Wednesday, September 27, 2017

#TakeAKnee - Apply to "Rest of the Story" strategy

In 1993 I and a few others launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) with a goal of helping well-organized volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs reach youth in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region.

During 1993 a local public relations firm, PCI, Inc. helped me develop a 10-point strategy that we narrowed down to four steps over the next few years.

Step 2 in that strategy focused on creating a greater frequency of news stories about tutoring and mentoring and why programs are needed so that more volunteers and donors would reach out and support existing programs.  This page shows print media stories resulting from that strategy. There were many other Radio/TV interviews and much has been done using the Internet since 1998. Most of these interviews were generated from events we organized each year, such as the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference and Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment campaign.

However, we also developed another strategy, which I called "The Rest of The Story".

When the major Chicago newspapers gave full or half page attention to violence, poorly performing schools, gangs and/or poverty, we recognized that more than a half million readers might be looking at that story. So we created maps showing where the incident happened, and added poverty overlays and schools-on-probation overlays to show why it was happening.

We also added icons to show existing non-school tutor and mentor programs in the map area, and icons to show assets, such as banks, colleges, hospitals, faith groups, etc. who were in the area and who should be helping tutor/mentor programs grow.  We than put these in our print newsletters and shared them at conferences and other events.

The goal was to capture reader attention and desire to help within a few days of when the story took place. Over the past 20 years many map-stories have been created with this goal in mind. You can find some here, and others here.

My goal has always been that the articles I write serve as inspiration and models for articles that would be written by others. Students in public and private schools, colleges and or working in faith groups, libraries and/or non-school programs could be writing stories following violence in their neighborhoods.

Here's an article from 2014 that outlines how this could happen.

If I'm the only one writing these stories too few will ever see them and even fewer will be influenced to reach out and support tutor/mentor programs throughout the city.  If hundreds of youth from different schools are doing this, stories would appear every day, just as often as we're seeing stories about athletes and others who #takeaknee to protest poverty, injustice and inequality.

Here's a presentation describing the Rest of the Story strategy.

There are dozens of other articles on this blog that focus on the challenge of building attention and a flow of resources to tutor/mentor programs throughout the city, and keeping that attention and those resources flowing for many years.

Students could read these articles and rewrite them using their own talent and skills, reaching more people and creating a future they want for themselves and for others.  Visit this page to see work interns have done in past years.

If you're interested in doing this work go ahead. If you'd like my help just reach out to me here or on Twitter or Facebook.

4-20-2018  update - Here's an article by Peter Levine, who leads the Center for Information & Research on Civic Engagement - CIRCLE project. It's titled "What does youth civic engagement have to do with inequality?"

No comments: