Sunday, May 28, 2017

Enough is Enough. Do the Planning. Build the Network.

Hope everyone is enjoying this Memorial Day. I also hope you'll spend some time thinking about how your actions might lead to a world with less need to send men and women to fight on foriegn soil, or to fight in our own streets and neighborhoods.



I created this Enough is Enough message in 2007. The video above is from this 2007 blog article.

I repeated it again in this 2008 article. Then again in this 2010 article.  Again in this 2012 article.

Again in 2015 article.

Chicago Sun-Times 1992
Again with this 2016 article.

Anyone who looks at a media story like this can dig up one of these "Enough is Enough" articles and share it with friends, family, co-workers, faith network, college and more.

Until more people take these steps we'll keep seeing these stories.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Who Needs to Be Involved Helping Kids to Careers? The Village.

Since 2005 I've been using concept maps to communicate ideas, and one that I point to frequently, in articles like this, focuses on the "village" of people who need to take greater, on-going roles in helping kids to careers.

I've used this "birth to work" arrow in many graphics and articles since the mid 1990s to illustrate the different types of age-specific supports that need to be available to kids in high poverty areas from pre-school till they are entering jobs and careers.

In the original village map I was attempting to show two ideas and that kept confusing me, and probably others. One idea was "why" kids in poverty need extra help. The other was "who" should be taking responsibility beyond parents and schools.

Today I created a new village  map to show "who", which  you can see below, and at this link.
This shows different industries in every city. They each share some common reasons for wanting kids to come out of school prepared to be good workers, leaders and citizens. They each also have specialized reasons, such as worker shortages in key industries. They also each model different skills that kids could learn from employee mentors and company sponsored jobs and internships. They each could be using company resources and employee talent to help schools and non-school organizations help kids in high poverty areas.

Below is a  map showing a commitment I have made, via the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993 - now) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-now).  See the map here.

Note: Concept Maps are Layers of Information. Click on 'right' box at bottom of nodes to open other maps.
If a city, or a nation, is truly committed to helping all youth, including those born in poverty or with disabilities, move safely through school and into adult jobs, careers and responsibilities, then many leaders need to adopt this vision, and show their commitment by putting a version of this map on their own business, personal, religious and/or political web site.

Customers and voters should demand to see this.

If you know of leaders doing this, and who support one or more of the strategies shown on this map, that will lead to achieving these goals, send me the link and I'll point to it from my maps and web site.

If you want to help me continue to share ideas like this and update the  maps as needed, click this link and make a contribution. I'm not a 501-c-3 so consider your support an investment in a shared vision.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Increasing Talent Involved in Helping Youth

I created the graphic below over the weekend, to illustrate a strategy I've followed for the past 40 years, which is engaging the talent of a diverse base of volunteers to help inner-city kids move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.


The graphic has several elements so I'll show them each separately.  If you've followed this blog for very long, you may have seen them in the past.


People ask "what kind of tutoring or mentoring" do I do.  I respond that I'm trying to create non-school, volunteer-based support systems that reach kids when they are  young and stay connected as kids grow through school and into adult lives.  The graphic at the left illustrates this goal.

I've aggregates several similar graphics on this Pinterest.com board.  The share a common vision that could be adopted and owned by people from many sectors of a community.  In this concept map I show many of the supports kids need at each age level. Volunteers who connect with youth via organized non-school programs are people who can help make those supports available.

If you look at the lower left corner of the "Mentoring Kids to Career" graphic you'll see a small map of Chicago. A larger version is at the right.   I've been using maps since 1994 to show where kids need extra support offered by tutor/mentor programs, based on indicators such as high poverty, poorly performing schools and/or urban violence.  I've also been building a database of non-school tutor/mentor programs, and showing them as overlays on the map, so people could locate and support existing programs, while helping new ones form where more are needed.

This Chicago tutor/mentor program locator was created in 2008 and needs much updating now, but illustrates the way maps can be used.

This graphic is from this pdf and asks a question that I started asking in 1975 when I became leader of the tutor/mentor program at the Montgomery Ward headquarters in Chicago, and which was the main purpose of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in 1993.

What will it take to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty today are entering careers by age 25?  What role does mentoring have? What can we learn from others?

This question needs to be asked and answered in thousands of places, in Chicago and around the world.  What makes the ideas I share unique is that I've been trying to motivate resource providers, policy makers, business, faith and media leaders to form learning circles where they ask the question and take much greater responsibility for making constantly improving tutor, mentor and learning programs available in more places throughout the Chicago region and in other cities and states.  This page provides ideas leaders in different sectors could use.  Many of the articles I've written since 2005 focus on leadership.


To support the efforts of anyone looking for ways to be involved I've been building a web library since 1998, which was a normal library prior to that. This graphic illustrates the range of information available in the library. This PDF shows the graphic as part of a "tutor/mentor learning network".

Last week I created this video, which shows the goal of many people becoming involved in on-going efforts to help youth in high poverty areas have the support systems needed, which are naturally available to kids in more affluent areas, to help them move through school and into adult lives free of poverty.

