Wednesday, November 28, 2007

University of Chicago Graduate Student Killed. A Stolen Dream. What's the University Doing? What's Obama doing?

Today's Chicago SunTimes reports the tragedy of a University of Chicago graduate student from Senegal, Africa, being shot and killed by teens living in the area around the University.

This is not the first time such a tragedy has taken place in Chicago. Click here to be reminded of previous stories.

What I'd like to know is why the news media have not yet made the connection to the rich University and the University of Chicago Hospitals, Presidential candidate Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle, who as I recall works for the University of Chicago Hospitals, and the lack of significant strategic involvement by the university and its alumni to support the growth of comprehensive, mentor rich, career focused, neighborhood youth programs that might have provided an alternative path for the three young men who chose to go on a crime spree last week.

I've been building a database of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs since 1993 and sharing this information with many information, including the Obamas and others at the University of Chicago. I've been trying to encourage leadership from the university and the hospital that would lead to more and better tutor/mentor programs in the neighborhoods around Hyde Park (60637) where the university is located.

If you search for the 60637 zip code in the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, looking for programs that define themselves as a "mixture of tutor/mentor programs", you'll only find three groups in this area. One is The Blue Gargoyle, located near the University of Chicago. For many years I've received calls from parents and social workers on the South Side of Chicago who were looking for tutor/mentor programs in the area. Many had contacted the Blue Gargoyle first, who then refered callers to us since they could not fill the demand themselves.

You can search a map version of the program locator for the zip codes around 60637, and you'll see that there are very few volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

This has been an issue for many years. Thus, my question is, what's Obama's track record, or what's the university's track record, or strategic plan, for helping more and better tutor/mentor programs grow in this part of Chicago, using the resources of the University, the Hospital, and the rich and powerful alumni of both institutions.

My belief is that if there had been a strategy since 1995 when I begin communicating this information to the hospital and university, and other business leaders in Chicago, there would now be many more tutor/mentor programs in the area, and some of these would be the best in the country (based on the quality of thinking and resources that the university could bring to bear on this issue, using the proposed on the T/MC web site).

Is there a strategy? Do any of the candidates have a strategy?

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