Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Building Mentor-Rich Programs in High Violence Neighborhoods. Let's Talk.

Since the mid 1990s I've created map-stories like the one at the left, showing neighborhoods featured in media stories following incidents of violence. I've shown locations of non-school tutor/mentor programs, if any, that operate in the map-area, and I've listed some of the businesses, faith groups, universities, hospitals, etc. that also are located within the map area.

All of these groups should be meeting regularly to innovate ways to fill the area with a wide range of k-12 tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.  Obviously that's not happening.

The goal has been to dramatically increase the flow of dollars, talent, volunteers, technology, ideas, etc. directly to all of the different youth serving organizations throughout the Chicago region, so each could constantly improve its impact on youth and volunteers.  My efforts have been too little to have the impact needed, but I've continued this effort using what talent and resources I've been able to mobilize.

That's the point of this and many of my articles. We need to keep trying until the problem is resolved.

Below I show another graphic, this time describing a planning process, that I feel needs to be taking place in many different organizations and businesses throughout the Chicago region, and in other cities..

Looking at the maps at the right, you can see the goal of filling high poverty neighborhoods with needed programs that help kids move safely through school and into jobs and adult lives. If this system were in place there would be fewer young people turning to gangs, and the violence that goes along with this.

Step 7, at the far left, focuses on "building public" will,
which is the involvement of public and private sector members in the planning process, and action steps, that would grow the number of high quality youth supports needed in every poverty neighborhood.

Part of this process involves bringing together a team of people with a mix of talents who will lead this process.  Keeping that team together, and growing, is one outcome of successfully building public support.

Major challenge: Attracting volunteers into neighborhoods with high violence.

When I led tutoring programs at the Montgomery Ward complex on Chicago's near North area, across the street from the Cabrini Green Housing Complex, many potential volunteers would ask me "Is it safe to come to the program site?"  I would respond, "Wards has nearly 3000 employees here every day.  Yes. It is safe."

Between 1975 and 1992 that program grew from 100 volunteers participating weekly to over 500, who came from companies throughout the Chicago region.

However, that location was near the Chicago LOOP and surrounded by neighborhoods where thousands of potential volunteers lived and worked. It was easy to get to on a weekly basis.

This map is one we created in 2008 showing high poverty areas in Chicagoland, known non-school tutor and/or mentor programs, access routes into the city to the downtown LOOP work area, and universities with locations in different parts of the region.

Attracting volunteers into neighborhoods on Chicago's far West side and middle and far South side, where media stories report innocent people being killed as they walked the streets, requires a much more difficult set of conversations and solutions.

We need to be having that conversation.  

It needs to be taking place in many organizations, located as far West as Elmhurst, as far North as Lake Forest, and as far South as LaGrange.

This graphic illustrates how groups of people with something in common (technology, marketing, consulting, medial careers, etc.) or who are part of the same organization (alumni group, business, hospital, etc.) need to be looking at information showing where and why tutor/mentor programs are needed, and web sites of existing programs, then innovating ways to support the growth of mentor-rich programs in high violence, high poverty, neighborhoods throughout the Chicago region.

These groups need to be using maps to focus their attention, and resources, on the different poverty areas of the city and suburbs. Browse 2008-2016 articles at the MappingforJustice blog to find map resources and ideas.

I don't know the answer to this challenge. I do know that unless more people are asking the question and looking for solutions, we'll never have enough mentor-rich programs reaching k-12 youth in all of the neighborhoods getting media attention for the wrong reasons.

Related links to this article:

*  Planning Process - click here
*  Four Part strategy - click here
*  Virtual Corporate office - click here.
*  Shoppers Guide - what should you see on youth orgs web site? click here
*  Total Quality Mentoring - ideas mentor-rich program design - click here
*  Map of Tutor/Mentor Web Library -  resources available to support the planning process. click here

I'd be happy to head your or your group through this information and help you launch your planning process. 

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