Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chicago Kids Victims of Neighborhood Violence

I encourage you to read the feature article of Sunday's Chicago Tribune, titled Innocence in Peril, which shows the tragic impact of violence and drugs on kids living in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago.

Then I encourage you to use the interactive tutor/mentor program locator to zoom in on the Englewood neighborhood (zip code 60621) and learn about existing volunteer-based tutoring /mentoring programs, or other youth organizations that provide some form of tutoring for kids in these areas.

When you look at this, don't think of tutoring or mentoring as a simplistic strategy that cannot overcome the complex, deeply rooted poverty, segregation and racism in Chicago. Think of this as a strategy that connects adults, businesses, faith groups and other resources beyond poverty, in long-term personal connections which transform the volunteers and what they are willing to do to help kids and families.

If we don't increase the number of people beyond poverty, who get involved with as much commitment as they would to help their own kids, we'll never have the dollars and political will-power to change the systems of support for kids living in poverty.

As you use the interactive map, you can create overlays showing faith groups, businesses, universities in the area who could be helping tutor/mentor programs grow. You can also look at the highways that bring working people from the suburbs, through these neighborhoods every day. Look at the faith groups on the suburban end of these highways, and think of them as partners who could be educating their members to use this information, and their resources, to help tutor/mentor programs grow in poverty neighborhoods.

Visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute to learn more about strategies that readers of this Tribune story might learn so that they are more of the solution, than a drive by reader.

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