Ta'verenThis is a graphic that I created several years ago to visualize my 20+ year effort to change the world for kids living in high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities.

I’m now 71 and looking for younger leaders to take on this work, and wrote a couple of “do over” articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog, sharing this goal.

I’ve not had nearly the impact that I  had hoped to have, for many reasons, but I read an article today on the From Poverty to Power blog, that showed strategies and a set of actions that I’ve never been good at.


This visualization shows the result I’ve been focusing on. You can see it in this article.

The title of the article I read this morning is

How can researchers and activists influence African governments? Advice from an insider.

This is good advice. I think it applies to Chicago and the US, just as much as Africa.  I should have had someone on my team doing this from the very beginning*.  If you share the same goals and think the strategies I’ve been sharing make sense, then you need to include this key strategy in your own efforts, and in any “do over” of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

*I started the T/MC with no resources, little support and a deep conviction that there was a need for an information base, including a list of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs, if there was ever going to be a consistent marketing effort intended to help these programs reach youth in more places with life-changing strategies. I felt that trying to change government policies was like jumping into a huge black hole. I was too small to influence anything.

Instead, I felt that if I could make a case for tutoring/mentoring as a workforce development strategy, which benefits businesses and its current workers, along with future workers and customers, I could draw volunteers and private sector funding to support my work and the work of other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and that this would attract public funding and support as it grew.

That might have succeeded if the business cycles of growth and decline from the mid 1990s till today had not caused so many supporters to go out of business, downsize, change leaders and key staff, along with giving priorities, making consistent and growing support for my efforts a constant struggle.

I’m not saying that I’ve had no impact. Just not enough.  I created this concept map to show the growth of the T/MC since 1990.  Note that as we built the T/MC we also crated a new site based tutor/mentor programs serving 7th to 12th grade teens living in the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago. More than 700 were part of this program over the 1993-2011 years that I led it. Many are now college graduates and raising their own families. I’m still connected to some of these on Facebook.  

I am only focused on the T/MC now, which actually frees more of my time than I every had to devote to the T/MC in the past.  However, I’m no longer operating as a non-profit and don’t have a team of volunteers helping me.

I’ve been looking for this support since 2011 but my time (and money) is running out.  Thus, I call for a “do over“.  Maybe others can do this better.

The problems that motivated me to form the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 are still with us in 2018.