For a growing number of people to be involved, and stay involved, many people have to take on the role I've taken for the past 40 years, which is a daily effort to reach out to those I know and to invite them to look at the information I've been collecting, then begin to build their own understanding and involvement.

Here's another pdf that shows this goal.

How can we do this better?

This was the headline on the graphic at the top of this article.  As we ask what are "all the things" we need to know, we need to talk about building a flow of talent, technology, ideas and operating dollars to every high poverty neighborhood to support a full range of needed youth and family supports.

Doing it better means getting more talent involved in this effort. That includes students, the elderly, the disabled, and people from around the world.  Anyone can look at my articles and the PDFs I share and re-do these with their own creativity and talent and point the message at their own city if they don't live in Chicago.  Think of these as "open source" learning for helping reduce poverty an inequality in the world.

In the video I describe this as on-going learning, just as reading and understanding scripture is a life-long journey.  I hope you'll take some time to read this, visit the links I point to, then turn around and invite others to do the same.

Update 5/27/19 - this article about strategic planning, on the "From Poverty to Power" blog is relevant to what I wrote above.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Reflection on #onthetable2017 - thanks to #clmooc friends

On Monday I wrote this blog article, encouraging participants in Tuesday's #onthetable2017 event to look for ways to support existing organizations and help them become great instead of just creating new solutions.  Then yesterday my #clmooc friend Terry Elliott, shared a video he had created, turning a blog article by Simon Ensor, into a video.

I decided to test the tool, converting my blog article. The video below is the result.



For several years I've used my blog articles and social media to encourage people working with youth in non-school programs and schools to take time to follow some of the people I'm following and see ideas and activities that they might include in their own work with the youth and volunteers in their programs.

In addition, I've hoped programs would share work they are doing on their own web sites and blogs, and connect with each other on social media, so they could be learning from each other, and constantly improving how they help kids and volunteers connect.

Between yesterday when I first saw Terry's video on Twitter, and today when I was able to publish the one I created, Kevin Hodgson, another #clmooc friend, posted this Tweet, with his own video.



Imagine if youth and volunteers from dozens of tutor/mentor programs were engaging in this type of activity.  The only cost is the time invested in the learning and creating.

My articles focus on strategies that help mentor-rich non-school tutor, mentor programs be available in more high poverty neighborhoods. It's within such programs that this type of creative learning and networking with others can be incubated. The connections youth and volunteers make, to other people, and a world wide library of ideas, can last a lifetime.

I've more than 1000 articles on this blog. I invite anyone with the interest to take one or more, and convert them to videos using the Lumen5.com site.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Billionaires Asking for Your Donations.

In Illinois we have three very wealthy men seeking to be elected to the Governor's role in 2018.  At least one has the support of other very wealthy people, having just received a $20 million campaign contribution from one.

I've been getting email messages from two of these candidates, asking me for donations.  Why should I help them when they have not helped me in past years when I asked for their support?  What have they done with their wealth that would make me want to vote for one over another?

I included this graphic in this 2014 article inviting billionaires to adopt high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and its suburbs.


What might that involve?

The first commitment would be to adopt the ideas in this strategy map, putting a version of this on your personal, company or campaign website, with your name in the blue box.

This means you, or someone on your staff, would open every link and look at all the maps, and embrace all of the strategies. You'd talk about them in blogs, just like I do.

The second commitment would be to devote $1 or $2 million a year to make general operating gifts to help every youth serving organization in the areas you have adopted build strong leadership and strong organizational infrastructure.  Take the intermediary role I describe in this blog article.

That might include $50,000 a year to help me rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, described here. I received a $50k gift from an anonymous donor to rebuild my GIS capacity in late 2007. Unfortunately that was not repeated each year after and funding from a major corporation ceased when they were a victim of the financial meltdown of the late 2000s. Thus, the site is now out-of-date.

You'd also support the 4 part strategy shown on this map,  Step 2 of this shows the need for constant advertising and public education and enlistment of others from business, universities, faith groups, media, entertainment, etc. to share your leadership commitment.

I wrote this letter to the family of one of the candidates in 1999.  Imagine where we'd be today if that had resulted in support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection for the past 17 years and adoption and leadership of the ideas I've been sharing.

I'd want to see this strategy visualized on the candidate's web site, and where it says "donate" or "volunteer" people would be pointed to web sites where they could chose non profits to support with donations and volunteer efforts, not just the candidate's campaign fund.

I know this is a bit idealistic, but.....

I'd vote for that person. 

Maybe one of the people who are writing $1 million to $20 million dollar checks to get someone elected to the Governor's office would write a $250k check each year for the next 10 years to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection on one or more college campuses. 

Update - 5-27-17 - What are foundations and wealthy  elite philanthropists doing to counter actions of new administration? See article.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Instead of new projects, why not help old projects be great?

Tomorrow will be the 4th annual #OnTheTable event, hosted by the Chicago Community Trust.  I have written about this for the past three years. Here's last year's article.

As you prepare for the event I encourage you to read this article:

How many of you have read the Jim Collins book titled "Good to Great and the Social Sectors"?

