Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jewish Donors Urged To Aid Small Charities - What can we learn from this?

I visited the Give and Take Blog on the Chronicle of Philanthropy web site today and read an article titled Jewish Donors Urged To Aid Small Charities.

I followed the links on the article to an Op-Ed: titled "Invest in Innovation". I encourage you to read it. It shows how the writers recognize the power of small, fast-innovating organizations, and the need for these organizations to find donations in this tough economy.

This is exactly what I hope leaders of Chicago's Jewish community will do, but that they will apply their generosity to supporting volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in all parts of the Chicago region, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, not just Jewish causes.

The map I've posted shows poverty in Chicago and Jewish synagogues. If leadership in this community were mobilizing donors, many tutor/mentor programs could be receiving donations to help them through the summer and through the 2009-10 school year.

In the Interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, you can create views of each major faith denomination, and see how tutor/mentor programs all over the region could benefit if volunteers and donors were being consistently mobilized by different congregations.

If you are writing such an article for your faith community, business, or alumni group, please send a copy to the Tutor/Mentor Connection so we can give you recognition for this leadership role.

Measuring Outcomes

In the struggle to find operating dollars to sustain a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program the issue of impact and outcomes is raised over and over.

Between 1975 and 1992 when I was leading the Montgomery Ward Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, people would ask, "how many of your kids have graduated from college?" "How many are now volunteering with you?"

The kids we were working with were in 2nd through 6th grade. We did not have a 7th to 12th grade component. Just keeping the "little" kids coming each week and matched with volunteers was a huge job, since our program was led by volunteers with full time jobs.

Thus what we focused on was participation and retention. Our logic was that there was an benefit to each youth who had an expanded network of adult support that was made possible by the connections we provided between youth and adult volunteers.

Furthermore, since kids came to the Wards building for tutoring at 5pm, after they had already gone home from school, they were volunteers, just like the adults. Thus, our ability to have weekly attendance rates of 85% or better for kids and 80% of better for volunteers, and to keep most of the kids and volunteers involved from the beginning to the end of the school year, and to have a large percent return each year until they could not participate after sixth grade, was a good measure of our success.

Kids and volunteers would not make the effort to come each week if we did not offer something of value to them. We did not have the information to show what was happening to these kids after 6th grade, even though we knew this was important.

That's why we created Cabrini Connections in the fall of 1993. This program starts kid at 7th grade and attempts to keep them involved with us through high school. Some of the first kids to join us in 1993 began to graduate in 1998 and 1999. Each year since then 4-6 kids who had been with us from 4 to 6 years finished high school. Now we're beginning to collect with alumni on Facebook, and gather information on some who have finished college, or who are still searching for security in their lives. Here's a chart that illustrates some of our outcomes.

When we created Cabrini Connections, we also created the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This was an outgrowth of networking we had done with other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago since 1975. Many of the ideas we have applied to Cabrini Connections were learned from other programs in Chicago, or in other cities. All we did with the formation of the T/MC was formalize the process of collecting information about the different tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, as well as efforts to increase public attention for these programs, so there would be more networking, and there would be more consistent funding.

This chart shows the growth of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1992

One of the benefits of this is that we, and everyone else, can learn from the work being done by each other. Today I visited the web site of Chicago Youth Programs. I encourage you to view their outcomes page. It illustrates that they share the same commitment we do for tracking retention and participation information as a measure of the outcomes of their program.

In the Chicago Program Links section and the Tutor/Mentor Links section on the T/MC web site you can find links to more than 200 Chicago youth organization web sites, and many others around the country.

If you lead a tutor/mentor program, I encourage you to use these to benchmark how well you tell your story, compared to how well others are telling what they do on their own web sites. Learn from others and find ways to make your program the "best" in the world. Your web site should show that commitment, and how you are doing it.

If you are a volunteer, donor, business leader, or education policy researchers, I encourage you to use the same information to build your own understanding of the impact non-school tutor/mentor programs can have on the lives of economically disadvantaged kids living in concentrated poverty of big cities. Use this information to "shop" for where you want to volunteer or provide your dollars.

You should not need a written proposal or request for a donation. Everyone of these organizations cannot operate, or constantly improve, without a regular flow of volunteers, operating and innovation dollars, and leadership.

