Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Bridge Too Far? My Vision Since 1993.

This is one of many maps you'll find on this blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Blog which zoom into a Chicago neighborhood and tell a story of "why" kids and families need more help, "what" help is already in that area, if any, in the form of organized volunteer based tutor and/or mentor programs; and "what assets" and leaders share the geography and could be doing much more to help change the conditions and improve the lives of people who live there.

click to enlarge
I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (T/MI) in 2011 to support the growth of well-organized youth tutor/mentor programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago. This graphic shows four strategies that I've followed since they were developed in 1993.

While we accomplished much and built a hug resource we've never had consistent funding or significant leadership support from Chicago business, political, philanthropic or other sectors. Thus, what we wanted to accomplish is far less than what has been needed.

Data collection and GIS mapping have been at the heart of T/MC work since 1993. This graphic shows what the T/MC has been trying to do and what has not ever been accomplished.

Annual cycle of Tutor/Mentor Connection mapping. Click to enlarge 
We've built a list of youth tutor/mentor programs, organized bi-annual conferences to bring leaders together, organized events to draw volunteers and donors to programs, generated considerable attention from local media, built a social media presence and more.  It's been too little to change the overall range of poverty in Chicago, but has had a positive affect on many individual lives.

I created this Wiki Page to show what we were trying to accomplish. Feel free to read it and offer your help.

When we started building a mapping capacity, and on-line program locator, the goal was that we could do more to support the fund raising capacity of programs in different parts of the city.  There were three goals that never have been reached.

click here to view
1) There is a growing mountain of data showing levels of poverty and inequality in Chicago and the world.  In the concept map shown at the left I point so some of these data platforms.  The Tutor/Mentor Program Locator used some of that data and like other platforms enabled people to zoom into small areas to look for the availability of tutor/mentor programs in small areas.

My vision was that we could create a form that would be accepted by grant makers, to show the need for tutor/mentor programs serving different age levels in different zip codes and/or community areas.  Right now every program has to build their own case statement showing why it is important for their program to receive funding. Some have greater talent to do this than others. It's a redundant process. Thus, creating a form where you'd only need to enter a zipcode or community area, plus the age group you serve, and the type of program you offer, should generate a report showing that you are needed in that area.

It would lower the cost to individual programs and give grant makers a consistent way to help them decide where to provide funding and who to support in each area. 

click here to view

We got partially there in 2004 when we launched this on-line searchable program locator form.  However, the maps that this produced did not show demographic information or indicators such as poorly performing schools or violence.  The Interactive Program Locator that was built in 2008 provided this information. However, there was no "easy to use" narrative generated in a "form" that could be printed that someone could pull from the site and use in a grant proposal.

The financial melt down starting in 2008 led to this work being discontinued in 2009 and to updates being discontinued by 2013.

So this is one bridge that we never were able to cross.

2)  Motivating programs to provide data for the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and keep it updated has always been a challenge. One way we partially overcame that was to have our annual survey included in the grant guidelines of the Chicago Bar Foundation's Lawyer's Lend A Hand Program. About 40 out of our list of nearly 200 programs submitted applications each year from 1995-20003 which I could use to update the list. However, that was too few and too time consuming for my small staff. Thus as we built the interactive portal in 2004 we developed an on-line form that programs could use to add themselves or update their data (not working since 2013).  However, this still did not provide "motivation".

click to enlarge

My answer is shown in this PDF. The graphic at the right is part of it. As on-line fund raising portals grew since the mid 2000s I felt that we might create a portal that would work with the Program Locator maps, to encourage donors to support programs in different parts of Chicago and give media a resource to use in developing stories following incidents of violence, reports on schools, reports on gangs, etc. 

On one level, we could draw from the list we were maintaining to give donors info to create the platform. However, on another level we felt that as programs began to generate donations, and learned to use the site to build their own campaigns, we'd create greater motivation to keep their data updated.  We could even organize events at different time in each year to draw volunteers and donors to the platform.

This is another bridge that has not been crossed. This has never gotten further than me putting the idea into this PPT and sharing it on my planning wiki.

click to enlarge
Media stories continue to remind us that some people in Chicago and other cities live with fewer resources and fewer opportunities than do other people.  Thus, there's still a need for organizations that provide a bridge, connecting youth and families to resources and connecting people who don't live in poverty with people who do.

