Friday, September 08, 2023

How Many Tutor/Mentor Programs are Needed in Chicago?

 In 1994 when we were launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago, this Chicago Tribune front page showed 240,000 kids "at risk" because they were in "poverty's grip". 

The map in the Tribune article showed high poverty levels on the West and South sides of Chicago.  

This information has fueled my efforts to help volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow in these areas for the past 30 years.  I've continued to look for data and maps that showed this information at the neighborhood level and showed the number of kids enrolled in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

The only time I was able to get close to this information was in 1997 when the Associated Colleges of Illinois used our data to determine how many kids were enrolled in exiting programs.

The map below was included in the report. The survey of 300 organizations showed that "fewer than 6% of Chicago's school-age population is reached by these tutor/mentor organizations". 

I included this map in a 1999 article I addressed to billionaires. Here's a link to a 2016 article that also includes the map.  Here's the link to the 1997 report

In 2011 I was able to get data from the Heartland Alliance that I used to show the number of kids, age 6 to 17, in each Chicago Community Area.  I was able to update that in 2018, and you can view that report below.

I wish there had been a program at a Chicago university that had been working with me and doing this research for the past 30 years, and using the data to guide public and private investment in high poverty areas.  There's been a ton of research, but none focused on increasing support for tutor/mentor programs or helping more grow where the data shows a need. 

So where are we in 2023?  Today I saw a post on Twitter that pointed me to an article by Chalkbeat Chicago.

This article shows that there has been a steady decline of low-income kids in many Chicago neighborhoods and that the percent of low income kids has declined significantly in some schools as more affluent families move into those neighborhoods. 

This article is full of percents, with no raw numbers or maps. So I did a search to determine how many students are currently enrolled in Chicago Public Schools.

I found this "Stats and Facts" page hosted by Chicago Public schools.  It shows 322, 106 students enrolled at the start of the 2022-23 school year, in 634 schools.  It also shows that 72.7 % are economically disadvantaged. 

I multiplied the total number of elementary school kids by 72.7% and show 132,772 low income kids. I multiplied the number of high school kids by the same percent and show 74,248 kids.  That totals 207,020 low income kids attending Chicago Public Schools.

This is significantly lower than the 240,000 number in the 1994 Chicago Tribune article, but it's still a huge number of kids who might benefit from well organized, non-school, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs.

Over the past 10 years I've posted several articles inviting researchers to do market-research to provide information showing how many kids in different areas might benefit from tutor/mentor programs, and how many kids in those same areas were currently part of existing programs.

In one article I included maps like the one below.

In another article I included these two graphics

In another article I included this map of the United States, showing cities with high concentrations of poverty.

Each of these cities should have a research intermediary that borrows strategies piloted since 1993 by the Tutor/Mentor Connection, who collects and reports information that everyone else in that city can use to supply the resources needed to reach a higher percent of kids in high poverty areas with well-organized, mentor-rich, non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs. 

Researchers in Chicago could use my lists of tutor, mentor and learning programs as a starting point in collecting data about "how many are served" and "in what locations". 

I've been sharing this message for nearly 30 years but far too few people have ever seen it, or have dug deep enough into the work I was doing to understand it, support it, and/or duplicate it in other cities.

Today's media reports just are another reminder that without a comprehensive system of support that provides excellent learning and teaching during the school-day hours, well organized enrichment in the after-school hours, and mentor-rich programs in the after 5pm, weekend and Internet hours, we'll reach too few kids with the long-term support many need.

Below is a graphic that I've shared often in my articles.

Be the YOU in this graphic. Share my articles with people in your own network.  Start a conversation. Get more people involved.  If you're part of a university, or a billionaire giving away a fortune, look for ways to embed the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy on a college campus.

Do it while I'm still alive to offer my help.

Thanks for reading. 

My social media links are on this page.   My FundT/MI page is here.  Help me if you can.

12/1/2023 update - Visit this section of the Tutor/Mentor library and find several dozen data platforms that you can use to understand where people need extra help. 

12/1/2023 update - view this concept map to see data platforms that you can use.

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