Sunday, July 17, 2016

RNC Draws Attention to Poverty and Inequality in Cleveland

With Cleveland hosting this week's Republican National Convention, there are a growing number of media stories about poverty in Cleveland showing up on my Internet feed. Here's one with a headline staying, "Cleveland metro area ranks in the Top 10 nationally for the percentage of residents living in concentrated poverty."

Here's another with headline stating, "Decade after being declared nation's poorest big city, 1-3 Clevelanders remain in poverty." 

Over the past couple of years I've written a few guest articles for the I-Open blog, which is hosted by an organization based in the Cleveland area.

Here's one titled "Career Pathways out of Poverty", which starts out asking "What are “all the things we need to know, and do to assure that youth born or living in high poverty areas of Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, New York City, etc. are starting jobs and careers out of poverty by their mid 20’s?"

This is a question that should be asked and answered in every big city, in the USA, and the world.  Below is a map from the web site, which shows how concentrated poverty is a big city problem. I posted the link in this article on the MappingforJustice blog.

Here are other articles I've written for the I-Open blog. These and the articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 are intended to support leaders asking and answering that "what do we do" question.  

I started asking this question in the 1970s as a leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago. When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, we began sharing the question with leaders throughout the Chicago region, in an effort to help mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city.

Had more leaders responded in the 1990s, and devoted just a small amount of consistent talent, time and dollars to this problem, the availability and distribution of high quality programs throughout the Chicago region, and in other cities might be different in 2016, and the number of alumni telling stories about how their lives have been impacted as a result, might also be different.

We can't go back to 1993.  We can take actions that change what we're talking about in 2033.

Update:  Here's a 2017 article showing how a high degree of Rust Belt economic segregation is having a negative affect on school funding. Cleveland is one of the examples shown.

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