Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Obama Urges Business Support for Education

July 18th article in Washington Post talks about an "unu education roundtable" hosted by President Obama. It's considered unusual because business leaders and not educators are the main attendees.

I posted this comment:

It would be great if these leaders were using their visibility, communications and influence to do on-going advertising that draws employees and customers to schools and non-school youth tutoring/mentoring programs in high poverty neighborhoods and if teams of employees were volunteering time to help high-quality tutor/mentor programs grow and operate in the same manner that corporate offices help hundreds or thousands of branch locations operate throughout the coun

Such a strategy needs to go beyond supporting the brand name and well known organizations that only serve a small fraction of the kids in neighborhoods with poverty and poor schools. Cities need to create on-line program locator/map-based directories such as the one we host in Chicago. See . With platforms like this volunteers can choose from programs in many neighborhoods. They can help small and under funded programs constantly improve, while helping well funded programs draw from ideas of local, national and international programs to also constantly innovate new ways to keep youth and volunteers connected.

Several cities do have program locators, but don't use these as platforms to attract volunteers and donors directly to the programs they list. It's hard to know if they use them to assess the distribution and availability of needed programs in areas with highest concentration of need based on poverty and locations of poorly performing schools, or high drop out rate schools.

The service we host in Chicago is a pilot and has room for much improvement. Yet, I've found few map-based marketing strategies used by business to encourage volunteer involvement in programs designed to provide long-term mentoring, tutoring and career-education resources.

President Obama was a speaker at a conference we hosted in 1999. Arne Duncan attended our first conferences in 1994. I hope they'll come back and take another look and apply some of these ideas in their efforts to expand the networks of support for kids living in high concentrations of poverty. and use them to attract volunteers and donors directly to

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