3) The final bridge - As we developed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in the 1990s we felt we could generate income to support our continued operations and innovation by making it available to other cities and offering our expertise to help them use it. When I formed the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC that continued to be the goal.  However, that has not happened.   Now my goal is to find people who will take time to understand what I've been trying to do and will want to take ownership and carry it into the future.   One idea that might offer promise is to make the code for the Program Locator and any new platforms freely available on GitHub, so it could be more easily applied in other cities, and to other causes.  That might attract more developers to help build in the features I've not been able to construct, and to keep updating it as technology and needs change.  Having parallel portals in every major city of the US and the world would certainly contribute to greater visibility and greater traffic, and thus a bigger flow of donations through the portal and the maps to individual tutor/mentor programs in different places.

That's always been the goal.  So far it's still a bridge to far to cross.

Does any of this interest you?  I'm on Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. Let's connect.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Collective Mapping - Resources

I've followed the From Poverty to Power blog for a few years because of the informative articles. The image below is from an article on Collective Mapping, posted today.

#PowerShifts Resources: Collective Mapping - click here

If you browse through past articles on this blog you'll find many examples of how I've attempted to use maps to show where volunteer based tutor and mentoring programs are most needed, where existing programs are located, and ways people can help those programs grow.

I've depended on volunteers and inconsistent donations to create the maps and map platform you see on this site.  My goal for the past few years and going forward is to find people who will use my history as a template for building new versions of my mapping and apply them in cities across the world.

At the same time, I've been creating a web library showing ways people are using #maps and showing platforms and technology that can be used. This cMap is one way I share that information.

Open this cMap and visit the mapping platforms that I point to.
I use maps in articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor blog, to draw attention to areas with high poverty, or high violence, where long-term youth tutor/mentor programs are most needed. If you read these, please share.  However, another way to read these is to use them as templates for your own articles, focusing on  your own cities, if you're not from Chicago.

To  have an impact, thousands of people need to be telling stories using maps, not just myself or a few people. 

You can connect with me on one of these social media sites

If you want to make a small contribution to support my work, click here.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Population Density for US Cities

My Twitter feed showed me this article today.  It includes interactive maps showing the population density in 200 US cities. 

As I find sites like this on Twitter I'm always hoping there is a person, or group of people, in each of these cities doing exactly what I've been doing since 1993 to build an information base, with maps, that people can use to understand where kids and families need more help, where existing youth tutor and/or mentor programs are located, and ways to help each program get the talent and dollars on an on-going basis that enables each to be great at helping kids through school and into adult lives.

Sadly, I'm not finding such people.

I'm @tutormentorteam on Twitter.  If you know people doing what I'm describing, which includes maintaining this blog, the Tutor/Mentor blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web sites, please introduce us.

If you're a benefactor, please support us.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mapping Poverty and Inequality in the UK - new maps

I saw this Tweet last week and saved it to do a deeper review when I was back home from my hospital stay. 

Here's the link that the Twitter post points to.  I've been looking for someone mapping poverty and inequality in England, similar to how others have been doing this in the USA.  Here's an article I posted in 2011, following riots in London. Since then, I've  not found anyone creating maps like those I'm pointing to above.

 Of course, my goal reaches beyond just creating the poverty maps. I want people to create overlays showing where existing youth tutor/mentor and learning programs are located, and where more are needed.

Then, I want to influence the growth of teams of business, non-profit, education and community members who help existing programs grow, and share ideas, that help every program be great.

I've written about this in past articles on this blog, and on articles at since 2005.  I hope you'll take a look.

I show the need for planning and action teams, working at the program, neighborhood, city, state and national level. I'd like my ideas to be part of these teams and I'd like to be personally in the conversation, via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, or any other format you choose.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Youth in Poverty - Chicago Region

If you browse through articles posted on this blog since 2008 you'll see a consistent focus on helping k-12 youth living in high poverty areas.  Between 1994 and 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was able to build it's own data maps, including an interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, to show where non-school youth programs are needed, where existing programs are located, and what assets are available to help programs grow in different places.

