Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Michelle Obama launches United We Serve

Visit Serve.Gov and you can see a video with First Lady Michelle Obama calling on Americans to get involved with summer service projects.

If you've read many of my blogs about complex problems, strategic thinking, poverty, or innovation, you'll see that I don't think we'll change the lives of many inner city kids through short term volunteer involvement. If maps are not part of the leadership and mobilization of volunteers, we'll probably miss most of the places where volunteers are most needed.

Thus, my hope is that this call for involvement will lead some companies, faith groups, civic and social organizations, etc. to form planning groups, where they review information about the root causes of the issues they care about, and begin to map strategies that would engage a growing number of people and resources in building solutions to those programs.

I met this morning with the team at The Royal Order of Experience Design (or TRO) is a Chicago-based creative agency, who is doing exactly what I hope will take place in hundreds of places all over the country this summer.

They are spending quality time thinking of ways to help people find and use the information on the T/MC web site. This graphic is a site map which you can see on their blog, which they created after many hours of mapping the information and navigation on the current site.

If similar teams meet in different industries, and different cities, they can begin to think of ways to use their resources to mobilize volunteers to be part of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities as school starts this fall. They can innovate ways to help those volunteers stay involved throughout the coming school year. They can even innovate ways to help provide the operating dollars every tutor/mentor program needs to pay rent and insurance, do background checks and screen volunteers, and support students and volunteers with experienced staff.

On the Tutor/Mentor Institute we have a number of essays that might support such thinking. If you're part of a team doing this kind of thinking, I hope you're drawing from the resources on the T/MC web sites, and using our maps to plan your distribution of impact.

Why not share your ideas on a blog or web site so we and others can learn from you and the we can all create a greater impact than any of us can by working alone, or working for just a few months.

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