Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Illinois State Representative District 5

I would like to once again take a look at an elected political leader’s district to demonstrate how leadership there can use the Tutor/Mentor Connection's maps - as tools - when working with other community leaders (from businesses, places of worship, schools, hospitals, and universities) to build strategies that create and fund needed tutor/mentor programs... and in turn, improve the prospects for our children, our economy, and our democracy.

(Please remember to click on any of these maps for a bigger, higher-resolution version...)

In this first map, we see that Illinois State Representative District 5 (currently represented by Ken Dunkin) is a narrow strip that stretches from the Near North Cabrini-Green area, South to past 63rd Street. The far North and most of the Southern part of the district have neighborhoods of high poverty.

Predictably, the pockets of high-poverty are littered with "failing schools," and consistent with other maps we’ve made, there are far too few tutor/mentor programs helping kids whose scholastic performance indicate a need additional help.

How can our maps help coordinate efforts to fix this?

Well, similar to the situation we looked at with Mt. Sinai Hospital in Lawndale, hospital leaders at Provident Hospital of Cook County can perhaps work with Representative Dunkin to create strategies that support new and existing programs in their community.

We discussed these potential strategies in past blogs that examined the roles of both Universities and Hospitals.

Places of Worship also can play large roles in developing support for tutoring and mentoring. Their locations provide ideal hosting sites for new programs, as well as places where sermons can tie scripture to service, while pointing members to existing tutor/mentor programs.

Here is a selection of known Places of Worship in the 5th District:

This next map shows several more Places of Worship in District 5. As faith leaders committed to social justice, what could they be doing to connect the rich people in this district with the poor people?

The business community is vital to efforts that develop new and existing programs. As Dan Bassill reminds us in a recent blog, getting the attention of these business leaders and drawing their consistent support for non profits is not always easy. Multiple non profits doing the same work, but in different places, are in competition for the attention of the same donors. As we see, one part of District 5 cuts through the West Loop, with many businesses, including many banks. What could the State Representative of this district be doing to connect these businesses with the non profit tutor/mentor programs in the district?

Without funding, programs die and kids are turned back to the streets for guidance. With funding, programs can continue to help students find the tutoring and mentoring support that lead to jobs… and increased income… perhaps home and car ownership?… Perhaps allowing businesses such as insurance companies to capitalize on places in the city that would represent new and developing markets for their goods and services.

Or maybe businesses can simply encourage employees to volunteer their special talents and know-how to assist non profits, or use their web presence and in-store kiosks to post program information – creating awareness for customers, clients, and parents.

Mass-Market Retailers (such as pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens) can easily and cheaply serve these functions:

So why does
Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) create maps of political districts again?

First, the maps are NOT intended to show where service work is, or is not occurring. They are also not meant to endorse, or criticize elected leaders (The voters should make those decisions).

Instead, the T/MC creates maps that show where poverty and poorly performing schools are located, and where volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are located. Hopefully, the maps help community leaders determine where additional support for tutoring and/or mentoring programs may be needed...

... and where community assets, such as businesses, churches, colleges, etc. can collaborate to draw attention to poverty, and create long-term strategies that support students through tutoring and mentoring and ultimately help everyone in the community.

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