Monday, June 19, 2006

Gangs Migrate to 'burbs" - What you can do about it

In the June 19, 2006 Chicago Sun Times a full page was devoted to this story about gangs building a foothold in Chicago's suburbs. The link to the story is at

To me the most important part was reporting the recommendation to "give kids an alternative to gangs through after school programs, summer job programs, and drug prevention education".

I agree. That's what I try to do at This is a comprehensives volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring program that seeks to compete for the participation of kids by providing learning and enrichment and mentoring in the non-school hours.

At you can see how we're trying to help programs like Cabrini Connections be available in all poverty neighborhoods. Unfortunately, there are too few dollars to support the growth of programs like ours, and too few programs in most of the neighborhoods that are a breeding ground for gangs.

Thus, if you want to see less gang activity in your suburb, or in the city, I encourage you to visit our web sites and look for ways you can support the growth of tutor/mentor programs with your time, your talent, your leadership and your dollars.

Don't wait for the government, or the school board, or the other guy to take this responsibility. Look in the mirror at the end of each day and tell yourself what YOU did to make more and better non-school learning, mentoring and career education programs available in neighborhoods where gangs have taken over, or will take over, without your involvement.

Send a contribution to support our work, to: Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60622. We are a 501(c)3 non profit.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Volunteer Recruitment for 2006-07 School Year - Get Involved

At the Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conference in May, many of the discussions focused on recruiting volunteers. In the photo at the left I'm talking with a leader from Rockford, Illinois.

Today I met with other members of the Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Lend A Hand Program ( to review nominations for the annual Lend A Hand Awards which will be presented in a gala event on July 12.

One of the nominations was submitted by Beth Palmer, Executive Director of the Inspired Youth Program. In her nomination of an attorney from the firm of Holland & Knight, Beth wrote "We met Lisa in September 2004 at Borders Books on N. Michigan Avenue at the recruitment fair, "What a Difference a Day Makes". In October 2004 she came to tutor in the Inspired Youth Tutoring Program."

Beth's nomination went on to tell of all of the ways Lisa has been making a difference for the Inspired Youth Program and the kids it serves.

This happened because the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been organizing the annual volunteer recruitment campaign every year since 1995 and because Beth Palmer has been participating for most of those years.

Since 2003 we've not had funds for a part time staff person to organize the annual campaign, so it's been more difficult. Yet, it was 2004 when Beth's volunteer joined her, so this shows that what we're doing is still helping programs get new volunteers.

It's time to get serious about the 2006 campaign, which kicks off on August 1. This campaign is mostly a media campaign. It works when lots of programs find ways to tell the story of individual youth and volunteers who meet in their program. Our goal is to get tutor/mentor stories into all sorts of print, radio, TV and internet media, starting in early August, and continuing each week, like Advertising, through the middle of September.

The goal is to have each story point to the program that originated the story, and to have a line saying "learn more about tutor/mentor opportunities in the Chicago region. Go to the Program Locator at"

As long as each story finishes with this line, every story will contribute to the movement of an army of potential volunteers to the Program Locator on the T/MC web site. In this section people can search by type of program, age group, time of day the program operates, or the name of a program, to locate contact information and web site links for specific programs in those areas.

Of course, this does not work for you if you don't have your contact information up to date in the Program Locator.

We've added a new feature that enables you to edit your information, or to add a new program location. You'll need to email the T/MC at to learn how to register to use this. Once you do, you'll find its easy to keep up to date.

Beth wrote about Lisa, "She was an innovator in Inspired Youth from the beginning." Imagine having a few volunteers like that in your organization.

It can happen if you take an active role in the recruitment campaign, and if you start planning for the campaign now, when there are still a few months to develop stories and find ways to distribute them to potential volunteers.

If you're reading this and you're not in Chicago, contact me and let me help you create a Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy in your own community.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Celebration of 2005-06 Tutoring/Mentoring

Tonight is the annual celebration of one more year of tutoring/mentoring provided by Cabrini Connections.

This will be the 33rd dinner for me, dating back to 1973 when I first became a volunteer.

Cabrini Connections ( will have 7 seniors graduating from high school this spring. They join a growing number of alumni -- like James, shown at the left in the photo above. James graduated last year and this photos shows him sharing his experiences with younger students and volunteers during a March Career Day event hosted by the Junior League of Chicago.

The student alumni, who have graduated from Cabrini Connections every year since 1998, are out of high school, but most are not yet at age 25 or at a point where they are anchored in jobs and careers.

We have 6 juniors, 12 10th graders and 19 in freshmen in this year's class, plus 32 in 7th and 8th grade. Thus, while we celebrate the graduation of our seniors, we need to find the $200,000 it will take to offer Cabrini Connections again next year and in each of the following years, if we're to help our younger students have a year end dinner when they are seniors, and if we're to find ways to help our alumni be starting jobs and careers over the next 4 to 8 years.

We cannot do this without your help. Non profits around the country are struggling to find donations and funding. Those who work with inner city kids, are not as visible as those who deal with AIDS, or Cancer, or who respond to tragedies like Katrina, or the Tsunami, or the genocide in Darfur.

Thus, it's up to those who have been part of Cabrini Connections, as a student, or a volunteer, or a past donor, to decide how important it is for this program to be available next year and in future years. There are three ways you can help.

a) make a donation today, using the Pay Pal on one of the links below, or by writing a check and putting it in the mail this weekend.

b) ask your company, your co-worker, or others who have the ability to give, to make a donation as a sponsor for one of these events

c) tell the story of your involvement via a blog or some other form of story-telling and networking. You've been part of the dinner in the past. Many of you have been involved with Cabrini Connections for 3 years or more. You have many stories. Tell them to people you know and invite them to help keep this vision alive.

At you can read about how you can be a sponsor of the 2006-07 program.

At you can read about how you can be a sponsor of our annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Cabrini Connections Golf Benefit.

There are many issues in most people's mind that are more important than helping an inner city youth connect with a volunteer tutor/mentor. However, for many Cabrini Connections alumni, this connection has changed the way we understand poverty and the way we think of our own responsibility for making this a better world.

I hope you will help me keep find the money it takes each month and each year to repeat the September through May activities that least to each year end dinner celebration.

Thank you.

Daniel F. Bassill
President & CEO
Tutor/Mentor Connection
Cabrini Connections

PS: Cabrini Connections is a 501c(3) not-for-profit organization. Our Federal taxpayer identification number is 36-3893431