Monday, October 18, 2010

Culture of Poverty and Social Capital

I just added a link to this New York Times article titled "Culture of Poverty Makes a Comeback" in the Social Capital Links section of the Tutor/Mentor Connection library.

The article includes statements like "day-care centers that held frequent field trips, organized parents’ associations and had pick-up and drop-off procedures created more opportunities for parents to connect."

Another statement was "a study by Professor Sampson, 54, that found that growing up in areas where violence limits socializing outside the family and where parents haven’t attended college stunts verbal ability, lowering I.Q. scores by as much as six points, the equivalent of missing more than a year in school."

However, the term social capital was not mentioned.

If tutor/mentor programs expand learning opportunities and exposed kids to people who model college, careers, and other aspirations than what is modeled in high poverty neighborhoods, shouldn't such programs be consistently supported by donors who believe in the power of these programs as a form of "bridging social capital".

Take a look at the web site of some of the tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago program links. If you see a wide range of volunteers and learning experiences, you're seen an example of intentionally building social capital.

Look for the "donate" button on the web sites that demonstrate this and support them as your own commitment to overcome the "culture of poverty".


Diane Dyson said...

While it's true that "social capital" is not explicitly named in the NYT article, Harvard Professor Robert Sampson is one of the three originators of the idea of "collective efficacy," the way in which community members are connected to each other. Another very useful concept.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks Diane, my hope is to connect the researchers with us and each other, and to add marketers, who will use this information to draw resources into neighborhoods to help tutor/mentor programs become places where bridging social capital grows.

Hope you'll help.