Sunday, October 23, 2016

Cubs Win! Let's Talk About Building Great Youth Support Teams

I was born in December 1945, just a few months after the Chicago Cubs last went to the World Series. I started watching the team in the late 1950s, and remember a 7th or 8th grade writing project where my theme was "Why the Cubs will win the World Series". That dream has been with me for a long time.

Last night I saw the first step of that dream achieved.

I've been writing articles on this blog, and in my printed newsletters, for nearly 20 years, about what it takes to build great teams of volunteers, donors, program leaders, youth and others who work to help young people move from a birth in poverty, to an adult life free of poverty.

I hope you'll spend some time thinking about this as you read countless media stories about how the owners of the Chicago Cubs built the team that is now headed to the World Series.

As you do, look at graphics that I've used to visualize "total quality mentoring" and support systems.

You can find this graphic in this presentation.  You can see ideas for building youth serving teams with a diverse mix of volunteers and learning experiences, in presentations like this. 

I've used concept maps to create visualizations similar to blueprints that architects use to support construction of big and small buildings. This is my "mentoring youth to careers" map.  It can be a starting point for many who want to build a birth-to-work support system in their own city, state or country. 

 Using concept maps, you can link to additional maps or web sites where additional ideas and information are available. For instance, at the far left, I show a green box, indicating a need for a "birth to first grade" map to be created, showing the types of supports that might shape a young person's lifelong thinking and learning habits, before he/she even enters first grade.

Over the past 40 years I've been building a library, with a wide range of information, intended to answer one question: "What are all the things we need to know, and do, to assure that every child born or living in a high poverty neighborhood is starting a job/career by his/her mid 20's.?"

Part of that library includes links to research, such as this Social Impact Research Center Report on Illinois Poverty.   The report is full of maps showing where poverty is most concentrated.

If you browse articles on this blog, and on the MappingforJustice blog, you'll find many more maps, and web sites with indicators of where youth, families and schools need extra help, for many years.

Using concept maps, systems thinking tools, and other visualization tools, teams working in many places could be developing a set of shared maps, that show with greater and greater depth what it takes to help young people and families overcome poverty and segregation, and roles anyone can take to help such supports be available in one or more high poverty neighborhoods of the world.

As you look at these graphics, and think of the Cubs victory last night, focus on the planning that went into building a pennant winning team. When you watch the nine players on the field and the others in the dugout, you're not seeing the owners, investors, scouts and development people, who spent tons of money and countless hours thinking of ways to build this team.  Nor are you thinking of the role fans in the stands, and at home watching TV, or listening to the radio, had in building the team, which includes buying tickets and supporting advertising sales revenue.

Thus, as you look at the graphics I'm sharing, including this one which shows signatures of NFL and MLB greats, think of ways to build teams in businesses,  faith groups, colleges, and social/civic groups, who do the behind the scenes work of understanding where great tutor/mentor programs are needed, what it takes to design, build, and sustain a "mentor rich, Total Quality Mentoring" program reaching K-12 youth in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities, as well as in rural areas and Tribal lands throughout the country.

While sports is a competitive business, that seeks to produce one champion, helping youth through school and into careers requires thinking that produces winning teams in thousands of locations.

The spokes of the Total Quality Mentoring chart point to different industry sectors, where companies compete for customers and market share, trying to be the best in their field, just like sports teams compete to be the best.

Building great  youth support teams in thousand of locations requires different thinking. Solving other complex problems, such as environmental, and health issues, requires similar teams and long-term commitment.

This work of reducing poverty, racism and inequality requires the involvement of many people, for many years, and in many places.

As I meet people in different events that I attend in Chicago, or in on-line events, I encourage them to visit my blogs and web site and spent time, on an on-going basis, reading and reflecting on the ideas I share. The tag cloud above shows topics I've focused on in blog articles written since 2005. Note the emphasis on planning, leadership, network building, learning and visualization.

These are all part of what needs to be  understood and applied in actions that build great youth support teams and make them available in all high poverty neighborhoods.  

I hope the Cubs path to a World Series Championship inspires you and your team to look into some of these ideas.

No comments: