Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Poor, and the Hopeless, don't Vote. How do we change that?

I'm in more than a few on-line discussions. I'd like to point to two.  In one, Mark Sims, who I've been connected to via on-line media for several years, posted a recent article with the headline of "African Americans Left Behind". Go to the blog and read his description of the problem and Marc's requests for solutions, and see the ideas I posted.

That led to some Facebook interaction in which Marc shared a link to this video: It's from 2008, but it captures the current struggle to close the wealth and opportunity gaps in America.





The video reminded me of another article I added to Tutor/Mentor web library recently, titled:  Race and Beyond: Why Young, Minority, and Low-Income Citizens Don’t Vote

Watch the video. Read the article. Read more of the research, from this section of my web library




The second conversation is one I've been having for more than a year with Terry Elliott, Kevin Hodgson and other educators who I've connected with via on-line cMOOCs, such as the Making Learning Connected (#CLMOOC) and Digital Writing Month (#digiwrimo) MOOCS.  

The graphic above was from this article, showing how Terry, Kevin and I had been adding comments to visualizations created by each other during the 2015 CLMOOC. Recently I posted an article asking "What are all the things we need to know and do to assure that youth born, or living in poverty today, are starting jobs and careers by their mid-twenties?"

In that article I posted some comments by Terry, and a link to an annotation of one of my articles, done using Diigo.com

Today, I read a new article that Kevin had posted recently, under the title Entry Points in the Interaction Universe, in which he talks about how difficult it is to build and sustain a learning community.

Marc emphasizes how poor people don't like to read, and don't do much reading, which, perhaps, is one reason they don't vote and don't have many chances to move up the opportunity ladder and out of poverty.  

My response to Marc:

The ideas I've shared for the past 25 years, and the work I did prior to that in leading a tutor/mentor program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters, was aimed at getting people who do read, and write, and who have jobs and careers, and who don't live in poverty, more engaged and involved in the lives of kids, so more would become active evangelists, like I am, in building  communities of people who work toward helping the poor build the learning and education skills and habits needed to be more capable of overcoming the challenges they face.

Getting people to look at the ideas I share is as difficult as what Kevin is trying to do.  

Normally at this time of the year I post a "New Year's message" of hope and responsibility, and point to some past articles I'd like you to read.

In my response to Marc I included a link to this article, which includes a link to an address to graduates of West Point military academy, encouraging each to spend time in deep reflection and learning. 

Using the Diigo annotation tool that Terry Elliott introduced me to, I've created two sets of blog articles that I hope you'll take some time to browse.

a) year end articles since 2005 -- click here

b) Use of concept maps to communicate ideas and strategy -- click here



This is a lot to look at. However, we won't solve complex problems without a few people making this commitment to deeper learning.

In most of these articles I'm focusing on the power, and responsibility, each of us has to try to engage others in this conversation.

Together we have the power to make the world a better place for everyone, not just the wealth 1%.

I'll see you in 2016

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Support the work needed to help kids in all Chicago neighborhoods

Thank you to those who have already sent contributions to help me continue the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC work in 2016. 

The graphic shown above has a lot of information. At the top of the pyramid, it shows a goal of helping all kids stay safe, finish school, and head on to college and careers. At the bottom, it shows the need for someone to maintain an information base that others can use to help cities reach the goal. It also shows an active role of connecting those who can help...all of you...directly with organizations in high poverty areas who are working to help kids through school and to stay safe in non-school hours. 

Finally, it plots this over a map of the Chicago region. If cities don't use maps to point resources to ALL, ALL, ALL, of the neighborhoods where help is needed, then very few of those places will receive that help on a consistent basis.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to support the work at the bottom of the pyramid and created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to continue doing this, even without a non-profit status. 

A few of you have provided year-end contributions to help me do this, but so far too few to do it well....or pay all the bills. Here's a page with a PayPal button. If you want the same ultimate goals, then help support the work needed.http://www.tutormentorconference.org/platform_tmi.htm

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All


Thank you all for reading my articles for the past year. I hope they make sense to you and that you share them, and the links I point to with others. 

Here's the link to the December copy of my email newsletter. Please read, subscribe, and share.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Can Hospitals Heal America's Communities?


