Saturday, May 04, 2013

Cross Sector Knowledge Networks - Where are they?

Last Saturday I wrote a this article talking about the knowledge base supporting community wealth building, and that which I've created, supporting the growth of youth from first grade to first job.

This is one of many graphics I've created to illustrate the range of knowledge organizations, networks and communities need to draw from in building a system of non-school programs that is more likely to result in more kids finishing school with a network of people helping them find jobs and enter careers.

In many of my articles I've talked about the "village" that needs to be involved helping youth move from birth to work. When you look at a graphic like this village map, you see many different interest groups. They each look at the problem from a different experience perspective, and while they may focus on the same neighborhood, they may not be connecting with people in the youth development and education sector, or the community wealth-building sector.

The idea I've been trying to communicate is multidimensional and I only have one-dimensional forms of communications. What I mean is

a) if you look at a map of Chicago you'll see many neighborhoods where youth and families need more help because of economic and social issues. Thus, we face a challenge of creating a distribution of resources that reaches every neighborhood on a consistent basis.

b) most problems take a long time to solve. Kids entering first grade today will need 12 years of consistent support if they are expected to graduate from high school and they may need four to six more years of support to go through college and/or vocational school and find their first jobs.

c) there are many types of supports needed by youth and families, which need to be available and age appropriate, when they are needed. For instance, if you believe in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs then you would want to be able to look at a map showing that such programs are available in every high poverty neighborhood, with programs offering services to elementary, middle school and high school.

Building an infrastructure that would make this range of programs available across the city, and that would assure that each program is constantly learning from each other, is constantly improving, and has the flow of operating and innovation dollars needed to support constant improvement, is a huge task. Providing a library of knowledge that people can draw from to support their actions would be a benefit. Finding a way to connect the different people involved in mentoring kids through school and into jobs, so they learn from each other, support each other, and work collectively to solve problems that single programs can't solve, would be an even greater benefit. This PDF illustrates the range of talent needed and show how business teams could provide some of that talent.

I've written a lot of articles related to this over the past 8 years and you could use these to support your own on-going learning.

However, what I've described, just applies to the network of people who focus on tutoring/mentoring as a strategy to help improve the economic and social well-being of a community.

There are other organizations focused on other issues, like public health, social justice, workforce development, violence prevention, etc. In Chicago we have a well funded community development network, led by organizations such as LISC. These organizations focus on issues related to what tutor/mentor programs focus on, but I don't see an overlap in how the different organizations connect. This dropout conference map illustrates the range of other organizations focusing on the same issues, but in different meeting space and working networks.

I created the graphic below to illustrate the different networks that might be in any neighborhood, and how they each draw from their own knowledge base to support the work of people in their networks.

In my links library I have sub-categories with links pointing to many of these issue areas. I don't need to build a complete library. I need to just point to intermediaries who are hosting their own library and events that bring people in their sector together.

I think there is a need for people who are building these knowledge libraries and who are trying to draw people to the library and help them use the information to connect with each other. We can do this with links, blog articles, social media space, and by participating in conferences and meetings hosted by each other.

If we do this, we can generate greater public awareness, and provide a wider range of information to the people who come to our web sites and events. By posting our information on maps, we create a planning tool that groups sharing the same geography can use to find strategic reasons to connect with each other in the delivery of services, the hosting of service, the recruiting of volunteers and donors, etc.

We can support the growth of stronger community support networks in each neighborhood and in every city.

Do you agree? Are you sharing ideas like this someplace? Can you communicate this better? Let's connect.

No comments: