Thursday, July 29, 2021

Response to Chicago Violence: Do the Planning.

Growing violence in Chicago and other cities is prompting renewed calls for action.  The graphic at the left shows this is not a new problem. It dates back to 1992 and earlier.  If you've read many of the articles following shootings you've seen many calls for more non-school youth development and jobs programs.

This week I looked at a Chicago SunTimes web page titled "How Chicago's most violent neighborhoods are faring in 2021".  

This article featured 15 Chicago Community Areas, with a map and analysis such as you see in the graphic at the right.

I began using maps to show locations of non school, volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs in 1993 and to follow media stories about shootings, gangs, or poorly performing schools, with map stories that talked about the availability (or lack) of tutor/mentor programs in the area surrounding the incident.  

My goal has been that maps and the library of programs and research be used by leaders in business, government, colleges, hospitals, faith groups and government to fill high poverty neighborhoods with a wide range of  youth development and workforce development based tutor and mentor programs.

If leaders had embraced these strategies for the past 25  years the maps of the 15 neighborhoods profiled by the Chicago SunTimes would look far different.

I created a set of slides to look beyond the map analysis provided by the SunTimes.  I'm showing a couple below, and the entire presentation below that.

The North Lawndale Community area was ranked as the "deadliest priority neighborhood".  In my presentation I show the maps from the SunTimes at the top left, then a map of this neighborhood, from the Tutor/Mentor Programs map you can find in this article.  Green icons on the map are programs included in the T/MI directory. Click on the icon to get the name and website of each program.

On the T/MI map there is a blue box, showing the number of youth, age 6-17, considered "below poverty line". This is 2018 information provided by the Social Impact Research Center of the Heartland Alliance and is shown in this T/MI presentation.   I provide a brief summary showing the availability of programs and the number of youth in the area.  In the example I say "If there are three programs that each serve 50 youth regularly each week, totaling 150, and there are 2000 total youth in poverty in the area out of a larger number of total youth which could be double that, then the neighborhood clearly has a need for more programs.

Furthermore, if you look at the location of programs and the location of incidents of violence, you can see that while the neighborhood's existing programs reach some youth, they may not reach youth in different parts of the community area.  This is especially true if youth are unable to go safely from one part of the area to another because they would be crossing gang territories.

Here's another neighborhood: This is West Englewood.  I don't show any non-school tutor/mentor programs in this area (based on what I have in my database).  There are more than 2500 low income kids in the area, thus programs certainly would be a benefit.

My goal is that planning teams, consisting of all community stakeholders, including businesses, local schools, political leaders, media, etc., take part in this process, using my maps and the SunTimes maps, as a starting point (note, the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, and other media are also resources for these types of maps).  

There may be more youth serving programs in the area, offering different formats of support.  There may be programs serving one age level, such as elementary school, but no programs for middle school and high school.  My map does not show the multiple sites of some larger organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, nor does it show community-based mentoring matches.  

I've used this graphic for many years showing the need for a continuum of programs, support youth from birth-to-work, or for 20 years or longer.  Think of this as a blueprint for building a new skyscraper. On each page diagrams show a range of talent needed to accomplish the work on that page. Then the next page shows what work comes next, with what talent is needed.

Planning for each community area needs to create similar blueprints then action plans that generate resources and talent to make such programs available to a growing number of k-12 youth in the area. Such blueprints would show existing programs, the age group they serve, and the type of service provided.

From 1994 until 2011 my organization's survey attempted to segment programs by these categories. The image at the right shows a program locator built in 2004 (No longer active. View archive.) that you could use to determine what programs were in different zip codes.  The code for this could be a starting point for building a newer searchable program locator. 

Who else could be helping?  In the West Englewood area, where there are no programs shown, there are potential allies.   Below is a map view created using the Chicago Public School Locator.  

Western Avenue runs North to South along the West side of this community area. The map shows several auto dealerships and other businesses.  Each dealership is part of a lager corporate network, thus involvement of someone from a dealership on Western Avenue could provide access to financial and talent support from the corporate headquarters!  

I've only shown two out of 15 high priority community areas highlighted by the Chicago Sun Times.

To see the others, view this Slideshare presentation.  

If you are concerned about the quality of life and high poverty in these 15 community areas, or others where there also are huge needs for non-school youth support programs, then use this information and other resources that I share on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website to build a planning team, dig deeper into the information, create your own maps, and begin to work to fill your community area with world-class youth programs.

This article is one of more than 1000 that have been posted since 2005, focusing on this same topic. There's too much for most people to dig through if they're not willing to spend the time. However, if you consider this blog and the T/MI website as a "book" or a "curriculum" then it might not be so daunting to read a little at a time, then discuss what you read with others in your network.

I'd be happy to help you think through what you are reading.  Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn. (see links here). 

If you value what I'm sharing please consider a contribution to help fund the work.  

If you'd like to take a larger role and help rebuild the library and mapping platforms, or duplicate the process in your own community, let's connect.

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