I've been using maps to show high poverty areas of Chicago and to show assets, like hospitals and universities, who could be developing strategies that influenced the growth of tutor/mentor programs and community health in areas around each hospital. Here's a sample article from 2008.

Here's a set of articles on the MappingforJustice blog, that focus on  public health and hospitals. 

In my email today I received the Community Wealth.org newsletter, which featured a white paper titled "Can Hospitals Heal America's Communities?"

I started reading this, and was making mental notes of comments I'd like to add. If I printed the article, that's what I'd do. I'd get my yellow marker, and my pen, and add notes throughout the article. I've done this for nearly 40 years.

However, last week Terry Elliott posted a Tweet sharing with me an collection of my blog articles, which he had annotated, using an on-line tool title 'Diigio". 



So I signed up and marked up the article this afternoon.  Here's the link. https://diigo.com/08835u

I hope readers will share this article with hospital and university leaders in their own community, who will read the article by Community Wealth.org, but also read my comments, and follow the links.  I think they can also add their own notes, and share it with others.


If you look at the map above, and draw a circle around each hospital, you create a network of circles, or influence areas,  This graphic is from a set of articles I've written showing my goal of influencing what others do to support the growth of high quality non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in  high poverty neighborhoods. 

If this strategy were adopted by CEOs of some of Chicago's biggest hospitals it could have a much, much greater impact than what I've had thus far.

That's the goal.

Monday, December 14, 2015

What Do We Need to be Thinking About: Helping Urban Youth

Last week I posted an article with the question "What are all the things we need to be doing to assure that  youth born or living in poverty are starting jobs and careers by age 25?"  My goal in this and other blog articles is to stimulate this thinking in thousands of places. 



I named the middle panel on this graphic "the Edison affect". That means there is no silver bullet, or single way, to help kids grow up.  Every parent starts from scratch, once their first child is born.  Every school and non-school organization is working with kids who are all different and constantly changing. Volunteer-based organizations also need to know how to engage and influence the talents of volunteers....who also are all different and constantly changing.

We're all constantly learning and innovating. We do better the longer we stay involved, and the more we learn from the collected experiences of others.  

I've aggregated a large number of articles that show how poverty and place influence how kids grow up. These are recommended reading to anyone doing research on this "what do we need to know" question.   

Here's another article, that I found last week, titled "The Keys to Helping Youth in Poverty Thrive, written by Wendy Foster is the president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay."


That middle panel also includes a map, showing high poverty concentrations in Chicago. Since my question focuses on helping kids "born or living in poverty" then some of the questions we need to be asking are "how do we fill all of these neighborhoods with age-appropriate learning, mentoring and tutoring programs?"

When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 my goal was to identify as many of the existing non-school tutor/mentor programs as I could find in the Chicago region, then find ways to draw more attention to those programs on a daily basis, in order to help each program attract the volunteers, talent, ideas and dollars each needs to build and sustain strong organizations helping kids grow up. Here's my list of Chicago programs.



In this Logic Model graphic (see presentation) I talk about the challenges of helping youth and volunteers from diverse business and work backgrounds connect on a regular basis in cities as large as Chicago.

One of the challenges we face is that people in smaller cities don't experience the problem the same way it presents itself in big cities. Thus, understanding of the problem, and solutions, will be different. 

For mentoring to have an impact volunteers need to connect regularly for multiple years.  For this to happen in many neighborhood programs need to operate in a time frame where workplace volunteers are able to participate regularly. That means creating programs that operate in the time frame right after work or on weekends.

I feel that many of the local and national leaders focus primarily on the act of mentoring or tutoring, or ways that the volunteer can have a growing influence on the learning and behavior habits of a young person.

I focus on what it takes to make strong programs available  in all high poverty neighborhoods. Without strong, on-going programs too few volunteers will connect, or stay connected with the many youth who need such support systems.  

This graphic focuses on the infrastructure needed at every single organization who provides long-term connections. 

The presentation below includes charts that illustrate the talent needed in big and small businesses and in non profit organizations that need to sustain and constantly improve their impact over many years.



So, the questions I'm  hoping a growing number of people will begin asking focuses on how communities can support the growth of strong youth serving organizations in multiple locations, when the public will, and funding, are currently inadequate to pay for such organizations spread throughout all  high poverty areas of big cities and rural areas of the country.

