Monday, August 11, 2008

Schooled in Fear - SunTimes Special Report Follow Up

On August 5-7, 2008 the Chicago SunTimes devoted nearly 10 full pages to a Special Report, titled Schooled In Fear, which showed the impact of urban violence on the lives of inner-city children.

Using drawings created by kids, reporters illustrated how inner city youth were exposed to constant fear of "getting shot". When asked "How many of you know a friend or relative who has been shot at?" the headline said "A sea of hands flew into the air."

This series was illustrated with colorful photos and eye-catching headlines. It had to attract the attention of a large number of SunTimes readers. My hope is that many want to get involved, or respond to the children's request for more afterschool activities in their neighborhood, which was a request youth made during the final day of this special report.

I first wrote about this a couple of days ago, with a headline of "They are being robbed of their childhood"

In that article I showed maps of universities and hospitals in Chicago, who could be strategically involved in supporting the growth of tutor/mentor programs.

Since then the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) created three maps that we hope volunteers, donors and leaders will use to become strategically involved in helping more and better non-school learning, tutoring and/or mentoring programs become available to youth in these and other urban warfare neighborhoods of Chicago.

Little Village Academy, 2620 South Lawndale, Chicago, Il. 60623
This map shows 3 hospitals and several churches in the area, as well as the two expressways (I-290 and I-55) which go through the neighborhood on the North and the South. Thus, thousands of potential volunteers pass through this area every day.

There are a few organizations in the 60623 zip code already offering various forms of tutoring and or mentoring, but more are needed. Use the zip code map to learn about organizations offering volunteer based tutoring and/or mentoring in the 60623 zip code.

Sexton Elementary, 6020 S Langley Ave, Chicago, IL 60637.
This map shows very few tutor/mentor programs near the school, yet the school is very close to Hyde Park and the University of Chicago and University of Chicago Hospital. A major expressway brings volunteers from jobs in the city to homes in the suburbs every day.

If teams of students, faculty and alumni from the university begin to use their time, talent and dollars in a long-term strategy aimed at pulling youth through school and into the university, this neighborhood might be filled with the best tutor/mentor programs in the country, not just one of the best universities and hospitals. Use the Zip Code map to learn about the availability (if any) of tutor/mentor organizations in 60637, 60621 and 60619.

Talcott Elementary School, 1840 W Ohio St, Chicago, Illinois

Search the zip code map for 60622 and 60612 and you'll find a few organizations in this area offering volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring, although none are close enough to Talcott School for kids to walk to these sites. This area is the near West side of Chicago and has three major hospitals and major highway access routes that volunteers from the city or suburbs could take to be part of tutor/mentor programs in the area. What's needed is leadership from businesses, universities, media to encourage volunteers and donors to support existing programs, or to form learning and planning teams to help develop and sustain new programs in underserved areas.

Every day there seems to be another act of violence in Chicago. A tutor/mentor program is not a short term fix. However, had leaders began to form tutor/mentor programs 15 years ago when the T/MC began its advocacy campaign, many neighborhoods might have a larger number of mature programs with kids going to college and jobs, rather than jail and funerals.

In five, ten or fifteen years what will the landscape of tutor/mentor programs serving Chicago look like? What will the institutions who own real estate in these neighborhoods have done to help build and sustain such a network of programs?

Anyone reading this message can invite leaders of the various organizations shown on one of these maps to come together to build a tutor/mentor connection strategy for each of these map areas.

If you'd like to know more and have our support, join a discussion group, or use the resources on the T/MC web site to learn where, why, and how you might get involved.

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