Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Helping Youth - A Shared Vision Needed

Below is a concept map that I've shared since 2005 showing a commitment I feel needs to be made by many leaders, if we're ever going to build the comprehensive system of supports kids living in high poverty areas need to move more safely and successfully through school  and into adult lives.

open concept map - http://tinyurl.com/tmc-strategy-map

I've listened to leaders for the past 30 years who talk about helping kids, but have not found any using maps or visualizations the way architects and engineers use blueprints to create a shared vision of work that needs to be done.

In 2011 when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was elected for his first term, I created this video, imagining him talking and guiding people through the ideas shown on this map. I put the video on Vialogues recently with some comments to update it, and invite others to re-do this with more polish and professionalism than what I had done.  It really is of pretty poor quality. Ugh.

I created three close ups, to provide a script for what people might say in such a video.

Look at the left hand side:  Follow the lines connecting the nodes on the map, which start at the top with "my goal is".

Then, look at the right hand side, showing that the strategy recruits workplace volunteers, to support comprehensive k-12 programs, that reach youth in high poverty neighborhoods with a range of needed supports.

Look back at the top of the graphic.  The vision is achieved by following a four-part strategy, shown by another concept map. The vision is also achieved by recruiting other leaders to also adopt the strategy.

The words are there.  This strategy applies in any city where there are inequalities and wealth gaps, with areas of people living in concentrated, segregated poverty.  That means youth or adults from any city could look at these maps and my original video, then create new versions with their Mayor, local celebrities and sports stars, CEOs, faith leaders, and community activists sharing the same message and the same commitment.

If enough people make this commitment, and renew it from year-to-year for the next decade or two, we might begin to have more mentor rich learning programs in high poverty areas with the on-going support each needs to hire and retain talented staff, who can attract kids and volunteers, and keep them involved as the kids move from elementary school, through middle school and high school, then on toward jobs and adult lives.

School is starting soon. It wold be a great time for this video to appear on social media, with leaders showing their commitment to the strategy by saying "be a volunteer" and pointing to directories of youth serving programs in their communities, which were created as part of step 1 of the four part strategy.

If you do this, please send me a link so I can share it.  If you want to act as a producer and/or sponsor and help me re-do my own versions of these videos and strategy presentations, I want to hear from you. I need your help.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Network Building - Using Twitter

Highsight - www.highsight.org
If you've read articles on this blog regularly, or are just visiting for the first time, my purpose is to help well-organized, volunteer-based tutor and mentor organizations grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities. That means I need to influence what resource providers, policy makers and other leaders do, as well as what volunteers and leaders of tutor/mentor programs do.

I do this by drawing attention to programs doing good work, such as Highsight, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this fall.  The image at the right is from their Winter2017 newsletter.

While I host this blog and a web library and share ideas on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, I don't have a staff or any dollars for advertising (since 2011), so to learn about programs, I follow them on social media and look at their web sites, using this list of Chicago area programs, which I've maintained since 1994.

I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter regularly and feel that more useful research information is being shared regularly on my Twitter feed than what I see on my LinkedIn or Facebook feeds.  At the same time, by looking at the Facebook pages of local programs I'm able to stay informed by those who post regularly (not all do).  

Over the weekend I created a concept map to show conversations I have been following on Twitter, which are identified with a #hashtag.  Take a look.


With each node I've included a link which you can click and go to that Twitter feed.  I think that most people use #hashtags to draw people together for short term conversations, perhaps in support of a conference, meeting or on-line webinar.  I participate in these regularly, and actively share ideas from my own work while Tweeting and "liking" ideas posted by others. In every conversation I meet one or two new people who I follow, so I can see information they post regularly, or who follow me for the same purpose.

However, I also go back to these conversations regularly to see what people are talking about, and sharing with one of these #hashtags. By creating the concept map, I, or you, can easily click into several of these conversations any time you want.  I also use Tweetdeck, but it gets unmanageable if you're trying to keep track of as many conversations as I do.

Below is another map, showing on-line spaces where I've been connecting with others and sharing my own ideas. 

In both of these I included the graphic shown below, to illustrate the idea of our journey through time, or through social media, and how I purposefully try to attract others to follow me and the ideas I share on this blog, so more people are helping tutor/mentor programs grow in more places, and are helping each of those programs constantly find ways to expand their own influence.