I don't have the answer. What I do propose is that we constantly seek those who are searching for such answers, or who seem to be doing a little bit better than others.  Encourage them to share what they do on their web sites, and how they do it, then put links to their sites in web libraries like the one I've been building (click here).

Here's a presentation that shows how information we collect might stimulate the innovation and constant improvement others do to solve the same problem.

In response to last week's article some of the educators I've met in on-line cMOOCs have begun to look at this question.  Here's a twitter post by Kevin Hodgsin, a 6th grade teacher in Western Mass.

Here's a Tweet from Terry Elliott, an educator from Central Kentucky

Here's a blog article Terry wrote, pointing to the ideas I'm sharing on this blog. 

Finally, here's a Tweet by Betsey Merkel, who leads the I-Open group in Cleveland, Ohio.


I hope that over the holidays and throughout 2016 more people will begin to share their own thinking about this question and their solutions.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What are all the things we need to do to help kids move from birth to work?

Below I've posted one of my presentations, that starts with the question "What Will it Take to Assure that all Youth Born or Living in High Poverty are Starting Jobs and Careers by Age 25?"



Over the past few years I've connected with a variety of educators via on-line cMOOCs where the ideas exchanged by participants, and the relationships created, are as important as the learning that takes place.  Through this I was introduced to a web platform called EdTalkTech, where educators are connecting and sharing ideas with each other on an on-going basis, via many formats, including Google Hangouts. Last night the hangout focused on a platform called Youth Voices, where youth from around the country are connecting and sharing ideas and reflections. 

I'm currently following the Digital Writing Month cMOOC and through that I connected with Simon Ensor, who shared this Tweet with me:




I visited  his blog and saw how he had turned his own free-hand notes into an info-graphic and wanted to encourage him to use concept mapping tools like Kumu to do that.  So I visited Brian Dowling's G+ page to get a link to one of the Kumu maps he has been creating and writing about in his blog.  I found one under the topic of "How Can We Reduce Costs and Still Get the Care We Need?"  

My goal in telling this story is that I think youth in organized non-school programs, along with youth in junior high, high school and college could be asking questions like the one Brian is asking, or the one I posed at the top of this article. They could be connecting on platforms like Youth Voices. They could be mentored by a variety of adults.  The could be sharing ideas on blogs, in videos and in public presentations.  They could be learning many new skills and habits (see article about passionate employee). 

They could be taking an active role in helping all youth have robust and creative support systems helping them overcome obstacles, like poverty, as they moved through school and into careers, with a growing network of adults who are part of their own personal learning and support networks (see article).

This process could engage youth in thousands of locations, focusing on many complex problems, not just health care or poverty.

I also think this process could attract the attention and support of a wide range of funders, ranging from business leaders concerned about the quality of their workforce, to philanthropy leaders who want to stimulate collaboration and information sharing, as well as youth engagement and empowerment.

I hope my ideas inspire others to engage their students in such activities.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Turn your Tutor/Mentor org into a Learning Organization: What's that Mean?

On several posts I've focused on "learning", not from the view point of a third grade teacher, but from the perspective of a country with complex problems where everyone needs to spend time digging into information to understand the problems, the solutions, and what roles they can take. 

Last year I wrote about the Passionate Employee, after reading an article from the Deloitte University Press. I saw a follow up article today. Here's the link to my article. Look for the link to the current Deloitte article in the comments section.  As you read these articles imagine how volunteer involvement in tutor/mentor programs and other types of volunteer-based organizations could inspire employees to become seekers of knowledge and solutions on an on-going basis, and how much more valuable they would be to their employers. Imagine how the volunteers who are part of your organization could be mentoring these habits and skills to kids, starting as early as elementary school.

Over the past 10 years interns working with me have created two visualizations, that show how volunteers who are well supported, and stay multiple years in a tutor/mentor program, become motivated to do their own deeper learning, and take extra roles to help the kids they work with, and the organization they are part of. 

Here's one:  Click this link. Then put your mouse over the number (1). Listen to what's said, then click on (2), then (3) then (4). At that point, click on (1) again and the cycle repeats showing how a volunteer in his/her second year is learning more than in the first year. This animation has four cycles. It was created by a University of Michigan volunteer during a one week winter break period of service.  (2017 Note: you may need to view this animation in this video)



Next, look at the presentation below (video). It shows how a volunteer first hears a call to become a volunteer, then searches for a place to get involved. Once he/she begins to meet weekly with a youth, he begins to informally tell friends, family and co-workers about his involvement. Over time this results in more people also becoming involved, as additional tutors/mentors and/or as donors, or even policy makers.


