Saturday, July 08, 2017

Cost Analysis - to employ 32k high risk male Chicago youth and adults

From WBEZ91.5Chicago
How much would it cost to create a jobs program that employs 32,656 men who live in the highest violence plagued Chicago neighborhoods. These are men who are are at the highest risk of being a victim and/or offender.  That is the question WBEZ reporter Chip Mitchell attempts to answer with this analysis.

His answer: $1.1 billion, for the program's first year.  However, as he writes:
But, just for context, it’s around the planned cost of redeveloping Union Station downtown. It’s also roughly what Illinois spends to keep its violent offenders in prison for one year.  
I was interviewed for this project, about the cost of mentoring this population, and encouraged Chip to step back and think of the systems needed to reach and employ this group. I also told him how much I appreciated being asked for my thoughts, since so few leaders in Chicago have ever reached out to me in the past 30 years as they were planning new youth development initiatives.

I think Chip has done a comprehensive analysis, with the aid of Joseph Persky, a University of Illinois at Chicago economist.  However, I think there are many other things that need to be considered in determining a price tag and launching this effort.

Take a look at the graphic below:

I think it will be easy for WBEZ to create maps that show the neighborhoods they are targeting. They already do a great job of creating similar maps and posting them on their web site.  

In the above graphic, the map at the left shows neighborhoods targeted by an anti violence initiative launched by the Mayor's office in 2013. The map at the right shows all poverty areas in Chicago. I used these maps in a 2013 article to emphasize the need for funding youth tutor/mentor programs in other neighborhoods, not just the target areas.

Above the maps is a birth-to-work graphic, emphasizing the need for funding and volunteer support of youth programs that reach kids early and stay connected, with age appropriate support all the way until they are in jobs and careers.  The yellow highlight shows the age group of men that the WBEZ write up targets.  The pink bar shows what's not included. Furthermore, since this project only focuses on men in the age 16-34 age group, there will be additional costs to employ women in these areas.

This project is important, and needs to be tried. However, unless funding supports boys and girls in all poverty areas, and all age groups, I think we'll be paying this $1 billion or more every year into infinity because we've not fixed the pipeline.  I also believe we'll also still be paying many of the costs of poverty and incarceration that the project seeks to reduce.  The additional costs of making mentor-rich programs available to youth and every poverty area has not been calculated.

Even if we only focus on the WBEZ target group and neighborhoods, there's still more to think about. Take a look at this graphic.

Planning Cycle - War on Poverty
I've used this graphic in many articles, such as this one.  Whoever takes the lead on this project needs to put together a planning map, that takes into consideration everything from Step 1 to Step 7 on this graphic. And Step 7 will be the most difficult. That's the one that focuses on building and sustaining the public will to fund this project, not for one year, but for many years.

Does the funding analysis cover the costs of this planning process?

Here's another consideration. This 4-part strategy map can be viewed at this link, and is described in this presentation.

The WBEZ article, and all the research that went into creating the analysis, would be included in Step 1, which is the information we use to understand a situation and look at possible solutions.

What I think is missing from the WBEZ analysis of cost is Step 2 and Step 3.  What type of on-going advertising and public education will be needed, over many years, to draw enough leaders from business, philanthropy, government and non profits together to build the public will to fund this project and keep it funded?  What type of on-going outreach will be needed to reach and involve those 32,000 men who are the focus of this project?

WBEZ posting this article on their web site, then sharing it on social media where I and others could find it and give it more readership through our own Tweets, likes and re-tweets is one part the strategies I focus on in Step 2 and 3.  Me writing this article and sharing it often on social media and in my email newsletter, is another. These actions will need to happen over and over, for many years, with many others writing their own blog articles, to make sense of the project and to attract more and more who take a similar role.

I don't know the answer to the questions I'm posting, but do know that this planning could benefit from some additional systems thinking and process mapping, so the full project is better understood by more people, and the full cost can be better determined.  To focus attention on the strategy map I created a new video to highlight the four sections of the map. I hope you'll take time to view it.

I've been using visualizations and concept maps for nearly 20  years to help people understand the ideas I have been sharing, show the information I've been aggregating, and demonstrate a process that I feel needs to be adopted by many leaders, if we're to build the public will needed to solve the violence and reduce the poverty and inequality that's embedded in Chicago.

I know this is another long article, but here's one more set of ideas that I hope you'll read. These articles focus on systems thinking, and mapping.  They demonstrate a process and show some tools that I hope WBEZ and others will apply to help build involvement and support for comprehensive, long-term solutions.

I hope I can be included in the planning, brainstorming and thinking that is needed.  Unfortunately, that's not often been the case in past years. However, we're focusing on the future, so I'd be happy to spend time with city leaders, and planners, to talk through the ideas I share in this and other articles on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

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