Sunday, June 25, 2023

Where are non-school youth development programs most needed?

The Heartland Alliance released its latest data tables last week.  I wonder who in Chicago is using this information to understand where youth need extra help in the non-school hours, based on levels of poverty in their community area?  

Here's an example of the data available on their site

Below is the same table, along with maps that I created from other sources. The first one shows the North Lawndale area of Chicago. 

This second one shows the Albany Park community area.

I used data provided from the Heartland Alliance in 2011 and again in 2018 to create the presentation shown below.  It includes maps for each Chicago community area, with the total number of kids age 6 to 17 and the number who fall into the poverty level.

In the above graphic for the North Lawndale area I used a map showing shootings that had been published by the Chicago SunTimes, along with a map from the Program Locator (no longer available) that my organization created in 2008.

View the presentation below to see more examples of maps being used to help determine where non-school programs are needed, where existing programs are located, and where more are needed.

In early June I posted this article, asking who is doing research about youth program availability.  The two SlideShare presentations are examples of the type of analysis that needs to be done ... with much greater depth and professionalism than what I've been able to create.

Between 1993 and 2011 I operated as a non-profit organization and while funds were inconsistent we were able to pilot a process of collecting information about volunteer-based  youth tutor/mentor programs and segment that by age group served, type of program, and location.  We shared that via an on-line search table (created in 2004 and updated in 2008) which I show below.   

Since 2011 I've not been able to update or continue to develop this and now it's only available via the Internet Archive.  Had I been able to continue development we would have expanded the type of programs were were looking for, to include arts, technology and youth development categories.  

Furthermore, we would have built a fund-raising page, that would attract donors to different neighborhoods of Chicago, where websites of existing programs would provide information enabling volunteers, parents and donors to choose who to support.  I feel that creating the funding page was important because for a small organization one of the most difficult challenges of doing this work was collecting the data and keeping it up-to-date.  Having the site raise money for your organization would be a strong motivator for keeping data updated. 

Combining the fund raising feature with the maps of each community area was a strategy intended to drive resources to EVERY high poverty area of Chicago, not just the most visible areas, or the most well-known programs.

I described this fund raising strateg on this page.

The value.

Building a segmented, searchable, list of non-school youth serving programs would be a valuable resource for Chicago or any city. Helping those programs attract operating dollars and volunteers would help each program operate and constantly improve.

However, without the demographic information such as provided by the Heartland Alliance (and others that I show on this concept map), leaders, volunteers and donors don't know where programs are most needed.    Without providing the number of kids within a community area who live below the poverty line, it's impossible to gauge weather or not enough kids in each grade level are being served by existing programs.  Without segmenting the program list by type of program we might see a density of icons on a map, but still be not providing needed services in many places.

Finding a way to gather this data and use if for analysis is a huge challenge.

My hope is that philanthropists will fund work in Chicago and other cities that builds on the work my organization started in 1993 and that is shared in articles on this blog that extend back to 2008, and articles showing uses of maps that I share on the Tutor/Mentor blog, started in 2005.

Enough is Enough.

We continue to be reminded by daily media stories of the results from not having the type of support systems for too many youth that might offer hope and opportunity and serve as a disincentive for gangs, crime and violence.  

Tutor/Mentor programs are not quick fixes. Yet if leaders had embraced the strategies the Tutor/Mentor Connection was piloting in the 1990s and sustained them for the past 25 years, I feel that a lot fewer young people would be lost. 

What can you do?

If you've read this far, thank you.  As the graphic at the left illustrates, we're all able to access these articles via our computer and phones.  Start skimming through my archives. Share what you read with people in your network.  Help find the leaders and philanthropists needed to build this research capacity.

Create a new portal, available FREE via open source code, so that it can be adopted and used everywhere.   Create communities on social media where people creating and using these portals, and who are building tutor/mentor programs, can connect and learn from each other and build the public will needed to generate the flow of resources essential not only to support the platforms, but to support the thousands of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs that are needed in high poverty areas around the country.

If I can share this via a blog article, you can too!

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Mastodon (see links here). Please follow me and introduce me to your friends. 

If you can help Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC with a small contribution, please visit this page

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Who is doing research about youth program availability?

 If you've read articles on this blog, going back to 2008, you'll see that the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present) have been trying to build a comprehensive, map-based, understanding of what non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor and learning programs exist in Chicago and where more are needed.  Over the past several years my capacity to do this work has been greatly reduced so I'm pleased to be able to point to others who seem to be filling this space.

Below is one slide from today's STEM Pathways Coop meeting, where Deanna Howlett of Northwestern University spoke to attendees about the Citywide State of STEM Landscape Survey.  

View the slides at this link.  Below is another slide from the presentation, showing the process intended to create understanding, and change, where change is needed.

I've shared ideas and strategies with those doing this research and participated in the meetings when they were on-line.  I look forward to more.

Today I did participate in an on-line webinar, hosted by, focused on Racial Equity.  Here's one Tweet that I shared during the event. 
Visit #BrookingsRacialEquity on Twitter and see my contributions and posts by others.   As I write this post and share my ideas on Twitter and other platforms I'm trying to model a practice that I wish thousands had been duplicating for the past 10 years.  

The Internet is a huge depository of information. But unless people are aggregating it in libraries like mine, or sites like, it will be difficult to organize learning communities that are needed to build understanding and public will necessary to impact public policy in America.   In addition to its blog and huge library of research articles you can find video archives of past webinars if you search in this section on the Brookings site. 

Share this information. Build learning circles.

You can be the YOU in this graphic by sharing my post and forwarding my Tweets, along with those of other people and organizations that I point to in my library and blog articles. 

Among many problems we face one big barrier is that there is "too much information".  We need people collecting the information, but we also need people evangelizing and trying to get growing number of people to look at the information that's been collected. Then we need even more people who are facilitating understanding and helping people connect and work together to implement solutions, in places where data maps show more people need extra help.  Colleges, public schools and faith based organizations have been doing this for centuries.  We need to duplicate that process and that requires some major benefactors who make long-term investments.

I've written several hundred articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog, that just focus on this "learning" process. Here's one.  

The Step 3 graphic above is part of this concept map, showing 4 strategies that I've followed since starting the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  I invite others to build their own version and apply this in their own work.

Thanks for reading. I hope you'll borrow from what I share here, on the Tutor/Mentor Blog and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website.  Create your own versions. Share your own maps and blog articles. Teach others to do the same.

You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Mastodon.  

If you want to help fund my work, visit this page and send a small contribution.

If you want to adopt this work and embed it in your university, I'd love to hear from you.