This project was first created in 2006 by an intern from Hong Kong, then was updated in 2010 by an intern from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago.  

A learning organization is one where all participants are looking in information libraries, like the one I host, for ideas that make them more effective tutors, mentors, and make their organizations more effective at attracting kids and having a life-changing impact on their lives, as a result of multiple years of participation.  Read this article about Personal Learning Networks, and think of ways you can instill these habits in  your kids, volunteers and staff.

I have over 200 youth serving non-school tutoring and/or mentoring programs on this list of Chicago programs.  I don't know how many, if any, apply the learning and volunteer support strategy that I show in these two presentations.  In other cities around the country, I don't know how many, if any, programs apply this strategy.

However, I do believe that if more programs were applying this strategy, there would be a growing army of volunteers in each city, and in the country, working to assure that every program had the flow of talent, technology, operating dollars, ideas and other resources needed to support additional volunteers and youth and help more kids enter these programs in elementary or middle school and stay involved through high school, post  high school and into jobs and careers.

I hope you'll take some time over the holidays to view these and share them with your own organization's leadership team.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Building Personal Learning Habits - Solving Complex Problems

In many of my articles I've shown media stories from the 1990s that show the same problems facing Chicago 20 years ago are the same as we are facing now. My comments focus on the lack of consistent, long-term, strategy that engages people from throughout the region in solutions.

At the same time, I've used graphics like this to illustrate the constant learning and innovation needed to bring comprehensive learning supports to youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of urban areas like Chicago, and keep them in place for  many years.

In articles focused on learning, I point to the massive amount of information available, but the lack of time and motivation limiting most people from digging deeply into this information.  

Others are thinking and writing of the same problems, so I was pleased to see an article on Twitter yesterday, titled "Personal Learning Networks: Learning in a Connected World".  I read it, and added it to this section of my web library, so others could find it and read it, too.  The article emphasizes the importance of building your own PLN (personal learning network), saying, "Social learning and collaboration is a mindset, an attitude and not just a set of tools."

While I led the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program from 1992-2011 I tried to create a culture of learning, engaging youth, volunteers, staff, board members and donors. I started doing this in the 1970s when I was a volunteer leading a tutor/mentor program that grew from 100 pairs of youth/volunteers in 1975 to 300 pairs by 1990, while holding a full time advertising job at the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago. I could not teach each volunteer everything they need to know so began to build a library of information and started using my weekly newsletters to encourage them to visit and draw ideas from the library. I also encouraged social activities, including field trips with youth, so volunteers would begin to network and build relationships with other volunteers, encouraging the relationships necessary for social learning to occur.

When the Internet became a tool in 1998 I moved my library to the web, and expanded it as I found new ideas that interested me, and which I thought might interest others...in my own organization, and in any other tutor/mentor organization in the country. I added the PLN article to the library today.

As the Internet library grew, the habits of personal learning did not grow nearly as fast as I hoped. Adults who have grown up without the internet, and without learning habits of Personal and Social Learning, are slow and resistant to spending time in on-line learning.

I created the graphic below in 2006 or 2007 to visualize the goal I hoped leaders at the tutor/mentor program I was leading would adopt and that donors would support. You can find it here.


I think this strategy could be supported in many formats, ranging from public school, to non-school tutoring/mentoring and learning, to home and to work. Some of the links I point to in my web library show that this is already happening in many places.


However, if we want to solve complex problems, I feel we need to teach learners to dig into web libraries, like the one I've been building, so that we're all looking at the same maps, and same range of information. If such libraries are supported by cMOOCs and other formats that encourage people to connect and share ideas with each other, I feel they can accelerate the relationship-building among people who already are concerned about the same issues...because they made the effort to enter the MOOC or the library in the first place.

While I've been collecting and sharing these ideas for nearly 20 years, this work is far to large for any single person. The problems we face are complex, and will take decades of consistent effort to be reduced. Thus, while I seek partners, volunteers and donors to help me maintain my own web platform, I also seek philanthropists who might bring the Tutor/Mentor Institute into one or more universities, where more people can do the work I've been doing, in many more ways.