I'm just one person, and thus my ability to attract others is limited. However, if many of us were trying to do this, we could build a growing army of followers and collaborators who work to help kids move through school and into careers.

Let me show this a bit differently.  One group that I've been connecting with since 2013 is composed of educators located throughout the United States and in other countries.  This is the Connected Learning group, using hashtag #clmooc.  

On any day you can click into the #clmooc link and follow the discussion thread to see what members are talking about. Or you can go to the group's web site, and find archives of past Twitter chats, a link to a G+ community, or announcements of upcoming activities. Kevin Hodgson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts, does a nice job summarizing a recent #clmooc chat on his blog.

This morning when I looked at my Twitter feed I found the post below, from Terry Elliott, a college professor from Western Kentucky.

If you click into the video you'll see that Terry created an analysis of my activity within the #clmooc Twitter universe during one recent week.  He was aided by Sarah  Honeychurch, who works at the University of Glasggow, in Scotland.  The analysis is done using #TAGS, a free tool made available by Martin Hawksey, who is also from Scotland.

I would not know of these tools if I were not regularly following this group on Twitter.

I created this graphic several years ago to illustrate how difficult it is to figure out ways to reach kids with the help and support the each need so that more are moving safely and successfully through K-12 education and into adult lives.  Reaching kids in high poverty neighborhoods with programs that provide this support for many years, is an even greater challenge.

That's why we need to be connecting and learning from each other and why I'm on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook daily.  It's why I go to meetings and conferences in Chicago (when they are free). It's why I've been building a web library and sharing ideas from it for over 20 years.

Unfortunately, only a small number of the people who are involved with Chicago's volunteer-based tutor and mentor programs are actively engaged on Twitter.  Only handful of the people in my Facebook and Linkedin "friends" lists are using Twitter. Very few of the volunteers and students who have been part of the tutoring programs I led from 1975-2011 are using Twitter, or are actively using Facebook and/or Linkedin.

Or, they are actively using these spaces but have not reached out to connect with me or invite me to connect with them.

Tomorrow starts a new week. I'll continue my journey through social media. I hope you'll join me in one of these spaces or in one or more of these Twitter #hashtag conversations.  I'll be updating the #hashtag map on a regular basis as I'm drawn into new conversations.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Digging Deeper into Issues - llinois Governor Election

Last Saturday I posted an article about a proposed Chicago violence prevention jobs program, which included this graphic.  The two elements of the graphic are 1) support for kids in high poverty neighborhoods needs to start when kids are young and stay connected to them as the move through school and into jobs; and 2) we need to be using maps to focus on where help is most needed and to show where services and resources are available, and where more are needed.

On Tuesday I listened to JB Pritzker introduce himself during a ChiHackNight event (see video). A few weeks earlier Ameya Pawar (see video) also spoke to the group.  This prompted me to create a new concept map, showing each of the candidates for Governor of Illinois (that I know of) with a link to the issues page on their web sites.
 view new concept map
This map not only points to the web sites of the candidates, but also points to two sections of the web library I've been building since 1998.  In one section I've been aggregating links to web sites that focus on progressive issues and on engaging more people in the voting process. In a second section I point to a set of links focused on collaboration and community building, and knowledge management, creativity and innovation.

My goal is that the candidates, and many others, take on the role of the blue box in this graphic, connecting people throughout Illinois with information they share on their web sites, and encouraging on-going discussion and deeper learning so people are better informed about the problems of the state, as well as potential solutions.

Other elements on the map, in the lower right corner, are two of my concept maps, showing roles leaders need to take, making a long-term commitment to do all they can to help every youth born or living in a poverty zip code of Illinois be starting a job and a career by the time they are in their mid 20's.

Doing "all you can" involves enlisting other leaders to take the same role. It also involves a constant effort to get more people looking at this information and learning ways they, too, can get involved. You don't need to be a candidate for Governor to take this role.

If each of these candidates points people to the information in this concept map, and encourages them to give time, talent and dollars to support youth serving organizations throughout the state, they then could put their picture in the graphic below, showing what they are doing every day throughout the year to build attention and draw a growing volume of volunteers, talent, ideas and operating dollars, directly to every youth program active in the state.

