Saturday, July 30, 2016

Building on-line Communities - #clmooc example

Below is an archive of a Connected Learning #clmoc Twitter chat that took place last week. It was created by Kevin Hodgson, a middle school teacher from Massachusetts.


You can find this and other ideas submitted by Kevin and #clmooc members in this G+ community and this Facebook community.  You can find articles I've written about MOOCs and Learning on the side bar of this blog.

Below is a concept map I created this morning, showing how cMOOCs like this are needed in efforts to bring large groups of people together on an on-going basis to solve important local or global problems.

I titled it "How can One Person, or a Small Group, really change the world?"


In the concept map I point to the library of information and organizations that I've been building for more than 25 years.  Below is just one map, representing one group of organizations.

This is a map showing organizations that work as intermediaries, connecting many other direct service organizations who focus on the well-being of youth in the Chicago region.

My vision is that I could click into the web site of any of these organizations, and find a section where they show how they are supporting on-line engagement of their members, and a blog that shows how important their role is in helping bring organizations, clients, resource providers together in on-line learning communities.

In another Storify, created a week ago after another #clmooc chat, Kevin shared Tweets around the "Who is here? Who is not?" topic.  When we talk about building communities, this needs to be part of the conversation.

As that happens, maps like mine begin to be connectors, or bridges, bringing people out of silos, into larger networks connecting more people from a single city, multiple cities, and multiple countries, who are concerned with the same problem.

There's much to do to make this happen. 

Your first step is to click through the links and build your own understanding. You might even find an on-line group to join.



Friday, July 29, 2016

"It Takes A Village to Raise a Child". Who's Building the Village?

11-16-16 update:  Hillary lost. Trump won.  I wrote this in July, but the message and need for leadership from the private sector is now even greater than if Clinton had won.
The nomination of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party's candidate for President is historic in many different ways.  Only history will tell us what the result will be.

During her Thursday evening speech, she referred to a book she wrote in the 1990's titled, "It Takes A Village".

 According to Wikipedia, "The book's title is attributed to an African proverb: "It takes a village to raise a child." The saying and its attribution as an "African" proverb were in circulation before it was adopted by Clinton as the source for the title of her book."

Thus, Clinton did not originate the term. She borrowed it to emphasize her commitment to children.

I've borrowed it, too, and used it in this concept map:


If you click here, you can find 30 articles where I've used this "It Takes a Village" concept since I started this blog in 2005.  I use the ideas as a strategy that needs to be growing in cities all across the country, and demonstrated with web sites that show a commitment visualized in the strategy map below.



When people in business, media, entertainment, politics, religion, education, colleges, and every other part of the "village" adopt this commitment, with themselves shown in the blue box at the top of the graphic, then we can begin to build the public will and long-term commitment needed to fill every high poverty neighborhood in a city with a wide range of supports needed to help kids move successfully and safely from birth to adult lives free of poverty.

How to get started? Make a leadership commitment, as a teacher, a college professor, a Rabbi, a CEO, then appoint someone to take the lead. Start a learning process, where you open and close every node on the strategy map so you know the information it's sharing, and you know what your commitment involves.



View these presentations, created by interns, as part of their own learning between 2006 and 2014. Youth and adults could be creating similar presentations, focusing on their community and their strategies.

Not everyone is happy that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party's candidate. The Republicans have plenty of hate for her.

Yet, raising kids and helping them be healthy, productive, contributing adults who can keep America great, and keep this planet safe and nurturing of all of its different populations and resources...human, animal, plant... is something that everyone should be able to agree on.

It does take a village. But until we have responsible, on-going, commitments of time, talent and dollars from every part of the village, supporting youth in the most economically challenged parts of every city, these will just be empty words.

That means students, volunteers, college researchers, and others will need to learn to create maps that show who in the village is involved, and who is still not involved.  You can see some examples of event mapping of past Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, at this link. Many different forms of mapping are highlighted in articles on the Mappingforjustice blog.

Part of the learning that people do will need to include finding ways to map participation .