If you're interested in these ideas connect with me on Twitter, Linked In or Facebook and make me part of your own PLN. I keep reaching out through the same network to find others who I can learn from.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Injustices in Urban America - How Do We Make this Important to More People?

Yesterday a message on my Twitter feed pointed me to an article titled "Anita's Army: Rank and File Racism in the Power to Prosecute". Reading this illustrates how deeply rooted racism and injustice is in Chicago.  

I might not be reading this, or caring, if I had not become a volunteer tutor in 1973 and stayed involved in tutoring/mentoring for the 42 years since then.  I did not grow up in Chicago, but in small towns of Illinois and Indiana. Like so many others, the problems of urban America were not problems affecting me and my family...at least not that I realized.

Yet, as I've led a tutor/mentor program, and built a personal relationship with so many youth and families, this has become personal to me.  Over the years I've built a library of articles describing inequality in America, and describing reasons a tutor/mentor program are needed. Open this map, and click into the nodes on each box, and you can find numerous articles that will expand your own understanding of these issues. 

The links in my library point to nearly 2000 other web sites, and each of these have multiple publications, and links to other sites. It's a vast library of information, that could be a source of on-going learning for volunteers who get involved with any tutoring/mentoring program in America.  The only way we'll reduce injustice is to dramatically increase the number of people involved. When Bernie Sanders talks about a 'revolution' in America, he's talking about getting millions of people deeply involved in the political process. I think he's also talking about getting millions of people personally involved, in their communities, in building solutions that don't need government involvement, such as volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning organizations.


As the weekly flow of bad news comes across our daily news feed, think of what this graphic is suggesting.  The "circle" to the left of the map of Chicago, represents a community, an organized program, where people make a commitment to help young people move through school and into jobs. The map shows that the community supports the growth of mentor-rich programs in all poverty neighborhoods of a city, not just a few good programs in a few places.

To the left of the grey circle is a box representing leaders and organizers, including youth. Every time there is a bad news story, or new report, such as the one I shared at the start of this article, these people reach out to volunteers in their programs (represented by the next box to the left). These people not only read the articles, and reflect on ways they might respond, but share the invitation to learn and be involved with others in their own networks.

As this repeats, week after week, more people get involved.  As volunteers build personal connections with young people they meet in organized programs, some begin to look at these kids as part of their own family, not strangers. Some become willing to do much more to help end the root causes of inequality and injustice. 


I've tried to communicate this idea of a tutor/mentor program as a form of "adult service-learning" via many visualizations.

This one was created by one of my interns in 2006, then updated in 2010. I encourage you to listen to it. Click here.

If you think that the problems we face are mountains far to high to be climbed, think of how you and others might become involved with the problem via the articles I share on this blog, and by your own involvement with youth via a volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring program in your community.

If you're part of an existing program, or a donor, encourage that program to form a "learning" strategy, where staff, donors, volunteers, youth and all stakeholders are reading articles like the one posted at the top on a weekly basis, then gathering in big and small groups to discuss the meaning, and look for ways to respond.

This is not a short term strategy. It can bring solutions as more people adopt it and the army of the "involved" become a revolution in America. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Planning needed to fight war on poverty in big cities

I created this presentation a couple of  years ago to show planning needed to build and sustain needed services in all high poverty areas of a big city.  Take a look.




Below is a concept map that shows this in a different way: See link.

The graphic below, showing a news article from 1993, illustrates that this has been a long-term problem with many, many distractions preventing the type of strategic planning and acting that I describe in my blog articles.


I included this graphic in this story.  After the riots; after Thanksgiving; after Christmas and year-end holidays:  Do The Planning.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Help Youth Orgs Gobble Up Donations This Holiday Season

Once again we're heading toward the biggest period of charitable giving of the calendar year.  While many have much to be thankful for, many others are suffering from a world full of man-made and environmental pain.   
I hope all of the youth-serving organizations in the Chicago region, and in other cities have strategies in place that attract new and repeat donors.

When I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 it's goal was to gather information about existing non-school, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in the Chicago region and help every one of those organizations get a more consistent flow of ideas, talent, volunteers and operating dollars, so each could constantly increase their impact on youth.

