Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Become a middle-man in making change happen!

This graphic is from a new presentation created by Mina Song, and intern from IIT, who has been working with Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in Chicago since mid May. This is the third of four presentations she's developing to help communicate the 4-part problem solving strategy that I've developed since 1993.

There is a mountain of research and articles available to help anyone build a PhD in understanding how concentrated poverty in big cities contributes to the high social and economic costs of poverty.

However, there are not enough places where people are reading parts of this research every week and discussing it, in the same way faith groups read scripture and discuss it each week. Nor are there enough leaders using maps and graphics to illustrate a need for resources to be distributed consistently in thousands of places for many years in order to overcome the weight of poverty and help more kids move through school and into "family sustaining" jobs and careers.

We need more people helping others find and use this information. Such people are facilitators. They are also important "middle men" and "intermediaries" who are needed to help make change and social problem solving a reality.

This concept map illustrates the many different supports all kids need as they grow up. Kids in poverty areas have fewer of these supports and in highly concentrated areas family and community have less ability to bring these supports to their neighborhoods by their own efforts and without help from others. Volunteers who become involved as mentors, tutors, coaches, etc. can become bridges, or social capital, that link the needs of the community to resources and ideas beyond the daily reach of community members and kids.

This map shows how a map can be created of a Congressional District to show the level of poverty and the availability of needed resources in all poverty areas of the district. The map can show assets in the district who should be working to help every child in the area move through school and into jobs BECAUSE they share the geography themselves! You can use the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator to build your own maps.

While blogs like this can share these ideas and concepts with a few people, the presentation done by Mina illustrates the need for many people to take on roles of collecting, communicating and helping people understand and use this information. With maps we can focus attention and resources to specific neighborhoods, and at all of the high poverty neighborhoods in a big city like Chicago.

The conference I host on June 14 is an invitation for people who are concerned with poverty to connect and network on a face-to-face basis. I've been hosting this conference since May 1994 but with little financial support or partnership from others who bear the high costs of poverty and social injustice in Chicago. Yet, more than 1000 organizations have participated. This blog shows some network analysis maps created to illustrate the range of organizations who have participated.

I hope you'll join in on the next conference and become a partner, sponsor and/or benefactor to help Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC continue to share these ideas and build this network.

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