I've been posting ideas on this blog, on web sites and in printed newsletters since 1994. The tags on the side of this blog are shown in this graphic, and in articles like this,  in an effort to help people navigate through this vast web of information and ideas.

If you share this commitment, please share this and other ideas shared on this blog and my Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.  Help build the village in every part of the country.




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Digging Deeper. Connected Learning Ideas

I'm constantly humbled by the creativity of some of the people I've met during the Connected Learning MOOC that I've followed each year since 2013. Below is a graphic shared today by Kevin Hodgson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts. You can see it here.



Kevin and others who I've met during the #clmooc have frequently added new understanding to graphics I've posted, and so I hope they will do so again with the visualizations posted below.

Mentoring Kids to Careers - see map


Race - Poverty - see map


Learning Path/Information Flow - see  map 


Strategy map - see map



These are just a few of the concept maps you can find at this link.  If you view visualizations on this page you can see how interns from South Korea, and other places have looked at my visualizations and created their own interpretations.

For instance, this animation shows a different interpretation of the strategy map above.  This was created in 2009 while the Tutor/Mentor Connection was still part of the Cabrini Connections program, so needs to be updated.  It was also done in Flash animation, which is no longer supported. The link I point to is a video which I created to share the animation.  I invite one (or more) of my readers to create a newer version of this using technologies now replacing Flash animation.




If educators participating in on-line events like the Connected Learning cMOOC begin to do this on a regular basis, more people will begin to understand and apply the ideas, while also adding improvements based on their own experiences, where they live, and who they teach.

Maybe more people will begin to create their own strategy maps,  showing their solutions to other important issues, not just poverty, social justice, education and inequality.

While millions of dollars are being spent to elect new leaders for public offices in the US, creating the world we want really remains the work and responsibility of every one of  us.  I've never expected much help from political leaders, and don't expect much in the next four years.

As Merri Dee of WGN TV fame said to me 25 years ago, "If it is to be it is up to you and me."


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hello Democrats! Are You Listening?

Last night at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, Bernie Sanders, Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren made great speeches, sharing goals of the Democratic Party and calling on voters to make Hillary Clinton our next President.



I wonder if each of them, and our four 2016 Presidential candidates, sees themselves as a powerful force traveling through the universe of time, pulling others along as they go.

Do they have a graphic on their web site communicating this idea? 

I created the graphic in the middle of this pie chart in 2011, and shared it under a titled of "How can one person change the future?"

I used it again a few weeks ago when I introduced myself for the 2016 Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc).

I've combined the graphic with a pie chart to illustrate that while I focus on urban youth and poverty, with volunteer-based, tutor/mentor programs being the form of engagement, that I feel has the potential to bring people from rich and poor neighborhoods together around a common goal, there are other issues of equal importance.

A President needs to have a gravity that pulls people into each slice of this pie chart, and that supports leaders who are as focused on the environment, water scarcity, public health, immigration, world peace, etc. as I am on urban youth.

It seems that much of this campaign is being fought using 140 character sound bytes which shout, but don't educate. To be fair, I'm finding many Tweets, Facebook posts and media stories that point to a wealth of information. I just need to find time to read some of it.

In 2012, during the last Democratic Convention, I wrote a blog article titled "Building Learning Communities-Test  Your Motivation."

In that article I include links that draw readers deeper and deeper into my web sites, and the library of information and ideas they contain.

If any of the four 2016 Presidential Candidates were following my strategy, they'd be pointing to their campaign web sites, where the party platform and goals would be easily read and understood.  However, those web sites would then have graphics, like I show in the data map below, that draw visitors deeper into information that they can use to become partners to helping whomever gets elected, solve some of the complex problems and critical challenges that he/she will face over the next four years.


In the middle of the 2012 article I wrote, "Here's the test. Are you still reading?"

Are any of the people running for office, or their researchers, friends and/or advisers listening?   It does not matter what  public office you are running for. Your role as a leader will be measured by how much you influence others to follow your example, and go in the direction you point them.





Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chasing Cheap Clicks - Sad Situation

So, I posted that headline as a blatant attempt to attract readers to my blog.

Now that you're hear, I hope you'll spend some time reading this article from The Guardian.com, titled, "How Technology Disrupted the Truth".


I've been on-line since the late 1990s with the optimistic belief that intermediaries like myself, could attract people with time, talent and resources, to web libraries and program directories, which they would use to find places where their help could make a difference in the lives of people living in economic distress.

This article shows how far from that reality the world has come in the past 20 years.  I hope you'll spend some time reading this.

Thank  you to friends a ChiHackNight.com who shared this article on their Slack page. 



Friday, July 22, 2016

A Quick Look at Connected Learning

I started connecting and learning on-line in the late 1990s and took part in my first eConference in 2003 or 2004.  I posted this eLearning strategy on my web site about then, and it's still a strategy I firmly believe in.

I started taking part in MOOCs in 2010 and learned that there is a distinction between MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and cMOOC that focuses on connecting many people and their ideas, with each other, through the structure of an open, on-line course. Click the links in this section of my library and build  your own understanding.

I joined the Connected Learning MOOC in 2013 and have participated each year since. If you browse their web site you'll see many forms of engagement. One is the weekly Twitter chat.  Below you can see a Storfy summation of last night's chat, created by Kevin Hogdson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts.



If you look at my mission statement, and many of the articles and photos on my blog, you'll see my goal of helping strong, constantly improving, volunteer-based non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city.

Wow. That's a long, wordy description.  Maybe a picture will help?


Here's one that I created in the 1990s to visualize what a "mentor rich" program might look like.  I describe this in more detail in this PDF presentation.

Notice the map in the lower left corner. You can find many stories using maps, on this blog, on the MappingforJustice blog, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.  By creating a map with indicators, like high poverty, we focus attention on all of the neighborhoods where talent, dollars, ideas, etc. are needed, for many years. Without the map, funding and attention goes mostly to high profile organizations and/or neighborhoods.  If President Bush had used maps consistently with "No Child Left Behind" perhaps fewer kids would still be left behind in 2016.

So far I've not seen maps used for this purpose by any of the four contenders for the 2016 Presidential election. It's not too late.

Notice the arrows on the graphic, connecting the spokes with the hub of the wheel. This represents the "service learning" loop that takes place every time a volunteer connects with a youth in an on-going tutor/mentor program.  See more in this animation.


If a volunteer is well-supported as he approaches his weekly tutor/mentor service, he will be more effective, more satisfied, and more likely to stay involved longer.  If she is well supported as she returns to her work place, family, church, mosque etc, she will do more to educate others and encourage their own involvement.

This is a growth strategy for youth tutoring, mentoring and anti-poverty programs.

However, I don't see enough of this happening. I point to the #CLMOOC and other MOOCs regularly on this blog, and in my social media spaces, because they are a model for connecting people with each other, on an on-going basis, and in on-line space.

This does not replace face-to-face gatherings. It just recognizes the difficulty of keeping large numbers of concerned people together on an on-going basis. It also recognizes the difficulty of every member sharing his/her ideas when the group is larger than 4 or 5 people.

I feel that on-line communities, with designs similar to these cMOOCs should be embedded in each spoke of the wheel shown above, connecting volunteers, donors, leaders, from each sector of business and the "village" with each other and with ideas that show what works, what's not working, and what others are doing to make it work better.....which could be duplicated by other groups in the same city, or in different cities.

Such communities should include youth, parents, teachers, researchers, program leaders, board members, etc.  

This graphic was created by an intern from South Korea several years ago, while she was an intern with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago. It's one of many visualizations you can find here and here, created between 2006 and 2014.

I share what's happening in the #CLMOOC so others will take a look, get involved, learn from people I'm learning from, and then begin to duplicate this process in more sectors, with a focus on the issues I focus on, or with a focus on other issues, that are equally important.

