Sunday, April 21, 2024

What If Leaders Had Used Maps This Way?

Below is a page from the 1997 NEWSLINK, the printed newsletter of the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I formed in late 1992.  

The headline is "No General Would Go to Battle Without a Map".  It's aimed at corporate CEOs.

In the top map inset is a 1997quote from Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley.  It says, "I look forward to a time when businesses, churches and leaders throughout this city will each stake out an area in a particular community and pledge to take an active responsibility for the education and well-being of all the young people in that area."

The bottom map shows hospitals in Chicago.  The heading next to it says, "Channel marketing:  Encourage "look-alike" groups (health, law, arts, science) to expand outreach programs in neighborhoods where they operate, with afterschool programs serving as distribution centers for these efforts"

In the text it says "Healthcare groups with "prevention" programs aimed at changing behaviors before they come to the health care provider as problems could partner with existing programs. Staff and volunteers could be role models to help youth hear healthcare "prevention" messages, modify behavior, and sustain changes until they become a habit. At the same time health groups are a source of mentors, job shadowing, careers, professional resources and even safe place for youth and adults to meet."

In the inset the text says:

While everyone can't be a one-on-one mentor, different groups have special skills that could help tutor/mentor programs be more effective.

While the map shows how hospitals could adopt neighborhoods, what if the alumni groups of Chicago's business schools (Northwestern, Chicago, DePaul, Loyola) made it their mission to have teams of business/marketing experts at each afterschool program in the city to help ALL programs build effective long-term business plans.


I've been encouraging businesses to adopt strategies like this for more than 25 years.  You can read the full NEWSLINK issue at this link

Visit this page and view visual essays that I've created since the 1990s to share similar ideas and strategies. 

While we mailed our print newsletters to nearly 7,000 people by 1997, too few people have ever seen the ideas I've been sharing.  

That means they are "NEW" to everyone who has not seen them.  Which means anyone can begin to add these ideas to their own leadership and maybe ten years from now the WHAT IF will be LOOK AT WHAT WE DID!

If these ideas have value to you, please visit this page and make a small contribution to help me pay the bills and keep this resource available to you and the world.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Maps and Map-Stories from past 30 years

This is a story that appeared in the Chicago SunTimes in November 1994. It talks about my leaving my corporate advertising job to lead a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago.

The two photos show me with a 7th grade student, who is now a college graduate with two kids in college. We're still connected on Facebook.

The second is a map of Chicago, with high poverty areas highlighted, and known volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs shown.

While we launched the site-based Cabrini Connections program in January 1993, we spent all of 1993 planning a second program, aimed at building greater attention and a better flow of volunteers and dollars to EVERY volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago, including our own. 

We named that Tutor/Mentor Connection and launched our first survey to learn about existing programs in January 1994.  

Why maps?

In late 1992 as I was forming the new program I told a librarian at the United Way/Crusade of Mercy about our intent to learn about every tutor/mentor program in Chicago. She asked, "How will you share that information?"

I told her I had not yet figured that out and she went into the library and came back with a magazine that describe Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and how that could be used to plot locations of programs on a map of Chicago.  

I was immediately sold on the ideas and have spent the last 30 years trying to do that.

The first challenge was learning about GIS technology and building the capacity to create maps. That was solved in 1993 when Metro Chicago Information Systems offered to produce maps for us (for a fee).  They produced maps for us through 1995. We launched our own capacity in 1996 (see below). 

How were maps used?  

One strategy was to publish our list of programs in a directory, which we began to do in May 1994.  We updated that annually and continued publishing it until 2002.  Then we moved the data to an online Program Locator, which was used until 2018 when the site went off line.  View 1995 Directory.

A second strategy was to create map-stories following negative news in the Chicago SunTimes or Chicago Tribune.  Below is one example.

Our aim was to show where something "bad" happened, and was given significant attention in local media. Our goal was to tell "The Rest of the Story", showing the level of poverty and number of poorly performing schools in that area, which were contributing factors to what happened.  

We added locations of tutor/mentor programs in the area, if there were any.  Then we also added layers showing assets, such as churches, business, colleges and/or hospitals, who shared the geography, thus should be strategically involved in helping tutor/mentor programs grow, and helping those programs constantly improve what they were doing to help kids through school and into jobs and careers.

At the same time we created maps like these, showing businesses, faith groups, universities, etc. who had locations in many parts of the Chicago area, thus could be supporting volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in many places, not just a few favored, high-profile, programs.

The goal has been to have good and constantly improving programs in EVERY high poverty area, not just in a few places.

Over the past few months I've been creating archives in my Google drive folder and now you can look at all of the maps and map stories we've created, as well as the media stories our strategies generated.

Map stories created since 1993 - open this link

From 2008 to early 2011 we were able to hire a part time GIS expert to create maps using donated ESRI ArcView GIS software. View his collection.

The collections below show maps used in blog articles, visual presentations, social media, etc.  Many of these maps were NOT created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection or Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.  Some were created using the interactive map-based program locator that was created in 2008 - open this link

As we found ways to create maps and map-stories we created an on-going event strategy that generated media stories.  Below is a folder that shows several hundred articles.

Finding talent to do the annual survey, create and maintain a database, and then create our maps was always a challenge. Drawing attention to the maps was an equally large challenge.  That's why I began to reach out to universities in 1993 to try to form partnerships that would lead to students, faculty and alumni duplicating the work my small organization was piloting.

Last Friday I posted an article on the Tutor/Mentor Blog, featuring a PDF presentation showing my "30-year history of reaching out to universities".  Below are three pages from that presentation

Students from Northern Illinois University set up a GIS map-making capacity at our Cabrini Connections office in 1995.  One student worked for us part time in 1996 and 1997 to create maps for us, then continued as a volunteer.

Vamshee Bhupathiraju, a graduate student at IIT, came to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2003 through a technology grant.  He created the on-line program locator, which was launched in 2004.  This was the source of data used in the interactive Chicago Program Locator built in 2008 by a team from India. 

Students from Indiana University created a map in 2016, showing participation in every Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference from May 1994 to May 2014.

These were significant contributions.  These are just 3 pages out of 50 that I share in this presentation. They show what's possible. I hope you'll take a look. 

I'm sharing my archives because I believe other people could do what I've been trying to do, and do it better.  And because I'm now 77 and need others to continue this work.

My maps show that non-school, volunteer-based, tutor, mentor and learning programs are needed in many parts of the Chicago region, but in many cities around the country (and probably the world). 

Too few people ever saw the maps I'm sharing because I never had millions of dollars for advertising and was not a Taylor Swift type of celebrity who could draw people to complex ideas on a regular basis. 

Universities have the talent, and responsibility, to do this work.  However, unless major donors step forward to provide on-going, decades-long, funding, none will do this for as long as I have and none will ever be able to publish an archive like I've shared here, showing 30 years of maps and map stories.

Ten or fifteen years from now archives like mine could be available on university websites in many cities.  It only takes "two or three people on a campus to launch a Tutor/Mentor Connection", and a major donor!

I'll be sharing more of my archives in coming weeks, primarily in articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog.  My goal is that a few people will be motivated to dig deeply into this information. I'm sure there's a book that could be written, showing strategies leaders can use to help end poverty by helping more kids through school and into jobs and careers.

Thanks for reading this. Please share it.

I'm on Twitter (x), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other platforms. You can find links on this page.

If you are able to make a small contribution to help me keep doing this work, visit this page.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

University of Michigan Poverty Solutions Data Maps

I've followed the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions account on Twitter (X) for a few years and have a viewed some of their live presentations. Below are screenshots from two resources I found on their site today.

Michigan  Poverty and Well-Being Map - open link

Multidimensional Index of Deep Disadvantage - open link

Both maps are interactive, meaning you can zoom in to small sections of the country, or the state. And you can click on an area and get data showing the level of poverty and/or disadvantage in that area. I encourage you to spend time learning to use these in your own advocacy.

I've added links to the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions site in this section of the Tutor/Mentor library. Take time to get to know these resources. Share them with your community. 

As I prepared to write this post I scrolled through this blog, looking at articles I had tagged "datamaps".

I encourage you to do the same.  You'll see many other interactive data platforms and maps. 

In many articles you'll see how I've used maps to call attention to areas where kids and families need extra help. Here's one example

There are a lot of resources mapping poverty but I don't find enough people using the maps the way I have been since 1994, to draw volunteers, donors and business investment into these areas and keep it there for many years.   

That's the only solution I know of.  It comes down to building and sustaining public attention and public will.  

I took this photo many years ago, as a reminder of what I needed to do daily, and what others also need to be doing.

I'm on many social media platforms. See links on this page. I hope you'll connect and post links to map-stories you are creating.

