Monday, April 07, 2014

New Plan for Chicago - Join In

I've been following a Chicago Tribune series titled "A New Plan of Chicago" since last October when it was launched. Sunday's article focuses on improving the lives of disadvantaged Chicagoans. I encourage you to read it and other articles in this series and engage people in your own family, business and faith network in this process.

I wrote an article last October showing my own ideas which is one of more than 1000 articles I've written on this blog since 2005 that focus on the well-being of youth living in high poverty areas of the city and suburbs.

My recommendations focus on the following ideas.

First, unless we have a better understanding of who already is working to help youth in high poverty neighborhoods we'll never have a strategy that helps existing programs grow to become great at what they do, or a strategy that helps new programs grow in areas where more programs are needed, or programs serving specific age groups, or providing specific types of learning and mentoring, are needed. I started providing this information in a printed directory in 1994.

I put this Directory on the Internet in 1994 and now you can find a map-based directory at and a list of Chicago area youth program links at You can also browse this link and find other directories created by other organizations in Chicago since the mid 2000s.

However, building a director of service providers is only one part of the information base that needs to be created, and maintained. We also need maps, like this, showing information available in web libraries, and maps, like this, showing information available, showing resource providers, and showing who else is also bringing people together to solve exactly the same problem.

With web sites aggregating and connecting programs, information, intermediaries and resource providers, we can begin to build MOOCs, like the recent Deeper Learning MOOC, that enable people to connect with each other to discuss these ideas and build relationships that lead to collective actions.

Second, we need a commitment to on-going marketing activities that draw more and more people to the on-line library of information and ideas, the maps and directories of programs, and to on-line communities of practice. The graphic below shows four key times each year when leaders in business, media and politics can talk about the needs of young people and have an impact on helping programs in every neighborhood attract volunteers, ideas and dollars to support constant improvement.

If these events repeat year after year they can grow the flow of resources needed to build and sustain great youth support programs in every part of the city where they are needed.

The ideas I share have been developed over nearly 40 years of leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago and 20 years of leading a strategy intended to help high quality non-school tutor/mentor programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood. Below is a 1995 Chicago Tribune article calling attention to my efforts.

These ideas are shared on my blog and web sites and you're encouraged to review and use them in your own efforts. I'd be happy to spend time monthly discussing these with you and helping you learn to navigate my web library. If you'd like to meet why not attend the next Tutor/Mentor Conference on May 19.

Better yet, why not make a sponsor contribution to help me keep doing this?

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