If you're already hosting cMOOCs focused on poverty, youth development, tutoring/mentoring, philanthropy, etc, share your link below. Let's connect.  




Monday, July 18, 2016

Work Together -- Or Fail On Your Own

In my last email newsletter I included the graphic shown below.

I'm working on my July newsletter and the articles will focus on 'tutor mentor' volunteer recruitment to start the 2016-17 school year.   With so much media clutter drawing our attention to Trump, Clinton, Terrorism, Black Lives Matter, jobs and the economy, it's almost impossible for small and mid-sized tutor/mentor programs to attract visitors to their web sites and volunteers to their programs. Yet, connecting more youth to non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning experiences can be part of the solution to all of these problems.

I've posted more than 1000 articles on this blog since 2005 and used the tags at the left to help people find articles focused on specific topics. Do a Google search, using the words "tutor mentor" then any single word from this graphic, and you'll find stories I've posted here and in other places among the first 10 to 20 listings.

Many focus on strategies programs and leaders need to apply to draw consistent attention, and resources, to all of the high poverty neighborhoods of a city like Chicago, despite the torrents of other stories that flood around them.  They also point to a master list of Chicago are programs, with the goal that ALL get a more consistent flow of resources, not just those who are well-known, or have high profile supporters.

The graphic at the top refers to an old saying "I can't drain the swamp because I'm up to my neck in alligators."  In this case those alligators represent all the challenges individual youth serving organizations face each year as they try to help young people navigate their journeys through school and into adult lives.

If we just spend an  hour or two every week thinking of ways to support the entire Chicagoland community of tutor/mentor programs, perhaps we could get rid of some of those alligators, or make their bite a big less painful.

You can't read these all in one setting. But you could work through many of them over a year, or two. As you read the articles, try to apply them in your own actions. Create your own interpretations, and share them via your own media. That's what the Connected Learning MOOC ( #clmooc ) is all about.

It draws together educators from throughout the world, and has done so each year since 2013.  It's a model of networked learning that could be applied in the youth tutoring/mentoring world, too.  It just needs a few leaders to help make it happen.

I participate in cMOOCs like these because I know that every big city has similar pockets of high poverty with disengaged young people. That means any city could have a team working right now to update a list of non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs and at the same time reaching out to business, faith groups, media, celebrities, etc. to encourage them to put stories about volunteering in their August media. I've shared my own efforts on this site, so others can borrow ideas from me..and so leaders in Chicago can learn ways they can apply these ideas.

If you're already doing this, just reach out and introduce yourself. If you're interested in learning more, let's talk.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

RNC Draws Attention to Poverty and Inequality in Cleveland

With Cleveland hosting this week's Republican National Convention, there are a growing number of media stories about poverty in Cleveland showing up on my Internet feed. Here's one with a headline staying, "Cleveland metro area ranks in the Top 10 nationally for the percentage of residents living in concentrated poverty."

Here's another with headline stating, "Decade after being declared nation's poorest big city, 1-3 Clevelanders remain in poverty." 


Over the past couple of years I've written a few guest articles for the I-Open blog, which is hosted by an organization based in the Cleveland area.

Here's one titled "Career Pathways out of Poverty", which starts out asking "What are “all the things we need to know, and do to assure that youth born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New York City, etc. are starting jobs and careers out of poverty by their mid 20’s?"

This is a question that should be asked and answered in every big city, in the USA, and the world.  Below is a map from the Brookings.edu web site, which shows how concentrated poverty is a big city problem. I posted the link in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.


Here are other articles I've written for the I-Open blog. These and the articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 are intended to support leaders asking and answering that "what do we do" question.  

I started asking this question in the 1970s as a leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago. When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, we began sharing the question with leaders throughout the Chicago region, in an effort to help mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city.

Had more leaders responded in the 1990s, and devoted just a small amount of consistent talent, time and dollars to this problem, the availability and distribution of high quality programs throughout the Chicago region, and in other cities might be different in 2016, and the number of alumni telling stories about how their lives have been impacted as a result, might also be different.

