poverty (12)

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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12637703889?profile=originalI've hosted this Ning site since 2007 with the goal that teams from colleges, faith groups, businesses, etc. in Chicago and other cities would use the information and ideas to build strategies that make mentor-rich youth programs available in all  high poverty neighborhoods, and help each get the on-going flow of talent and operating dollars needed to constantly move from good, then to great, at helping kids move safely through school and into jobs.

I've used concept maps to provide a guide to all of this information, including the one shown on this graphic (see here) . This is a "Learning Path" that can guide learners through the basic information on the various web sites in some sort of sequence.  In 2015, an intern from South Korea, via IIT, converted this into a Prezi, with an English language narration, then a Korean language narration. After that she converted the Prezi to a YouTube video, which you can see here.

This illustrates roles students from many cities and countries can take. As they do their own learning, they share what they are learning via visualizations and blog articles they create and present to adults and other students, thus enlarging the community of people understanding and applying this information.

There's no fee to engage your students in this process. You're invited to join this group, or start a new group, where I can coach students from my base in Chicago.   I'm available to connect on Skype or come speak to your students, for a fee that would include costs involved.  I hope to see groups from many places creating these presentations in the future.

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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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Process maps - apply to your work

These I-Open process maps provided by Betsey Merkel are very good. I'd like to hear from any members of this forum who are finding ways to integrate them in their efforts to build and sustain high quality tutor/mentor programs in one, or more locations.


Here is the process of ...culture building, one aspect of the I-Open Civic Forum Process http://www.flickr.com/phot os/iopen/4788169291/in/set -72157624482024386#/photos /iopen/4788169291/in/set-72157624482024386/lightbox/


Here is the timeline and repeating activities http://www.flickr.com/photos/iopen/5609058458/in/set-72157624482024386#/photos/iopen/5609058458/in/set-72157624482024386/lightbox/


Where are the philanthropic investors who would provide the money/manpower/talent for us to integrate some of these ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Connection?

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What happens after the war - a short story about children suffering in Liberia, West Africa and coming together as a 'human' race to eradicate poverty.



OUR WEBSITE:www.blamelessfacesfoundation.com

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12637698264?profile=originalI saw a TV report last night saying "Cabrini Green Gone".  


Someone should tell that to the 35 -40 7th to 12th grade teens at Cabrini Connections who live in the Cabrini Green area, either in the Row Houses or the redeveloped property.  I wrote a blog articleabout this last fall, showing that about 400 families still live in the Row House area and that 1200 families are promised homes in the redeveloped area by 2014.


If people don't believe there is a need for programs like Cabrini Connections in the area, they won't be volunteers or provide operating dollars, and we will no longer be there to serve what will be a growing number of youth who still would benefit from tutoring/mentoring and expanded non-school learning.


The map above is from the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator's Interactive map. We can zoom into different parts of the city and build an  understanding of what tutor/mentor programs exist, or where more are needed. We can also see assets like faith groups, banks, colleges and hospitals who could be helping these programs grow. 

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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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A different kind of Philanthropy

I encourage you to read Sean Stannard-Stockton's article on the Stanford Social Innovation Review. He leads off with "What if foundations mostly gave unrestricted funding instead of dictating how grantees could spend their grants? What if foundations kept supporting grantees who performed instead of ending funding because the “grant cycle” had ended? What if foundations ditched the whole system of soliciting grant proposals and focused on proactively searching for great grantees? What if foundations expected grant reports to mostly consist of information the nonprofit was collecting anyway rather than specialized requests that sap the grantees resources?"

Then he points to the "Mulago Foundation may very well be a case study of an emergent model of how to run a foundation."

I go a step further. What if someone built a "blueprint" that showed the infrastructure needed in a tutor/mentor program, and provide a vision, like the birth to work chart shown below, indicating the long-term goal of youth who are part of a tutor/mentor program having age appropriate supports each year from when they join till when they graduate and are headed to college and careers.

They could also provided something like the "success steps" model that Cabrini Connections uses to illustrate the types of supports that should be provided each year for many years.

Then they could also provide poverty maps showing where tutor/mentor programs are most needed in Chicago or other cities, such as the one below.

