Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Map Gallery: Congressman Gutierrez Endorses Gery Chico for Chicago Mayor

Gery Chico - Running For Mayor

“Each community provides unique opportunities for partnerships that can enhance our children’s education..” - Gery Chico

(Part 12 of T/MC's "Mapping Solutions" online gallery)

This past week, influential Chicago politician Luis Gutierrez, a US Representative whose district is featured on this first map (click to enlarge) came forward and endorsed Gery Chico in the race for Chicago’s next mayor.

Lately, I’ve been publishing an series of maps that we at Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) made, featuring political boundaries in Chicago.

Of course, we at T/MC do not endorse specific candidates. We simply wish to showcase how T/MC can customize a map to analyze the distribution of tutor/mentor services in any given region (in this case, a political district), and how we can also provide a birds-eye view of neighboring community assets for local leaders (in this case, for the next mayor of Chicago).

We will also suggest, looking at each candidate’s personal platform and concerns (so far we have also looked at Carol Moseley Braun), that each candidate should have an interest in either supporting mentoring through direct action, or at the very least should be using their influence to tell their constituents how mentoring can supplement their efforts to address the issues they promise to tackle. This leadership might then steer other community leaders, volunteers, donors, and parents to these vital non-profit services in an economy where such services are at more risk than ever of disappearing.

It's not hard to find examples of how mentoring supplements the work an elected leader needs to do. For instance, Gery Chico tells us that, “residents with jobs means safer and more prosperous neighborhoods, tax dollars saved from less social services and additional city revenue as more people spend money, buy homes and earn income. The impact of each new job ripples outward through the economy, creating secondary and additional benefits.” To this end, Chico desires to “work with business partners to build technical and career programs that prepare students with the technical and occupational skills they need to find good employment.”

We have a database of over 200 tutor/mentor facilities that are already in place, working toward this same goal, and I have written on this blog about how mentoring can bolster our workforce by helping students choose books and careers over less desirable paths.

On education, Chico states that, “without an effective school system we cannot prepare kids to compete in the global economy, or provide the labor force that will attract good companies to locate in our great city.” His “Ready by Five” initiative seeks to ensure that “every child is prepared to learn and succeed by the time he or she reaches kindergarten.” He also wants to “create a Parent Academy for every school” that will help parents who “lack the resources and knowledge to effectively help their children succeed” learn those skils.

These are great ideas that can be supplemented by mentor-student relationships that help kids who are "ready by five" stay the course toward globally competitive careers, while helping these same young adults achieve the academic and vocational success that will support their ability as the next generation of parents to effectively help their children succeed as well.

On the issue of crime and safety, Chico lists several ways he might make schools themselves safer, but I suspect he might also be interested in learning how a mentoring program in a high-crime neighborhood like Englewood could help its young men stay out of trouble, graduate, and enroll in four-year colleges at an unprecedented rate. He might then explore how similar mentoring programs might improve the well-being of students (and adults) in every neighborhood.

Chico is an advocate of community-level “partnerships that can enhance our children’s education” and promises to "partner with foundations, community groups, museums, government institutions, etc. to bring innovative and diverse programs and learning opportunities to our schools."

Perhaps he and the other candidates - whether they become mayor or not - are already exploring how partnerships with established mentoring programs can supplement their efforts to achieve their vision of a prosperous, safe, and educated Chicago.

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