Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New Media Strategy for Community Problem Solving

It's National Mentoring Month, so at the left is a photo of myself and Leo Hall, who I first connected with as his mentor, in 1973. He celebrated his 50th birthday last August, and invited me to the celebration. He wanted to thank me for my influence in his life. While I was there, I thanked him for letting me have a part of his life, and of thousands of other young people and adult since then.

If you've followed my blog, and the Mapping for Justice blog, you've seen that I've followed media stories of violence and poorly performing schools in Chicago with efforts to influence how leaders and volunteers support the on-going operations of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities.

I've pointed out, with articles like this, that the problems we face in 2015 are the same ones we've faced since 1990 and earlier.

Last week I read this article, Why Journalists Don’t Seem to Care About the Tragic Massacre in Nigeria, which compared the lack of attention being given to thousands of murders and kidnappings in Nigeria to the attention given to the killings of less than two dozen people in France.

I've pointed out the lack of long-term focus from media, philanthropy, business and media in many past articles. My friend Steve Sewall, has written a long article describing this problem, and a proposed solution. I hope you'll read it.

What's missing in Steve's recommendation is a "call to action" that works like retail advertising to draw readers directly to information directories and maps that they can use to find tutor/mentor programs in different neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities to whom they can offer on-going talent, ideas, operating dollars, and other forms of support.

I've had interns working with me since 2006, who create visualizations and blog articles that help others understand the ideas I've been sharing. This morning I talked with my current intern about the role of "influence building" that leaders need to engage in daily if they want their agenda's to have the public support they need.

This graphic is one of many that shows the role of intermediaries, or third party actors who are committed to solving a particular problem. Every time you encourage someone you know to look at one of my articles, maps, graphics, etc. you are expanding the network of people who support youth in well organized, constantly improving, tutor/mentor and learning programs. You are part of the solution.

When I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I recognized that long-term problem solving, such as helping youth from birth to work could never succeed as initiatives led by elected officials. No matter how well designed a project is, elected leaders keep changing. Thus, the consistent, long-term support I've always sought had to come from investors/partners who understand the strategy I was proposing and were willing to support it, as their own commitment, for one or two decades.

I've not found that support, yet I've found enough to still be sharing this idea more than 20 years after launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection with the help of six other volunteers who were also launching the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program in Chicago at the same time.

Here are some additional articles to read:

Building Super Bowl of support. (Jan 2014)

Expanding the Network - Decade Long Effort

Network Building - Talent Needed

Visit this page and see how interns have communicated these ideas. Youth in schools, non-school programs, colleges and faith groups could take this role, pointing to tutor/mentor programs in their own city or neighborhood, with a shared goal of building the on-going flow of resources needed to reach youth with high quality programs that help them move from birth to work.

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