Here are some links to blog articles where the writers summarize this book

Notes from reading Good to Great:  http://ericswanson.blogspot.com/2006/02/good-to-great-and-social-sector.html

Good to Great: Lessons for the Social Sector - click here

I’ve applied Good to Great concepts in the leadership of the tutor/mentor programs I led from 1990 -2011 and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and before that in my leadership of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program) since 1977 when I learned about Total Quality Management (TQM) while working as an Advertising Manager at Wards.

The key to constant improvement, is a commitment of leadership, and for members of the organization to constantly look for ways to improve. I describe my own approach to this in the Operating Philosophy, posted on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

However, I'm convinced that the only way non profits can become great, and remain great for many years, is if they can develop consistent revenue streams that enable them to hire and retain talented people, and that give these people time during the work day for expanding their network and learning from others, reflecting, and innovating new ways to improve from year-to-year.

Thus, I've constantly worked to teach volunteers, Directors, friends, and leaders of the programs I've led, and from other Chicago area tutor/mentor programs, to take on roles where they become agents, and advocates, for tutor/mentor programs.

Here' are a few articles that you might consider, as you think of helping youth in Chicago.

Tipping Points - what are some of the actions that might make a system-wide difference?

Re-Thinking Philanthropy and Funding - click here to see article with this graphic.

If we can stabilize the flow of talent, dollars and ideas into youth serving programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities, we can help every organization become great, and stay great.

That will result in more youth through school and into jobs and careers, which is the focus of this Forbes magazine article.

Here's a final link to consider. It is titled, "Helping urban youth move through school. What do we need to know."

This is not a short term process, or something you can learn in a few hours. Just as faith leaders ask you to spend a few minutes in reading and reflection every day, I ask the same.

I've posted more than 1000 articles on this blog that focus on learning, collaboration, marketing and on-going actions that help fill high poverty neighborhoods with great programs helping youth through school and into adult lives. Dig in to the articles and links I point to in my blogs and web library and engage others in on-going conversations.

As you talk with others during this round of #onthetable, I hope some of you begin to map out actions and strategies that participants can use to mobilize others, form learning communities, and develop  year-round actions that also grow to become great in what they do to provide the needed flow of resources required to win the war against poverty, inequality, injustice, etc. that plague our communities.

I'll be Tweeting my participation in two conversations and what I see on my Twitter feed, from my @tutormentorteam account. http://www.twitter.com/tutormentorteam I hope to meet some of you there.

Enjoy your conversations!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Honoring Mothers. Today and Every Day

I searched my blog this morning to find articles I'd written specifically for Mother's Day, and found none. Then I took a look at articles I'd written at other holidays to see if any fit.

South Korea War Memorial Cemetery
Here's one I wrote in 2015 that talks about honoring heroes by how we live our futures.  I think we can honor our Mother's in the same way.

We honor our wives and build a future for our daughters and their children by our actions that make the world a better, safer, more equal place, for every Mother to give birth and raise their children.

Chicago Tribune, April 14, 2014


Here's another article that I wrote in December 2014. The headline was

Commitment to Chicago area youth. Need more leaders.

I've been collecting news stories about violence and poverty in Chicago for over 20 years. Many I've put into blog articles. Most sit in my archive waiting for a story or a writer. They all point to the failure of leaders to build a comprehensive, long-term response to the poverty and segregation in Chicago and other big cities.

Here's another, written in 2012, with the title of 

Connecting Grains of Sand into Castle on Beach


How many of you remember visits to the beach or ocean, or even the sand box in the local park, where your Mother sat with you as you built castles with your imagination as your blueprint.

Can you imagine a Chicago where the map shows very few indicators of poverty in any zip code and where the map also shows many indicators of opportunity?  Until we imagine this we won't have the will power to provide the on-going flow of time, talent and dollars needed to build it.

If you want to take the time, this link points to other articles I've posted at different holidays since I started writing this blog in 2005.  As I've often done, anyone can re-write these articles, put them in video, turn them into poems, in their own effort to connect people who can help with people who need help in places throughout the world.

I hope you're all set to enjoy this Mother's Day, and all the other holidays that come each year. As you do, visit my site and be reminded of the work we each need to do to make the blessings of hope, opportunity, freedom and Motherhood available to all.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Innovating at the World Wide Coffee Shop

Today in my Twitter feed my friend Simon Ensor, a university professor in France, who I met via the Connected Learning MOOC, #clmooc, posted this article, talking about how he was interacting with people throughout the world.  In the article was the TED talk that I'm showing below.  I hope you'll take time to view it.



In the TED talk the speaker, Steven Johnson,  talks about the English coffee house as a meeting place and spark for innovations that fed the Age of Enlightenment that stretched from 1715 to 1785. He finishes with a story about how a mid 1950s lunchtime conversation of two scientists led to GPS technology that we use every day to find a coffee shop near us.  In one part of the video he talks about how innovation is encouraged by allowing "those with hunches to connect with other people's hunches".

Don't know what I'm talking about? Watch the video. 

