Tuesday, April 23, 2019

When Have So Many Done So Little With So Much

I was looking for inspiration for writing today's blog and, as I do often, I looked at what I was writing during this same time frame in past years.

President's Summit
for America's Future
April 1997
I found an article from April 28, 2007, which I'm going to re-post below. 

Some background first. In April 1997 teams of 10 people from 150 cities gathered in Philadelphia, at the invitation of President Clinton, and former Presidents Bush, Carter and Reagan (via Nancy Reagan). The event was headlined by General Colin Powell.

I was there. I was part of the Chicago delegation.  The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations invited to have a display at the Summit, as a Teaching example. I wrote about it in this 2017 article.

So it's now 22 years since promises were made to help America's 13.5 million kids living in high poverty.

Here's what I wrote in 2007

In this month's issue of Youth Today, Bill Treanor has written an article about the 10 year results of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, which gathered leaders from 150 cities and all living Presidents, to focus attention on the help needed by more than 13 million youth living in poverty.

Bill's article can be found here.  Bill points out that the America's Promise organization, which was established to implement the goals of the Summit, has raised more than $27 million since 1997. The question is what has been accomplished other than creating high paying jobs for the staffers at America's Promise?

I was one of Chicago's ten delegates. The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations from around the country invited to have a display at the Summit, as a "teaching example". I still have newspaper articles, and the manifesto listing the commitments to helping the most at-risk youth in America.

As a leader of a youth serving agency in a big city, I left the Summit hoping for reinforcements. I know how small non profits struggle for resources to keep youth and business volunteers coming to non-school programs, and how difficult it is to influence aspirations of education, college and careers, when these aspirations are not modeled by many of the most visible people in high poverty neighborhoods. I was hoping that General Powell would use maps, and be recruit business and celebrity leaders, who will mobilize resources to support the non profits already on the battlefield in our war against poverty.

Instead, the war profiteers are those with high paying jobs, or who are earning big PR contracts. The troops are under-supported. The claims of success are over stated. As America's Promise itself reports in a 10 year report (no longer available online), there's much to do.

--- end 2007 article --

So Much Spent. So Little Accomplished

I went to Philadelphia with high hopes, of reinforcements for organizations like my Cabrini Connections program, which already was working with inner-city youth.

And for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was a strategy to help build and sustain mentor-rich non-school programs in every high poverty neighborhood.

That help never came. Instead there was a lot of re-inventing of the wheel, with new people starting new initiatives with limited information.  Of those in power, few have ever come to me to ask "Dan, can we learn from your efforts?"

Bigger picture.

In 2017 I used the map below in an article titled "Pain and suffering throughout the world - how do we respond?

Overlays on this map could show poverty concentrations. They could show health disparities. They could show environmental issues that cause people to leave homes looking for other places to survive and raise families. They could also show conflict zones, terror attacks, and many more  pain and suffering locations.

View this concept map and see examples of the type of information platforms that are available.

I suspect other versions of this map could show places where wealthy people are extracting profit from the suffering of others, either as manufactures of weapons of war, or as manufacturers and/or financiers who extract resources from the land and oceans. I don't have a map showing this.

 Below is one of my graphics, with a map of Chicago. The oil-well icons symbolize programs helping kids grow safely from birth to adult lives and jobs that enable families to live beyond poverty.

There are a lot of places, just in Chicago, where people need help, for many years. There are even more places, throughout the world where similar help is needed, along with many other kinds of  help.

So how do we motivate the people with wealth, as well as those who can only spare a few dollars, and a few hours of volunteer time, to get involved with one or more places, then stay involved for many years, or until the problem is solved.

I don't have an answer. And, unless people read my article and share it with others, my questions won't be seen, and I won't be in the thinking and conversation with others who are looking at the same problems as I am.

So, please read and share my articles.

Then, send me a contribution to help me pay the bills, so I can keep writing these and keeping my web library on line.

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