Friday, March 02, 2012

Investing in Children - Creating Public Will

I attended a Voices for Illinois Children Symposium today in Chicago where the 2012 Illinois Kids Count Report was distributed and where speakers gave the bad news about how many kids are now in poverty in Illinois and how this negatively affects their future and costs the state and the nation billions of dollars.

One speaker was Patrick McCarthy, President of the Anne E. Casey Foundation who collects and shares data related to the well-being of kids on an annual basis. The Kids Count Data Center is a great place to find resources and information. I'll write more about that over the weekend.

In his opening remarks McCarthy talked about how America is a "nation obsessed with statistics" and how he "would love to see a fraction of that energy focused on the well-being of children and families".

Me too. In fact if you were to read all of the articles I've written over the past six years on this blog, most focus on strategies that would expand the number of people looking at this information, and the number who have a personal connection with the program so they empathize and are willing to sacrifice time, talent and dollars to improve the future for disadvantaged kids in America.

As the image below shows, I have been delivering this message for more than 15 years and Voices for Illinois Children thought enough of what I was doing to include a profile of the Tutor/Mentor Connection in the 1999 Illinois Kids Count Report.

I view volunteer involvement in tutor/mentor programs as a strategy for expanding the number of people personally connected with this information and a way of building empathy that leads more people to expand what they do to affect public policy.

I share these ideas and other ideas for expanding the number of people involved on this blog, the Tutor/Mentor Institute, and in articles I've been posting at along with numerous other places.

I've even hosted a tutor/mentor conference in Chicago every six months since 1994 and have invited many of the people in today's symposium and involved in efforts to help kids in Chicago to attend.

Yet, while many seeds are spread, and nurtured on an on-going basis, I'm still a small voice in the wilderness trying to enter a conversation with others who don't seem interested in what I have to say.

I'll say it again. Unless people who want a better future for kids in poverty are willing to think through advertising/marketing and network-building strategies that expand the number of people involved into the millions, not much will change and we'll be still talking about this problem 20 years from now.

You can browse the articles on this blog, my web sites, and search on Google for "tutor mentor" or "Dan Bassill" and try to understand what I've been saying. Or you can introduce yourself and set up a meeting where we can talk. If you've got the money you can put hire me to serve as a "virtual board" member for your company, non profit, university, etc. with an annual retainer and a monthly fee for a few hours of my time in one-on-one sessions where I try to help you understand and apply these ideas so you can lead them more effectively than I can.

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