If we want public schools to measure up, and if we want to close the education gaps, we need to find ways to expand the tutor/mentor and learning networks for kids attending poorly performing schools.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High cost, low return, stimulus fund raising

I participate in an on-line forum that connects some of the leading mentoring researchers in the world. It's hosted by David DuBois of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In one email message this weekend, David wrote, "Mark, congrats on getting the OJJDP app in. I was part of a proposal submitted by City of Chicago here and am aware of at least one other one submitted by a Chicago agency I think the competition will likely be stiff, but not as bad as the NIH Challenge grant competition I also put in
an app for--rumor for it is as many as 30,000 apps for 200 awards--less
than 1% hit rate! "

This does not make sense. This maps shows that there are many neighborhoods of Chicago where comprehensive, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed. If everyone of these programs submitted applications, imagine the total cost in time and dollars that would be spent. In the end, maybe one, or two would be funded.

Good for them! But what happens to the others? Do they just close the doors and say "sorry kids, no money."

This is the challenge I have faced every year since 1992 when I and six other volunteers formed Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. I'm a small non profit. I've never had a professional fund raising staff. That means I'm the grant writer in addition to everything else.

With each grant you put emotional resources into the effort to find dollars. Each time you're one of the 99% who don't get funded, but do get a nice letter saying "thanks for your proposal, good luck to you", it take just a little bit more energy out of your commitment to keep doing all you can to assure that the kids are connected to volunteers and the long term result is that some of the kids are finishing college and starting careers by age 25.

Even if I did have a paid grant writing and development staff, with only 1% winners, imagine how much money I'd be spending. This is money that could pay rent, and provide social, emotional, mental health, and/or tutoring and vocational education mentoring to our kids. It's money that we don't have enough of, and that is just wasted when so many of us are writing grants that so few of us get funded for.

What's the answer? Advertising. Public Education. Workplace fund raising. Teach consumers (volunteers and donors) why tutor/mentor programs are important, where they are needed, and how to decide how they can support such programs with time, talent and dollars. Teach them to stay connected once they pick a program, just like they stay connected once they give birth to a child.

Then teach them to shop the maps in portals like the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, so they can pick the neighborhood they want to help, then choose which program (if there is more than one), based on the information on that program's web site.

If we can find ways that as many people think about helping disadvantaged kids each week as watch Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, or NFL basketball, we can generate the dollars and volunteer involvement that would make these programs more available to more kids.

Tutor/Mentor Connection can not do this by ourselves. We can't do what we do without donations. We need leadership from many places.

You can donate to us at this link. Or send checks to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642.

You can provide the stimulus funding we and others needed by your own direct involvement.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The high costs of doing too little

The McKinsey Report: The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools

On the Smart Communities blog, I found this quote today:

If America had closed the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 and had raised its performance to the level of such nations as Finland and South Korea, United States G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $1.3 trillion and $2.3 trillion higher.

If we had closed the racial achievement gap and black and Latino student performance had caught up with that of white students by 1998, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher.

If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been narrowed, G.D.P. in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher.

Read other articles here and here.

Dig deeper on education issues here.

Read more blogs about learning here.

Stay personally connected by becoming a volunteer tutor/mentor, or reading the blogs, at Cabrini Connections or a similar program in Chicago or in your own community.

Future NFL star takes time out for tutor/mentor program

I encourage you to read the article El Da'Sheon Nix wrote about Northwestern University Football Star Tyrell Sutton's visit to Cabrini Connections last night. With this NFL draft this weekend, we're grateful that Tyrell took some time out of training to visit.

Tyrell is one of a growing number of football players to take an interest in Cabrini Connections. Kurt Kittner, former University of Illinois and Chicago Bear Quarterback is a member of the Board of Directors. This PDF is an example of how athletes like Kurt can draw volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs.

Zak Kustok, another former NU player, who spent time as a Quarterback with the Bears, is volunteering with Cabrini Connections this year.

At the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference on May 28 and 29 one workshop will focus on how athletes can use their visibility to draw volunteers and donors to tutor/mentor programs throughout the city where they go to college or play professional ball. This is an open discussion, so athletes, and coaches, from high school, college and professional sports are encouraged to attend.

