Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Archdiocese of Chicago Commits to War on Poverty

Yesterday Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago launched a new campaign to reduce violence in Chicago neighborhoods. Below is the video showing this announcement. Listen to the commitments that are being made.

What I heard was a commitment to a) increase awareness; b) increase capacity of local organizations; c) build partnerships with others who should be involved; and d) seek new approaches.

Since the late 1990s I've been sharing a strategy for faith communities to help reduce poverty and violence in Chicago, through support of youth tutor, mentor and learning programs in all poverty neighborhoods.  See it in this presentation.

Note the use of maps, and the intent to enlist every faith group in this effort, not just the Catholic Church. From 1995 through 2003 the Tutor/Mentor Connection organized a Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign to mobilize volunteers and build support for all non-school, volunteer-based, tutor/mentor programs in the region. Read campaign history here and see a manifesto signed by political, business and faith leaders, including Francis Cardinal George of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The goal of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (now led by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC), was that each congregation create a learning circle, which digs into information on T/MC web sites, and uses the list of Chicago area programs that I've maintained since 1994, and map-based Program Locator, built in 2008, to support the growth of existing programs in different neighborhoods, helping each one become great at what they do to help kids through school and into jobs and careers, with a network of adult support that is created via the strategies of the tutor/mentor programs and is supported by people from congregations throughout the Chicago region.

I've been collecting, mapping and sharing ideas and strategies since creating the T/MC in 1993. (see article). I shared these ideas on web sites since 1998 and in printed newsletters from 1993 to 2002. I've shared them on this blog since 2005.  Step 2 in this four-part strategy is focused on building greater public awareness and involvement in efforts that help kids in all poverty neighborhoods have non-school support systems that help them come to school better prepared to learn, and leave school after 12th grade better prepared for their adult lives.

In my articles and strategies I focus on new ways to attract philanthropic and volunteer support for youth serving organizations in every poverty neighborhood. In this article I describe my thinking and point to an article about "web evangelism" that encourages leaders to borrow from strategies used by the faith community for over two thousand years.

When I describe the formation of learning circles in religious communities, I'm not describing something new, or revolutionary. Every week in thousands of locations a faith leader reads a few passages from a very large book, then encourages members of the congregation to get together in small groups to discuss the meaning of this passage to them and their lives.  No one is expected the read the Bible or the Koran in a few days. It takes a life time of learning.

The links in my web library points to more than 2000 other web sites that help you understand the needs of high poverty communities and also help you see work being done in some places that could be duplicated in other places. This blog has more than 1000 articles. The MappingforJustice blog has many more. There are more than 60 PDF presentations in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library.  These articles focus on the on-going application of time, talent and dollars, in many locations, that is needed to help kids entering first grade today be entering jobs and careers in 20 to 25 years.

This information is not intended to be digested in a single session. It's intended to be read and discussed on an on-going basis.  It's intended to encourage people to go forth and do service, then to gather and share what they did, what they learned, what works, what does not work, and what could work better if others were helping. Then, go back and apply what was learned in a continuous cycle of service and learning.

Faith congregations are ideal incubators for this process because every person siting in a congregation works in some company, college, hospital or government agency, and knows many others who work in the same places.  Thus, each week they can take what they learn, and share it with others, so more people get involved.

Unfortunately, the leaders who signed the campaign manifestos between 1998 and 2002, and others since then, never made an effort to reach out to get to know more about the ideas and strategies I've been sharing, or to offer to help me do this work.

I keep trying to change that.  I do so with no source of revenue except my monthly social security check, a shrinking retirement savings, and donations made by a few supporters.  

Here's a letter I wrote in 1999 to one of the billionaires in Chicago. It's similar to letters written to many leaders over many years.

There are thousands of faith based congregations in the Chicago region, each with powerful leaders like Cardinal Blase Cupich. I welcome a conversation with one or all, with the goal of having the ideas and resources I share become part of their own thinking and planning.

I invite you to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and make it work better than I've been able to, with a continued 20 to 30 year commitment, which I have demonstrated.

Introduce yourself below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin.

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