Can World Cup draw attention to poverty, not just to sports?

So now another mega sports event is capturing the attention of millions of people, not just in the USA, but around the world. In some of the coverage of the World Cup, I’ve seen stories about the poverty in Brazil. But these stories are fragmented. They fight for attention.

I’ve been creating map stories for nearly 20 years in an attempt to draw people into a discussion of solutions.

What can we do to create a “World Cup” like focus on forums where people build a better understanding of poverty and environmental issues, and of potential solutions that could be implemented in more places if resource providers were doing as much to support poverty fighting teams as they do to support sports teams?

I attended a Veteran’s event in Chicago last week, where the issue was employment of vets. As I took notes, I scribbled an idea, which I converted into this graphic:

When I describe mentoring, I’m talking about organizations that bring together a wide range of volunteers with youth who live in neighborhoods dominated by poverty, which means the range of adults modeling a variety of college and career options is limited.

The graphic I created at the Veteran’s event suggest that if young people became part of an extended network of adults BEFORE they entered the military, they would have the support of that network AFTER they left (and while they are there).

Here’s an article I posted showing how veterans might become staff and volunteers in a citywide network of mentor-rich programs, creating jobs for vets and networks of support for future vets.

This type of structure exists naturally in more affluent and diverse communities. It’s a structure that needs to be created and sustained in high poverty areas. While a few people might see this on my blog, or when I post it on Twitter, that’s not the type of viewer mass that is needed. It’s no where close to how many are following golf, basketball, soccer and baseball this weekend.

Which leads to the question, and the challenge, of engaging resource providers as on-going partners and supporters of mentor-rich programs in more places.

There’s been an interesting conversation about ‘strategic philanthropy’ taking place on Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Center for Effective Philanthropy and other places.

I posted some ideas about how philanthropy can better support non profits here, and I’ve built a library showing challenges to non profits at this link.

So how do we attract just a fraction of the attention devoted to sports, entertainment and other time-consuming activities so that more people are spending time looking at this information? How do we increase the number who are talking about these ideas over water coolers and on social media, like they talk about yesterday, or tomorrow’s, sports event? How do we bring team owners, investors, philanthropic leaders into the same discussion space?

I’m participating in a Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc) , which started on June 5. Online events like this are a step toward bringing more people together. Some of the ideas shared focus on engaging youth, and making learning a game. If more people are looking at these ideas, more will begin to innovate ways to bring people together to solve problems.

However, until we have sports celebrities helping draw people to these forums, we’ll have too little attention, and too few participating. I share some ideas on this on past articles.