Since 2011 I've operated the T/MC  under the umbrella of Tutor/Mentor  Institute, LLC, but the goals and strategies are the same. 

Since Thanksgiving is this week, most of the work that should have been done over the past year of educating donors via your web site and social media activity, is already in the rear-view mirror. Now let the giving begin!

The first big giving event is  #ILGive.  On December 1, nonprofits, families, businesses, and students around the world will be encouraged to come together to celebrate generosity and to give. In Illinois, a bold goal is to raise $6 million by Illinois social impact organizations — in one day.  Visit this list of participating organizations to shop for one to support. 

Right now this is a long list that includes all types of 501-c-3 charitable organizations. I'm sure a number of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs are on the list.

However, to help donors find programs in different parts of the Chicago region, I encourage you to browse these two lists of programs.

Chicago area Tutor/Mentor Program Links - click here - organized by sections of city and suburbs

Chicago area Tutor/Mentor Programs with Facebook Pages - click here. Also organized by sections of the city and suburbs.



I've been using maps since 1993 to illustrate a need for great tutor/mentor programs to be available in all high poverty neighborhoods of the Chicago region, thus if donors are shopping for programs to support this holiday season, not just on December 1, my lists enable you to search for programs operating in different sections of the city.  There's also a list for programs that do not map to a specific location, such as the BigBrothersBigSisters of Metropolitan Chicago.


There are over 200 links in my library which means few volunteers and donors will view every web site between now and December 1, or the end of December.


That's why I encourage programs to develop a year-round campaign to engage potential donors and teach them to shop web lists like mine to learn what programs are operating, compare what they offer, and decide which they will support, and how.


My hope is that over time more program web sites will show something like the graphic below, on their own web site. 




This illustrates three time frames when service might be offered. It shows a need to reach kids as early as pre-school and provide continuous support through high school, college and until the youth is working....if that youth lives in one of Chicago's high poverty neighborhoods.   It also suggests that programs that have been operating five to ten years or longer, should begin to show photos of kids when they entered a program, and when they are out of high school and in the work place.


To the donor, and the policy maker, this graphic, and the map, emphasize the need for continuous, year-to-year support of programs in many locations, if those programs are to stay in operation, and connected to youth and volunteers, for such a long period of time.


I've been posting articles on this blog since 2005 and in printed newsletters and web pages since 1994.  All focus on the challenges of building the type of program I'm describing, as well as the ongoing infrastructure and leadership needed to support such programs.


My own holiday goal is that a few people will go beyond saying "thanks Dan" and will provide contributions or investment to help me continue this work in 2016 and beyond.  I'm no longer operating under a 501-c-3 tax designation, so you don't get a tax deduction for helping me. You do get to be part of building something that has been missing from Chicago and other cities for decades.  Visit this page and use PayPal to make a contribution.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What Will It Look Like in 10 years

I'm attending a brainstorming session tonight aimed at generating ideas for where the organization will be in 10 years. Since groups of more than 2 people often don't allow everyone to express their ideas fully, I'm sharing my list here.

I'm 68 now so don't know if I'll even be alive in 10 years. Thus, I don't have a self-interest in what happens, just a life mission that some of these ideas do come into reality.

Here's my list:

1) I hope that a map of cities like Chicago will show that every poverty neighborhood has several organizations offering volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring and learning in the non-school hours.

2) I hope that more than 75% of the leaders, volunteers, donors, alumni and current students in organized non-school tutor/mentor programs are connected to each other in on-line, on-going learning and collaboration portals. I've pointed to the potential of cMOOCs. Who knows what this will look like in 10 years.

3) I hope that concept maps will be commonly used, like blueprints, to show all of the different supports kids and families in high poverty areas need over a 20-25 year period so kids have the opportunities to succeed in school and move into adult jobs and careers free of poverty.


4) A minimum of 5-10% of funding for tutor/mentor programs and intermediaries will be coming annually from unsolicited donors who have visited a program web site to shop and choose who to support, and how much they will give.

5) Funding of youth serving organizations, and other social benefit organizations, will be based on what the organization does, not on their tax status.

6) A minimum of 50-60% of all funding will be for general operations and for building and sustaining strong organizatons and leadership teams.