These maps show where they are needed and the blueprints provide a vision that many programs could aspire to. If the program can show on its web site that it is providing the services that are needed each year, then donors and volunteers could look at the type of infrastructure that is needed, and provide the dollars, time or talent to programs in these neighborhoods to help them stay connected to kids and volunteers through all of the years it takes for kids to go from first grade through 12th grade, and even beyond that to when they are looking for jobs and volunteers could be helping open doors.

If the theoretical model is created by a collaboration of programs offering tutoring/mentoring and the people who want such programs to exist and succeed, then donors who believe in the theoretical model should be able to look at a programs web site and decide if they are in an area where the program is needed, doing the type of work that would lead to the outcome they want the program to impact, and then provide the resources needed based on what they have to offer. Visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute for more articles related to this idea.

This chart illustrates the role that intermediaries could take in buiding a theoretical model, or blueprint, that could be a common vision used by those who can help and those who need help. If such a model were created it would relieve all non profits who share the vision with the burden of providing their own theoretical model and would provide a common tool that resource providers and service providers could use to lobby for expanded resources to flow on an on-going and long-term basis.

Does this exist anywhere for the tutor/mentor field?.

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Below is a map showing the mix of organizations who were part of the May Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago.

On this map we see there were many tutor/mentor programs, some from other states, but not nearly as many programs as there are in Chicago. We see a few universities, represented. We see one donor. We see some media. This mix needs to change, to include more donors, more universities, and workforce development leaders, if we're to do more to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow.

What we need are more facilitators, helping us connect these groups, and others, in on-going discussions that take place between each conference, so that when we come together, we are all more connected to each other, not just to the T/MC.

One participant at the conference was Charles Cameron, of Social Edge. I encourage you to read the handout he presented at the conference. Then go to this discussion, and see how he's following up to expand the network building to include people who are meeting with him on the Social Edge discussion forums.

Another participant was Katie Anderson, a student from Dominican University who is volunteering with the T/MC. The map I show on this blog was created using power point. In this forum you can see how Katie and another Dominican student are using inFlow softwared donated by Valdis Krebs to create more sophisticated maps, and a better understanding of the networks that are being formed as a result of the work of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, the Conference, and people like Charles and Katie who take active volunteer roles to help.

We need more help in almost every part of what the Tutor/Mentor Connection is doing. If we can get more help we can create a better understanding of the networks we are connecting with, and share that in ways that other people can use the network to build their own networks, supporting their own organizations and missions.

Below is a worksheet that anyone can use to identify people in their own network who might help the Tutor/Mentor Connection, if they knew we existed, and if the introduction came from someone they trust. However, this is also a chart you can use to build a network of support for your own organization. Try it out, and let us know what success you have.

As a result of this network building we want to increase the number of people who don't live in poverty who are investing their own time, talent and money on a regular basis to help tutor/mentor programs in one or more communities, do more to help youth grow up to fulfill more of their adult potential.

Invite others to join this Ning group, or join the discussions on Social Edge, or post notices of other places where this type of network building is taking place. As Charles says, we can meet in many spaces, not just in our own hosted space.

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This graphic is one of many that I've created to try to illustrate ideas. In this case, I represent the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) which is the host of this forum. We're a small, thinly funded non profit in Chicago, so we do a lot of what we do with the help of volunteers and interns. Throughout this Ning site you'll see examples of how interns have converted graphics like this into animations, or how they are doing Social Network Analysis, or writing about what we do to help people in their own networks understand, and join us.

There are many people who could help us, ranging from faith groups, to alumni and business groups, as well as foundations, policy makers, etc. If you map your network as Willow and Jenny have done, you'll see that many people in your network have these skills, talents and assets. Many of them could help the Tutor/Mentor Connection, or Cabrini Connections, or any other non profit tutoring/mentoring program, in Chicago, or in any other city.

There are now more than 200 people in this Ning group, and we each are connected to hundreds, or thousands of other people via our networks and social media.

Every few months, there is an opportunity, and a reason, for each member of this group to share a message with the people in their network. This flash animation illustrates how the events on this graphic each have multiple goals. If you do this, with enthusiasm, creativity, and purpose, you can help the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and we can do more to help each of the organizations who are looking for the same resources that we are looking for.

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