I've not had the money or volunteer talent to update the Program Locator and create map views using ArcGIS software since 2011 , so I point to data platforms hosted by others, which can be used as base-level maps* for stories that intend to mobilize attention and resources to support youth tutor/mentor programs in throughout the Chicago region.

One of those  is the Community Commons site. Below is a map view that I created today to show youth in poverty in the Chicago region.

create your own map - click here
Of many features that I like on the Community Commons site is the way they share stories of maps that have been created. And they organize these by channels, or focus areas. This link points to stories related to education issues.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection started building a resource library in 1993 and that has continued under Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since 2011.  Below is a concept  map showing various data platforms that can also be used to create map stories. Links to these platforms is just a small part of the Tutor/Mentor web library.  Open the map, then open the links under each node to find a direct link to each resource.

As you look at them, see if they have a section of stories, similar to the Community Commons site. It would be great if every one of these sites where doing that.
View this map at this link
Creating data platforms is only a first step in solving problems. Motivating growing numbers of people to visit and use the data, then create stories that draw more attention to places, along with resources to solve problems, is the real work that needs to be done.

*What do I mean by "base level maps"?  None of the platforms I point to has been building a database of non-school tutor/mentor and learning programs, with sort features for age group served and type of program, they way Tutor/Mentor Connection started doing in 1994.  Visit this page and see how the T/MC list of programs can be searched, by these sub-categories.

Thus, to support the growth of these programs in Chicago or any other city, someone needs to be doing the on-going research to identify existing programs.  While the Program Locator is not  updated, I continue to update the list of Chicago programs and show them on a map, which you can see in this article.  Unfortunately, this is not as robust as the original Program Locator.

So what can you do?

Anyone can be the YOU shown on this graphic, who creates map stories and shares them via social media, blogs, church sermons, newspaper stories, and one-on-one conversations with these goals in mind.

Anyone can browse the stories on this blog, and on the Tutor/Mentor Blog and then share those, in your own words, videos and graphics, with people you know.

Anyone can help find a partner/investor/university who would help rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection and it's mapping capacity, and apply it to cities across the world.

I'm on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. If you're one who responds, just connect with me on one of these platforms.

Do you like what you read? Visit this page and make a contribution to help me continue to do this work. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Chicago Health Atlas - updated

In 2014 I wrote this article about the Chicago Health Atlas. Last night at the weekly ChiHackNight event, the updated version was shown.

Below are some screenshots I've created, with links to a couple of articles where I've used these.

This is map showing hospitals in the North Lawndale area of Chicago - from this article

This map shows youth serving organizations in the North Lawndale area - from this article

Here's another screenshot that I just created today, showing the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

I've been creating map stories, using mapping resources that I've had available, and those created by others, for more than 25 years. My goal is to teach others to do the same.

Here's one from many years ago.

This was created in the 1990s, before I had access to the Internet, and well before I had the ability to create map views with layers of information.  However, you can see poverty areas highlighted, indicating a need for youth tutor/mentor programs, among other supports. You can see an Excel list, of programs in the area, based on the Tutor/Mentor Connection survey, and you can see a list of assets (business, faith groups, university, hospital) who could be helping build mentor-rich programs (visualized by the chart). 

For this map area to be filled with such programs, someone needs to be creating an on-going invitation that reaches out to all the assets on the map, the political leaders, media, and community members, including leaders of existing tutor/mentor programs, to bring them together in an on-going conversation that builds a better understanding of need, and leads to the growth of more, constantly improving youth programs in the area. 

This concept map visualizes that process.

Map-based planning - view here
If some, like Chicago Health Atlas, are building and maintaining platforms like this, with a list of resources in each community area, then it will be easier for others to use this list in an invitation process, getting people together on an on-going basis, and innovating solutions that build public will, and a distribution of needed resources, to all parts of the map-area shown.

Here's a second concept map, visualizing planning needed.

Planning needed to influence resource providers - click here

I hope those who are creating data maps will devote space on their web sites to coach others to use their platform for creating map stories that bring people together to solve problems shown by the maps. One group that does that pretty well is the Community Commons site.  It's one of many that I point to on this data map.

There's a lot of information in my blog articles and on my web site and web library. Use it for on-going learning. Make it a resource for college programs that help grow future leaders.

If you appreciate what I'm sharing, I could use your help to pay the bills. Click here to contribute to my FUND TMI page.