A new school year has recently begun at DePaul University and with that so has a new Explore Chicago class. This year Explore Chicago: The Tutor/Mentoring Connection will be continuing the research begun by last year’s class by learning about organizations who provide tutor/mentoring services for children throughout the city. The class is divided into 6 groups, each focusing on a separate area of the city. Our focus for this year will be discovering the financial needs of these organizations: how are they funded? How much of their funding is from donors? How have their financial needs changed? What has been the impact of their funding on their programs? The students will complete their project in mid-November when, based on their research and analysis, they will discuss the future funding needs of these organizations and what will be the impact if those funding needs are not met. In the meantime, you can follow the students’ progress by reading their weekly blog posts.
I hope you’ll reflect and write about this in the final two weeks of your class assignment, and that some of you will continue working on these blogs for the next four years.
It is a tragedy that one of your fellow students was shot and killed late Saturday night while at a Halloween party. However, this is something that happens too often in Chicago and it’s part of what we hope you will research and write about on your blogs.
I created a map showing the location of the shooting. It’s posted on my blog at http://tutormentor.blogspot.com/2009/11/depaul-student-killed-lost-opportunity.html
If you search the tags on my blog for previous articles about violence, you’ll see that this happens in different parts of the city, but mostly in high poverty neighborhoods.
What can alumni and friends and students of DePaul and other universities do to make programs available in these neighborhoods that might lead to different outcomes? How can you and future students use your blogs to be leaders who draw attention to these problems, and who draw volunteers and donors to different places where they become part of the solution, too.
This quarter, our Explore Chicago: Growing Up in Chicago class will be researching, analyzing and projecting the need for Tutoring/Mentoring services in various areas of the city. We are working closely with Cabrini Connections, a tutoring/mentoring program that serves the children who live in Cabrini Green, a Chicago Housing Authority complex located near the corner of Halsted St. and Chicago Ave. The students will also be writing narratives about their work in the hopes of sharing information about tutoring/mentoring programs in Chicago with other interested people. Watch for the students’ weekly posts and follow the progress of their research.
Our surveyed region was the Southwest side of Chicago , which consists of the neighborhoods: Chicago Lawn , Marquette Park , Gage Park , Bridgeport and Englewood. The south western region of Chicago’s neighborhoods boast many similiarites in terms of acessibility to the Loop. Every community has an abundance of public transportation available to them. But in contrast to this, there are distinct differences in all community’s revenue. As one travels further south within the region, there is an obvious drop in the economic social class. For example, areas such as Bridgeport have a thriving housing market, despite the circumstances, and the median income for famlies is well above the point of comfortable living, consistenly ranging within the $90,000+ area. Bridgeport also has a well below avarage crime rate because it lies on the northern side of the region. But not too far south is the community of Englewood, which pales in comparison to the rest of the communities because it lacks of almost everything that enables Bridgeport to be succesful. The crime rate is steadily increasing, the majority of the population lives solidly below the poverty line and the availibility of community resources is scarce.
Though this image is grim, this region has diverse kinds of income, resources and people. We hope to raise awareness of the kinds of Tutoring – Mentoring programs available in the Southwest region of Chicago.