Monday, October 25, 2010

Quelling the wave of youth violence

A full page feature story in today's Chicago Tribune is titled Quelling the wave of youth violence, and focuses on efforts by please and community organizers in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago to try to reduce growing youth violence in the area.

Below is a map of the South Shore area, showing levels of poverty, locations of poorly performing schools, and a few assets, such as churches, businesses, etc. I created this using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. Follow these instructions and you can create your own map.

Green stars on the T/MC maps are organizations we've identified that do some form of tutoring and/or mentoring in non-school hours. If you visit the actual program locator, you can scroll across the map and find names of organizations, and double click and go to their web sites.

On this map, we see two programs: Fathers for the Future on 71st Street and Center for Community Development near 78th Street. Neither has a web site listed, so we can't tell much about what they do. The Chicago Youth Centers Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center is also in South Shore and they have a Mentoring Children of Prisoners program. There might be others that are not in our database, or it could be that more don't they don't exist. We depend on programs and community members to provide information to keep the program locator current. If you know of tutor/mentor programs in the South Shore, send us the information.

Note: When you search for South Shore or the 60649 zip code using the program locator search screen, you get an error message. We know this. We're trying to find volunteers, or donors, to help us fix parts of this site that don't work.

However, if the community does not have enough non-school learning, mentoring, arts and technology enrichment programs available in the nonschool hours, that motivate youth to want to participate, where else do they turn to for a feeling of belonging, and a network of peers.

The purpose of the maps are to help people in a community come together to build and sustain a wide range of non-school volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring and learning organizations. While there are none in this area, people in the South Shore can use the interactive Tutor/Mentor Map to look in other neighborhoods to see what types of tutor/mentor programs exist, and to learn ideas that they might want to duplicate in their own neighborhood.

As an organizing group, this would be a great tool for the Chicago Police Department, or local elected officials to use.

We're holding a Mapping Solutions event on Nov. 17 and a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on Nov. 19 and encourage community, faith and business leaders from these neighborhoods to attend and find ideas for building and sustaining more non-school programs in their area.

We're also looking for sponsors and donors to help us continue offer the Program Locator and Conferences to citizens and leaders of the Chicago region. We can't make this a free resource for everyone if we can't find a few benefactors and leaders to help provide the dollars it takes to build and maintain this type of an information system.

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