We can't go back to 1993.  We can take actions that change what we're talking about in 2033.

Update:  Here's a 2017 article showing how a high degree of Rust Belt economic segregation is having a negative affect on school funding. Cleveland is one of the examples shown.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Reducing Poverty and Inequality - Four Actions to Repeat Daily

I've been writing this blog since 2005, as a continuation of a commitment, and strategy, formalized as the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  At that time we stated our mission as:

"gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region"

That mission is accomplished by four actions that take place daily and happen at the same time.


These four actions are described in this PDF essay on Scribd.com.  Almost all of the articles posted on this blog since 2005 relate to one of these four actions.  Here are a few articles where I've embedded this graphic.

3-31-2016 - Mapping a Master Plan - click here

2-10-16 - Focus on the Why, and draw more people into youth development efforts - click here

6-18-16 - Bernie and I: Movement Makers - click here

6-4-16 - Follow up to NY Times series "Race/Related" - click here

4-19-15 - Creating Learning Orgs to Solve Problems - click here

1-14-14 - Interns help share strategies through visualizations - click here

6-6-14 - D-Day: And Planning - click here

3-19-14 - Change Fortune for  Youth in High Poverty - click here

5-21-2011 - Using Information to Support Networ - click here

2-23-11 - Imagine if this were the Mayor's new blog- click here

I spend time every day in a variety of on-line and face-to-face settings where I'm learning new information, which I often add to my web library. I spend time every day writing blog articles, or posting on Twitter, Facebook or Linked in. In the same forums I spend time trying to help people find and use information I've collected.

So that  more people will provide time, talent and dollars to support youth serving organizations in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities.

And so that the result of the work these programs, schools, families and others are doing results in more kids staying safe during non-school hours while moving through school and into adult lives free of poverty.


If you'd like to support this work, with your own time, talent, network and/or dollars, I'd love to have your help.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Who Am I? #CLMOOC Introduction

This week the 2016 version of the Connected Learning MOOC is starting.  Participants are encouraged to create a visual introduction, and share it with others on various social media platforms.

I first connected with this group in 2013 and repeated in the past two years.  I am constantly amazed by the energy and creativity that many participants show through the many different graphics, blogs, videos and "makes" they create and share (see the "make bank" on the CLMOOC web site). Frankly, I'm in awe.

As I've participated in the #clmooc, I've begun to share interactions in articles on this blog. Click this link and scroll through the articles.

So how will I introduce myself.  How's this?


This concept map shows many of the places on the Internet where I share ideas and learn from others. While I started using the Internet in 1998, my networking, learning and idea sharing extends back to 1973 when I first became a volunteer tutor, working with a 4th grade inner city boy, named Leo.

Not knowing much about Leo, or tutoring and mentoring, I began to search out ideas from others. When I was named the leader of the volunteer program in 1975, I expanded my search for ideas by reaching out to others in Chicago who did this work, and by beginning to collect publications and newspaper stories that showed why tutoring/mentoring was needed, where it was most needed, and what programs already were operating, in Chicago or in other places.  In forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, I dramatically expanded this outreach. By going on the Internet in 1998, I expanded my search to peers and models throughout the world.

As a one-on-one mentor, my universe was narrow. It included the boy I met each week, and a few other volunteers and students who I was meeting through my involvement in the program.  However, as I became the leader of the program, my universe expanded to include 100 pairs of elementary school youth and volunteers (400 pairs by 1992), plus company officials and staff, local school and Chicago Housing Authority leaders, and others who were resources for keeping the program operating. Once we converted the original Montgomery Ward based program to a non-profit in 1990, the range of influence expanded to increase donors and business partners.

In the role of leader (beginning in 1975) I began to realize that I could not do all that needed to be done by myself, and that I needed to recruit others to help me.  I needed to create a continuous, year-round, communications program that "influenced" others to become more involved. I needed to learn to "recruit and delegate" and ask people to "do more" than what they might have expected when they first became part of the tutoring program..

