Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Invitation to Universities any where in the world

As school is starting for another year, millions of people are starting another round of conversations that loosely could be titled "How do we motivate kids to learn?", or, "What role does my organization have in helping kids from poverty reach jobs and careers?"

If you're one of those people, or if you know someone who is thinking about these questions, please consider my introduction and invitation:

I am president of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), based in Chicago. The T/MC was started by a small non profit called Cabrini Connection, back in 1993. I've provided web links below that I hope you'll visit to learn more about our work and our history.

I'm also a Commissioner on the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, so while my primary focus is increasing volunteer based tutoring/mentoring in Illinois, my ideas apply to increasing effective volunteerism and service in all parts of Illinois.

For the past 30 years I've been accumulating knowledge and experience about how to connect workplace volunteers and inner city kids in long-term mentoring relationships that transform the lives of both youth and adults. Since I learned how to put information on the Internet in 1998, I've been putting my knowledge on T/MC web sites, so that others could learn from me. I've also been building a library of web links, that connect visitors to the knowledge of other people who are concerned with poverty and workforce development, and education and diversity. Thus, visitors to our web site can learn from many people, not just from me.

I've been reaching out all over the world looking for colleges that might take a role in helping to facilitate the use of this knowledge among students and alumni.

The goal of such programs is teach students and graduates to be leaders of programs that connect workplace adults with, knowledge, with peers, with resources, and with inner-city kids in long-term tutoring/mentoring strategies that lead kids into jobs/careers by age 25.

While we lead one program with this strategy (Cabrini Connections), we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help every tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region get the resources (volunteers, leaders, dollars, training, technology, etc.) that would enable them to grow in their ability to mentor kids to careers. Through the Internet, this now helps people all over the world.

In the Tutor/Mentor Connection portal (http:/ the navigation bar will lead you to a variety of sections that help you understand this strategy and that help people connect with programs, with information, and with each other in an on-going process aimed at helping every youth born in poverty today be starting a job/career by age 25.

I encourage you to visit the Program Locator section and see how we're using GIS maps and a searchable database to help people understand where programs are needed, and where existing programs are located.

I also encourage you to visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute section and read some of the power point essays. They not only illustrate our role, but they illustrate the role that companies or business associations can take to lead strategies that engage their employees in volunteerism, and in strategies that create future employees and customers.

Among the power point essays you can see a few that show how this might take shape in a university, in a hospital, and in the legal community.

You'll see that our web sites have a ton of information and that some sections focus on elearning, collaboration and innovation. If you think of our web sites as our Bible, or a Curriculum, then our goal is to help groups of people read and reflect on sections of this information on a weekly basis.

If learners tie this reading and reflection into their volunteerism, philanthropy and direct service, then each time they meet with a youth in a volunteer program, the information in the T/MC portal will become more relevant and important to them. As they become an advocate for the kids they personally get to know, some will use their talent, leadership, and wealth (obtained as they grow older) to build the infrastructure needed to help every kid in the Chicago region (or any other city) get more of the support they need to go up the pipeline into a career.

The reason I am looking for university partners is that this information needs to be packaged in a 4 to 6 year curriculum where students learn through regular classwork, and through a variety of internships, service-learning, work-study and volunteer activities. I believe that if a university adopted this as a curriculum, its graduates would soon be in demand from volunteer based programs in all parts of the country.

Furthermore, I believe that alumni who don't go into direct service, but go into industry and professions, would become leaders in workplace and government strategies that PULL kids to careers, using their employees, dollars and jobs as resources. If we can teach people to take that leadership role, we can make a huge impact on how successful non profits are in getting the resources they need to successfully do their work.

My organization is too small to do this. Universities are already doing some of this, but I've not found one who expresses the mentoring-to-career strategy, or the citywide support strategy, that we outline at the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Thus, this offers a teaching opportunity for anyone who might want to take this on.

While we host an Internet strategy, we also host a November and May Leadership and Networking Conference ( to share these ideas and to enable other tutor/mentor leaders to network and share their own vision for how to help kids to careers. Colleges have provided space for these conferences since 1994, which has enabled us to keep the costs low.

I'm looking for a host for the November 2005 conference. If you're interested in talking about the Tutor/Mentor Connection as a strategic partner, you also might want to consider hosting the conference.

Once you've had a chance to browse the web site, I hope you'll want to meet to learn more about what we're doing and ways we might integrate what we're doing with some of the goals of your university. Furthermore, I hope you'll want to discuss how the strategies of the T/MC could increase support for all steams of volunteerism, not just tutoring/mentoring.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you'll forward it to others who might be interested.

Daniel F. Bassill
Cabrini Connections (1992-2011)
Tutor/Mentor Connection (1992-present)

Illinois Commission on Volunteerism
and Community Service

(2016 note: this blog has been edited to  update web sites to current locations)


tiara22antoinette said...

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Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks. I like Wrigley, too. Even more, I like their ideas about innovation. I'd love to have some of their people volunteering time/talent with the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Sacha said...

I think what you're doing is really cool! =D

I want to set up something like T/MC in the Philippines. I'm taking my master's in Human Computer Interaction at the University of Toronto, and I'm trying to learn as much as I can so that I can create better opportunities back home. I'm passionate about helping people develop life management and communication skills. (Why don't they teach personal finance in school? Or long-term career planning?) I love reading books like "What Color is Your Parachute" and passing them on to people who are still figuring out what they want to do in life. I love helping people gain control of their time, their work and their finances by listening to how they're currently doing things and helping them improve step-by-step.

I want to learn more about mentoring and coaching, and your website is a fantastic resource. I think you're doing really wonderful things. Keep up the great work! =D

Tutor Mentor Connections said...


My hope is that people use the information provided in the Tutor/Mentor Connection to establish similar programs all over the world, and that those programs link with each other in actions that increase the visibility, capacity, and impact of each.

You can begin to take a lead in this by creating a blog page that shares information about the Tutor/Mentor Connection and similar resources with other people in your personal or education network.

If you are learning to build a web page, you can create a web site similar to the T/MC, with links to information on our site, and with links to organizations in the Phillipines who are already trying to help kids, but don't have enough people trying to help them.

If you can create a network of students, faculty and alumni from the university where you are in Toronto, your leadership can connect those people with the people in the Phillipines, and with people in the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Any one can take this leadership role at any time. As more people learn to do it we'll increase the exchange of help from those who can help to those who need help.

Over time, your experience and expertise in this role may lead you to form an organization, or may lead an organization to ask you to join them.

Good luck to you.