Monday, December 05, 2016

Creating Opportunity for Urban Youth: Resources

As we head into the new year I want to share some resources I focus on regularly:

Maps that show where people need extra help, based on indicators like poverty, poorly performing schools, incidents of violence, income inequality, etc.  A map motivates us to think of how we fill all of these places with needed services. Without the map we could fill a football stadium with people supporting urban youth in a city like Chicago, and still be missing most of the neighborhoods where kids need help.  I share mapping ideas on this blog and the MappingforJustice blog.

You also need a Directory and map showing organizations already providing needed help in different neighborhoods. Here's a map that I've created, showing non-school tutor and mentor programs in the Chicago region.

Any strategy should start with "how can we help the programs already operating be as good as they can be" before starting something new.

These are maps created by Tutor/Mentor Connection 

A blueprint that shows what needs to be done, and what we need to know.  We understand how builders and engineers using blueprints to show step-by-step work that needs to be done, from the beginning of a project until it is completed.   So why don't we have blueprints showing support kids need to move through school and into jobs?

I created this concept map in the mid 2000s to show supports kids need at each age level as they move from first grade, through middle school, then high school and into their adult lives.  Each node on the concept map should have a link to a directory, showing existing organizations in a city providing that service, plotted on a map showing where they are located.

While I have a few links from the nodes on this concept map, it's not complete.

I've not found any 'blueprints' like this in Chicago. I've not seen anything like this for other cities. However, the technology exists to create such map-directories and tie them to blueprints like this. This could be an on-going project by a team of students from one or more high schools and/or universities.  Here's another article about "what we need to know".

At each age level all youth need a range of support.

Visualizations that communicate ideas:  "A Picture is Worth 1000 Words."  In the graphic below I used a photo of a building to communicate the complex, long-term process of helping kids move from birth to work.   Every worker needed to build the building requires a certain level of skills and must be paid. In the same way, we need to not only build well-organized youth supports in every high poverty neighborhood, but we need to find ways to hire and pay talented workers. 

This is just one of many visualizations you can see on my blogs and web presentations that communicate strategies and actions that are needed to help youth living in poverty move through school and into jobs and careers.
Helping kids grow up is long-term process.

Identify a source of ideas, such as the Tutor/Mentor web library.  We all have a limited range of knowledge and experience that we can bring to solving urban poverty and income inequality. You'll find many ideas and articles in Tutor/Mentor web library, which I've been building since 1993. Below is a concept map  that shows the four sections of the library.  You can search Google for the words "tutor mentor" and any of the words in the tag list shown at the left and find articles I've posted on-line over the past decade. 

At the bottom of each node is a link that opens to a new map.

Finally, we need many leaders with a deep, long-term commitment to create these resources, maintain them on an on-going basis, and point growing numbers of people to the information that is available to them. Such leaders need to act as intermediaries, to mobilize the people and resources needed to fill every high poverty neighborhood on the map with services described on the blueprints showing support that is needed.

Influence your Network!
Leaders can be high profile people, like business CEOs, political leaders, entertainers, etc. They can also be students, volunteers, members of civic, alumni, social or faith communities, etc.

Leaders can be people who spend a little more time than others browsing through the Internet for ideas, and then share those ideas on a regular basis with people in their networks.

Every day you can read an article on one of my blogs or from the library on, then share it with people in your network via social media, one-on-one conversations, group presentations, and/or learning circles.

Start out by saying "Do we have something like this in our community?"  Here's an article shared on the I-Open blog, in the  Cleveland area, which is an example of how you could launch this discussion in your own community.

Help Youth Orgs Throughout City.

Leaders are people who bring others together to learn more about a problem and to innovate solutions.  Using maps, blueprints, visualizations and program directories groups can build an understanding of what services are available in different areas, and ways to support them on an on-going basis so they become the very best they can be. At the same time, groups can identify voids where services are needed, then by looking at work already being done in Chicago and other cities, innovate ways to start new programs and services in those areas.

Many could help.

It takes a lot of talent and a dollars just to build an information base to support this process. I've been trying to do this in Chicago since 1993, using money raised each year through a small non-profit (1993-2011) then using my own funds and a few contributions from supporters every year since 2011.

As you head into 2017 I encourage you to build teams that begin to look at what you have available in your own community who may be doing part of this work. Reach out and support them. Don't reinvent the wheel....unless you must.

If you'd like a one-hour tour of the Tutor/Mentor web library, via Skype, or in person, if you're in the Chicago region, just email me at tutormentor 2 at earthlink dot net or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.

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