7) Data maps will be consistently used by programs, donors, policy makers, etc. to a) understand where programs are most needed; b) understand the various types of programs needed in each zip code; c) understand the availability of needed programs in each high poverty zip code, sorted by age group served and type of program; and d) understand the distribution of Federal, state, city and private funds into each high poverty zip code.

8)Concept maps, like this, will be used to show involvement and commitment of leaders from every sector of a community, including business, professional, religious, educational, entertainment, political, etc.

9) Students in middle school, high school and colleges all over the country will be part of on-going groups who are learning to use data to understand problems and potential solutions, and are learning habits of leadership,visual communications, collaboration, innovation, volunteering and giving that support the flexible operations of constantly improving social benefit organizations in all places where data-maps show they are most needed.

10) One or more universities will host a Tutor/Mentor Institute, archiving the ideas I've collected and shared for past 25 years, and teaching students to be leaders and/or proactive supporters and leaders who take responsibility for making the first nine ideas on this list a reality in the cites where the university is located, or in the cities where their students come from.

In 15 or 20 years I hope the maps of Chicago and other cities show fewer high poverty neighborhoods as a result of the strategies and long-term vision adopted by leaders who read my articles and who I meet with on a regular basis.

I think that it will take leadership from many organizations to bring this list to reality. But that leadership should be evident by reading blog articles and reviewing web sites of those who are taking leadership roles.

What do you think? What would your list look like?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Keeping focus amid a world on fire

Over the past 22 years I've used maps and visualizations frequently in my newsletters and blog articles to communicate ideas that mobilize more people, around a wider based of information, on a more consistent basis. Yet, the goal remains to help inner-city kids connect with a network of extra adults who are concerned about their well-being and their futures.


I continue to maintain a list of non-school youth serving organizations operating in the Chicago region. This year I also started to host a Facebook list, showing Chicago youth serving orgs with Facebook pages. Browse the list. Offer your help to one, or many.

Keeping focus on this mission has been challenged frequently, and unexpectedly, starting with the 9/11 attack on America, and continuing through this past weekend with the terror attacks on Paris, a Russian airliner, a college in Kenya, and in Beirut, Lebanon, along with many lesser known places. Since 2001 world events, environmental tragedies, and cyclical political campaigns have consistently disrupted the day-to-day work I and others do to help make the world a safer, better place for everyone to live and raise families.

This graphic illustrates that while I focus on helping kids living in urban poverty have support systems of mentors, tutors and extra learning in non-school hours be available in more places where they are needed, I realize there are other issues that also require day-to-day attention, which are also disrupted with every natural and man-made disaster that interrupts our daily activities.

My heart bleeds and I shed tears when I read of the carnage of terror attacks. It also bleeds when I see refugees drowning at sea or dying in the American Southwest as they seek entry into the US. I am angry every day when I open my paper and read about shootings taking lives in Chicago neighborhoods and every time I read about local, national and corporate corruption and greed that causes these problems or lets them exist.

I wrote about this in 2005 and again in 2011. Here are some other related articles.

Let's honor the victims by giving extra effort to the work that needs to be done.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Creating a new learning game

Last summer I took part in a Making Learning Connected cMOOC and one of the activities involved creating a game visualization. Someone showed an old Monopoly game board and that inspired me to create this graphic, as a learning game people would play, that would result in greater understanding of all the ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library, which I've been building for nearly 40 years. I created this using cMAP software. Here's the link.


I've a friend, Charles Cameron, who I met in the early 2000s via the Social Edge discussion forum. We're still connected on Twitter and he writes articles on the Zenpundit blog. In addition to writing thought-provoking articles for Zenpundit, Charles is a developer of a "game of connections" called Sembl.

As I was creating my own game board I created this graphic to show what I was trying to do and some different names I was considering.

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I'm not able to take my game any further than this concept stage, but would love to find some teenager or young entrepreneur and game developer who'd like to take it further. If just a small percent of the people who play fantasy sports or watch live sports each week were to play this game, we'd have more people working to end urban violence, and maybe more working to end world violence.

As I write this I'm following the shootings in Paris on my Twitter feed. It's a tragedy.

However, one person wrote, "Would the media be covering this as much if it were happening in the middle east?" Or in the South Side of Chicago?