I also hope you'll visit my "Support Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC" page and make a contribution to help me continue to maintain this library and share it daily with the rest of the world. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Persistent Poverty in America

My Twitter feed brought a new report to my attention this week. It's titled "Persistently poor, left-behind and chronically disconnected" and was written by Kenan Fikri who I've been following for a while.  (I'll use Persistent Poverty to refer to this report in the rest of this article.)

The map below was what caught my attention.  It shows areas of concentrated poverty in six Ohio cities.

For the past 30 years I've used maps to focus attention on areas of concentrated poverty in Chicago. In this set of MappingforJustice blog articles, I show other cities with the same challenges.  In the 1990s a book titled American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass written by Douglas S. Massey,  addressed this same issue.

Below are a few passages from the Persistent Poverty article that I highlighted. (click to enlarge). Go to the report to read this in context.

The abstract shows a focus on social networks and social capital and says "these problems tend not to resolve themselves naturally".    The second shows that hidden in affluent Cook County are several clusters of persistent poverty census tracts.  Two with over 200,000 residents."

This is not a new problem. This 1994 Chicago Tribune front page pointed to some of the same high poverty areas as are shown in the Persistent Poverty report. 

I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago in 1993 (and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011)  to try to help volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs grow in these areas as a strategy for expanding the networks of adults from beyond poverty areas who were helping kids through school.  I point volunteers and donors to these programs, through lists that I host on this page

In the Persistent Poverty report, one strategy was to expand networks of support and bridging social capital. 

This paragraph highlights the difference between "bonding" social capital which consists of strong ties between family, neighborhoods and/or church groups.  These are present in many high poverty communities.  What's not present are large doses of "bridging" social capital, which connect youth and families to people and opportunities and solutions beyond the place where they live.  

I've been writing about social capital on the Tutor/Mentor blog for many years. Add these articles to your research. 

The graphic below was created in the 1990s to show the design of the tutor/mentor program I led. It's a strategy designed to expand "bridging" social capital for K-12 youth and families in every high poverty area of Chicago and other cities with areas of concentrated poverty. 

The hub on this graphic represents a youth, a family, a school or a neighborhood. It shows a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program as a place that draws workplace volunteers from many different backgrounds to serve as one-on-one and group tutors/mentors to youth living in high poverty places of Chicago.  The timeline in the middle of the hub emphasizes the 20-plus years it takes to help each youth through school and into jobs where they can earn enough to raise their own kids free from poverty's challenges.  

The strategy I've emphasized has been to enlist leaders from every industry to use their own media, visibility and resources to draw volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs in all parts of a city, not just to one, or two, high profile programs. 

These two PDFs show this goal - Total Quality Mentoring  click here

Role of Leaders - click here

I've focused on cities because the geographic size makes it difficult for workplace volunteers to meet with kids during the school day, or right after school, because of the distance between work and program locations.  The after work and weekend hours are times when that volunteers is more able to stop at a neighborhood program and make an on-going commitment.

However, there are not enough long-term programs and there is inconsistent funding to build and sustain such programs.  Here's one of many articles where I focus on funding.  No solution will come without addressing the flow of dollars to these places!

However, as the map from the Persistent Poverty report shows, the problem of long-term poverty is not limited to cities and urban areas.

These two paragraphs emphasize the different history of places across the US and the lack of simple solutions.

Below is another graphic from my collection.  

It emphasizes the role each person can take to be part of a solution. If you've read this far, that means YOU!

Read the report. Here's the link again.

Update: I asked if there is an interactive map showing the Persistent Poverty data. There is. Follow the link in this post from Twitter (x): Using the interactive map you can zoom into the Chicago area, or any other place with high concentrations of poverty.  Look at it. Create your own map stories.

Then, share it with people in your network, so they read it and begin to think about roles they might take in helping more people become involved in efforts that make mentor-rich programs available in all of the high poverty areas shown on these maps.

3-7-2024 update - Here's another article using the EIG dashboards to understand t his data:

Then visit this section of the Tutor/Mentor library and read additional reports about poverty, race and inequality in America, that I've been collecting for more than 20 years. 

In last Sunday's Super Bowl a group spent millions of dollars to purchase ads talking about Jesus.   I wish someone were spending the same money talking about the research I've been pointing to and mobilizing people to be volunteers, leaders and donors supporting youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in all high poverty areas of big cities across the country. 

And building a similar research library showing the different challenges of rural areas, reservations, and other places where solutions may be different than for big cities. Then, drawing readers and planners to that resource so they develop solutions.

And that they do it consistently for the next two decades.

What do you think?  Connect with me on social media. (see links here)

Help me pay the bills. Make a contribution to Fund the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. click here