Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mobilizing Resources for "Birth to Work"

If you search Google for the words "tutor mentor strategy" my web sites will be on the first page. If you click on the images feature you'll see dozens of graphics that I've created since the mid 1990s to visualize a "birth to work" strategy that would help more kids in high poverty areas have an infrastructure of adult support and learning opportunities helping them move from birth to work without detours in the juvenile justice system, high school drop out system, or other negatives that are more common in high poverty areas than in more affluent communities.

Last spring I posted an article showing that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's anti violence program potentially was taking corporate funding from some neighborhoods and shifting that money to other places.

Recently I've connected with a new initiative from the Mayor's office, called the Chicago Thrive Initiative, which is modeled after the STRIVE Partnership initiative in Cincinnati. Below is the DRAFT visualization of a "roadmap" intended to lead more youth in Chicago from birth to work. I've not yet found a web site where this or other planning documents are posted. I'll provide a link when I do.

I post this because I've wanted leaders to show support for a "birth to work" mentoring strategy since I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Here are a few of the visualizations I've created to illustrate this concept.

I created this graphic to show the types of age appropriate support youth require as the move from one grade level to the next. This concept map represents an attempt to aggregate information specific to each grade level that people could use to make programs that work in some places available to youth in more places.

This graphic is intended to illustrate the need to provide age appropriate services in all neighborhoods, not just a few. Otherwise, like plumbing, there is not a smooth flow from one point to the next. Use your imagination to think of what the result might be.

These are just a few of the visualizations you'll find if you do the Google Search I suggested, or if you view some of the graphics I've posted on Many of these have been created by interns, illustrating my belief that youth in high school, college or within existing tutor/mentor programs could be involved in interpreting these ideas and communicating them to the adults in their own neighborhoods and networks.

In my articles I focus on what people in business and who don't live in poverty, need to do, not just what non profits, families, schools and youth in high poverty areas need to do. In fact, people living in concentrated high poverty areas can't do a lot of what everyone wishes because of the poverty surrounding them. Thus, I created this ROLE of LEADERS PDF and this STRATEGY MAP.

I've also used maps to illustrate a need to distribute resources, and programs, into every high poverty neighborhood, and keep them there for many years. I started building a map capacity in 1993. I launched an on-line program locator in 2004. Instead of investing in what I've been building the city and others have been building their own map based program locators, yet not necessarily with the same goal of connecting resource providers to programs, or of making mentor-rich programs available in more places.

It is great that the Thrive Chicago team is visualizing this road map and working get everyone on board, and that this visualization of "birth to work" is now coming from the Mayor's office. However, until more leaders from business, religion, philanthropy, universities, entertainment, media, etc. adopt the strategy and support it consistently with their own actions we'll still reach too few kids, with fragmented strategies, and too little impact.

In April 1997 I was a Chicago delegate to the President's Summit for America's Future. The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 Teaching Examples selected to host a booth at the summit. Mayor Daley spoke at the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1997. However, he never embraced the strategy or became a spokesperson or champion for the ideas. The Summit did not result in reinforcements coming to my organization and others already in the field. Instead it resulted in a new group of people and organizations launching a new planning process, with new ideas and new resources.

We need new ideas and new resources, but we don't need to reinvent the wheel. But I encourage leaders to reach out and support those already in the trenches, at the program level, and the intermediary level. Use the Chicago Programs Links to find existing youth organizations. Use this concept map to identify other intermediaries that you can support.

What level of talent is needed? Read this Deloitte report about "transforming the supply chain". As you do, imagine the talent and costs involved in this process. Poverty costs America billions of dollars every year. American industry faces a huge talent shortage. What will it take to bring the type of talent described in this report into the work of designing a new supply chain supporting birth to work strategies throughout the country?

Ask "How can I help you?" If the Mayor and other leaders demand this of those getting city contracts and getting wealthy doing business from managing money of the poor, or of philanthropic organizations, perhaps we'll build the flow of operating resources and talent needed to sustain and constantly improve the organizations needed in every high poverty neighborhood to help more youth move from birth in poverty to jobs and careers within Chicago industry.

We'll need this fuel on any "road map" that leaders put in place.

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