I also began to think visually, mapping the different skills, and networks, that I needed to influence, in order to have all of the talents needed to operate an effective program.

In forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, with a goal of helping mentor-rich non-school programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago,  the range of people who needed to be involved has expanded dramatically, expanding to political leaders, business CEOs, media, celebrities, etc..  Not having much money to advertise and draw people together has meant I've needed to innovate other ways to communicate regularly, connect with people and build the network.  

I first used the constellation graphic in this September 2011 article. What it's saying is that "as we journey through life, we create a gravitational pull that draws others to our ideas and to follow our example, and our lead."

For some this happens naturally. For others, their influence on others may be limited to the small circle of family, friends and co-workers. For me, and, I'm sure for many others, it's an intentional process. Each day is a new opportunity to connect with someone who will change the world for myself, and for those I seek to help.

I embedded the constellation graphic in this concept map, showing places I was connecting with others, learning and sharing ideas. In the lower right portion of the map I point to several cMOOCs that I've been part of in recent years, including the #CLMOOC.  

I emphasize these because I feel the cMOOC format can be duplicated in the social sector in on-going efforts to connect more people from the "village" of adults and organizations who need to be consistently, and strategically, involved in on-going efforts intended to reduce poverty, inequality, racism and many of the other complex problems that we face in the US and the world.

I also feel that the educators who are the primary participants in the cMOOCs I've been part of can be engaging their students, as early as middle school, in roles that follow my own example and enable them to have a greater influence on others as they journey through their own lives.

Finally, I feel that some of the people who are organizing the MOOCs I've been following might provide the talent and manpower, and organizing ability, needed to help me bring this learning and networking forming into the work I'm doing.

So that's my introduction.  

I hope others in the #CLMOOC will hack this, and create their own interpretations, as they have done in past years.


Friday, July 08, 2016

#All Lives Matter #Black Lives Matter

If you've read any of my blog posts or received my newsletters  you know I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help similar programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods.

Below is a mural with just a few of the youth and volunteers who have been involved in the programs I've led.  The total number is over 4000 youth and a similar number of volunteers. Some of the young people in this picture are now adults raising their own kids.


Thus, the violence, racism, police brutality, and social injustices that they face are personal to me.  

Prior to social media it was almost impossible to stay connected to youth and volunteers who had been part of the programs between 1975 and 2003-4.

I was able to stay connected to a few, such as Leo Hall, who was my first, and only, one-on-one mentee, starting in 1973.  He's now the proud father of two young men, and living in Nashville.

As the program's leader, I became a mentor to all of the youth, and volunteers, who participated each year. 

As Facebook and Linked in became tools for connecting networks in the late 2000s, I began to search for former students and volunteers and connecting as "friends".

As a result, I've been able to follow their posts, see their joys, their sorrows, the graduation and prom pictures of their kids.  I've had many say "thanks Dan".  I've invited many to take on my role, to keep the work I've been doing alive and growing in future years.  Through these on-line communities I've attempted to help them connect to each other, and to volunteers and staff who were part of the programs in the past.  To me, this offers the greatest future potential of this type of volunteer-based tutor/mentor strategy.

I've seen the anger and frustration over #BlackLivesMatter growing for several years, even before there was an official #BlackLivesMatter.

I've shared the grief when seeing stories like this in the Chicago papers. These kids had been part of the tutoring programs I led, but we were not strong enough to keep them involved, and to keep these tragedies from happening.

Facebook enables you to form "groups" of friends, family, etc. which you can then follow on an ongoing basis.

Thus, I've been able to read the messages posted in the past, and in the last couple of days, by many former students, and it just saddens, frustrates, and angers me.

I'm connected to many other former students and volunteers on Facebook, who are not included in any of my lists, but reading these will break your heart, and will also give you hope.

 In 2012 I used some network analysis tools to show who I was connected to, and how they are connected to each other. This graphic can be seen in this PDF.

Some of the people on these list were in elementary school in the 1970s when I first met them. When I think of mentoring, I think of strategies that build connections between people from different backgrounds that last for many years, even decades.

I'd like to see donors encourage network-building and network analysis as core strategies of tutor/mentor programs. I'd also like to see funding focus on building strong, long-term organizations, rather than focus on short term project based goals.

Since the 1990s, I've created a variety of graphics to try to illustrate how an organized tutor/mentor program can serve as a bridge to connect people who don't live in poverty with people who do.  

This is a graphic from a 2008 article.



Here's a concept map illustrating a similar idea.


I did not grow up in Chicago, or in a neighborhood with diverse families. I grew up in small Midwest towns with little diversity.

My empathy and understanding come from nearly 40 years of leading a tutor/mentor program and collecting and sharing articles related to race, poverty, inequality, etc., which are reasons tutor/mentor programs are needed in the first place.

In the tutor/mentor programs I led, I made an effort to share a library of articles with my volunteers, so that as they stayed involved from year-to-year, their empathy and  understanding would grow, and the amount of time, talent and dollars they would devote to supporting the kids they were working with, and the organization, would also grow.

As the Internet became a resource, I put this library on line and used weekly email newsletters and web sites to try to draw volunteers to this information. As social media has grown, I have used it as well.

Here's an animation created by an intern from the University of Michigan, showing how volunteers grow and become more involved, if they are well supported in the program where they are involved.  This type of support does not happen by accident. It needs to be intentional. It needs to be well funded.

Such program need to be in many more places.

I'm pissed off at what's happening now, partly because too few leaders, volunteers and donors have helped me build and sustain my own program, or have helped mentor-rich programs, with a LEARNING STRATEGY for volunteers, grow in more places.

I am connected to a network of former students and leaders from similar programs in Chicago and other cities because I've made a concerted, on-going effort, to build and maintain these connections.  Because I've done that, they are available to others.  I've boxes of news clips, saved since the late 1970s, that show that the tragedies we face today, we were facing 20 and 30 years ago. The only difference is that today social media enables many, many, more people to talk about this and share their anger and frustrations with each other and with strangers.


Every time I have read about violence in Chicago for the past few years, I've been frustrated because "tutoring/mentoring" programs are not a QUICK FIX.  As I read about police brutality and killings of Black men and women, I feel the same frustration. Tutor/mentor programs are not a quick fix and there is no simple solution.

However, unless someone is building a library of stories and sharing them with the world, the information we use to understand and solve problems will be limited to our own narrow experiences.

Unless others are spending time, talent and dollars to draw people together to learn from each other, too few will be looking at this information and innovating solutions.

Unless there are more volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs with long-term strategies, and with a commitment to educating their volunteers on "WHY" these programs are needed and "WHERE" they are needed, too few people will have the many years of involvement that I've had, or the connections to so many of those who are living directly with these problems.

I've often seen media stories where "talking heads" are saying "Enough is Enough" after something bad happens.  I wrote out six steps that groups and individuals could take to respond to these tragedies.  Here's a 2012 version of that article.

The #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter movements are not happening in a vacuum.  They are part of many different local, national and international stories that demand our attention and spur our anger and frustration every day.

One of the challenges we have is to focus consistent attention, of a growing number of people, on this problem, and keep it focused for many days, weeks and years into the future. 
That's not a Quick Fix. It can lead to a better future.

We must find ways to get many more people from different backgrounds personally connected to each other, in ways where they connect over, and over, for multiple years so that  understanding, empathy, and passion for solutions grows in more places.

Organized tutoring/mentoring programs can do that. They need more help. Many need to adopt this as part of their vision, mission and strategy.





Tuesday, July 05, 2016

War on Poverty. A Role Anyone Can Take

The first half of 2016 is behind us and the rest of the year, and our lives, is in front of us. What will we do with that time to help America and the world overcome the complex challenges we face?

In this article I'm going to describe a role anyone, from middle school student to senior citizen, can take on a daily basis. I hope you'll read it and share with your network.

First, my work focuses on helping volunteers from different business and life backgrounds connect with economically disadvantaged young people, in well-organized, volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs. While these can operate at schools, I point to the non-school hours as  a time frame where volunteers might make longer commitments.

This article is part of a 4-part strategy, described here. This can be applied to any cause, not just youth tutoring/mentoring.

The graphic below illustrates the need for year-round planning, and the long-term work required to help a youth grow from first grade, to first job.

In my role as a leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, from 1975-2011, I saw myself as an intermediary. I recruited youth and volunteers, provided training and learning materials, and helped them stay connected for one or more years. Some stated connected for many years. I'm still connected to the boy I started tutoring in 1973, when he was in 4th grade.

In my role as leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in 1993, and continue to lead via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, I'm still a facilitator, but trying to help volunteers and donors connect with more 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations (see list and map).

At the same time I'm trying to motivate leaders, volunteers and donors to connect with each other, share ideas, borrow best practices, and constantly improve their impact on youth and volunteers.  This graphic illustrates that facilitation role and motivation to influence both sides of the solution.

I held retail advertising roles with the Montgomery Ward company from 1973-1990 and understood the power of advertising to educate and attract customers to the 400 different stores we operated in 40 states.  While I was developing my skills as a program leader I saw how inconsistent media, business or government was in maintaining consistent attention and a flow of talent and operating dollars to the different tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago.

Thus, when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, a key part of the strategy was to increase the number of stories that drew attention to tutoring/mentoring programs throughout the region.  This 1994 Chicago Tribune article shows a commitment that I've sustained for over 20 years.


This is one of many news articles generated from the T/MC strategy.  They all aim to draw people to information they can use to support their own learning about where and why volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed, and actions they and groups they are part of can take to support the growth of programs in different parts of the city, or throughout the city.


This graphic illustrates the goal of forming reading circles/study groups in business, universities, faith groups, schools, etc.  It includes maps, to emphasize the need to focus attention on all high poverty neighborhoods of the city and suburbs, not just a few.

From 1993 to 2000 T/MC built a year-round calendar of events, that could be supported by anyone, in an effort to draw on-going resources to existing youth serving organizations.  


If such a strategy enlists enough leaders, both high profile, and low profile, and continues for multiple years, more people will become involved, drawing and increasing flow of operating resources into every high poverty neighborhood....as long as someone is maintaining a master-list of organizations operating in the region.

This year-round strategy is described in this pdf and in many others. Leadership strategies are shown here.  Since 2011 I've not had resources or partners to organize these events, and never had much support, even in the 1990s.  However, they remain a template, and strategy that needs to be adopted in Chicago and in other cities.

We're just entering July.
 Over the next six weeks if you share this article and others in this blog and from the Tutor/Mentor Institute web site, you have time to develop a communications strategy from your church, business, political office, sports team, or recording company, that talks about how youth in high poverty neighborhoods need more non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs to help them stay focused on school and on college and careers.  You can point to sections of my Chicago youth programs list, or create your own list.

I've been participating in an on-line "Designing Community Engaged Research" MOOC for the past few weeks. Participants are encouraged to write blog articles, which are aggregated here.  They are also encouraged to participate in Twitter chats and interactions using #curiouscolab hashtag, which is mapped here.

A version of this could be in place in Chicago by September, or by November, engaging people from the entire region in conversation about what tutor/mentor programs are available and what they do and where they are most needed, or where more are needed. They could be talking about innovative ways businesses are supporting programs with employee time, talent and dollars or ways faith groups are engaging their congregations in study groups.

By next July we could begin to see a citywide strategy moving into its second year, if just a few people read and apply these ideas over the next six weeks.

Read more about ways you can make a difference:

* Unleash your personal power - click here.
* Rest of the Story strategy - click here
* Community Information Collection - click here

If you'd like to sponsor such a web site and forum, or support this strategy in any other way, let's connect. Here's a page showing some of my social media locations.