Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What sacrifice will our next President ask from Americans?

As I listened to the debate last night I felt that both candidates did a good job of not answering the questions they were asked to answer. I was disappointed. But that's probably good campaigning. If you give too specific an answer, you risk giving someone a reason not to vote for you.

But the question of "sacrifice" seemed like a real opportunity for leadership. Someone talked about the level of sacrifice our men and women in the armed forces give, and asked what level of sacrifice would the next President be willing to ask of citizens.

I ask this question because this is the heart of the type of inspirational leadership this country needs, now, and for the next generation. What are men and women, corporations, faith groups and others in places beyond the high poverty areas of Chicago and other big cities willing to do to assure that all kids born this year in a high poverty neighborhood are starting a 21st century job and career by 2033?

Without the help of extra adults beyond the high poverty neighborhoods inner-city kids are born in, it's not likely that most of the kids in these neighborhoods will realize their potential. That will be a loss for our society, and a drain on our economy. I don't think the solution lies in more government spending. It lies in more personal involvement.

I encourage you to read the articles Cassina has written and the student and volunteer profiles that Chris has written about Cabrini Connections. What type of commitment will it take from our volunteers, and our donors, to help kids at Cabrini Connections, and in hundreds of other tutor/mentor programs, move through school and into careers?

What type of day-to-day leadership can we expect from the next President, and the one after that, and the one after that to sustain these types of connections with kids, families and communities for the next 20 years or more?

We host a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago every six months to help programs and other tutor/mentor supporters connect and learn from each other. The next conference will be November 21 at The Chicago Field Museum. I hope you'll plan to attend, or give your support.

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