Monday, September 19, 2005

Race and Poverty in America. Will We be Talking about This Six Months From Now?

Why does it take a natural disaster to get us talking about how to help the disadvantaged in America? I read through several back issues of Time and Newsweek this weekend. There are all sorts of articles talking about Race and Poverty and how we don't focus on these issues other than in times like now. I've posted articles in this blog before about the random coverage of this topic in Chicago's major papers.

I'm also part of the Digital Divide Network and feel that volunteers using IT skills could play a role in building on-going participation in the Race/Poverty discussion, as well as in distributing attention and resources to all of the places and all of the issues that need to be considered when thinking about this subject.

On Sept. 18 I posted a Race and Poverty blog at . I encourage you to read it.

I also feel that volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring can be one of the best strategies for connecting people who don't live in poverty with youth and families who do. If such programs can keep volunteers involved for more than a year or two, many of those volunteers will build a personal understanding of poverty through their weekly involvement, and a personal commitment to do something, because of their growing commitment to the kids they mentor.

Many of the volunteer based tutoring and/or mentoring programs in America do not have this as a goal, and do not have a structure to encourage long-term involvement.

Thus, in many places where various forms of mentoring are taking place, purposeful efforts to transform the lives of volunteers, and convert them to leaders, are not taking place. I feel that if we're to have more people in business and professions taking a leadership and financial role in supporting the growth of volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring, or mentoring-to-career strategies, more programs will need to add this concept to their strategic design.

You can read more about these ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Institute section of

If you have any comments, or suggestions for ways we can expand the number of people interested in this topic, or how we can build a week to week, or month to month involvement, I look forward to hearing from you.

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