Simon's article talks about how difficult it is to engage in conversations with people who we pass in our daily lives and how he has been connecting with people like myself in on-going conversations via the Internet.

His article resonated with me, as many of them do.

I have a stack of business cards in front of me that I've collected over the past few months, and years, representing people I've met via various Chicago events. I've followed up with email and invited most to "have coffee and share ideas" with me, if they are interested.  Some do. Most don't. And even when we do meet, it's like a "one cup stand", not followed up with on-going connections that allow people to share "hunches" and connect with "other people's hunches" in ways that lead to new innovations in how we provide support to youth and families living in poverty, and how such on-going support might lesson the violence in our cities....while providing many other benefits.

I've been attending #ChiHackNight Tuesday evening sessions for a couple of years, and visit their Slack page daily to interact with participants.  Yesterday Isaw mention of this article from the SouthSideWeekly, which is reviewing a "Chicago at a Crossroads" event held recently to brainstorm solutions to violence in Chicago.

In it's critique of last week's event, the article said
The Times “live event,” coming nearly a year after the Memorial Day package, fell short in the same way its coverage did: its assemblage of voices offered no surprises and did little to push the fight against violence forward. After treating themselves to finger food in the venue lobby, its hundred-or-so well-dressed, mostly white attendees went home no closer to solving the gun violence crisis than they were when they arrived, and the perspectives presented on stage went more or less unchallenged. 
I've attended far too many events like this, with high profile talking heads on stage sharing ideas while several hundred in the audience listen. Maybe a few questions get asked. But there's no real interaction. And few event organizers create on-line spaces for participants and speakers to interact following the event.

The "It Takes a Village" concept map above shows my belief that people from all sectors need to be engaged in on-going efforts to reduce the poverty and isolation that feeds the violence we face in Chicago and other cities. In this article I expand on that idea.


The concept map at the right shows sections of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library, which I started building even before I knew the Internet was a tool. I point to more than 2000 links, organized into four sections, with information and ideas anyone could use to build a deeper understanding of poverty, and to see work being done in some places that could be borrowed and applied in other places.  

Each link represents a group of people who I'd like to be meeting on an on-going basis in a "virtual" coffee shop of ideas and interaction.

When we think of the coffee house as a  meeting place, I feel there's just no realistic way that any of us can meet with more than a tiny fraction of people and ideas, if that's the only format available to us.  I've justified the time I spend on-line since 1998 by the fact that I can meet more people, and have deeper interactions over a period of years than is possible through face-to-face meetings.  We can not only connect with more people, but we can create gardens of ideas, such as our blogs and web libraries, that people from our immediate neighborhood and community, as well as people from around the world, can harvest for their own inspiration and application.

Unfortunately, the trade off is that I meet less often with people in Chicago who are part of this "village".

While I constantly say to people I've met in Chicago, "Let's do coffee and get to know each other", that just does not happen nearly as often as I'd like.  At the same time, while I have conversations with Simon in France, Terry in Kentucky, Kevin in Massachusetts and others from many other places, too few of the people working to help kids in Chicago are in these conversations.

It seems like Chicago is a hub for technology innovation but too many don't use this medium for networking, brainstorming and sharing ideas.  

I keep trying to change that. I'm inspired by people and ideas I keep meeting on-line.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

List of Articles that I Point to Frequently

Last January I created a blog article with a list of links, pointing to articles and places within the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web library that I point to often, using Tiny URL links to shorten the link addresses. I refer to this frequently to grab link addresses to use in other articles, PPT presentations, Tweets, etc.

Yesterday I created a video to guild  people through that list. Take a look:



This is one of many videos that have been created over the past 12 years to share ideas that people can use to help well-organized, out-of-school-time volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs be available to K-12 youth in more high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

I hope you'll take a look and bookmark the page, so you can refer to these articles often.


Monday, May 08, 2017

#mondaymotivation - keeping attention focused

I posted the graphic below on Twitter a few moments ago, showing my on-going effort to help non-school, volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs reach youth in all high poverty areas of big cities like Chicago.
With so much attention focused on local, national and global politics, war, terrorism, as well as sports and other types of entertainment, it's almost impossible to build consistent attention for actions needed to build and sustain mentor-rich school and non-school programs that reach kids in every high poverty neighborhood of big cities like Chicago.

Yet, when I get up every day, and start every week, that's my goal. I've more than 1000 articles posted on this blog since 2005 that show how I try to do this. In most of them I invite others to duplicate my efforts, and do what I do with their own time, talent and dollars.

This is a WE effort, not a ME alone effort. Join in.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Leaders Needed to Solve Complex Problems

If you look at the tag list to the left, you'll see that I've posted more than 400 articles since 2005 with "leadership" as part of the focus. Many include graphics like the one on the right, emphasizing the role of individuals.

With our state and national political process so much in disarray, it is even more important that private sector leaders step forward with their own time, talent and dollars.

This morning I posted an article on the MappingforJustice blog, which included this graphic, and this TED talk video.

In my comments I talked about how difficult it is to create the data platforms, and to draw attention to these ideas, and yet how important it is.