Helping tutor/mentor programs help inner city kids is a team sport. We need many people to be involved and many roles to be taken, ranging from volunteer and student to leader and donor. If you take this role, you can help inner city kids have brighter futures.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Understanding "tutor/mentor" as family

I've used this VILLAGE map before to illustrate the range of people and organizations who need to be involved in helping tutor/mentor programs connect with kids in poverty neighborhoods. I've used maps to illustrate all of the places in Chicago with high poverty where such programs are needed.

However, I'm not sure that many people really understand the concept of "tutor/mentor" the way it's implemented at Cabrini Connections.

Tis is a photo of me in 1974. The young man next to me is a 4th grade boy named Leo. He was the first, and only, student that I've been in a one-on-one mentoring match with.

This is a link to a profile of Cabrini Connections on the Oprah's Angel Network web site. If you scroll down to read the comments, you can find a message posted by Leo. We've stayed connected for more than 35 years. You can find him in my Facebook friends list.

You can also find more than 20 other Cabrini Connections alumni, and many other volunteers, including the people who were the leaders of Cabrini Connections in the 1990s. Today I received a message from one student who said:

Technology is amazing isn't it! You can re-connect at the tap of a button :) it has been sometime, I was talking about the Cabrini program and few other programs that I participated in when I was child. I believe I started at 10 years old, and now I am 30 years old---wow!!! It is so awesome to speak with you, and if I never said so thank you! You may have never known this but when I was a junior tutor, we had a special celebration and an opportunity to win gifts. Well I did pretty good and won a christmas tree. I pushed that tree home from Chicago Ave....LOL and my family and I had a great christmas with our tree :) it's so small but it meant so much to us.

Another former student, who is now pursuing an acting career in New York, wrote, "Dan, I'm so happy to reconnect with you and Cabrini Connections here on Facebook. "

Another student wrote, "Dan, is there a way that you could find our old tutors?"

That last message illustrates part of what is possible with the Internet. We can connect students to former mentors and we can connect volunteers and students to each other.

In poverty neighborhoods, such as those shown on the Chicago maps, kids don't have as broad a network of adults and experiences. They don't have many connections to people beyond poverty that a program like Cabrini Connections provides.

While the role the mentors play as the kids move through school is important, I think the connections that are continued through adult lives, as we're all struggling with family, jobs, health, and many other issues, can be even more important. Without the connection Cabrini Connections has made, and sustains, many years after the donor paid for the match to take place at our tutor/mentor site, many of our kids, and their children, would still be isolated by poverty, without many lifelines to help them overcome these challenges.

While the Cabrini Connections program operates in one neighborhood of Chicago, the Tutor/Mentor Connection supports the growth of tutoring and/or mentoring programs in all parts of Chicago. While not many other programs have the long-term view of Cabrini Connections, our aim is to help them get the steady flow of volunteers and dollars that enables such long-term relationships to grow.

If you're a donor, or a business executive looking to establish a new foundation, or someone looking to bequeath wealth to be used after your death, why not consider setting up a foundation to support this type of tutor/mentor program.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Keeping up with Education Issues

I participate in a variety of on-line forums and this is one way I expand my understanding of issues, and the network of people working with me to help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places.

One forum I like a lot is called Fireside Learning: Articles about Education. This link is to a set of discussions titled "Journal Articles and Education in the News" . I've added a link on the side bar so you can find this whenever you visit this site.

Here's an article about Arne Duncan, posted in Rethinking Education.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Youth Video Project Creates Leaders

On April 4th Cabrini Connections hosted its annual Arts and Video Festival. Work created by students and volunteers was shown and sold, with money going to the student artists, and to Cabrini Connections.

One of the highlights of the event was the screening of the final version of a video documentary that Cabrini Connections teens and volunteers have been working on for almost 4 years. The film title is Cabrini Green, This is What I know: Our Lives, Our Truths, Our Stories, and it features interviews with the students who created the video, as well as with others living in the Cabrini Green neighborhood, or working with the re-development of the neighborhood.

This project was funded with a grant from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) . Originally this program was hosted at the University of Maryland. Now it is hosted at Tufts University.

