Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Don't drive by poverty. Get Involved!

From 2008 to 2010 the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) was able to employ a part time GIS specialist, Mike Trakan, who created maps for me, and wrote blog articles showing the content of the maps and how they could be used. 

In 2009 Mike created two maps that he showed on the MappingforJustice blog. One shows Metra Commuter Rail Lines leading through the city and the other shows CTA lines.

On Mike's blog he emphasized how people who work in the city and live in the suburbs, or who work in the suburbs but live in the city, pass through high poverty neighborhoods every day. His message was that volunteers can use the maps to determine locations of tutor/mentor programs where they can spend a couple of hours a week enriching the life of a child, and themselves, instead of fighting traffic.

His message is "without volunteers, there are no programs."

I want to encourage a deeper level of thinking. The people taking a commuter train or a CTA train or bus through these neighborhoods are often people who lead companies, write news articles, or have been blessed with a great social network that enables them to have a house in the suburbs, or on the Gold Cost, and maybe another in Wisconsin or Michigan. These people are still working. They have jobs. They have the ability to point dollars to programs in high poverty neighborhoods. They have the ability to encourage others to be thinking of ways to help tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago.

As you're reading your paper the next time and following a story like the one I keep pointing to from the 1992 Chicago SunTimes about the shooting of 7 year old Dantrel Davis, I want these people to be looking at Mike's maps, and thinking, "without operating dollars" there are no programs. Or "without advertising to attract volunteers or donors" there are no programs.  Or "why aren't there more programs in the South part of Chicago, or the suburban areas with growing poverty?"

As people who can offer leadership, philanthropy, and jobs programs begin thinking of ways they might help tutor/mentor programs grow, they can use the business mapshospital maps, or the faith group maps  that Mike created between 2008 and 2010, to determine what neighborhoods they want to support, and what programs in those neighborhoods they want to support with annual donations that start now, and repeat each year for the next 10 years.

The financial melt-down that started in 2008 had a huge  negative impact on the Tutor/Mentor Connection. We started developing the interactive map-based Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator in mid 2009, using the same $50,000 gift that we used to hire Mike, but when this gift did not repeat, and other funding dried up, we were not able to finish the work we were doing.  We could no longer pay Mike by late 2010 and he left our staff. Then in 2011 the Board of Directors voted to cease support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection completely, and in a staffing agreement with the Board,  I resigned and created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, to try to continue the work of the T/MC under a different financial structure. 

Since 2011 I've continued to add articles to the MappingforJustice blog, using the Interactive Program Locator to create map stories, and pointing to mapping platforms being created by others in the US and around the world, which can also be used to create map stories.

So far, I've not succeeded and the Program Locator census, schools and boundary data has not been updated since 2010 and the info on programs has not been updated since 2013.  While I keep looking for partners, investors and volunteers to help me with this work, I also look for others who agree with the vision and information-based strategies I've developed since 1994 and want to partner and help re-do the T/MC with new technology, ideas, resources and energy.

The problems of 1993 are still with us in 2017.  If you'd like to connect with me, find me on one of these social media sites.

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