A few  years ago I created a video following the election of Rahm Emanuel as Mayor of Chicago. It was titled "Imagine This..." and pretended that the new Mayor were writing this blog, and/or narrating that video.  I'm not a video maker, so this is pretty poor quality. That means anyone reading this could say "I can do that better", and then go ahead and create their own version.

Go ahead. Do it. Send me your version. Better yet, if you work with one of these campaigns. create your own video, with your candidate pointing to this information.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Cost Analysis - to employ 32k high risk male Chicago youth and adults

From WBEZ91.5Chicago
How much would it cost to create a jobs program that employs 32,656 men who live in the highest violence plagued Chicago neighborhoods. These are men who are are at the highest risk of being a victim and/or offender.  That is the question WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell attempts to answer with this analysis.

His answer: $1.1 billion, for the program's first year.  However, as he writes:
But, just for context, it’s around the planned cost of redeveloping Union Station downtown. It’s also roughly what Illinois spends to keep its violent offenders in prison for one year.  
I was interviewed for this project, about the cost of mentoring this population, and encouraged Chip to step back and think of the systems needed to reach and employ this group. I also told him how much I appreciated being asked for my thoughts, since so few leaders in Chicago have ever reached out to me in the past 30 years as they were planning new youth development initiatives.

I think Chip has done a comprehensive analysis, with the aid of Joseph Persky, a University of Illinois at Chicago economist.  However, I think there are many other things that need to be considered in determining a price tag and launching this effort.

Take a look at the graphic below:

I think it will be easy for WBEZ to create maps that show the neighborhoods they are targeting. They already do a great job of creating similar maps and posting them on their web site.  

In the above graphic, the map at the left shows neighborhoods targeted by an anti violence initiative launched by the Mayor's office in 2013. The map at the right shows all poverty areas in Chicago. I used these maps in a 2013 article to emphasize the need for funding youth tutor/mentor programs in other neighborhoods, not just the target areas.

Above the maps is a birth-to-work graphic, emphasizing the need for funding and volunteer support of youth programs that reach kids early and stay connected, with age appropriate support all the way until they are in jobs and careers.  The yellow highlight shows the age group of men that the WBEZ write up targets.  The pink bar shows what's not included. Furthermore, since this project only focuses on men in the age 16-34 age group, there will be additional costs to employ women in these areas.

This project is important, and needs to be tried. However, unless funding supports boys and girls in all poverty areas, and all age groups, I think we'll be paying this $1 billion or more every year into infinity because we've not fixed the pipeline.  I also believe we'll also still be paying many of the costs of poverty and incarceration that the project seeks to reduce.  The additional costs of making mentor-rich programs available to youth and every poverty area has not been calculated.

Even if we only focus on the WBEZ target group and neighborhoods, there's still more to think about. Take a look at this graphic.

Planning Cycle - War on Poverty
I've used this graphic in many articles, such as this one.  Whoever takes the lead on this project needs to put together a planning map, that takes into consideration everything from Step 1 to Step 7 on this graphic. And Step 7 will be the most difficult. That's the one that focuses on building and sustaining the public will to fund this project, not for one year, but for many years.

Does the funding analysis cover the costs of this planning process?

Here's another consideration. This 4-part strategy map can be viewed at this link, and is described in this presentation.

The WBEZ article, and all the research that went into creating the analysis, would be included in Step 1, which is the information we use to understand a situation and look at possible solutions.

What I think is missing from the WBEZ analysis of cost is Step 2 and Step 3.  What type of on-going advertising and public education will be needed, over many years, to draw enough leaders from business, philanthropy, government and non profits together to build the public will to fund this project and keep it funded?  What type of on-going outreach will be needed to reach and involve those 32,000 men who are the focus of this project?

WBEZ posting this article on their web site, then sharing it on social media where I and others could find it and give it more readership through our own Tweets, likes and re-tweets is one part the strategies I focus on in Step 2 and 3.  Me writing this article and sharing it often on social media and in my email newsletter, is another. These actions will need to happen over and over, for many years, with many others writing their own blog articles, to make sense of the project and to attract more and more who take a similar role.

I don't know the answer to the questions I'm posting, but do know that this planning could benefit from some additional systems thinking and process mapping, so the full project is better understood by more people, and the full cost can be better determined.  To focus attention on the strategy map I created a new video to highlight the four sections of the map. I hope you'll take time to view it.

