Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Letter from Barbara Bush, March 1991

I along with millions of others was sad to hear news yesterday of the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Many tributes to her are flowing on my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin feeds.

Below is a copy of a letter I received from Barbara Bush in 1991.


In the second paragraph she leads off saying "George Bush has said that every child deserves to have someone who knows his or her name. That is the critical kind of individual attention that can transform a child's life, and that's what a program like yours does so well."

Isaiah with mentor, Sara Caldwell
A few years ago when Tutoring Chicago (which was originally the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program when I led it between 1975 and 1992) celebrated its 50th Anniversary, the keynote speaker was alumni Isaiah Brooms. He is pictured at the left with his long-term mentor, Sara Caldwell (a founder of the Tutor/Mentor Connection). 

Isaiah told a story of how important it had been to him when he first joined the tutoring program that I knew his name and how transformative that experience was in his life. He's now a college grad, married, holding a job, and raising his own two kids.   In 1988, around when Isaiah joined, we had more than 250 kids enrolled and I made an effort to try to know all of their names....aided by my PC spreadsheet attendance list!

Barbara Bush continued her letter with "I salute you for reaching out to involve other corporations in establishing programs like Montgomery Ward's, and I have every hope that your experience with Cabrini-Green's children will  convince others that education is everybody's business."

View "it takes a village" map
Note the word "HOPE".

If you browse through the many articles I  have posted on this blog, and the printed newsletters I was sending in the 1990s, you'll find me using "I hope" over and over to spread the wish that leaders in businesses, hospitals, universities, professional associations, faith groups would become strategically involved in building and sustaining mentor-rich non-school programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago,

I really believe that "It takes a village to raise a child" and that organized, non-school tutor/mentor programs can be that village for many kids.

I put this 1993 Chicago SunTimes story in an article I wrote in April 2015. I've highlighted the opening and closing sections to show the problems that were keeping big solutions to poverty from forming in the 1970s and 80s, were the same keeping them from forming in the 1990s and 2000s. Too many people want to do their own thing. Too  many are reinventing the wheel. Too little commitment to long-term solutions.  Too many with "not invented here" attitudes.

Thus, the problems that motivated leaders to launch the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward in 1965 and that have motivated me to form the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, are still with us.

My resources to do this work have shrunk to almost nothing and I've been looking for new leaders to invest in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC or to adopt it and move it into a university or some other institution. 

Maybe Mrs. Bush will provide some help to fuel that hope from her place with the angels in what ever Heaven there may be.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Inspired by Others from On-Line Networks

I've been building a web library for more than 20 years with links to articles that inspire me in my efforts, and hopefully help many others in their own work to create a better future for our kids.

The Connected Learning #clmooc group is one that I have followed since 2013. One of the ways members stay connected is by creating and sharing creative projects. I've hacked a few of these in the past (that's encouraged) so when I saw a Twitter post from Sarah Honneychurch yesterday, I saved it to my PC, then added some of my own ideas. See it below:


As we start another week I point to many places around the world, and the US, where people suffer for a variety of reasons.

View on Twitter

Here's Sarah's original, which she tagged with "AprilDoodle #ILLomo #Wish Upon A Star and #clmooc".  The "Wish" idea resonated with me, so I added a little color to the stars, and I pointed to some places around the world, and the US, where there's too many people suffering and where "HOPE" may be in short supply. 

Syria, Yemen, Sudan and  Mayamar are are among the places I've highlighted. I also point to racial and social justice issues, healing for planet Earth, and call for "peace in all conflict areas".

I ran out of stars to point to all the places where help is needed so included a graphic showing the United Nations' Global Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs.

It's not enough to "wish" for good things to happen and problems to be solved so I also included this "ENOUGH" graphic, which I've posted in this blog multiple times since the late 2000s.  Here's one post where I've put this into a video.

Thank you Sarah Honneychurch and  others in the #clmooc community who keep posting ideas that inspire me in my own efforts.

There's much to do.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Building Support for Tutor/Mentor Programs in Different Neighborhoods

A couple of weeks ago I posted an  updated version of a report from 2013 showing the number of high poverty youth in each community area of Chicago.  Here's the link.

In this report I show different sections of Chicago with the number of high poverty youth age 6-17 who live in each area, and what percent that is of all youth in that area. With the new maps you can see changes from a few years ago (the blue boxes). This shows that in many areas there are less high poverty youth, and in some there are more.

My goal is that groups in each community area use this information, plus my database of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs (click here) to determine the following:

a) need for non-school tutor, mentor & learning programs in the area, based on indicators such as poverty, poorly performing schools, health disparities, violence, crime, etc.

b) availability of existing tutor/mentor programs in the area, based on age group served and type of program.  For instance, a program might exist that serves elementary school kids, but if there is no program in the area that serves these kids when they enter high school, this is a void that needs to be filled.   Or, there might be one or two programs, but they are difficult for kids in some parts of the area to reach, or they are too small to serve the  number of kids in the area who would benefit.

Between 2002 and 2008 I created an interactive search engine to help people determine this information. See it here. Unfortunately, I've not had help or resources to update this since 2013.

c) who are assets (businesses, faith groups, hospitals, colleges, etc) in the area who could help existing programs grow, or who could help new programs form in the area.  One section of the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator was intended to help people learn who some of the assets were in different parts of the city. This also is out of date, but it serves as a demonstration of what's needed to support this planning.

d) how well organized, experienced, effective are existing programs? What can be learned from programs in different places to help improve programs in other places?  I created this "shoppers guide" a few years ago to offer some ideas for what to look for on a program's web site.   The goal is not to penalize programs that may not be as well organized as others. It is to help every program, in every  neighborhood, be as good as they can be.

Vision for mentor-rich programs

With this information anyone can begin to tell stories about existing programs, or about the need for more programs. Anyone can begin to invite others to meet and talk about the need and what can be done to help programs grow in the area.

I've been using maps from the report in Twitter posts, to encourage youth organizations in different parts of Chicago to take a lead on this analysis and community building effort. Here's an example.


Today I've listened to a few of the live webcast of the 2018 Skoll World Forum, being held in the UK.  The theme is Power of Proximity.  Using maps you can take a systematic approach to learning who shares a community area with you and what types of youth programs may be needed to help kids in an area move more safely and successfully through school and into jobs, careers and adult lives.

Planning Cycle - click here
Using social media, traditional media, sermons, posts in church bulletins, company newsletters and old fashion door-to-door community organizing anyone can begin to bring a group of people and organizations together to talk about the need for non-school programs and ways to fill a neighborhood with enough needed programs and services to reach 25 to 50% or more of the k-12 youth in each community area.

While I focus on non-school tutor/mentor programs, this same process can be used to identify other needs for place based services or for the development of new businesses in an area.

Here's a link to the PDF. Feel free to create screen shots of pages in the report and use them in  your own Tweets, FB posts and organizing stories. 

Include @tutormentorteam in your Tweet and I'll re-Tweet your post and help you draw attention to it.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Forming Tutor/Mentor Hospital Connection

Some times I'm stuck when trying to decide what to write about on this blog. In those cases I look back to see what I had written on this date in previous years.

I did that today. I looked at April 3, 2008 and found an article titled "Hospitals Bleeding Red Ink" that pointed at local newspaper stories talking about "Hospitals serving the poor are bleeding red ink as the uninsured ranks grow, health-care costs climb, and more government cutbacks loom."

In that article I pointed to a PDF that had been first developed for me by a team of graduate students at DePaul University, which is a strategic planning template that hospital leaders could use in creating a strategy to help lower the costs of poverty in the area around the hospital by supporting the growth of non-school, volunteer-based, tutor, mentor and learning programs in the area.

I've been trying to form partnerships with local and national hospitals since the late 1990s. The concept map at the right was included in a December 2017 article and points to many previous articles on this subject.

Hospitals and universities in every major city have the potential to take on intermediary roles that influence what happens in the area surrounding their facilities and campuses. Many already do much. My goal is to get ideas that I've been sharing into their strategic planning committees, so they can be asking "Is there more we could be doing?"

Update 4-17-18: Just learned about West Side United - a hospital led initiative intended to improve health of people on West Side of Chicago.

I hope you'll help me by reading and sharing these articles.

I also hope you'll help by making a small contribution to help me keep doing this work. Click here to find a PayPal link that you can use. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Small Voice in Universe of Ideas about Education & Poverty

I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to try to draw greater daily attention to non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, as a strategy for helping youth in poverty move safely and successfully through school and into adult lives, with jobs that enable them to raise their own kids without the challenges of living in high poverty areas.

Since 2005 I've written more than 1000 articles on this blog that focus on this issue. I've posted many others since 2008 on the Mappingforjustice blog.

I created this graphic a few years ago to illustrate how difficult it is to get attention in the universe of education, poverty, inequality, workforce development, etc. Most solutions focus on schools, and what happens in the school day. Too few focus on what we might do to help  youth come to school better prepared to learn and continue their learning and network development in non-school hours and summer months.

Even fewer focus on ways to generate resources and distribute them to all of the places where kids and families need more help.

Since 1994 I've used maps of Chicago to support this effort.  All of the conversations about how "great teachers" can change the life of a student don't include many discussions about how difficult it is to get great teachers in every classroom of every high poverty neighborhood as a youth moves from pre-school through high school and college.

That's why I focus on non-school programs. They can be started by any group of people, in any neighborhood,  who want to try new ideas for helping youth become life-long learners, and move through school --- even if the local school is not interested, or able, to provide great teachers and learning opportunities in every classroom. 

Furthermore, they offer an entry point for people who don't live in poverty, don't have kids in the school system, and who might never get involved in trying to build a better birth-to-work support system.

Several sections of the web library I've built since 1998 point to non-school organizations who are doing this type of innovation.  At the same time, other sections focus to innovations that are taking place in many public schools.   Other sections focus on collaboration, innovation, knowledge management, etc .

