Tuesday, November 03, 2009

DePaul Student Killed. Lost Opportunity.

The Chicago Tribune has an article today, titled "DePaul mourns a slain student". Every shooting is a tragedy. This one is even greater because the student killed was one who showed so much promise and leadership. Read the story. Morn with me. Then read The Rest of this Story.

This map shows where the shooting took place. It was created using the Tutor/Mentor Interactive Program Locator.

We post these stories following negative news, because we want readers to go beyond the angst cause by how media report, to become researchers and social activists, who take actions that reduce this type of tragedy in the future.

We've tried to encourage the formation of "learning circles" at colleges, hospitals, faith groups, high schools, etc. and it's been a slow process. Thus, I was excited this fall when a professor at DePaul asked how she and her first year students could work with the T/MC. I encouraged them to divide into teams and learn about the different neighborhoods of Chicago, and about how different levels of poverty and non-school tutor/mentor programs, give some youth more hope and opportunities than others.

They have been doing that. You can find the class blog here.

Some of these students grew up in inner city neighborhoods, so they understand what's going on in the city. Most did not, so they only understand the impact of poverty through what they see in the papers. This story hits home for this group. Now as they write about poverty, and look at our maps and tutor/mentor program info, it becomes more real.

What if this neighborhood had a wide range of mentor-rich programs, with arts, technology, career development and leadership opportunities, with people from many business background personally involved in helping youth make positive choices that might lead them to futures out of poverty? What does it make for such programs to be available in this neighborhood, or other neighborhoods?

As teams learn the answers to these questions, and propose their own solutions, and share what they are thinking and learning on their blogs, they become part of the solution. They can tell The Rest of The Story and try to get adults, businesses and elected leaders more consistently involved.

If they continue doing this learning and network building for the next four years, many will leave DePaul prepared to be leaders of tutor/mentor programs, or of business and philanthropy strategies that make consistent resources more available to operate these programs. They can change the future.

If you would like to duplicate this project, at your school, faith group, or company, here's the outline of goals set for the class. You can also meet some of the students at the Tutor/Mentor Conference on Nov. 19 and 20.

No comments: