Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Sharpton, Nike, Media = Leadership Opportunity

Today's Chicago SunTimes has a story of how the Nike corporation has reached a $7.6 million settlement to a class action lawsuit that accused Nike of racial discrimination in the way they treated customers and promoted minority employees.

It also has a front page story and several inside articles and editorials about the Rev. Al Sharpton coming to Chicago. On the Opinion page the editorial writers offer a "To Do" list of societal problems that Sharpton should address. These include a) school funding, b) gun violence, c) absentee fathers.

My wish list goes like this: Sharpton targets businesses like Nike who make a profit by selling products to minority youth, and motivates them to develop leadership strategies that encourage employees and customers to be volunteers, donors and leaders in volunteer based non-school tutor/mentor programs located in the Chicago region.

He can start right now by helping us mobilize volunteers and donors to support tutor/mentor programs as the new school year is starting. Getting a youth and adult connected in mid September might mean the difference between a youth staying in school and graduating, or a youth joining a street gang, dropping out, and .....

Rev. Sharpton and Nike can both use the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, and Chicago Program Links to determine what tutor/mentor programs are operating in Chicago. In their news interviews, speeches and advertising, all they need to do is encourage listeners to use these internet resources to shop for where they get involved.

Oh, there's one more thing they can do. Most class action lawsuits have money left over. Maybe Rev. Sharpton could encourage Nike lawyers to award that money to the Tutor/Mentor Connection so that we can continue to maintain that database of Chicago programs so that it stays a resource that anyone in Chicago can use to help find a tutor/mentor program, or to help new programs form in areas where none exist.

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