Sunday, August 01, 2021

How Many Youth Programs Are Needed?

Since 1993 the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC have tried to help comprehensive, mentor-rich, volunteer based youth programs grow in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities. The graphic at the left visualizes this.

All of the articles on this blog since 2005 have focused on this goal.  They also focus on the graphic below.

This graphic is from a PDF presentation I wrote about in this article a few days ago. 

For every community area in Chicago planners need to look at the total number of youth, plus the percent who live in high poverty. In the example above, the 4178 number in the blue box is the number of kids, age 6-17, in poverty in one area. Below that is a number showing what percent of total kids this is in that neighborhood.

Green icons on my map are known youth serving organizations that provide various forms of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring.  In almost every high poverty area there are too few programs based on the number of kids, but some neighborhoods have fewer than others.  In addition, some programs are much more sophisticated and well-organized than others.

In the article I wrote last week, I included maps showing 15 community areas considered "high priority" by the Chicago SunTimes, because of the high number of shootings and homicides in 2021.

Using this concept map anyone can open my list of programs, or view a list of programs operating in other cities. They can also use search engines provided by organizations like VolunteerMatch, to find youth serving organizations throughout the country.

Based on what an organization shows on their websites a volunteer, donor or parent should be able to decide to join or support an organization. At the same time, organizations should be able to look at what is offered by different programs to see if there are ideas they might borrow in their own program.

I said "should be able".  Just because a program is located near where a youth lives does not mean it has openings for additional youth.  You need to call and interview the program.  Furthermore, many programs don't provide much information showing their structure and types of services, so it's difficult to see if they are doing work another would want to duplicate.

But it's a start.  

Finally, as I said above, there are too few programs. Planners need to identify existing programs and develop on-going strategies to deliver talent and dollars to each, to help them constantly improve. Then they should determine where more are needed, and borrowing ideas from existing programs, start new ones.

The first question to ask is "Who is doing an analysis of my community area, and can I connect with them?  If the answer is "No one." then, the next question would be, "Who wants to be part of a group to begin this analysis?"

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