Monday, September 29, 2014

Can Billionaires Adopt Neighborhoods of Chicago?

I just saw a story in the Chicago Tribune showing that 17 people from Illinois are on the 2014 Forbes list of the wealthiest people in the US. A CBS report lists these people.

Now I understand that I've been tilting at windmills for a long time, but what if these 17 people divided the Chicago region and each pledged $10 million a year to support general operations of youth and family serving organizations in different sections of the Chicago region? This map illustrates the idea.

This money would not go to hospitals, universities, museums, religious groups (unless it is to operate a youth organization), nor would it go to political campaigns. The money would focus on high poverty areas using maps being produced by many different organizations to show health, education, poverty, violence, unemployment and other indicators. The money would not go to schools, either. If we change the support systems around the schools I feel more kids will come ready and motivated to learn. Maybe they will already have learned to learn, with the help of mentors in a non-school program that has a technology lab and volunteers from Google, Microsoft, Bank of America and other companies in the region.

If the richest people anchor such a commitment, those slightly less wealthy, like CEOs who earn more than 330 times low paid workers and more than 774 times what minimum wage workers earn, might also make on-going financial commitments to the same neighborhoods. See CEO Pay articles here and here.

How would donors choose who to support? This Shoppers Guide suggest information that could be on an organization's web site. Many of the youth serving organizations in Chicago neighborhoods may not collect this type of information, or have the ability to put it on web sites and in blog articles. The investments made by financial leaders should be intended to help every existing organization get the ideas, talent and resources to grow to be considered world class at what they do. That includes communicating what they do so volunteers, parents and donors can decide who to support, and so other programs can learn from what the best programs have already figured out how to do.

New organizations should form, using this investment, to fill voids in places where more programs, or certain types of programs, are needed. Maps should show where donor commitments are being made, and should show a growth of needed programs over the next 10-15 years, then a decline in the need for such programs as a result of this consistent investment.

Perhaps after 30 years there will be new problems that need this investment, but providing a support system that helps families and neighborhood schools help kids be better prepared for 21st and 22nd century roles, should not be needed in many places if such consistent, flexible investment is made for so many years.

Esquire Magazine has launched a Mentoring Project, with highly visible people talking about "who mentored them". Maybe they could champion my idea of wealth people adopting poverty neighborhoods with consistent financial support that matches their verbal support.

If ideas like this appeal to you, why not come to the next Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago on Friday, November 4 and introduce yourself. Or connect with me on one of these social media spaces.

Perhaps one of these wealthy leaders would want to put their name on the Tutor/Mentor Institute? If you dream it, maybe it can become a realty.


Art Nicholas said...

Just seeing this now. Have you thought about helping organize this type of plan and recruit individuals AND organizations to adopt neighborhoods? And extend it beyond just writing checks to making a series of commitments to be engaged with the neighborhood, with financial support of course being a key component.

I think many people are leery of simply writing a check to make themselves feel good but would be interested in a multi-level engagement. I also think these people would need training and consulting so that good intentions don't go awry (ie as outlined in the book When Helping Hurts")

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Read more of the articles on the blog. I've been trying to help people use this information to build networks that support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and focus on community problem solving for many years. Too few resources on my end to do this well, especially in past five years (I launched T/MC in 1993). Connect with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam and share you ideas for how to help make this happen.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Here's another article worth reading about how billionaires give and who benefits.