Friday, January 31, 2020

What's the Game Plan Look Like?

This is what my game plan looks like. What's yours?

Diagram Game Plan To Help Kids From Poverty Areas Grow from Birth to Work - Borrow from Sports Concepts

I've spent the past 40 years trying to connect inner city youth with workplace volunteers via organized, non-school, tutor, mentor and learning programs. While I led a single program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011, I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011) to help high quality, constantly improving programs grow in every high poverty area of Chicago. I've been sharing ideas and resources on-line since the late 1990s.

Programs needed throughout city
I've been using visualizations to communicate ideas for many years. I've also been drawing from the sports world for inspiration, since there are many parallels to what coaches do, and what team owners do, to put great teams on the field, to what support youth programs need to be great at what they do.

In most of my graphics I'm showing two basic ideas.

a) it takes 12 to 20 years for any youth to grow from first grade to starting a career, and it takes support from many different people. Affluent kids have naturally occurring support that kids in poverty do not have, thus organized tutor/mentor programs can provide some of those supports, if they are available, well funded, and have a comprehensive game plan. I've been maintaining a list of Chicago programs since 1993.

b) in a big city like Chicago, with more than 200,000 k-12 kids living in high poverty areas, many great programs are needed. Maps can show where they are needed, and where existing programs are located, or where more are needed. More people need to be looking at these maps then thinking of roles they can take to help make great programs available in one or more places.

Most of my past graphics have focused on football, and game plans coaches use to win championships, like the Super Bowl, which is this weekend. However, since the NBA AllStar game will be in Chicago in February, I created the graphic above to draw attention from basketball fans, players, coaches and sponsors.

That graphic has three main elements:

Emily & Keith connected
in Tutor/Mentor program
1) Our goal is connecting kids with adult volunteers in organized programs, and to connect both with learning resources that serve both the youth, and the volunteer.

Keeping with the theme of sports, and basketball, I talk about "points" being scored to recognize efforts of volunteers, youth and donors.  At the Cabrini Connections program youth earned points that accumulated and were turned in for cash upon high school graduation.  So in the following paragraphs imagine ways "points" might be earned. For instance....

"Points" are scored every time a youth and volunteer meet; every year that a youth stays in school, and safe in his/her neighborhood, and ultimately when that student finishes high school, and moves on to college, vocational school and adult lives. "Points" are scored by all the different ways volunteers can help the youth grow up, acting in many cases as "extra family members", or by drawing others to support the program they are part of.

Many programs needed.
All need consistent funding.
2. Many programs are needed, spread throughout the city and suburbs of Chicago, and in other areas of the country. Most are constantly looking for dollars, talent, volunteers, ideas and other resources that help them stay in business, and stay connected to youth and volunteers.

The way philanthropy and government funding works limits the ability of every program to draw these resources to themselves on a regular basis, thus many programs are never as great as they need to be, and too few programs exist... especially in areas where they are most needed.

YOU can draw volunteers and
donors to programs in all parts of city.
While programs are constantly reaching out to donors, the Tutor/Mentor Connection has modeled a strategy based on corporate advertising, in efforts to motivate volunteers and donors to seek out programs, based on information we share on our web site, and information each program shares on their own web sites. A donor should pick a neighborhood he/she wants to help, then shop and get to know existing tutor/mentor programs serving that area, then choose one, or more, and decide how, and how much, she wants to help. Then write the check and put it in the mail. Or call/eMail the program and offer time and talent.

In many cases this might mean helping a lesser quality program become great, or it might mean helping a new program form where none, or too few, exist. In others it will mean helping good programs continue to be good, and constantly strive to be great.

"Points"  are scored every time a business, philanthropist, volunteer, college, faith group, hospital or other takes an action that supports the growth and continued operations of one or more programs --- with time, talent, dollars, or even votes that elect leaders who support the growth of such programs. For instance, in this article I show a role universities could take.

3. This is team effort. The role of intermediary, shown on this graphic, is one that coaches and athletes could be taking on an on-going basis to help connect kids with volunteers, and to help connect resource providers with programs.

Volunteers and donors needed in tutor/mentor programs throughout the city & suburbs.

I've written more than 30 articles on the Tutor/Mentor Blog that focus on the role athletes can take.

Athletes as leaders

In this 2013 article I used an image of Derrick Rose, and pointed to a Chicago Tribune article where he was quoted as saying "It all starts with poverty".

The blog article includes an animation, in which I show a role athletes could take on a regular basis, to help draw attention to the ideas I've been sharing on my blog, to my list of tutor/mentor programs, and to create an "act now, do something" call to action that motivates fans to become involved with one or more different youth serving programs in Chicago.

Below is a Tweet posted by Kobe Bryant, just a few days before his tragic death.
Imagine if athletes like Kobe were pointing to maps of the cities where they play, encouraging fans to adopt neighborhoods and support all youth tutor/mentor programs in each neighborhood.

Athletes adopt neighborhoods

At the left is a  map of Chicago, signed in the 1990s by several professional athletes, to show the idea of athletes adopting neighborhoods. I wrote about that in this article under the headline "Wouldn't he like to talk about something else?"

Imagine if someone were keeping score, with "points" scored every time someone shares this or other ideas from my blog with someone else. "Points" could be scored when athletes and coaches take on roles that support multiple programs in the communities they play in or where they grew up.  Awards at the end of each year could recognize those who score the "most points".

That's just a start. As athletes, coaches, fans, writers, video makers, and others are motivated to view my articles and web library by the actions of sports stars, many will also say "I can communicate these ideas better" and they will begin to do that. Or they will say, I can apply these ideas to another city than Chicago, and they will begin to do that.

Imagine where Chicago might be today if Chicago athletes and coaches who were stars in the 1990s when I started sharing these ideas, had adopted this game plan as their own commitment to helping reduce inequality and increase opportunity.

If that had been happening I should have a section in my web library that points to such stories and videos. I don't. However, anyone who reads this could adopt the strategy as their own and begin to create their own game plan and play book. I'd like to help you.

Find me on Twitter @tutormentorteam. I'm on Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin, too.

The ideas I share were first launched through the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was created in 1993. I started the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which is not a non-profit, in 2011 to keep the T/MC alive in Chicago and share it to other cities.  I still depend on contributions to share these ideas.

Visit this page and use the PayPal button to send your support.

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