Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leaders and Role Models - Action Strategy

This map was created almost 10 years ago and it represents a vision I've had for many years. The signatures on the map are of eleven high profile athletes like Carlton Fisk (White Sox), George Foster (Cincinnati Reds) and Otis Wilson (Chicago Bears). The map was circulated at a celebrity golf benefit and athletes were asked to "adopt neighborhoods" by putting their signature on specific community areas in Chicago.

The idea was that when a reporter puts a microphone in front of an athlete after a game, or practice, the athlete would learn to talk about the way he/she was supporting tutor/mentor programs in the adopted neighborhood. Think of how often this might deflect questions from a bad game, to a different topic! If enough athletes and other celebrities adopt this concept, their collective voices become advertising that draws volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs in under served neighborhoods. Such a strategy could duplicate in other cities, and include recording stars, business leaders, clergy, and many others who want to help kids succeed in school, stay safe in non-school hours, and be starting 21st century jobs and careers once they finish formal education.

This never became an operating strategy, but it has remained the model of a leadership strategy the Tutor/Mentor Connection seeks to develop. It shows that athletes, celebrities and business leaders can adopt neighborhoods, and use their media visibility, blogs and personal communications to draw attention to the tutor/mentor programs in those areas.

This T/MC essay/pdf  illustrates the role of athletes as leaders. On Friday Nov. 21 during the Tutor/Mentor Conference at the Chicago Field Museum, a panel of athletes and business leaders will talk about ways any athlete in Chicago or another city can adopt a neighborhood and use their visibility to mobilize volunteers and donors to support the tutor/mentor programs in that area.

I encourage athletes of all sorts to attend and embrace this idea. It's critically important in a time of economic crisis, and as we head for the year end holidays. However, it is really important as we help President Obama achieve the lofty goals he has set for his Presidency.

If you'd like to take a role in making this "adopt a neighborhood" idea a reality, join us at the conference, or call 312-492-9614 to get involved.

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