Monday, May 20, 2013

Violence,Drugs and Mentoring - Chicago

Editor note: after writing this I was contacted by Maxine Williams, who led a tutoring program at the church shown in this video. Visit this link to see Maxine's story. She and an alum from her program will speak at Friday's Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago.

This video, titled "The War In Chicago" was shown on CBS TV's 48 Hours Program. It shows that solving the problem of poverty and violence in Chicago must address issues facing youth in affluent areas as well as in poverty areas. Look at the video then let's talk.

If you look at articles on violence and media that I've written since 1993, you'll find graphics like this

This was the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1992 after 7-Year Old Dantrell Davis was killed while walking to school. The "demand it now" and "its everyone's responsibility" editorial did not last very long and as we can see from current events, we've not found solutions yet to this problem.

I have heard the "Enough is Enough" message for many years, and have posted my own set of recommendations that might lead to more involvement of people in the city and suburbs.

This problem has been in Chicago for more than 20 years. Why have there not been more strategies that successfully reduced drug use, while providing youth in poverty more alternatives than drug dealing and other illegal activities.

I support mentoring as a strategy because it engages youth and volunteers in weekly one on one and group learning. The youth learn from the adults, but the adults learn from the youth and the programs they are part of. If volunteers stay involved multiple years some build a deeper empathy, and a greater personal involvement.

I don't just write about mentoring or tutoring. I focus on what needs to be done to support strong organizations operating in neighborhoods with high poverty and/or high drug use. Think of this graphic of a healthy tree. It's root system is healthy. If it were not, the tree would not grow.

I've piloted a use of maps to follow negative news stories with reports that attempt to draw volunteers and donors into neighborhoods where the violence takes place. See map-stories created in past.

If the money spent to solve this gang, drug, violence, poverty, jobs and workforce readiness problem only funds new programs in a few parts of the city, where is the money that builds strong organizations needed to enable these new programs to flourish? In a few years, new programs are old programs, but kids are only a few years older. They still need the support these programs might offer. However, if the funds dry up because some new program is being funded, the organizational effectiveness is reduced.

As we educate volunteers and build more personal empathy and involvement we need to innovate new ways to attract attention and draw operating and innovation resources into all of the places where we need to fight this battle.

Had the Mayor, President, business leaders and others supported the growth of mentor-rich programs in more places since I began advocating for this in 1993, there would be more programs and there would be thousands more adults engaged in this discussion, with a personal interest.

As we see more and more how the impact on drugs ruins the lives of kids in affluent areas, we should be able to address the self-interest of more people who don't live in poverty and in the past only provided token charity to support inner city youth programs.

If you're interested in this, join me at the June 7 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, or at one of the on-line forums I host on Linked In, Facebook, Ning and Twitter.

In the CBS video the mayor of Chicago is heard saying: "We cannot afford not to do it". If these are not just more political rhetoric perhaps the Mayor will take some time to think of his role as a network builder and ways he and other leaders might use some of the maps and ideas I've been sharing. And while I hope the political leaders will use this information, this solution requires involvement and leadership from business, faith groups, universities, young people and civic, social and service organizations from throughout the region.

It only costs $80 to attend the Tutor/Mentor Conference and a few hours of your time. The city and suburbs have been spending millions if not billions of dollars to fight this problem.

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