Since 1993, when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, a core part of the 4-part strategy focused on creating more frequent media stories, that would draw more attention to information about where tutor/mentor programs were needed, what good programs might look like, and ways volunteers and donors from business, hospitals, faith groups and universities might do to support them.

I had support from a PR firm from 1994-2002 and here's a list of media stories that we were able to generate.  It's far too small for the impact needed.

From the very beginning I saw  universities, and their students, faculty and alumni, as potential partners in the work of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  While I've had a variety of interactions and support, and hosted Tutor/Mentor Conferences on university campuses often from 1994 to 2015, I have not yet created an on-campus partnership that embraced the Tutor/Mentor Connection as a strategy to achieve strategic goals of the university.

One idea I've had on the drawing boards since the mid 1990s is called the BUSINESS SCHOOL CONNECTION.  I describe it in this Wiki page. Here's a paragraph summarizing the goal.
The Business School Connection is an concept strategy created by the Tutor Mentor Connection in the mid 1990s. It's goal is to create a link between business schools and tutor mentor organizations around the nation where business schools and their students use the skills they are learning in an on-going effort to increase visibility and raise operating dollars and volunteers to support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the city where a business school is located, and in other parts of the country. The T/MC believes that MBA students have unique ways of thinking and valuable connections that can be used to channel monetary and in-kind resources to tutor mentor organizations.
Map from The Economist
The map at the right show major cities around the world. Every one of these cities has areas of concentrated poverty, and could apply the ideas of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and others who write about mapping and systems thinking.

Every one has several universities with business schools who could be participating in the BUSINESS SCHOOL CONNECTION

Look at the tag list at the left and you'll find articles focused on partnerships with universities, hospitals, business and faith groups and ways that many leaders can help support this strategy.

I've not found a sponsor, partner or university who would help make this idea a reality. However, without drawing on the manpower and talent of  universities, and students in business, marketing, arts, journalism and technology, we won't be able to build the information platforms needed, or build the on-going communications and learning systems that are also needed.

If you want to talk about this and explore ways to get involved, let's connect. Follow me on Twitter @tutormentorteam or connect on Facebook or Linkedin.



Monday, May 01, 2017

The Pope Shares Message on TED

Last week my Facebook feed shared this video of His Holiness Pope Francis giving a TED talk. I watched it. I hope you will, too.


At one point in the video he talks about the responsibility for each of us to take on the role of the Good Samaritan, to help others who are in need.

At another he talks about HOPE, as "a humble, hidden seed of life that within time will develop into a large tree".   And he says, "A single individual is enough for HOPE to exist, and that individual can be YOU."

If you've read any of the thousand-plus articles I've posted on this blog you will see that I use the word "hope" often, such as "I hope you'll read this and share it with others."

In my role as leader of the tutoring programs at Montgomery Ward, starting in 1975, and of the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993, I've been that lone leader inviting others to join with me to create brighter futures for kids living in poverty.  I created the image below to show a message I've repeated often since the 1970s.
I've seen the growing violence in America's cities and Chicago's neighborhoods since the 1970s and I've compared it to a snowball rolling down a mountain. At the top it is small, and would be easy to stop. However, as it rolls further downhill, it gains momentum and is almost impossible to stop. When it reaches the valleys and homes at the bottom of the mountain, it destroys everything in its paths, including the homes of the wealthy, along with the poor.

I've feared for many years that the growing sense of hopelessness growing among youth living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities would turn into violence toward others in the wider community, just as it already is destroying lives within poverty communities. I've seen terrorism grow around the world, and seen small sparks here in the US, such as the Oklahoma City bombing. I've feared that we would reach a point where the work of volunteer tutors and mentors in non-school tutor/mentor programs would become too little, too late.

Thus, I've often told volunteers that we have two choices. You get in front of the snowball now, and try to stop it, and if no one else joins you, you'll probably be crushed by the on-coming avalanche.  Or you can wait until the snowball reaches the bottom of the mountain and you are certain to be destroyed, along with every thing you care for.

The first choice offers the opportunity, no matter how small it appears, that others will join you, and the snowball can be slowed, or even stopped.

The second choice offers no hope.  Unless others do this work for you.

As the Pope said in this TED talk, "Each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness."

And he said "How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries."

That's been my goal with many of my articles, such as this.


It's not easy being the first one to get in front of that snowball. This photo hung in my Grandma's house and after she died in the early 1970s, I  asked for it. I spend much time alone, imaineering a better way to support the many organizations that need to be in place throughout the country, thus, this photo resonates with me.

I used it in this article to show how I and many others are seeking help for the work we do.

I HOPE the Pope's message touches your heart and inspires you to reach out to offer your time, talent, dollars, leadership, advocacy and ideas in one, or more, of the many areas where you might make a difference.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Next for President Obama?

Former President Obama was in Chicago on Monday to speak at a youth leadership event held at the University of Chicago.  View video.

