Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Conference Focuses on Youth in Poverty

I hosted a 38th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago on Monday, Nov. 19. There were close to 20 workshops presented by volunteers from different youth organizations and businesses, including one offered by Nathan and Carrie Harris who lead the Tutor/Mentor Summit group in Indianapolis.

During the noon hour a panel discussion talked about mentoring and the challenges youth face. This was organized by TW's Ministry, who first attended a conference almost six years ago.

Nearly 60 different organizations were represented so our total participation of 70 people really represents more than 6,000 people who their organizations touch. Since one of the panel members was from Chicago Public Schools and another was from the Chicago Police Department, we could estimate an even larger reach. You can see the list of attendees on line.

In today's Chicago Tribune Karen Lewis, head of Chicago Teacher's Union is quoted saying "We cannot fix what's wrong with our schools until we are prepared to have honest conversations about poverty and race," Lewis said. "Until we do, we will be mired in the no-excuses mentality (that) poverty doesn't matter. Poverty matters a lot when you are teaching children who are distracted by their lives. Poverty matters a lot when you are teaching children who have seen trauma like none of us in this room can imagine."

I've written articles and pointed to research over and over for many years with the same message. I feel that volunteer involvement in well organized tutor/mentor programs can expand the number of adults who get personally involved and then are willing to do more to support programs that reach youth in the neighborhood and in the non-school hours.

I'm sure others are interested in the same issues as I am but until we can connect in on-going learning, relationship-building and innovation efforts aimed at building the infrastructure to support youth programs in all poverty neighborhoods, too little will happen to change what supports kids have in non-school hours. This map shows many of the organizations I reach out to and invite to the May and November conferences.

As you celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and count your blessings I hope you'll take time to read some of the articles I've written and search the Chicago area Tutor/Mentor Program Links library to find one or more programs that you can support with a donation.

I hope you'll also look at what I'm trying to do and support me with some much needed cash. I'm not a 501-c-3 organization. I'm a 'no profit' social benefit volunteer-enterprise that connects people and ideas and focuses on helping youth programs reach kids in all high poverty neighborhoods.

The people I seek to help don't have much money to pay me for what I do. Many of the people who participated in Monday's conference were only able to pay $20 to attend. I hope others who are giving thanks will give help. Take a look at this page and see what your support can help me continue in 2013.

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