Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Big City Poverty - Baltimore not Alone.

This image is from this Brookings report article, titled "Good fortune, dire poverty, and inequality in Baltimore: An American story".

It shows that the conditions of inequality and concentrated poverty that contributed to the Baltimore riots this spring are present in many major US cities. To me, this means each city should have a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, which is outlined in the concept maps shared in articles on this blog, and on pages of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

This map shows a long-term commitment every leader in a city needs to adopt, and demonstrate in their actions. If you follow the lines on the concept map, the line in the center points to this four-part strategy, which supports the involvement of leaders with information they can use to reach youth and families in all high poverty areas of any city.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Solving Poverty. Who Needs to Be Involved?

If you're trying to build a team to solve a problem, you need to attract people who have the talent and skills needed, or who can recruit others who have needed skills. I've created concept maps and visualizations such as the one at the left to serve as a worksheet that I and others can use to recruit needed talent.

Building this team requires a constant process of invitation, via social media, newsletters, one-on-one networking, etc. Unless you are able to fill key talent roles, you end up doing necessary work on your own. If you don't have needed talents, you struggle.

I've hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago, every six months since May 1994. The goal is to attract people with talent, skills and civic reach who will help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods, as part of their own commitment to reduce poverty, improve opportunity, fill workforce needs, etc. See how maps can be used by reading other articles on this blog.

In an effort to help people who attend connect with each other I launched an on-line attendee list in 2007. I started using GIS maps a couple of years ago to show where people came from, and what group they were part of (business, philanthropy, programs, etc.) In 2010 an intern from DePaul University use a Social Network Analysis (SNA) tool to create maps showing participation in 2008 and 2009 conferences. You can read her map-stories here.

I've not had consistent talent to do this work so was delighted when invited to be a client for a 2015 Information Visualization MOOC hosted by Indiana University.

The team has finished their work and this is one visualization that was created. You can see it and other visualizations in this final report. I encourage you to visit this page on the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum to learn more of this project and see work that was done.

Why is this important? As a nation we are not very good at pulling people together and building a long-term focus on solving complex problems. Read more.

While my organization has always been small, it's even smaller since 2011. Thus, the few people I can gather at Tutor/Mentor Conferences are a small sample of the talent and networks who need to be supporting the growth of mentor rich programs in all poverty neighborhoods of the Chicago region (or other cities), and helping kids in these programs move through school and into jobs.

My goal is that organizers of other events focused on the same issues begin to follow my example, and create maps that show who's participating, what neighborhoods are represented, and who else needs to be involved. If you're already doing this, share your maps; connect your network. By mapping participation over many years, which is what I'm trying to show since I've been hosting conferences since 1994, we should be able to show if people are staying involved, or if involvement grows over time. This information should lead to more support for those who do this well, and more lessons for others who need to do it well.

My next conference is Friday, May 8 and it will have a small turnout.. unless readers share this and encourage others to attend. If you'd like to work with the same data the IVMOOC students were working with, and create more maps and analysis of the Tutor/Mentor Conferences, please contact me.

Visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute Blog and read more about network building, complex problem solving, etc.