The challenge is drawing more people to this information, to learn from it, and apply ideas in their own schools or non-school programs. Another, is to encourage people in cities beyond Chicago to build, maintain, and share similar libraries.

A couple of weeks ago I found an article by Steve Whitla that helps me understand why it's so difficult to communicate complex ideas when there's not a large number of people who have a shared experience.  I posted it on Hypothes.is so I could highlight parts of it and add comments.  Today Steve posted another article on this topic. Read it here.

Just to imagine how small I feel in this universe of ideas, I encourage you to view this video.



A human being would be far to the left of Ceres, which is the first object in this video. When you view the entire video you can see that our speck of life is invisible.

Yet,  how we use this speck of life is important.

Every day I'm reaching into small parts of this universe with ideas and in an effort to learn from others and connect with those who also focus on building and sustaining non-school support systems in thousands of place around the planet we live on.

It really only takes a small group of dedicated people, with different talents, to make huge changes in the world.

Thank you to those who help me by reading, following, forwarding and re-tweeting. 

Remember, we don't need to find everyone. We just need to find a few.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter, Passover - Another Year - Same Message

For the millions of people in the world who have strong religious beliefs Easter weekend is one of the most powerful celebrations of the year. Millions of people around the world will gather and renew their faith over the next few days. This year Passover, the Jewish religious celebration, is also this weekend.

I've written about this almost every year since 2005 so instead of writing a new story, I encourage you to read some of the articles I've written in the past.

I could have created a brand new article, but I' only be repeating the same themes that I've talked about in the past. I don't think the Christians create a new Bible every year. Jews don't create new scripture. They keep pulling out the same scroll ever year. The scripture and themes that will be in sermons this Sunday will be the same scripture and themes that faith leaders have pointed to for over 2000 years.


In 2011 I wrote an article about the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. I'm not a Biblical scholar, so I did some searching and came up with this web site that provides a number of Tower of Babel articles worth reading.

I used this theme again last year.


As I look at all of the problems facing the world, I think of my own efforts to mobilize people and resources to help kids in high poverty areas have the range of supports they need to be more successful moving safely through school and into adult lives with jobs that enable them to live free of poverty.

I keep trying to attract a few eyeballs every day to focus on this problem.

This concept map illustrates that there are many problems that challenge all families.  People living in poverty areas have fewer resources to overcome these challenges.  Each spoke on this map represents a challenge families face. Making one service available for a short period of time, in a few places, really does not work, since the other problems still persist.

The story of the Tower of Babel was written more than 2000 years ago. It's a story about how people tried to work together to solve a complex problem. And they failed.

This is the text from Genesis 11:1-9

"Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.' And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them

Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.' Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:1-9)

I highlighted nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them because this is where I struggle in my thinking.  If just a small percent of the people in the world focus on helping kids in poverty, much can be done.  If a similar small percent of people focus on each of the other issues we face, which are well defined in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, much more might be done.

Connecting and coordinating efforts so all of the nodes on the concept map are connected and learning from each other, has the potential to show that no problem is impossible to solve.

However, in the Bible story, GOD said "let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech".



Everyone understands the problem differently, and the words we speak have different meaning, based on different life experiences.

Does the story of the Tower of Babel mean that the GOD that many worship really does not want people to find ways to work together to solve the suffering and potential disasters to the human race that we are facing?

I don't want to believe that.

Read the articles I've written over the past 13 years about networks, network building, learning, innovation and collaboration.  Maybe there's a way to connect and put more eyeballs on each of these problems and use our technology to connect with each other.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Follow #MarchForOurLives with ongoing idea sharing & learning

Yesterday I spent three hours watching live coverage of the Washington, DC #MarchForOurLives event and shared images like this via my Twitter and Facebook networks.

Here's the CSpan video. I hope you'll take time to watch it.  I suspect that over the next few days there will be a web archive with smaller video clips of individual presentations.... from DC and from other cities where marches were held.

All of these speakers emphasized registering to vote, then voting.

I want to emphasize the other work that needs to be done, now, next week, before and after the November 2018 elections and for many years, so that every place where there is a high concentration of gun violence, from any cause, are identified and that solutions are developed.

The cMap below shows a planning cycle that should be in place in thousands of locations, pointing to local and global places where problems need solutions...and resources to implement those solutions.

See t his graphic in this blog article

Many of the youth speakers focused beyond gun law legislation to the larger, root causes that motivate people to take desperate actions.  I created this "reasons to engage" map to show that there are many issues that need to be investigated and solved, spread in many, many places in the US and the world.


Finally, I invite youth, educators and interested adults of all ages to view the PDF slides below showing ways YOU can make change happen. Borrow what works for you. Teach it to others.



I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook and Linkedin. I am just beginning to use Instagram. I'll be looking for posts that point to blog articles and videos created by students that apply these ideas and continue to mobilize people to vote in upcoming elections, and to give time, talent and dollars to solve problems that don't require laws and political involvement.