I've been using visualizations and concept maps for nearly 20  years to help people understand the ideas I have been sharing, show the information I've been aggregating, and demonstrate a process that I feel needs to be adopted by many leaders, if we're to build the public will needed to solve the violence and reduce the poverty and inequality that's embedded in Chicago.

I know this is another long article, but here's one more set of ideas that I hope you'll read. These articles focus on systems thinking, and mapping.  They demonstrate a process and show some tools that I hope WBEZ and others will apply to help build involvement and support for comprehensive, long-term solutions.

I hope I can be included in the planning, brainstorming and thinking that is needed.  Unfortunately, that's not often been the case in past years. However, we're focusing on the future, so I'd be happy to spend time with city leaders, and planners, to talk through the ideas I share in this and other articles on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Make sure Pipeline to Careers has roots in all poverty neighborhoods

See pipeline in this article
I've used graphics like this often to visualize a system of youth supports that starts at pre-school and continues until a young person is in a job and taking on adult responsibilities.  While we spend billions as a nation to help people who live in poverty many programs only focus on pieces of the problem, not the entire pipeline. If there's a gap in support, the pipe leaks. In many cases this can be life changing if kids get drawn into gangs, drugs, or other negative habits.

See article
As we enjoy this 4th of July weekend and think of the blessings that most Americans enjoy, I hope you'll take a few moments to think of ways you can use your time, talent, leadership, dollars, influence and votes to create a support system that makes more of these blessings available to everyone in America and to others around the world.

This "mentoring kids to careers" graphic is a different version of the pipeline, but emphasizes the same points. At each age group kids need specific types of support to help them move to the next age level. Most kids living outside of extreme poverty and segregated neighborhoods, and in smaller cities and towns, have more of these supports available to them than do kids living in high poverty areas of big cities.

See article
This is a third version of the same idea. In this case I use "oil well" as a symbol for the birth to work support kids need. I posted these on a map of Chicago, where the darker red areas are neighborhoods of  high poverty where this type of support systems needs to be created and sustained for many years.  One role researchers can take is to create asset maps of different zip codes to identify support programs that are available and find ways to help them do good work. Such maps can also show gaps in service that need to be filled, which are where the "pipeline" is broken.

The graphic below combines some of these elements. At the right is another graphic showing the birth to work support system, along with a map emphasizing a need for support to be available in all high poverty areas.  To the right I focus on building and sustaining public will to make this happen, and the need to influence people who don't live in poverty, as well as those who operate the schools and non-profits that need to become available to more kids and families in more places.

See complete collection of concept maps
If you open the links on the graphic above, which are the small boxes under each node, you'll find other articles that feature these graphics in more detail.

As you're enjoying the holiday, I hope you'll take some time to look at this, and bookmark the page, so in coming weeks you can dig deeper into these ideas and share them with friends, family, co-workers, alumni and others who also are celebrating this weekend.

While I've written articles like this for many years, many leaders are needed to re-frame this message and evangelize it in more places to more people.  Leaders who champion and spread these ideas could be students in middle school, high school, college and/or Phd students. They could be faith leaders, business leaders, athletes, rappers, even politicians.

Share links to articles you post with these ideas, in the comment box, or on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rich neighborhood. Poor neighborhood. Chicago map

View map
Last November I used this image in an article on the MappingforJustice blog to introduce an ESRI story map focusing on wealth inequality in American cities. Since then I've added a few updates at the bottom of the article, with links to other stories that include similar information.

Today Crain's Chicago Business published a version of the same storymap, focused on Chicago. Below is a tweet announcing this.

Leo and Dan - 1973
I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 after being part of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago since 1973. It was my long-term involvement that led me to read more, learn more and care more about making mentor rich programs available in more high poverty neighborhoods.

All of the articles on this blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site focus on actions that make great mentor-rich programs available in more places, by engaging volunteers who will care more and do more, just as I have been engaged.

Put yourself in middle.
That's the real issue. Not enough people and businesses and faith groups are doing nearly enough, on a consistent, on-going basis, to turn the information from articles like the Crain's story into acts of personal on-going responsibility.

If you want to learn more, skim through articles I've written in the past month, and in past years. Then create a discussion group with people who can help, reading these articles, and talking about ways they can help youth in one or more different neighborhoods, by helping needed youth serving and jobs building programs grow in more of the high poverty areas shown on these maps.

