Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Connecting People, Ideas and Inner City Youth

Ten years ago, in 2009, I posted an article using this map of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago's West side with headline of "West Side Community can't fight gun violence alone."

In my 2009 article I pointed to a July 21, 2009 Chicago SunTimes  column by Mary Mitchell which was about the Austin (Chicago West Side) community's Number 1 ranking for weapons violations in the past 90 days. Her plea was for tougher gun laws so more young offenders will know they will go to prison, and think twice about carrying a gun.

She ended her article by saying "We need to do more to stop these offenders".

Ten years later, and that's' still true.  Too many in Chicago are still fighting this battle, working alone, or in silos, of a few organizations, research groups and resource providers.

Mayor Daley was still Mayor of Chicago then. Rham Emanuel had not yet been elected. Barack Obama had just become President. There was a lot of optimism.

Sadly, I doubt that any of these leaders, or any who have been trying to reduce violence and create more opportunities for kids growing up in high poverty areas of Chicago or other big cities, read my 2009 blog article, or have read many that I wrote before then, or since then.

Too bad.  Since I led non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from 1975-2011, and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help fill all high poverty areas with similar programs, maybe I've some ideas that might be worth looking at.

Below is a Chicago Tribune story written about the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1995, talking about a "Master Plan for saving our kids". 

view this story here

The Master Plan was just developing at that time.

In 1995 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was just two years old. We had held the first three Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, published our first program directory, and were launching the first Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment campaign that year.

We had not yet launched our first web site, or the on-line tutor/mentor program locator. Social media was science fiction. Yahoo groups had not yet begin. We were just developing our #GIS mapping capacity and had not yet learned to use concept maps to visualize strategies.

Thus, our "master plan" had just put seeds in the ground.  I've been watering and nurturing these every week since then, with whatever resources I could find.

Below is a timeline, showing highlights of what we built from 1994 to 2011, despite inconsistent funding and major disruptions like losing Montgomery Ward as host and major sponsor, then suffering through economic collapses following the 2001 technology bubble burst, the 9/11 terror attack and economic collapse, and the financial sector depression, starting in 2008.

1992-present Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC time line

Below is a second map, showing work I've done to maintain the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and share its ideas and resources with the world, since 2011.  This map shows work with interns between 2006 and 2015 who came from Chicago area and South Korean universities. It also shows connections with educators from around the world, via a Connected Learning #clmooc network on social media.
sharing ideas since 2012 - click here

If you take the time to browse through past articles on this blog, or visit all the sections on the site you'll see more than 1000 articles focused on filling high poverty areas with mentor rich programs where volunteer tutors and mentors help kids grow up safely and move through school and into jobs and careers.

There is a lot of information, the result of more than 40 years of leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago while also trying to find ways to get thousands of people involved in strategic thinking, learning and acting that would make such programs available to more people.

See graphic in this article
The graphic at the right shows that since 1994 I've had inconsistent support, and major set backs, in efforts to fully develop and implement the Master Plan describe in 1994. 

Current news stories show we're facing many of the same problems, so that means there is still opportunity for new leaders to adopt and energize these ideas.

Since 2011 I've not had a nonprofit organization supporting me and while I've been trying to find new partners or universities who would use my history to rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection to have greater impact over the next 25 years, I've not yet succeeded.

I've been getting older, which means there has been more urgency to find these partners.  I've said to many "What if I get hit by a car, and I am killed?"  Who is prepared, or interested, in carrying this work forward.

Well, I did get hit by a car, on April 1, 2019. Fortunately, a fractured leg and shoulder were my worst injuries.

But, what if it had been worse.

Everything I have learned, and that I share on my web sites would potentially (likely) be lost.

I don't want that to happen. I hope someone with deep pockets but no vision of where to direct her wealth, will start to look at my web sites and blogs, follow me on Twitter, @tutormentor team, or on LinkedIN, or Facebook, and think about how they might be the lamp that lights the way for this work to go forward.

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