I've been trying to do and to apply those ideas to help reduce poverty in their own communities.

Interested? Connect with me @tutormentorteam on Twitter or on Linkedin or Facebook. Or introduce yourself with a comment on this article.