Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't drive by poverty. Get Involved!

Mike Trakan created two new maps that he is showing on his blog today. One shows Metra Commuter Rail Lines leading through the city and the other shows CTA lines.

On Mike's blog he emphasized how people who work in the city and live in the suburbs, or who work in the suburbs but live in the city, pass through high poverty neighborhoods every day. His message is that volunteers can use the maps to determine locations of tutor/mentor programs where they can spend a couple of hours a week enriching the life of a child, and themselves, instead of fighting traffic.

His message is "without volunteers, there are no programs."

I want to encourage a deeper level of thinking. The people taking the train or a CTA train through these neighborhoods are often people who lead companies, write news articles, or have been blessed with a great social network that enables them to have a house in the suburbs, or on the Gold Cost, and maybe another in Wisconsin or Michigan. These people are still working. They have jobs. They have the ability to point dollars to programs in high poverty neighborhoods. They have the ability to encourage others to be thinking of ways to help tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago.

As you're reading your paper the next time and following a story like the one I keep pointing to from the 1992 Chicago SunTimes about the shooting of 7 year old Dantrel Davis, I want these people to be looking at Mikes maps, and thinking, "without operating dollars" there are no programs. Or "without advertising to attract volunteers or donors" there are no programs. Or "why aren't there more programs in the South part of Chicago, or the suburban areas with growing poverty?"

As people who can offer leadership, philanthropy, and jobs programs begin thinking of ways they might help tutor/mentor programs grow, they can use the business maps, or hospital maps, that Mike has created, or the faith group maps, to determine what neighborhoods they want to support, and what programs in those neighborhoods they want to support with annual donations that start now, and repeat each year for the next 10 years.

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