I first met Barack Obama in 1999 when he was a speaker at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference that I hosted in Chicago. I've shared ideas on this blog often since 2005 that I hope he and other leaders would read and adopt.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, and have been sharing strategies via printed newsletter, web sites, email and blogs since then, with the goal that leaders in politics, business, media, religion, higher education and other parts of the "village" would adopt them and use their own time, talent and dollars to implement the strategies.

In his comments on Monday President Obama said
I am the first to acknowledge I did not set the world on fire, nor did I transform these communities in any significant way.  
But it did change me.  This community gave me more than I was able to give in return. This community taught me that ordinary people,  when working together, can do extraordinary things.

It is this transformation of the volunteer that is at the heart of the tutor/mentor strategies that I've shared for over 30 years. I believe that unless we engage people who don't live in poverty, in ways that transform their own lives, too few will devote the time, talent and dollars over a lifetime, to do everything needed to help most youth born in poverty in one year be starting jobs and careers free of poverty 25 to 30 years later.

I've tried to communicate this strategy in many ways, with limited success in reaching leaders like the Mayor of Chicago, the President, or corporate CEOs.  When Rahm Emanuel was elected Mayor of Chicago in March 2011, I created a video in which I Imagined what he would say as a leader of the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies. Today I put that video on Vialogues so I could add comments and web links, to encourage others to carry this message to the current leaders in our city, state and country, and to those who want to get elected in the future.



I am putting this here so that others can create their own version, and present this to President Obama so he might consider adding this strategy to his own future work, or might present it to Steve Ballmer, so he might add this to the work he's doing.  Or they might present it to one of the billionaires who wants to be governor of Illinois.

The simplicity of this strategy is that it can be owned by many leaders, not just the billionaires, but also the middle school classroom of educators like Kevin Hodgson in Massachusetts.  The strategy applies to any city, in the US, or the world, not just Chicago.

I encourage you to read articles I wrote in the past two months about a "do over" of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  Click here and here. Any of these leaders can provide their own resources to help this happen.

If you create a new interpretation of any of my videos and visualizations please post a link so I can know what you're doing and share your work with others.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

21st Century Skills - Are These Modeled In Your Youth Organization?

Below is a graphic from an article on the World Economic Forum web site, titled, "What are 21st Century Skills Every Student Needs? I encourage you to read and share this with others.

Graphic from World Economic Forum article

As I looked through the list, these seem to be skills and habits that apply generically to all of the situations a young person will encounter as he/she travels through life. Anyone working with young people should be looking at these lists and thinking of ways the programs and services they provide reinforce one, or many, or these goals.

However, I'd encourage two other forms of learning.

One is "content".  This concept map includes pie chart graphics, that show different issues and challenges facing Chicago and the world, which need to be understood, and solved. Building understanding, solutions and them developing on-going actions requires the skills and habits suggested in the WEF article. However, learning about problems and solutions, requires on-going learning, drawing from content libraries that focus on specific issues.


The second is "process" or "systems thinking".  What are all the things you need to know to solve a complex problem. That would include habits and skills, and content. However, knowing how to sequence steps to achieve a goal, and how to build the public will and on-going support to stay focused on a problem for many years, and in many places, is also a skill that needs to be learned.


This concept map illustrates steps in the thinking process that need to be included in order for mentor-rich, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs to reach k-12 youth in more of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and the world, and for more of those programs to have on-going strategies that help kids move through school and into jobs and careers free of poverty.

The also steps apply to other issues.

I point to nearly 200 non-school Chicago area youth serving programs in this list and to many others in Chicago and around the USA in this, this and this sections of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library.

They all need to have one or more people reading my articles and sharing them and the links I point to with others in their organization, as part of their own on-going learning and process improvement.




Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Social Media and Civic Engagement

 My #clmooc friend, Kevin Hodgson, posted a thoughtful article titled "Where Social Media Tumbles into Civic Engagement" in which he discussed an article by Clive Thompson, in Wired magazine, entitled The Social Medium is the Message.”

I added this to a page on Hackpad where I've been aggregating links to articles pointing out the danger and emotional stability of the new President of the United States, #45.  Social and mainstream media had a great impact on the November 2016 election results, and it's uncertain where the trends will lead the US and the world in future years.

What I want to focus on are two things.

1) Writers like Kevin are trying to make sense of what's happening in the world. Kevin's a middle school teacher in Western Massachusetts, and if you read past articles on his blog, you'll see that he's constantly connecting his students to a digital world. He's connected to many other educators, trying to learn from them, and trying to help them learn from each other. Volunteers and leaders of tutor/mentor programs could draw many ideas from his blog, and his network.

2) How can we connect more people to each other via blogs like Kevin's, and hopefully mine, who represent different talents, skills and networks, and who might use what they learn from each other to solve some of the problems we face locally and globally. The political systems we have are just one part of a much more complex network of problems.

The concept map at the right is a visualization of the graphic at the top of this article. In both I'm focusing on "who" needs to be talking to each other, via social media, blogs, face-to-face events, etc. so there is an optimal mix of talent and communities interacting.   The concept map at the right shows "networks" like faith groups, business, hospitals, universities, government, philanthropy, etc.

