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- Issue 177
Happy New Year To All. May You Enjoy a Boat Load of Health, Hope and Happiness.
The ideas shared in this monthly newsletter can be used by youth organization leaders, resource providers, political leaders, universities, volunteers and youth to help mentor-rich programs thrive in all of the neighborhoods where they are most needed.
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25 Years Ago, In January 1994, the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) Launched in Chicago.
The goal was to collect and share information that would help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago.
In 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC was created to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection library of ideas and resources available to Chicago, and to try to help similar intermediary organizations grow in other cities. As we enter 2019, that work continues.
I'm Dan Bassill. I led the team that created the T/MC in 1993 and still lead it as we enter 2019. That's me in the graphic at the left.
Every year I start out with a reflection, aimed at clarifying to myself, and others, "What the hell am I trying to do?" Why should anyone listen, or give me support?
Thus, this annual reflection is as much for my own reinforcement as for readers, but I hope you'll take the journey with me.
I found out more than 20 years ago that my words were not clearly communicating my ideas, in large part because too few others had the same background as I did, and too few others were thinking the same way. My college and Army background in history and intelligence gathering, and my corporate career in retail advertising for a company with 400 stores in 40 states, armed me with a commitment to collect and share best available information to support my decisions, and those of other people and to use daily communications to try to draw people to the ideas I was sharing...which focused on helping hundreds of big and small youth tutor and/or mentor programs grow, not just the single small program I was leading.
Thus, I started creating visualizations to share my ideas. I've been doing that for over 20 years. I'm going to post a few in this newsletter.
I Focus on Helping Strong Programs Grow, that Enable Volunteer Tutors and Mentors to Build On-Going Connections With Inner City Youth.
This is a graphic I've used since the mid 1990s to visualize a site based program design, where volunteers and learning experiences come from many different industries.
From leading a youth tutor/mentor program that served 2nd to 6th grade kids (1975-1992) then became a 7th to 12th grade program (1993-2011), I began to think of volunteer mentors and tutors as people who give extra help to young people as they move from first grade through high school, and college or vocational school, and into jobs and adult lives.
In this graphic, the photo on the left, from the mid 1990s, is a group of 7th and 8th graders. The photo on the right is one of those kids who came back in 2010 to speak at the annual year end dinner.
This has led me to focus on the role of organized programs, that create a safe space, and an opportunity for youth to connect with a wide range of mentors and learning opportunities over a period of years. I created this Total Quality Mentoring graphic in the 1990s to communicate that idea.
I Use Concept Maps, Geographic Maps, and Visualizations to Communicate Complex Ideas
Take a look at the maps I share on the Tutor/Mentor blog.
I feel that most of us have an unspoken, or highly articulated goal, of helping kids move safely through school and into adult lives. I share my thinking in concept maps with the goal that others will use these to support their own planning, and/or will create their own maps.
In the upper left corner of this concept map is an image showing news stories about violence and poverty in Chicago. I've kept a copy of the front page from the
of October 1992, following the shooting of a 7- year-old boy from Cabrini Green, in my office since then to remind me of the long-term commitment we need to make to help kids in poverty. These stories remind me, and I hope others, of why well-organized youth tutor/mentor programs are needed in Chicago and other places.
My reflection continues in
this January 3, 2019 article
on the Tutor/Mentor Blog. Please take some time to read it, and share it with others, as you move through January and the rest of 2019.
As A Volunteer, Your Main Question is "What Do I Do With My Student this Week?"
As the leader of a volunteer-based program you're asking that question for 25 to 500 or more volunteers. You're also asking many other questions, such as "how do I pay the bills?".
I became the leader of that volunteer-based program in 1975 and from then until 2010, I started each August with "How do I recruit 100-300 volunteers and kids?" then moved on to "How do I keep them involved from the beginning of the school year till the end?" and "How do I recruit some to volunteer time to help me do this?" The questions kept growing as I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. How do we help this happen at several hundred locations in Chicago? Since becoming a non-profit in 1990 the questions expanded to "how do we find the money to pay for this?"
The questions keep growing and ultimately focus on "how do we build and sustain public and private sector support for hundreds of separate programs, and for intermediaries, like myself, who work to support the entire system, the same way people in the corporate office of big companies work to support a vast network of stores in different places, distribution centers, technology and logistics and an army of talented people?
How do we build and sustain the public will to support this?
How do we get leaders, volunteers, staff, youth, donors, researchers, policy makers and others into on-going conversations that focus on understanding these challenges, and then finding solutions?
show ways I try do that. And they show ways I'm connecting in on-line communities.
I hope you'll take time to read them.
January is National Mentoring Month
As you celebrate mentoring and the roles volunteers play, think of other ways volunteers can help build strong programs that help kids in poverty overcome challenges and move more successfully through school and into adult lives
Visit MENTOR Illinois web site for a calendar of activities for National Mentoring Month. Below are additional resources to help Chicago area organizations and supporters connect, learn and work collectively to help build support systems for youth:
* MENTOR Illinois -
* National Mentoring Summit - Jan 30, 2019 -
* Strengthening Chicago Youth blog -
/ web site -
* Thrive Chicago web site -
* To&Through Chicago Project focuses on college success. -
* Civil Liberties - resource map (recommend other links). -
* Chicago Organizations in Intermediary Roles -
Additional resources from Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC
* Video Library -
* Visualizations by Interns -
* Concept Map library -
* Links I frequently point to, including tutor, mentor training -
* Tutor/Mentor blog -
* MappingforJustice blog -
* Select blogs showing T/MC and T/MI goals -
* Blogs of educators that I follow -
Dan Bassill (that's me) is available to discuss any of these ideas with you, or others, via Skype, Google Hangouts or in person if you're in Chicago.
In the late 1970s, my "blog" was a weekly newsletter, printed on a copy machine, and handed out to volunteers. It pointed people to a library of information they could use to understand why they were needed, and ways they could do more to help kids.
I'm still collecting and sharing information, and now use a blog to help 5 to 10,000 site visitors a month find information I've been collecting.
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