Want my help? I'd be happy to be part of your brainstorming.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Supporting Youth Tutor/Mentor Orgs Throughout a City

I've been posting articles to this blog since 2005 and to a web site since 1998. All focus on actions that people in business, media, faith groups, etc. could take to help mentor-rich non-school programs be available to k-12 youth in more places, and for more years.  I've embedded maps and graphics into many articles, and I'm going to pull a few into this article.

You're welcome to put this into Hypothes.is for deeper reading and annotation.

See TQM Strategy
This graphic shows a youth, or a tutor/mentor program, as the hub of a wheel. The timeline in the middle shows different age groups from pre school through work and is intended to show that once a mentor, or tutor/mentor program connects with a youth, the goal should be to stay connected till that youth is an adult and in a job...or to connect that youth to others who help provide such long-term support.

The spokes point to different type of industries and careers kids might aspire to if they had adults to model these opportunities and help open doors as young people grow up.

The map shows that such programs are needed in all high poverty neighborhoods, not just a few good programs, in a few locations, reaching a small percent of kids who need such support.

It Takes A Village -article
At the right is another version of this graphic, with the heading "It takes a village to raise a child."  While both of these maps could be used to show youth program design, they could also be used to show how business, hospitals, faith groups, colleges and civic groups, etc. are helping well-organized youth programs grow in all poverty areas.

Here's another concept map, which I use to show the talent needed for any organization, big or small, to be successful.  Look at the yellow nodes, showing finance, legal, communications, etc. In small non profits a few people wear many hats, and few have all the talent and skills needed to be really good at what they do. Some are effective in raising money and hiring people, or can find volunteers, while others are not as good at this.

This is another graphic communicating the same idea. In every high poverty neighborhood, every tutor/mentor program needs the same mix of talent and support.

Below is a presentation that includes a theoretical organization chart, showing the different talents needed to build and sustain a strong enterprise.  It includes some of these graphics.

Now here's what I want people reading this to think about.  Instead of several hundred non profits competing with each other to find the talent they need to do good work, why can't every business, faith group, alumni group, philanthropy and civic organization look for ways to spread their members, talent and expertise to organizations throughout the city?

Service-Learning LOOP - video

Look at the horizontal figure-8 in this graphic and think of it as a volunteer engagement strategy. As you do, think of the hub/spoke graphic above.  On the right would be the different sources of volunteers and talent that is available in different industries. On the left are the existing tutor/mentor programs where someone might become involved.

Every time a volunteer connects with a youth in a tutor/mentor program he/she is learning about the poverty that causes the program to be needed, about the strength and weakness of the organization, and about the strengths and needs of the youth they meet.  As the volunteer returns to family, friends and workplace, she informally shares what was learned.  If that volunteer is well supported, by the program, or by his industry, he will stay involved longer, and ultimately, some will take greater roles and responsibilities. Here's a video that shows this idea.

The map at the right is a screen shot of the asset map section of the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, showing some of the banks in the Chicago region.

What if a version of this were created for each industry, with flags on each icon, indicating a volunteer support strategy that a) encouraged volunteers to be tutors or mentors; b) encourage volunteers to offer talent to support specific needs of programs, such as planning, marketing, technology, finance, legal, etc; c) encouraged volunteers to sit on Boards of youth programs in the area around individual locations; and/or d) encouraged volunteers to make annual financial contributions to support programs where other employees or church members were involved?

Another version of the map could be created or sponsored by each industry, showing known tutor/mentor programs in the region, with flags on the map indicating that volunteers from the industry were involved in one, or all, of the ways suggested above.  The screen shot at the left is also from the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. The green stars on the map are programs identified through surveys done until money ran out in 2010.

Tech volunteers could be helping create and update maps like this!

Now, as you think of the hub/spoke wheel, and the service learning loop, imagine the impact if volunteers from an industry, or faith group, or college alumni network, who were becoming involved with youth programs in every part of the city, now began to meet and share ideas with each other on a regular basis.

What works? What did not work? What are the needs of the youth, or the organization, that our industry could fill? What can  we do to help these organizations do more to keep the youth and their volunteers involved for multiple years? What other questions should we be asking and trying to answer?

What can we be doing to "pull" kids through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers that enable them to raise their own kids without the challenges of poverty?

