Thursday, March 12, 2020

Reaching K-12 kids in high poverty areas - an on-going challenge

Every week for the past 40 years I've spent time trying to connect inner city kids with workplace volunteers in organized, non-school tutor/mentor programs that help these kids move through school and into adult lives.

At different times, like right now, keeping attention focused on this has been more than difficult.  The COVID19 virus is bad, getting worse and is having a growing negative impact on the economy. The impact on poor people, who can least afford it, will be greatest.  For instance, when major conventions and sports events close, think of all the workers who will be out of work. When schools close, think of all the parents with kids at home, needing supervision, and needing learning help. When someone gets sick, how do people with limited (or no) insurance, and no income, cover the bills?

Yet, while we struggle through this current disaster, I feel we still need to look long term. Kids living in high poverty area will need the extra support of non-school youth tutor, mentor and learning programs even more in coming months and years.  So let me share to graphics that visualize strategies I feel we need to focus on.

We all want the same outcomes: More youth stay in school, are safe in non-school hours, graduate, and move to jobs and careers.

To get the result we want we need to do the work shown at the bottom of this pyramid.
At the bottom of this pyramid I show that we need to build a knowledge base, then draw people together to use this information in an on-going planning and actions cycle.  This article describes this diagram.  It can be used in an area as small as a few blocks, or as large as an entire country.

This pyramid could be used to outline steps to overcome the COVID19 virus. At the top would be results we want. At the bottom should be information aggregated from all over the world to help us understand the disease and how to fight it.  A sub section of that library should be a collection of information helping teachers move classes from face-to-face school settings to on-line, or TV,  at least for the duration of this crisis.

The second graphic I'm sharing focuses on INFLUENCE.
We must influence what resource providers do; not just what non-profit leaders do.

Having led a non profit youth program for 20 years I know that I was expected to operate a great program, get outstanding results and find the money to pay for all the work that needed to be done.  Think for a  moment of a fish bowl, with hundreds of small fish. When you put a little bit of food in the bowl there is a frenzy of every fish trying to get some of the food. Not all succeed.  That's the problem with how our non -profit funding system works.

In this graphic, which you can read about in these articles, I show t hat we need to Influence what resource providers, business partners, media and policy-makers do, not just what non profit programs do, so that there is a consistent flow of resources to every program, in every area where tutor/mentor programs are needed, so they can all become great at what they do to help kids safely through school.

Almost every article that I've posted on this blog since 2005 focuses on one of these graphics. If you're forced to stay at home due to the COVID19 virus, why not spend some time reading some of them.  Then think of ways you can share these in your network and/or use them as thought starters in on-line and group discussions.

Here's two more graphics to consider:

If you're at an event, how well can you share your ideas?
I created this graphic as a result of attending large gatherings for many years, where there were great speakers, but there was little interaction between the speakers and individuals in the audience, or between the people who sat at different tables. My goal was to encourage event organizers to create on-line activities that paralleled what was happening in the room, and that kept participants engaged and interacting after the event ended.

Hashtags of Twitter chats
I created this concept map to archive Twitter conversations that I've been part of. Many are on-going. A few are archives.

All of these in some way relate to efforts by different groups of people to help build support systems for kids living in high poverty neighborhoods.

You can click the link at the bottom of each node and join the conversation yourself.  Some of these should have much greater involvement than they have had so far. It's up to event organizers to encourage this, as well as the rest of us.

Very few do this well.  However, with COVID19 causing more, and more, events to be cancelled, imagine this same event, but with every table empty.  How do event organizers share the ideas of the presenters with those who had been invited, without creating some form of online interaction.  Maybe we will learn ways to do this because of COVID19, and we will continue doing it after this disaster has passed.

Here's an article titled: LIFE AFTER CORONAVIRUS AND WHAT ORGANIZERS NEED TO BE THINKING ABOUT NEXT that I saw on the AdAge Twitter feed today. In one part of the article the interviewee said "There have never been so many opportunities to grow a single event into a year-round community."

That's how I feel.  Let's turn this negative into an opportunity to learn more ways to bring people together into year-round learning, idea sharing, relationship building and collective action that leads to brighter futures for all kids living in high poverty areas of the US and the world.

I'm on these social media pages. Let's connect.

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