Saturday, June 27, 2020

Creating Economic Justice - Time Right for Greater Business Involvement?

Chicago Sun Times, 1992
In the past month the protests following a series of high profile police murders of Black and Brown men and women have mobilized millions across the world.  Will this finally lead to the type of involvement that creates social, racial and economic justice in America?

I've been pointing to this 1992 Chicago SunTimes front page for the past 27 years, in an on-going effort to get business, professional and political leaders more strategically involved in building and sustaining youth tutor, mentor and learning programs that help kids in poverty areas move through school and into jobs and careers.

My belief in the potential of well-organized programs comes from my own leadership of tutor/mentor programs between 1992 and 2011. I'm now connected to many alumni on Facebook and seeing them post pictures showing their own kids finishing high school and/or college.  That's the long term impact that's possible.

Service-Learning - click here
I also believe that such programs can educate volunteers about the reasons tutor/mentor programs are needed in the first place, and that some of these volunteers will become deeply involved in creating systems level solutions...if they are well supported and stay involved for multiple years. 

I'm now seeing a growing number of Chicago youth programs sharing reading materials with their volunteers, encouraging them to learn more about racial justice history in America. That's a step in the right direction.

Since 2000 I've been sharing a set of strategic plan templates, first developed by a team of students from DePaul University, that can be used by business and professional leaders to jump-start strategic involvement initiatives.  These can be applied in any city. They are shown below.

Tutor/Mentor University Connection - View the presentation below. Download and create your own version. Apply in any university, in any city.  Read articles showing university involvement.

Tutor/Mentor Hospital Connection.  Any hospital could apply this strategy to support poverty-reduction efforts in the geography surrounding a hospital. It could be a strategy to reduce the cost-of-poverty at the hospital and to create jobs and career opportunities for youth and adults in the hospital trade area.

Tutor/Mentor Lawyer Connection (PDF). This strategy mirrors the first two, but also draws from a partnership my organization formed with the Lawyers Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Foundation in 1994 and continued through 2007.  Read Lend A Hand articles on this blog.

Tutor/Mentor Lawyer Connection PDF - click here

Role of Leaders.  For any organization to build and sustain a long-term strategy such as those suggested in the above presentations, the CEO and top leaders need to be personally committed.  That does not mean they do all the work. It means they make it important and appoint a "get it done" person from their organization to lead the effort.  That's what the presentation shown below outlines.

Almost all of the articles on this blog support these strategies.
  Evidence that any organization is adopting the strategy would be a blog on the organization website that in five and 10 years from now shows similar stories, posted weekly, for five to 10 consecutive years.

Furthermore, you'd find a version of this concept map, with the company CEO in the blue box, or the company logo, showing a commitment to helping kids in poverty move through school and into jobs and careers.

Make this commitment. Put  your name in the blue box at the top. 

The long-term impact of such a strategy would be more programs reaching k-12 youth in more places with on-going support that helps kids through school and into jobs and careers, free of poverty, and free of racial discrimination.

This visualizes the goal. Kids that join a program while in elementary or middle school and now finishing high school or college. 

I'm seeing many youth organizations post stories of students graduating and going to college. I don't find many using a graphic like this on their website or blog to visualize the program design that helped achieve these outcomes.

How do you start?  Do your own reading. 

Create a research and planning team of people within your organization who spend time reading and reflecting on the ideas I've been sharing. In a high school or college this team could include students and alumni.  Share what they learn, as they learn, encouraging others to get involved and build their own understanding.

I'd be happy to help anyone think through this strategy.  I'm available on any of these social media platforms.

If you value what I'm sharing, send a contribution to help fund my work. Visit this page

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