I'm not just trying to motivate people to read and reflect. I'm trying to motivate on-going investments of time, talent and dollars to support the growth of youth serving organizations that help kids move through school and into jobs.

"Talking" means "reading" and "reflecting", not just "verbal interaction" or typing and sending your own thoughts into the on-line universe. 

When we say "It takes a village to raise a child" each of these networks represent portions of the village who need to be devoting time, talent, ideas, and resources on an on-going basis to solving the problem. They need to be interacting with each other to figure roles to take and places to provide their support.

The graphic at the top of the page is actually an interpretation of the graphic below, done by one of the interns from South Korea, via IIT, who have worked with me since 2007.  The two figures in the center of the graphic represent people like Kevin, who posted an article, and like myself, who share the article in an effort to reach a wide range of people and draw them to Kevin, to Clive Thompson, and to a deep well of other articles and ideas.
I spent much of yesterday watching the 20th Year Celebration of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, held in New York City and hosted by America's  Promise.  You can watch the videos and get more information at this link.  As I watched, I engaged on Twitter with others who were also watching, using hashtag #recommit2kids.  If you do a search for that you'll see a day-long stream of Tweets, inducing mine.

Last evening I attended the 250th weekly meeting of the ChiHackNight group, which is described as, Chicago's weekly event to build, share & learn about civic tech.  I used #chihacknight hashtag to share this event to my social network, and used the group's Slack channel, to share the #recommit2kids event with this network of technologists.

I shared some of my graphics, including the one above, in the #recommit2kids thread, in an effort to engage with others who are also concerned with the well-being of youth, with the hope that I could connect and be part of the thinking and planning of thousands of others, to influence on-going actions that draw needed talent and resources to youth serving organizations in every high poverty area of Chicago and the rest of the US and the world. Click this link and see many images I've shared on Twitter in the past.

Yet, while much is being broadcast out to the world, we don't know who is actually looking at what we're sharing, or if the mix of people who need to be connecting are actually in the conversation.  

I gained about 25 new followers yesterday, but not all were from #recommit2kids or #chihacknight.  That's a small percent of the total number who were Tweeting yesterday.   

I used this graphic on this page and in this ppt presentation.  I'm not only interested in connecting a network of people and organizations who will use time, talent and dollars and the ideas we each share, to change the future for kids born or living in high poverty, but am interested in how we keep people engaged, and grow the network over a period of years.

 And when I write "In the conversation",  I mean they are following blogs by people like Kevin and are reading the articles, digging into the links to read what he's reading, and then posting their own articles, like I am, to respond to his article, and to try to engage others in efforts that create a more just, equitable, safe and sustainable world for everyone.

Kevin's blog is just one that I follow.  I host a list of blogs on this section of the Tutor/Mentor Library, and have begun creating a list on Inoreader, inspired by another #clmooc member, Terry Elliott. You can click here to see #clmooc network blogs that I'm following, including Kevin and Terry.

So, if you've read this far, thank you.

How do we get from "here" to "there"?
I'm concerned with how social media is being used and the negative impact it can have. However, I'm also interested in its positive potential for connecting people who care about the same issue, and who can be the "small group of thoughtful people who change the world"... for good, not evil, purposes.

Finally, I'm interested in connecting with data-science and visualization talent, such as people who attend ChiHackNight,  who will create tools, like NodeXL, which I describe here, that can be easily used to map participation in events and conversations, so we can do the analysis of "who's here, and who still needs to be engaged".  

If we're not doing that we can create a tsunami of participation in on-line conversations and still not influence the changes that make life better for all.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Reflection - What Does "Tower of Babel" Story Mean For Today?

Tower of Babel story. 
Yesterday thousands of people marched in cities across America to demand that President DT release his tax returns. As I followed this on my Twitter feed, I also saw a story about four major famines taking place in the Middle East and Africa. Hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, will die as a result.

At the same time I'm following the war of words being waged by our President, with North Korea, Russia, China and other countries and I read articles like this about the potential devastation of a nuclear war.

Many eyeballs on some of these stories. Too few on others. And these are just a few of the tragedies and pain spread throughout the world as Christians celebrate the Easter weekend.

I created this concept map last year to point to a variety of web sites that were showing places around the world where people are suffering for a variety of reasons. I see maps as a form of bridge. People can go through the maps to the different places where other people need help.


With so many problems in so many places, how can we attract enough people to all of the places where these problems are concentrated. Can any of these be solved?

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.

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, 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 10 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.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Organized Mentoring - a Service Learning Opportunity

I've often heard volunteers say they learned more from being involved with mentoring and tutoring than they think the kids did.

I've tried to build this into mentoring program strategy for more than 30 years because I feel that  until more adults from beyond poverty become deeply involved, and willing to sacrifice time, talent and dollars, for many years, we just won't have enough well-organized programs doing all that needs to be done to reach kids in high poverty areas with organized non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning, and to stay connected all the way through school and into work and adult lives.

