Friday, June 16, 2017

Urban Youth as Data Scientists and Network Builders

My friend Sidney Hargro, posted an article on Linkedin today, which I started to respond to, but ran out of characters.

Here's what I wrote:

More than 15 years ago I began to see the potential of data management and information networking as a skill and 21ct century career opportunity and recognized that since the Internet was an emerging tool, the starting line for rich kids and poor kids was almost the same....IF...patrons were willing to put mentor-rich non-school programs in high poverty neighborhoods, filled with computers, the internet, and opportunities for young people to learn to use those in ways richer kids would also be learning.

A youth who learns coding, web design, blogging, video creation, data visualization, and story telling and how to build an on-line network and motivate people in a desired direction, is learning leadership skills that will have great value.  These skills can be learned without the help of local schools, if the people making learning opportunities in the non-school hours have enough vision and resources.  Kids could be leaving  high school and starting their own consulting businesses or information networking companies --- transporting themselves and their families from poverty to the upper middle class and beyond, in one generation.   Unfortunately , I know of too few places where such programs are operating in high poverty areas of Chicago or other cities.

The opportunity still exists.

Following are a couple of visualizations that illustrate what such a program might look like.  The first is a graphic I've used for over 20 years to describe a program with volunteers from many different industries and backgrounds serving as tutors, mentors, leaders, organizers, etc.  This Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) PDF illustrates the idea.

This next graphic visualizes three forms of learning that would be happening in such a program, if the leaders shared this vision.  This concept map shows a focus on academic, social and work skills and the goal of building habits of using the internet to find and share information.

It's difficult to know how many, if any, Chicago area tutor and/or mentor programs have such a vision because few use visualizations on their web sites to show program design and strategy. I've been browsing a list of organizations that I host on Facebook, and just a few attempt to show program design with videos they share.  This East Village Youth Village Program video is one way of showing program design.

When I write about extra roles volunteer tutors and mentors might take, or the role of talent volunteers, I'm thinking of people who work with kids and other volunteers to help programs communicate their own program vision and design better, by borrowing ideas from what others are already doing.  

This vision needs to be shared by philanthropists, business leaders, volunteers and others, as well as by program leaders, if it is to become practice in more than a few places.

I'd be happy to help others explore this idea and others that I share on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.

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