Thursday, June 18, 2009

NYC Mayor supports youth mentoring...why not Chicago?

During a recent visit to mentoring.org I came upon a press release announcing that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just appointed the nation's first municipal Chief Service Officer to lead volunteer recruitment efforts across the city. During the official announcement, Bloomberg and Diahann Billings-Burford called on New Yorkers to volunteer to mentor at-risk middle schoolers through their first NYC Service initiative, which aims to connect 2000 mentors with inner-city students across the city. Read more details here. In this historic initiative, the Department of Education partnered with a variety of high-profile mentoring organizations and funders to train these new mentors and connect them with children in need. The NYC Service program has three main goals:

::Channel the power of volunteers to address the impacts of the current economic do
wnturn
::Make New
York City the easiest city in America in which to serve, and to
::Ensure every young person in New York City is taught about civic engagement and has an opportunity to serve

This large-scale public/private partnership is using the Mayor's office to connect nonprofit tutoring/mentoring organizations with the resources they need to increase their impact. These resources include volunteers, publicity and dollars. At a fundamental level, this is what the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been doing since 1993, albeit without the abundant resources of the Mayor's office.

Given that in his press release, Mayor Bloomberg sets out a major goal of this initiativ
e to be making New York the easiest city in America in which to get involved in mentoring at-risk youth, why hasn't the leader of America's Second City, Mayor Daley, stepped up to the plate and taken him up on his challenge?

Given that Chicago already has an infrastructure in place that is designed to connect tutor/mentor programs city-wide with volunteers, which includes an easy to navigate tutor/mentor program locator that helps potential volunteers find the perfect program for them, it's not like Daley would have to start at square one. He could very easily use the bully pulpit of the mayor's office to inform people about what we're already doing, directing people to our myriad online resources and connect us with funders who could help us dramatically increase our impact on the city. Considering the flak Daley has been getting for his recent parking meter deal and promise to the IOC to take full financial responsibility for the Olympics (a potentially disastrous deal for Chicago taxpayers) this could provide Daley with some sorely-needed political capital and a great opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of thousands of at-risk youth citywide. Thoughts?


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