Friday, October 31, 2014

How does a city get from "here" to "there"?

There's plenty of information showing a need to provide extra learning support and mentoring for youth in high poverty areas, but few examples of sustained, decades-long, efforts by cities to build and sustain a network of programs reaching a growing number of youth in all of the high poverty areas of a city. I've used maps and graphics to illustrate the need for planning, leadership and resource development strategies that would take a city from its current level of youth serving organizations to a future level reaching more youth with higher impact organizations.

Last Saturday I posted a "strategy map" illustrating a shared commitment that needs to be adopted by leaders in every sector of business, philanthropy, government, education, non profit, etc. so more are innovating and leading actions that support the growth of strong programs.

Then on Tuesday, I posted a concept map illustrating the different supports youth in high poverty areas need to move from first grade to first job, over a 20 year period of continuous support, available in multiple neighborhoods.

So what might a city need to do to mobilize and support this level of sustained effort? Since 1994 I've been piloting a four step strategy aimed at helping tutor/mentor programs grow in all of Chicago's high poverty neighborhoods.

Step 1 includes building a library of information, including information on existing non-school youth serving organizations, and information people can use to borrow ideas from others and innovate actions that lead to constantly improving programs. These actions include new ways to generate flexible operating dollars throughout the program and intermediary network in any city.

Step 2 focuses on the marketing, social media and leadership needed to build public awareness and draw more people to the information in step 1. One of the challenges that must be overcome is the lack of advertising dollars available to create a reach and frequency of message delivery that gets more people involved, and keeps them involved.

Step 3 focuses on ways to help more people understand the information in the library, how it relates to them, and actions they can take to support the growth of one, or many, tutor/mentor programs in the city where they live, or in other parts of the country. There is so much information available that I've written many articles focused on "learning" cultures, where youth and adults are motivated to spend time on a regular basis reading and reflecting on this information.

Step 4 focuses on actions repeated throughout each year, for many years, which generate a greater flow of needed dollars, talent, technology and ideas to every one of the tutor/mentor programs operating in a city, and to every neighborhood where such programs are most needed.

This animation was created to help you understand the four part strategy and strategy map. This PDF also shows the four part strategy. This blog article does the same.

The heart of this strategy is the information collected and shared via step one. Articles I've read about innovation show that if you're exposed to ideas of how other people are already solving the same, or similar programs, you are stimulated in more ways to innovate ways to solve the same problem where you are. I've devoted an entire section of the tutor/mentor library to creativity and innovation ideas.

I've spent the past 40 years thinking of ways to influence youth and volunteers and of ways to build and sustain mentor rich non school programs that focus on the relationships between youth and adult volunteers and the long-term impact these programs can have on youth and volunteers. This, my understanding of how all of these ideas relate to each other is probably more intuitive than most other people in the country.

Yet, because I share my thinking, and my library, others can build learning organizations in high schools, colleges, business and communities and support a process that shares what I've learned with thousands of others, who then add their own ideas and talent to improve what they do to help youth in their communities move through school and into productive, adult lives and careers. Spend time looking at this information, then look for people who may already be leading this strategy in your own community. If you can't find such a group, start it yourselfe, as I did back in 1993.

As you look at this information I hope to connect with you in on-line communities as well as in conferences I host every six months in Chicago or that others are hosting at different times each year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What does "mentoring to career" pipeline look like?

Last Saturday I posted an article with a strategy map, showing commitments many leaders need to take to help youth living in high poverty neighborhoods move from birth to work. Below is another map I hope you'll spend some time looking at. The link is here.

Most of us take for granted the support system we have that helps shape who we are, and how we grow up. This PDF is includes some graphics that show that the network surrounding kids living in high poverty is much different than that of most kids living beyond high poverty areas.

The concept map is intended to show supports that should be available in the lives of youth as they move from first grade to a job and career. This is a "hub and spoke" design, with the spokes leading to nodes indicating a type of support. In a couple of the nodes, such as the homework help section, you can see how I link to a web library with links to quite a few sites that learners could draw ideas from.

This graphic shows the concept map in a different way, yet it intends to communicate the same idea.

I've been seeking volunteers from engineering, design and architecture firms who would help me create an animated version of this graphic. I'm also looking for writers and data visualization people who will help fill each node on this map with links to information people can use to build and sustain age-appropriate non-school learning programs. If someone is working with a youth in 3rd grade, you should be able to click into that section of the graphic, and find information related to mentoring, tutoring and providing social/emotional support for youth at that age level. If you're working with high school kids, you should be able to click into nodes that show things you can do to support high school youth.

You should also be able to find discussion forums where people are sharing ideas, and where funders, policy makers, researchers and business leaders are also participating. Without their involvement in the process, the commitment of resources will be too narrowly focused, and to short a time frame.

The goal of these graphics is to show that youth need a wide range of support at each age level, and they need this support to continue through high school and post high school years. That means the way programs are supported needs to change, to be more consistent.

The maps on this blog intend to show that this "birth to work" support system needs to be available in every high poverty neighborhood, not just a few neighborhoods.

What is the role of volunteer mentors and tutors? They not only can draw from this information to innovate better ways to support the youth they work with. They can use this to help youth in different neighborhoods have access to more of the supports the youth need.

Visit my Tutor/Mentor blog to read more about these ideas.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Using Concept Maps to Communicate Strategy

If you browse through articles posted on this blog since 2008 you'll see how geographic maps have been used to show where volunteer-based, non-school, learning, mentoring and tutoring programs are most needed in Chicago, based on indicators such as poverty, poor schools, violence, health disparities, etc. In the next few blog articles I'm going to post concept maps that show commitments and strategies that need to be adopted by leaders from business, government, philanthropy, entertainment, sports, and the non profit sector, if the map is to be filled with high quality programs.

I've been using CMaps, a free concept mapping tool, since 2005. This was introduced to me by Ariane Lee, a former Peace Corps volunteer, who worked for me for one year. Once she introduced CMaps to me, I began to create a variety of maps. In these maps you can follow a train of thought, from one node to another. In this strategy map, the blue box at the top can be filled by any leader who makes this commitment. As you follow the train of thought, you'll see small boxes at the bottom of each map. The box on the left leads to other web sites with related information. The box on the right, leads to additional concept maps, that provide deeper thinking related to that specific node.

In this particular map you can see a box to the left, indicating that there is an animated version of this map. It was created by interns from IIT, during six week internships in Jan-Feb and May-June, 2009. The voice over was provided by a Northwestern University graduate, who was serving a one-year fellowship. I encourage you to listen to it. The information it provides will help you navigate the map. Some of the links are broken and this needs to be updated, but the information is still useful.

This strategy can be adopted and applied to Chicago, or to any other city in the world. It can be adopted by a University or a Hospital and focus on the area around that specific university or hospital. If you'd like my help in thinking through your strategy introduce yourself to me on Twitter, LinkedIN or Facebook or email tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net.

NOTE: since posting this article in October 2014 I've posted several related articles. View them all-click here.