What can we do to help volunteers from other industries get involved and take a similar leadership role, so that every youth program begins to have a mix of volunteers, leaders and resources representing every sector of the village, with everyone taking a role to help kids move through school and into careers.

What can our industry, faith group, family group, etc. do to share responsibility with non profit leaders for making well-organized, long-term, tutor/mentor programs available to k-12 youth in more places?

A small group of volunteers within each industry could be facilitating such conversations, just as small groups organize United Way campaigns every year.

Many leaders needed.
What I'm suggesting is that leaders from any sector, or each spoke on the wheel shown above, could put themselves in the blue box at the top of this concept map and apply this Role of Leaders strategy to help more kids born or living in poverty move through school and into adult jobs and responsibilities. If they can make this work for the poorest kids in the city, it will support every other youth at the same time.

This strategy applies in any city, and can apply to any service that needs to be located close to clients, meaning multiple distribution points are needed throughout a geographic region.

If you'd like me to meet with you or someone from your organization to talk through these ideas, just let me know. I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook and Linkedin.

If you'd like to make a financial contribution to help me continue to share these ideas, click here, and use the PayPal button to send your support. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Applying innovation and problem solving to anti-poverty strategies

One of my Twitter friends posted the short video below, that focuses on teaching innovation and problem solving to K-12  youth and adults.

As I viewed this some of the graphics and articles from this blog came to mind. Below is one concept map, that focuses on filling high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago with mentor-rich non-school programs that reach kids when they are young and provide on-going support through high school and on to jobs and careers. What are all the things we need to know, and do, to make that happen, not just in a few places, but in every poverty neighborhood in the region?

This is a complex problem, and if you'll take some time over the next few months, you can read articles that I've posted since 2007 that focus on this problem.  If you're an educator, or lead a non-school program or a youth program at your church, synagogue or mosque, you could lead young people to these articles, and encourage them to apply the thinking to innovate solutions.

4-part strategy

As you skim through you'll frequently see the graphic at the left, which shows four steps that need to be included in any innovation and problem solving strategy. Read about this in this presentation.

You'll also see presentations, like this one, that focus on each of the graphics in the concept map above.

This past week the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service was held in Seattle. Due to lack of funds I've not been able to attend this for many years. I try to follow on-line sessions when they are available, and engage on Twitter or Facebook.  If you search for this #serviceunites hashtag you can see some of the information posted and try to connect with the people who are sharing that information.

I last attended in 2008 and I created the graphic at the right as part of a week of articles that I wrote following the conference.  In this case I'm emphasizing the use of information, and maps, which is part of the information needed that I refer to in step 1 of the four-part problem solving strategy.

I'm also showing how leaders in business, religion, media, education, politics, etc. (the village) can be drawing people together to use the information to innovate ways to make more and better youth supports available to k-12 youth in all high poverty areas of Chicago or any other city.

While I'm not able to be physically present at most meetings and conferences that focus on poverty, inequality, violence prevention, education, workforce development, youth, tutoring, mentoring, etc. my ideas and the resources I've aggregated for more than 20 years are available 24 hours a day to anyone who attends these meetings, or to all the other people who can't attend, or are not invited.

The real question is, "How much do you care about these problems, and how willing are you to spend time on a consistent bases reading articles and viewing videos that give you a deeper understanding of the problem and potential solutions?"

Can you look in the mirror at the end of each day and check off actions you've taken?

Are you also writing about this? I'd love to find blog articles on web sites of Chicago youth organizations showing how they were reading and reflecting on articles I write, and how they are innovating ways to bring solutions to their own neighborhood, or to other neighborhoods, in Chicago or around the world, where others need help.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

If we keep doing things the way we always have, we'll keep getting the same poor results

I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 with a goal of helping every non-school, volunteer based tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region get a more continuous flow of the dollars and talent each needs to become great at connecting urban youth with adult volunteers in on-going programs that transform the future for both.  This 1994 Chicago Tribune article announced our launch.

I've struggled for over 20 years to find the talent, dollars and support to do every think I was trying to do, which means I also was never able to build the flow of resources to Chicago area programs that has been needed.  In 2011 I read a book by Dan Pallotta, titled Uncharitable, which outlined some of the struggles I and others in the non profit sector have consistently faced. I wrote about it in this article and several others.

Today I saw this video and want to share it with any who read my blog, with the goal that you'll share it with others.  If we want to get different results we need to invest in the talent and organizational structure that enables great work to be done.

As you look at this video and rethink how you support people doing social benefit work, under a 501-c-3 tax status, or an LLC tax status, take a look at the video below.

If we think connecting a youth with an adult mentor has value, how do we build and sustain high quality non-school programs in all of the neighborhoods where kids need this support from first grade until their are in their adult years and starting jobs and careers?

If this is something that interests you I hope you'll browse other articles on this blog and reach out to start a conversation around ways you can help.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Urban Youth as Data Scientists and Network Builders

My friend Sidney Hargro, posted an article on Linkedin today, which I started to respond to, but ran out of characters.

Here's what I wrote:

More than 15 years ago I began to see the potential of data management and information networking as a skill and 21ct century career opportunity and recognized that since the Internet was an emerging tool, the starting line for rich kids and poor kids was almost the same....IF...patrons were willing to put mentor-rich non-school programs in high poverty neighborhoods, filled with computers, the internet, and opportunities for young people to learn to use those in ways richer kids would also be learning.

A youth who learns coding, web design, blogging, video creation, data visualization, and story telling and how to build an on-line network and motivate people in a desired direction, is learning leadership skills that will have great value.  These skills can be learned without the help of local schools, if the people making learning opportunities in the non-school hours have enough vision and resources.  Kids could be leaving  high school and starting their own consulting businesses or information networking companies --- transporting themselves and their families from poverty to the upper middle class and beyond, in one generation.   Unfortunately , I know of too few places where such programs are operating in high poverty areas of Chicago or other cities.

The opportunity still exists.

Following are a couple of visualizations that illustrate what such a program might look like.  The first is a graphic I've used for over 20 years to describe a program with volunteers from many different industries and backgrounds serving as tutors, mentors, leaders, organizers, etc.  This Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) PDF illustrates the idea.

This next graphic visualizes three forms of learning that would be happening in such a program, if the leaders shared this vision.  This concept map shows a focus on academic, social and work skills and the goal of building habits of using the internet to find and share information.

It's difficult to know how many, if any, Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs have such a vision because few use visualizations on their web sites to show program design and strategy. I've been browsing a list of organizations that I host on Facebook, and just a few attempt to show program design with videos they share.  This East Village Youth Village Program video is one way of showing program design.

When I write about extra roles volunteer tutors and mentors might take, or the role of talent volunteers, I'm thinking of people who work with kids and other volunteers to help programs communicate their own program vision and design better, by borrowing ideas from what others are already doing.  

This vision needs to be shared by philanthropists, business leaders, volunteers and others, as well as by program leaders, if it is to become practice in more than a few places.

I'd be happy to help others explore this idea and others that I share on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Building Systems of Support for Youth. Where Do I Start.

This graphic includes a lot of ideas, all focused on what leaders in a community need to do to build systems of school-based and non-school-based support that help all kids move through school and into adult lives with jobs and careers.

I share these on Pinterest and in blog articles I've written here since 2005, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, which I started in 1998 as a component of the Tutor/Mentor Connection library.

I learned what I know, and built this library, over a period of 40 years, drawing from many experiences along the way, and borrowing ideas from many other people and organizations. Thus, my biggest daily challenge is to figure ways that other people can become familiar with these ideas in a much shorter time frame.

A few years ago I created the concept map below, as a learning guide for staff who joined me at the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  It's now a guide for anyone else who wants to journey through this information.

Learning Path

Then in 2015 an intern from South Korea, via IIT in Chicago, spent time opening and reviewing each link in the map, and then created a visualization to describe what was included. She used Prezi to do this, then transferred the work to YouTube, which you can see below.

This is the solution to my problem and to similar problems faced by others who aggregate content related to local and global problems.  

Youth and adults from faith groups, business, middle and high schools, colleges and other organizations in Chicago or in cities throughout the world, could take their own journey through this concept map, and other resources in my library, then create their own presentations and discussions to bring others from their community to the information, and into brainstorming and innovation sessions intended to build and sustain long-term systems of support helping youth move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives.

Yesterday I viewed a video of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart's presentation last week at ChiHackNight. As I viewed the video I tweeted some things he was saying. I encourage you to take a look, too.

He's one of the people I hope will look through these ideas and want to start a conversation about ways he can champion them and apply them via his own office.

There's much to learn, and much to do.  It starts with learning what's already available.