leadership (9)

30 year reflection

I created this Ning forum in 2007 to support the growth of intermediaries who would help volunteer-based youth tutor/mentor programs reach more kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places with long-term support that helped those kids through school and into adult lives.

The site shares a strategy that I started in 1993, and named, Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC).   In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue the T/MC in Chicago and help it grow in other places.

Ning changed its hosting structure nearly 10 years ago and it became less valuable as a networking and idea sharing forum.  I kept using the site through 2015 to host interns who worked with me in Chicago and to share photos from conferences and other actions of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

It still offers potential for people from around the world to connect and share ideas for duplicating the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy in other places.

Every January I write a reflection.  You can see my 2024 article at this link.

If you're creating an intermediary with similar goals and you share ideas via a blog and visual essays, share links to your work in this forum and on social media sites.  

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Think of idea sharing as exploding fireworks

12637706258?profile=originalI started this forum in 2007 when platforms like Ning were a new way to meet, connect and share ideas.  While a few people still join every year the forum has not been very active for a few years.

However, I still use it to archive work done in the past and to maintain connections for those who did join.

I created this graphic recently to show how an idea I or others launch with a post, like this one, explodes into a network of people who we know, or who are also part of the forum.

What you do to share this post in your own networks is similar to how new explosions of fire works emerge from the initial bomb bust, one after another.  In network building these represent an idea being blasted into larger and larger networks of people.  

I used this graphic in this article. Take a look and share it with others.

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This is one of many concept maps I've created to visualize the commitment I and other leaders need to make to help youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city get the support systems they need to more successfully move through school and into careers.  While you can click through the nodes on this map, to other maps, I created this library of concept maps, to show the wide variety that are available.

The primary value of this Ning community has been to support interns who are looking at my maps and visualizations, then creating their own videos and graphics to communicate the ideas in different ways.  Visit this group and you can see work done since 2007. 


  This is one of many visualizations that have been done. At this page you can see a collection of many projects done in the past. 

The only way these ideas will reach more people is for members of this group to enlist youth in their own community, and teach them to create their own interpretations of these ideas. If you're not in Chicago, just change the maps and focus the ideas on the needs of youth where you live. 

If you're already doing this, please share links to your projects and maps.

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I'm trying to create a visualization that any youth serving organization might be willing to use to visually communicate what time of day they reach youth, what age range they serve and what types of learning and mentoring activities are offered.

This is what I've done so far.  This could be downloaded and colored in by hand, then scanned and uploaded as a jpg. Perhaps it could be imported into photo shop or a paint program and colored in.  Or perhaps someone could create a graphics program that enables people to fill in this information via their computer, then produce a jpg that could be posted on their web site.

If we found a way to make this easy to create, and to motivate a larger number of organizations to put this on their web sites it might have two benefits. Programs might see activities that are included in work of other programs and try to duplicate that in their own programs. Donors might begin to differentiate between school based, non school, volunteer based, etc. and use this information to support fund raising or volunteer involvement decisions.


The collection of information about programs, based on what they do, needs to also be part of a matrix showing who they serve, and where they are located.  Programs operating in big cities have a different costs of operating framework than programs in smaller communities.

I don't know of anyone collecting and analyzing this information.

In the next class of interns I'll offer this as a project.  If anyone viewing this would want to create their own version and share it, please do.

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12637700452?profile=originalOn Monday I hosted another Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago. This was the 40th in the past 20 years. I'm still going through attendance information, evaluations, etc. but it looks like about 105 attended.
One participant, Changyue An,  is a graduate student from IIT in Chicago. Here's some information he shared from a workshop titled "Mentoring Urban Youth"

1.  Two important principles we must remember

  • Young people do not see what you see.
  • If they are gangs, you must see them as individuals.

 2.  The Approach to be a good tutor/mentor

  • What you see might not be what others see.
  • What you experience plays an important factor on how you react and handle situations.
  • Gained knowledge allows you to make certain judgments about situations and/or people.