Here you can read an article written about the Cabrini Connections project, and CIRCLE, by Peter Levine.

You can order a copy of the video, by sending a check for $15 to Cabrini Connections, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642. Include your name and mailing address.

You can support the arts and mentoring of Cabrini Connections with a donation, using this form.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Building Long-Term Networks of Support

We all know how we're reconnecting with long-lost friends on Facebook and Linked in. I'd like to show how this is helping a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program support long-term mentoring and networking connections between its volunteers, leaders and students

The woman in this picture is Claudia Crilly Bellucci. She was one of the first two people hired at Cabrini Connections in 1993. She had been a volunteer in the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program for nearly 10 year prior to that.

Among the kids in this picture, the girl on the far left is Tameeka Meekins. She joined us when she was entering 6th grade, after having been part of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring program prior to that. Also in this picture is Tangela Smith (white sweatshirt near picture on wall). Tangela was one of our first high school graduates in 1997. Tangela just had a baby.

In the photo to the right, the lady in the middle is Gena Schoen. Gena was also hired in the summer of 1993. She had been part of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program from about 1988. When she was hired to work part time for Cabrini Connections she was working with the Montgomery Ward Corporate Foundation, which had agreed to provide a muti-year grant to help Cabrini Connections get off the ground.

Gena remained with Cabrini Connections through 2001, and was the primary leader and developer of the tutor/mentor program from 1993 to 2000, along with myself. She moved to Washington, DC in 2001 to take a job there. In this picture are Lovae Smith, who graduated from high school in 1999 and Eric Moore, who also graduated in 1999. I saw Eric at a funeral in December 2008.

Gena and Claudia and I have stayed in contact through email, just as I've stayed in contact with hundreds of other former volunteers from the past 30 years. As of this weekend, we're now connected to each other and to a growing number of former students through Facebook.

What this means is that the money donors invested 10 to 15 years ago to help us build these connections, is still paying dividends today, as this family of students and volunteers is reconnecting with each other in social networks spaces.

This picture shows Gena, an other volunteers and alumni at our 2003 year end Dinner. You can find some of these on Facebook, too. We'll be doing our next dinner on June 4, 2008. I hope that if any of you are connected to volunteers or students who have been part of Cabrini Connections, or the tutoring program hosted from 1965 to 1990 by Montgomery Ward, will join our Facebook group, and will support the dinner.

I just received an email from Bradore Thompson, class of 2001, who is looking for help finding a job. I encouraged him to set up a profile on Facebook to re-connect with this network, and to tell of his work experience and the type of job he was looking for, so the rest of the network can offer him their help.

When donors ask me for metrics to evaluate the impact of Cabrini Connections, I point to the attendance records, and to metrics charts, which show how we have motivated kids and volunteers to come together at Cabrini Connections, and how many met each week for 3 to seven years. However, that is not satisfying some donors. They want to see reading and math scores.

Those scores don't show what these connections on Facebook are showing. They don't show how kids living in poverty and volunteers with different work experiences, were introduced to each other by Cabrini Connections, and now are still connected to each other through the networking we're doing to connect with them on the Internet.

Most kids don't have a network like this. The kids who have been part of Cabrini Connections do.

I'm now connected to kids in
these photos on Facebook.
Update 4-2020 - When I first wrote this post we were just beginning to learn about Facebook.  Now in 2020 I'm connected to many of the young people and volunteers who I wrote about, watching as their lives have moved forward another 12  years.

I've not been part of Cabrini Connections since 2011 and now lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection, via Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, but am doing the same work of trying to help mentor-rich youth programs grow in more places.

Can you make a donation to support this?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Message of Hope

I hope that all who celebrate the religious holidays of this weekend have been warmed by the company of family and friends. I've been meaning to sit down and write something all day, but did not find time until now.

This morning
I read a story in my Sunday newspaper about how ministers were using the Easter stories in the Bible to show how people can overcome insurmountable challenges and periods of great uncertainty, such as we're dealing with now.

This made me think of my own doubts.

Every day I'm reminded over and over of how impossible it is to build a system that would be more consistent in helping people overcome their problems and life challenges. I'm reminded of how corruption seems to be raging in all levels of government, how the environment is being destroyed and how the inevitable pace of global warming will turn vast parts of the world into deserts.

