Friday, September 23, 2016

"This fight belongs to all of us" says Chicago's Mayor Emanuel

I tuned into just enough of Mayor Emanuel's anti-violence speech last night to hear his pledge to find a mentor for every 6th, 7th and 8th grade boy in Chicago's 20 highest violence neighborhoods.

Today you can read full commentary in Chicago's many media outlets, such as Crain's Chicago Business.

To me, this "all of us" call to involvement sounds like something I've seen over-and-over since this 1992 Chicago SunTimes front page editorial.   The message is the right one, but the strategy and actions that makes this a reality has always been missing, or poorly executed.

I visited the City of Chicago web site to see if there were any details, or any maps, showing how this plan was to be rolled out.  None that I could find.

The plan focuses on extra policing and accountability strategies, which I'm not an expert in. I focus on the prevention part of the plan, and the goal of providing mentors for at-risk youth. Here's what it says:

Provides mentors to at risk 8th, 9th and 10th grade boys: According to the University of Chicago, there are 7,200 8th - 10th grade boys in CPS schools in the 20 community areas with the highest homicide rates. Mayor Emanuel is launching a three-year, $36 million initiative supported by public and private dollars to provide each and every one of these boys with a high-quality mentoring program by 2018.

I would have liked to find some graphics with the Mayor's plan such as this one which I created more than 15 years ago. The Mayor's plan focuses specifically on boys in 8th-10th grade. Yet, in these high poverty neighborhoods, habits have been formed much earlier. Mentoring programs, combined with tutoring and many different types of learning, need to be reaching these kids as early as 1st grade.  Furthermore, keeping them in school requires support beyond 10th grade, that includes part time jobs, apprentice programs, college and/or vocational coaching, etc.

Finally, girls in these neighborhoods need to be included in any prevention strategy, not just boys.

I also would like to have seen the Mayor use maps to show the 20 community areas with high violence.  Go over to the MappingforJustice blog and you'll find 20 years worth of maps included in  map-stories.

I created this map in 2013 when the Get In Chicago anti violence plan was announced.  They included a map on their web site showing community areas they were targeting. I added two other maps showing high poverty neighborhoods in the city of Chicago, asking who was going to fund programs for youth in these areas if the Mayor and business/foundation leaders were pouring their dollars into a select group of neighborhoods.

Here's another map, showing community areas on Chicago's West side, along with the number of high poverty youth age 6-17 in each. Data for this came from the Social Impact Research Center of the Heartland Alliance. You can see maps for all Chicago community areas here.

Green stars on the map show existing non-school programs (as of 2010). Double click on the Chicago Program Locator Interactive map, ad go to the organization's web site.  Use the asset map feature to discover for-profit groups and faith groups who could be supporting prevention and youth development strategies in each community area.

 Maps like this can show all of the stakeholders who have facilities in a single community area, and serve as a planing tool used to invite these stakeholders to gather and share ideas while developing a set of actions each can take regularly to help existing programs already operating in these areas, while creating new programs where needed. View this "how to create your own map story" presentation.

Strong programs are needed, not just funds for "mentoring".  One of my interns created this graphic about 8 years ago to illustrate the organizational infrastructure needed to support strong volunteer-based programs that build multi-year connections with youth.

Any plan that has a competitive funding process means only a few programs will be funded out of all that are doing work to help kids, and not all of these will be funded consistently for a decade or longer.  No business could succeed on such inconsistent funding, but we expect youth serving organizations to be great at what they do, with a funding system that only works well for a few. Read articles showing challenges facing non profits. 

Why so long?  First, it takes a few years for an organizations to become really good at what it does, with a team of talented staff, volunteers, directors and youth.  Second, strategies that provide support for short periods of time, even three years, are not enough to help kids move from first grade through school and into jobs.  Read this article about building public will.

Here's another graphic, created by a different intern. In this case it shows how any of us could be calling on people we know to provide time, talent and dollars on an on-going basis to tutor/mentor programs operating in different neighborhoods.  The web site of the program should provide enough information to convince someone to support them. See this shoppers guide presentation. 

I've maintained a list of nearly 200 different Chicago area youth serving organizations since 1994, with the goal that donors and volunteers would seek out programs in different poverty neighborhoods and offer support that helps each be world-class in what they do to help youth.  I also point to others who maintain their own lists.

One strategy the Mayor might use is to make lists like mine available to workplace fund raising campaigns, and to use his and other celebrity leader's visibility to motivate people to choose organizations on the list to offer year-to-year flexible operating dollar donations.   Media might put maps on their web site, showing where funding is landing, in order to encourage donations to under-served areas.

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1994 to help mentor-rich youth programs grow in all high poverty areas of Chicago and have been sharing the strategy in illustrated essays, newsletters and on the Internet since 1998. It's been available to any leader, including the past and current Mayor of Chicago.  Here are a few presentations that I hope the Mayor and his team take time to look at in the next week or two.

a) Tipping Points - what are some actions that would make a huge difference.

b) Role of Leaders - the Mayor is a cheerleader, and also has a bag full of goodies that can reward businesses for the role they take in this strategy. This PDF shows a role every business, hospital, university and faith group in the region (not just the city) can take.  The mayor can recognize those who take this role on his on web site, by who gets city contracts, and by his personal appearances.

c) Making tutor/mentor programs available in more places - a Jobs Creation Strategy? Among the many challenges that will face the Mayor, one of the biggest will be helping tutor/mentor programs be available in all the places where youth need such programs.  This presentation suggests that ex military and alumni of existing programs could be recruited as staff and leaders in new and existing programs. Youth could be learning information gathering, data visualization, advertising and community organizing strategies, and be paid to do that work in their own neighborhoods...which would be a source of revenue, a source of pride, and a strategy for developing future leaders, all in one.   It's a talking point. Take a look.

Finally, I wish the Mayor would use this Enough is Enough graphic and set of actions, to mobilize the entire Chicago region in this fight against poverty, inequality, social injustice, violence, etc.

I first built this strategy into my blog in 2007. Here's a 2012 article saying "Stop the Violence. Do the Planning".

I'd love to be a consultant to help the city (any city) develop a comprehensive, long-term mentoring-based prevention and youth development strategy. I don't want to be the savior coming in on a white stallion with a quick fix solution. There is no quick fix. Lots of money will be needed, for many years.  Just building the infrastructure to support all the ideas I've been sharing will take a considerable investment, and the involvement of  universities.

I've generated these ideas over the past 40 years, as a result of thinking almost every day about what needs to be done to connect an inner city youth and volunteer in a single program, and in single well organized programs operating in neighborhoods throughout the city.

Others can short cut their learning path by digging through the articles I've posted on web sites and blogs, but it will take time to digest the ideas and put them to work.

As a first set of steps, use the ideas I've shared here today.  I'd be happy to guide  you through these and other ideas in the web library I host.

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