I created this graphic last week to illustrate the progression of thinking that I've followed for the past 20 years.
I know from my own experiences and those of others, and from much reading, that connecting youth with caring adults can have a positive impact.
I also know that building and sustaining these adult-youth connections in high poverty neighborhoods is very difficult without some organizational structure to enable youth and adults to meet in safe places and without supportive mentor-leaders in place to support weekly interactions. Thus, finding the existing volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in any city, and finding ways to help them get the ideas, talent, resources, volunteers needed to operate and constantly improve would seem to be a good idea.
Once we agree that organized programs are a good idea, then if we plot locations of existing programs on a map showing poverty and other indicators of youth needing extra adult support, we can quickly identify neighborhoods with few or no programs. It would seem that leaders in business, media, politics, philanthropy and other sectors would want to work together to help existing programs grow and to help new programs grow in areas that are without programs.
Through the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) which I started in 1993, and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which I formed in 2011, I'm trying to support all three levels of this thinking. Browse the articles I've posted here, here, and here and in my blog to learn more about this thinking and to find ideas that you can apply to support these ideas in your own community.