Saturday, April 27, 2013

Community Wealth Building, Anchor Institutions, Mentoring

This week I attended a meeting of the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation and listened to Ted Howard's recommendations for building community wealth in high poverty areas of Illinois. If you've not heard this term, or thought of a neighborhood tutor/mentor program as part of a wealth-building strategy I encourage you to browse the resources at and view this infographic describing community wealth-building.

I was particularly interested in Ted's description of the role of anchor institutions, like hospitals, who often are the largest employer in a high poverty neighborhood. Since 2000 I've shared a vision of hospitals being anchor institutions in building tutor/mentor programs in the trade area around a hospital, because of the potential they have to lower the cost of poverty services at the hospital, while also encouraging young people to seek health careers and work in hospitals, thus lowering the costs of employment. Workforce productivity research(here and here)shows that employee volunteer engagement improves workforce productivity, providing more reasons for businesses to become strategically involved in tutor/mentor program growth.

As I listened to Ted's comments, he kept pointing to other organizations as models for community wealth-building. I asked myself, "Does he have a web library with these examples and more?" The next day I visited his web site and found a huge, well-organized library.

A few years ago I created this graphic to show the importance of aggregating information that anyone could use to support the growth of youth support programs that help lead youth through school and into jobs and careers. At the bottom of this pyramid I show the need for someone collecting information showing who's already involved, where they are located, what they do, as well as who provides funds, volunteers, etc. I created this concept map showing intermediary organizations supporting Chicago youth and this library with web links to nearly 200 Chicago area youth serving organizations. These are part of a library with more than 2000 links pointing to research, capacity building, innovation and process improvement ideas.

While this information needs to be constantly managed, it also needs to have an on-going advertising/outreach effort to increase the number of people who find and use the information, along with an on-going facilitation process to help people understand and apply the various ideas so that more people are strategically involved in helping to build and sustain birth-to-work youth serving organizations in every high poverty neighborhood of the city and suburbs. See 4-Part Strategy Description.

I use maps to show where programs are located, and to identify assets who are part of the neighborhood and who could be anchor organizations that support this process. In articles like this I show how others could create their own maps from the platform I host.

After listening to Ted Howard and visiting his web site, I realized that community wealth building is a parallel process, based on the same need for a knowledge base. I created this pyramid to illustrate the steps in common. I updated the strategic planning PDF that graduate students from DePaul University had created for me in the early 2000s to include a graphic showing that a hospital or other anchor institution could support a Tutor/Mentor Program Development strategy and a community wealth-growing strategy as part of the same set of goals. This graphic shows the two strategies side-by-side and can be copied and used by any community organizer in Chicago or beyond who wants to engage hospitals, faith groups, universities and/or businesses as partners and lead institutions in this neighborhood focused strategy.

I've been creating graphics to illustrate ideas since the mid 1990s and interns have been helping do this since the mid 2000s. I've created some boards on Pinterest with many of my graphics. Each includes links to a web page or blog where the graphic is used. My hope is that others who are interested in communicating these same ideas will use my graphics in their own articles, or will innovate new versions of the same graphics, that communicate the idea more effectively. If you do use these, just send me a link, and provide an attribution so the people you are connecting with will take a look at more of the ideas and resources in the knowledge base I've been building for more than 20 years.

I'm testing new tools for communicating ideas. Here's the Tutor/Mentor Hospital Connection PDF on Flipsnack. I need a sponsor to pay fees for me to use this site.

While all of this information is on the Internet, I host a conference twice a year in Chicago and invite people from my on-line world to connect face to face. The next is June 7 at the Metcalfe Federal Building. You can see the agenda and registration information here. I hope you'll participate if you are in the region.

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