Monday, October 27, 2008

Mapping a Strategy - 34th Illinois Legislative District

Over the past six months the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been creating a library of maps that are intended as tools that leaders use to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in specific geographic areas.

While I've written articles showing how these maps can be used, so has Mike Trakan, who creates these maps for the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Today Mike added a set of maps showing the 34th Illinois Legislative District, in the South part of Chicago along the border with Indiana.

Two of these maps are shown here.

The first map shows poverty demographics, locations of poorly performing schools and locations of tutoring and/or mentoring programs in the Tutor/Mentor Connection database. In this area we only see three listings. One is Link Unlimited, which is a high quality mentoring program. The other two listings are at Tuley Park and Smith Elementary. There may be other programs in the area, and these two may not still exist. Thus, the first way leaders might take a role, is to help us keep the data in the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator as current as possible.

The bottom line is that youth in this district probably would benefit if there were more programs offering tutoring and/or mentoring in the areas with poor schools and/or high poverty.

The second map shows the same indicators of need, however it also shows locations of branch banks of Chase, Bank of America, Charter One and CitiGroup. On another map we show Walgreens and CVS locations. These business locations could be meeting places for groups of people supporting tutor/mentor programs. They could even be places where volunteers and kids meet after 5pm on a week night. The program I led at the Montgomery Ward corporation started when a few employees started meeting with kids in the neighborhood, and operated from the cafeteria of Wards from 1970 to 1980.

As you look at these maps, look at the expressways that go through the district. The headquarters of these banks are in the Loop. However, many of the people who work in these headquarters live in the South Suburbs, or even Indiana. Thousands of people past through this neighborhood every day who could be volunteers, leaders, advocates and donors. Someone just needs to help them think about taking this role.

On the Mapping for Justice blog Mike also shows faith groups, hospitals and colleges in the district. All could provide leadership, meeting places, volunteers and help raise dollars to fund tutor/mentor programs in the district.

While the elected leaders in the area could be mobilizing people to support a tutor/mentor connection strategy, so could the faith leaders, or business leaders. Kids in a high school service learning program could take this role.

If leaders in different parts of Chicago, and other cities, begin to apply this strategy simultaneously, the result would be a roar of involvement, a greater flow of volunteers to more places, and a greater flow of operating dollars to support the involvement of these volunteers. That would begin to surround kids with more mentors and tutors and learning experiences, which over time would change the path many kids take as they move from elementary school toward careers.

We can provide maps that show the growth in tutor/mentor programs in the area, and we can host events, like the November 21 Conference, which encourage people from different parts of Chicago, and other cities, to network and share ideas. However, it's up to the people who live, and do business, in this area to build and sustain tutor/mentor programs.

Would you like the T/MC to create a map analysis of your legislative district? We can do any district that has part of its geography the city of Chicago. If you'd like to learn how to apply mapping concepts to other cities, or would want to help sponsor the T/MC map capacity, please contact the T/MC at 312-492-9614.

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