Below is a video I created this week, to show an animation created by an intern working with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2011.   This was originally created using Flash Animation, and is an update of a project originally done by another intern in 2007. Since browsers no longer support Flash animation, I've created this and a few other videos to archive the work, and keep them available to future users.




My focus is on the middle of this figure eight graphic. The information I host in the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library can be used by leaders of any organized youth program to help volunteers be more effective, on-going, tutors and mentors.  It can also be used to arm volunteers with information, ideas, and tools that they take back to their friends, family, coworkers, business, etc. to evangelize the tutor/mentor movement and encourage others to be involved, not only as tutors and mentors, but as tech support, accountants, lawyers, marketers and donors who help build and sustain strong programs in more places.

On this page is a PayPal button that you can use to provide some badly needed dollars to help me continue to maintain and share the ideas I've been aggregating since the early 1990s.

This video is one of many projects that can be found on this page.  I hope you'll view these and use them in group discussions and planning that supports the growth of needed non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs in poverty areas of the Chicago region and other cities.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Understand the Chicago Urban Agriculture Landscape

In October 2015 I wrote an article about urban agriculture and suggested that non-school, site-based, tutor, mentor and learning programs throughout the region could include some sort of urban agriculture activity as part of their mix of programs.

This week the Philanthropy Club of Chicago hosted speakers representing the Walter S. Mander Foundation and the Wendy City Harvest Program of the Chicago Botanic Garden, who introduced me to a much larger ecosystem supporting urban agriculture in the Chicago region, and a central intermediary organization called Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA).

I encourage you to browse the web site, paying special attention to these two pages.

Chicago Urban Agriculture Directory - The description on the page says "It includes partial lists of Chicago area farms, gardens and urban agriculture-related organizations, services, blogs, listservs, reports, guides, and other resources."  While I maintain an extensive directory of information related to helping kids in poverty, this page is an equally expansive list of resources for those interested in urban agriculture, which should include leaders and volunteers from youth tutoring, mentoring programs in the region, and their donors.

The Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project (CUAMP) - The web site says, "this is an ongoing collaboration between individuals, organizations, businesses and institutions that seeks to inventory and map urban agriculture across the Chicago Metropolitan Area. It includes everything from small residential gardens to commercial urban farms. With an interactive map and directory that link to detailed profiles for each growing site, CUAMP aims to provide the public with a comprehensive and constantly evolving look at the state of urban agriculture in Chicagoland."


I have been hosting an on-line map-directory of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs for more than 10 years, with the goal that people use the map to identify and support existing programs, and to help new programs grow where they are needed.  In this article I showed how libraries could be hubs supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs in different areas.

The Urban Agriculture Mapping Project is designed for a similar, but much broader set of goals. For instance, restaurant owners looking for fresh produce could use the maps to find urban farmers located near them. Community development leaders could work with neighborhoods to use vacant land for urban gardens. City planners and social justice advocates could use the maps as part of an on-going effort to provide jobs and career opportunities for people in areas with high rates of unemployment, high poverty and high crime.

A similar type of analysis could be used to connect  urban agriculture projects and advocates with site based youth serving organizations in different parts of the region.  At some point in the future one category on the Urban Agriculture map might be something like "agriculture tutoring/mentoring sites".

There's huge potential for jobs, careers, public health, urban development, etc. within the urban agriculture sector. I encourage you to take a look at these resources and share them with others who might be interested.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Flash Animations by Interns No Longer Easy to View - Workaround Needed

If you browse articles on this blog, dating back to 2007, you'll see a variety of visualizations, like this one, that use Flash animation to communicate a strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and since 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC). You can also see these on a different blog, focused on work interns have done to aid the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Unfortunately, as time goes on older technologies are no longer supported and that includes Adobe Flash.  To view these in the format they were created you need to download a swfplayer which you can find at this link.

I've created a video, which you can see below, to show the project for those who don't want to download the swfplayer. I've also added some comments updating status of Tutor/Mentor Connection.  To see the project shown above, and others, visit this page.


Over the next couple of weeks I plan to record all of the projects created with Flash animation so they remain available to help people understand the strategies I launched in 1994 to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city like Chicago, and to help each program get on-going resources that help them build mentor-rich strategies that help kids who start in these programs when in elementary school, be starting jobs and careers with the help of people they met on their journey through school.

Thank You! to Interns
At the same time, I'm trying to show that students and volunteers from middle school, high school, college and non-school programs in Chicago and other cities could be creating their own visualizations of Tutor/Mentor Connection strategies and share them with leaders in their own communities who need to provide the time, talent and dollars to make mentor-rich programs available.

I've coached interns using this on-line forum on Ning.com.  I invite you to look at the conversations and work done over past years.  As with the changes in technology, Ning moved from being a free site, to a moderate-cost site to a more expensive site over the past few years.  I've not been able to generate consistent revenue to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection via my current Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC structure, so don't know if I will be able to continue the Ning site past this coming year.  The annual fee for 2017-18 is $600. If you'd like to help pay that fee, use the PayPal button on my personal "gofundme" page to send a contribution.

If you're a student, volunteer or educator who might want to help with this work, introduce yourselve via the comment box or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.