Sunday, January 01, 2017

Reducing Violence, Poverty in Chicago. What's the Plan?

Both of Chicago's major newspapers ended the year with front page stories about violence in Chicago on their front pages.

This image is from an article I posted in November 2015.  If you browse this blog for past articles tagged "planning", "leadership", "media", etc. you'll find ideas I've been sharing for over 20 years.

Had leaders in Chicago embraced and supported those ideas since 1994 I wonder what the level of violence and inequality would be in the city today?

The ENOUGH graphic at the right is from a June 2012 article titled "Stopping Violence. Do the Planning", which focuses on the learning that is essential for development and commitment to a comprehensive, regional wide strategy supported by people in business, faith groups, politics, media, etc.

At the core of my strategies is the use of maps to focus attention on all of the high poverty neighborhoods in Chicago and the suburbs, and on existing non-school, tutoring, mentoring and learning programs already operating.  With an on-line map platform such as the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator which I have been developing since 2008, people can zoom into sections of the city, and use maps as part of a community building effort, enlisting all of the businesses, faith groups, colleges, hospitals, etc. within the map area as supporters of programs that help youth through school and into careers.

Below is a map I created in early 2016 showing non-school tutor, mentor and/or learning programs in the Chicago region. View the map here

I don't give endorsements of one program or another as the best. Instead, I say, “look at the map to see where these programs are needed, based on poverty, violence, poorly performing schools, etc.”

Then pick a neighborhood to make a long-term commitment to help. Once you've done that look at the programs that operate in that neighborhood, using their web site to help you understand who they are, what they do and how you can help them.

Some programs have great web sites and show great work. Other programs don't have great web sites, or don't show comprehensive plans for what they do to help kids.  I created this PDF shoppers guide presentation to show some of the things I would like to see on program web sites to help volunteers, donors and parents choose which programs to support, or to find ideas for helping neighborhood programs constantly improve. 

If you've adopted that neighborhood, your job is to 

a) help good programs get better; 
b) help not-so-good programs become good programs; and 
c) help new programs form in places where no programs are located, or where specialized types of service are still needed.

If enough people take this role, adopting each of the high poverty Chicago and suburban zip codes where kids and families need extra help, there soon will be great programs in more places doing more to help kids have networks of support, safe places in the non-school hours, places for enrichment and extra learning, and places that offer hope and help more kids move safely through school and into careers.

This will not happen over night, or in one year, or even three or four years. However, in 20 years will we still see the same year end news reports showing violence in Chicago and calling for a "master plan"?  Or will we see 20 years of growth in how the city and the region help those who need help the most?

Make this your New Year's Commitment. This  year. Next year. The following year. In 10 years.

1 comment:

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Recommended reading: "Modeling Contagion Through Social Networks to Explain and Predict Gunshot Violence in Chicago, 2006 to 2014"