 3.  Build Methodology-Relationship Building

  • Diversity
  • Respect
  • Open & Honest Communication
  • Trust
  • Teamwork

 4.  M&M’s-another way to be a good tutor/mentor

  • Meet youth where they are at
  • Make a connection
  • Master their needs and interests
  • Maintain positive relationship
  • Manage their trust
  • Motivate them to positive programs

If any of you attended the same workshop, please add your own thoughts. If you would like to post a review of other workshops you attended, or of the overall conference, I encourage you to do that, too.

In the Groups section of the forum one sub group shows interns from universities working with me every six months to create strategy visualizations.  In this album, and this album, you can see photos from previous conferences, which were taken by interns who attended those. 

These illustrate roles  young people can take as intermediaries, and communicators, using their own skills to draw attention to events, activities and ideas.  Youth from many schools could be doing this and the result would be greater attention for social issues like tutoring/mentoring of youth, and a greater flow of resources from those who could help tutor/mentor programs operate in different cities.

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In every high poverty neighborhood there are one or two anchor institutions, like a hospital, university, bank, etc. that could provide leadership and strategic support to strategies that support the growth of youth mentoring programs.

If those same institutions also focus on community wealth building then they may be more likely to build the types of leadership support needed to take a long term approach to youth mentoring program growth. 

This graphic is included in this blog post that I wrote today on this topic. I encourage you all to review t his and use the ideas in reaching out to anchor institutions in your own communities.

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I've led Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993. That was well before the internet became such an important tool. I've used computers to organize and communicate my ideas since around 1980. Thus, much of what I've created in the past is stored on floppy disks that may never be opened again.

Most of our ideas show the role of an intermediary, or third-party leader, who brings together people and ideas in places that connect directly with youth living in high poverty, who would not have this help if someone did not make it a life-long priority to take on this T/MC type role.

In the past couple of weeks I've browsed back through some of my old files, just to remind myself of ideas that I had put on paper, letters I had written, and people I had tried to connect with. Some of these ideas had almost been forgotten as new ideas replaced them. Some were still relevant, and might become realities today if given some new attention.

Many of these focus on engaging the time, talent, and resources of universities, and their alumni.

In the Groups section on this forum we have many sub groups. One is a Northwestern University group. Another is a University of Michigan group. Another is an Acacia Fraternity group, which has chapters on more than 20 university campuses. All have the same goals of engaging people who have something in common, in team-based efforts that help us help inner city kids to careers.

In the Northwestern group I've posted an update showing how we have many alumni on our staff, who are writing blogs showing what they do, and how others are involved. I also added links to three documents that I had created almost 10 years ago, showing steps that might lead to university engagement.

We'd like to see groups from every university forming and using these ideas. We'd like to see more people from NU, Michigan and Acacia in the groups we have now, trying to make the ideas a reality, taking ownership of the T/MC vision so it's not depending on just myself, or a few other people.

You don't need to host your group on our Ning site. Deanna Wilkerson of Ohio State University has set up a group on this site.

What we do want to do is make sure there are connections between these groups, so people and ideas can be shared from place to place, enabling us all to constantly innovate new and better ways to use our assets and resources to make a positive difference in the world.

You can find more ideas to support university involvement in these links

* business school connection

* service learning ideas

* Tutor/Mentor Connection ideas/pdfs

Please join us, or share your own link. We can do more by working with each other than by working in silos, or even, against each other.

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This is a graphic of the Strategy used by the Tutor/Mentor Connection. It's the reason we are all connected on this web site. Sites like this bring people together who can share ideas, build relationships, and work together to overcome common obstacles. If no one creates and hosts the site, no one else connects, unless someone else creates a similar site, and does similar work over many years to draw attention, and people, to the site. This Ning group is just one part of the many resources collected and shared by the T/MC. What we share on the T/MC site is free to anyone who wants to use it. It's also constantly being changed both by what we add to the site, and by what the people we link to add to their own web sites. Thus, we need to find people who will spend time learning what is on the web sites, and who is in a group like this, then who spend time "helping" others find the knowledge, or the people, they need to find in order to do the work they are doing. My wish for 2010 is that more people will step forward to take roles within the T/MC, to help gather, organize and share this information, and to help more people find it and use it. If enough people do that then the people directly connected to kids will have more of the resources they need to have an impact on the lives of those children, youth and families. Happy new year to all of you. Thanks for joining this group. I look forward to hearing from you in 2010 (which for some of you may already be here!)
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