Too much tragedy in the world. Too little attention paid to solutions and ways to solve these problems.

That's a tragedy too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Calling all Veterans. Be part of War on Poverty

I spent three years in the Army in the late 1960s, serving in Military Intelligence. I'd studied history in college prior to joining the Army, so I understood the role of collecting best available information for leaders to use in making decisions. Over the past 40 years I've amassed a large web library, that anyone can use to build and sustain volunteer-based programs reaching k-12 youth living in high-poverty areas of big cities.

It's Veteran's Day, so I'm calling on Veterans and active duty service men and women to use the skills they have learned to support an "intelligence-based" effort that fills high poverty areas with needed programs, and helps each program get the on-going flow of resources each needs to constantly improve their ability to help youth overcome the challenges of poverty as they move through school and into adult lives.

This map visualizes this process. You can find an explanation of the graphic here, and here.


On the right hand side of this graphic I emphasize the use of maps. Unless leaders use maps to show all of the places within an urban area where poverty is concentrated, and where other indicators show a need for extra support, it's likely that strategies will only reach a few places, not every place where help is needed.

Step 7, on the far left, is equally important. Unless we focus on ways to build and sustain public support for this strategy, the flow of resources to all of the programs that need to be involved will be too small and or discontinued too soon. I wrote an article about building public will recently. I hope you'll look at it.

Steps 2 through 6 are on-going, but they involved building a deeper understanding of the complex challenges of reaching youth in all parts of a geographic region with a wide range of supports that help them move through school and into adult lives. This deeper learning extends far beyond understanding how to be a tutor or mentor, or how to organize and lead a youth serving organization.

I encourage you to look at this graphic which shows that affluent people face many of the same challenges as people living in high poverty.


In this book titled "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis", Robert Putnam, see my article, shows that kids living in affluent communities have many more resources available to help them and their families overcome their challenges. Youth living in high poverty communities not only have extra challenges, but have far fewer resources to help them and their families overcome those challenges.


When I describe a Total Quality Nentoring program, I'm thinking of programs where some volunteers take on many roles beyond acting as a tutor or mentor. This PDF focuses on the extra roles volunteers might take to help youth and families overcome more of the challenges shown on the graphic above. There is no limit to what things a team of planners might look at.

TQM programs are learning organizations where youth, volunteers, staff and leaders are constantly reading research and looking at work being done in other programs, with a goal of constantly innovating ways to help youth stay in school and move toward jobs, which means they also are looking for ways to engage a wider range of volunteers who can model different types of careers, and who can open doors to part time jobs, internships, vocational training and college as youth grow up. A TQM program offers a network of support, via the Internet, that can last a lifetime. A TQM program also shares its own ideas, strategies and challenges on its own web site so others can learn from them while they are learning from others.

I don't know how many programs in Chicago, or around the country, actually fit this TQM Program description, and have never had the manpower to do the on-going searching to find out which programs already operating in Chicago have the vision and strategy that heads them in this direction. It's the type of program I led between 1993 and 2011.

Understanding where services are needed, and what types of services need to be available within a geographic area is one challenge that planners and "intelligence gatherers" need to focus on. However, another challenge is to understand the infrastructure that is needed to support effective on-going learning and mentoring within every organized tutor/mentor program. Understanding the different functional roles that need to be filled enables intermediaries, donors and third party supporters help provide this talent, and keep it in place for many years.

Since this is Veteran's Day I want to end with a though that addresses the talent and manpower needs within the youth serving world. I encourage you to view this presentation and think of how veterans could fill many slots, in many different tutor/mentor programs, and how other veterans working in various industries and professions could support them on an on-going basis.

Citywide Youth Supports Infrastructure - a Jobs Creation Strategy? by Daniel F. Bassill



As planners look for ideas the articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 and the ideas I share in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and library offer an extensive source for deeper learning and inspiration. Building a network of mentor-rich, Total Quality, youth serving organizations that reach youth in all poverty areas of big urban areas like the Chicago region, offers job and career opportunities for thousands of veterans, while also providing a support system that helps more youth move from poverty neighborhoods into a wide range of jobs and careers, including careers in the military.

As you celebrate Veteran's Day I hope you'll spend time looking at this and other ideas for ways veterans can continue to serve and make a difference in the world.