I'm reminded of how the economy, the issues of our own health, the challenges of raising our own kids and taking care of elder parents, makes it almost impossible to spend quality time thinking about ow to help others who have similar problems, but fewer resources to deal with them.

How can one person, with the limited skills and resources that I offer, have an impact on a world with these huge obstacles?

This is the fifth year that I've been writing this blog. Here are a couple of articles I wrote in the past on Easter weekend

EASTER is about Hope. What it means to me (March 2008)

Silent Crisis (April 2006)

I'm reminded of a powerful book titled JESUS, CEO, which shows how one person, with limited skills, a limited network, an unskilled workforce, and no access to Facebook or Twitter, has changed the world for the past 2000 years. I wrote about this a couple of years ago.

My reflections help energize me. I hope you'll take your own inspiration from these articles, and will keep "tilting at the windmills" of immovable mountains to inch forward in doing our best to shape a different world for future generations.

We do have the Internet and all of these social networking tools. Let's use them to connect and give support, and hope, to others who are on a similar path but in different places. We can each be disciples to each other. Maybe we won't have the world-changing impact of Jesus. or Mohammad, or the other great leaders of the world's religions. Maybe we will.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Using maps. Take a look at the new Tutor/Mentor Interactive Program Locator

While the Tutor/Mentor Connection uses concept maps, it also uses real maps, like this one, to tell the story of poverty, poor schools, and tutor/mentor programs.

We've launched a new interactive Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and Mike Trakan has written a great introduction on his blog.

This map is an example of how we tell stories. It shows participation in the May 2008 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. The next conference is May 28 and 29 and we're accepting registrations now. You can already see names of some people planning to attend. As you register, you can choose to add your own name to the list. That way other people who are attending can make plans to meet you, and you'll be able to connect with more of the people you want to me.

Thus, when we do the map following this conference, hopefully we'll show participation from the same locations as in 2008, but we'll also add people from other parts of the city where tutor/mentor programs are needed.

That's the beauty of the new interactive program locator. You can create views that not only show what programs are in different parts of the city; you can now create view showing potential partners, such as banks , or faith groups, who are in different neighborhoods.

Using these maps tutor/mentor programs can mobilize more support from the other stakeholders in the neighborhood, working in collaboration with others. Thus, when you're thinking about the May conference, think of the partners who you might bring to the conference so they can learn how to help your neighborhood have a world-class, Olympic Gold-level tutor/mentor program.

We'd like to hear comments about how people are using the Program Locator, and any problems. Just email me at or post comments on our blogs.

I'd like to thank the anonymous donor who gave Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection $50,000 in 2007 to build our mapping capacity and this Program Locator. We could not have done t his without your help.

Now, I'd like to find another donor who will help us keep this going for the next year or two!!

Visualizing Complex Strategies

If you've read many of the articles on this blog you'll see that I use maps to visualize strategies and concepts. This one, for instance, illustrates what might happen if resource providers were acting like shoppers, searching for tutor/mentor programs all over the city.

This is one of many concept maps I've created to illustrate the Tutor/Mentor Connection's strategy. I've learned much of what I do from people like George Siemens, who publishes an eLearning blog and shares great ideas on knowledge management and innovation.

These concept maps are one visualization strategy. We also use real maps, created with Geographic Information systems. Click here to read articles that illustrate uses of maps. Click here to see our new Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, launched this week. Take a look at the interactive map. It's a brand new feature.

We've changed a few of our web sites in the past couple of months, and this resulted in broken links on the concept maps. I've been trying to fix these for about six weeks, and just could not get the updates to work. Finally last week I deleted all of the old maps, and put in new ones. Of course, that created a different problem, because it changed the links from my blogs to the maps.

Thus, I've spent all day today trying to fix this. I think I've patched most of them, but the links in past articles to the concept maps, will still be broken.

Thus, if you've been looking at our concept maps, use this link as the entry. From here you can navigate to all of the other concept maps we've done. If you're looking for one in particular, just email me and I'll send you a link.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tutor/Mentor Programs: a STORE offering hope and opportunity

Are you involved with a non profit organization? Are you a volunteer, donor, board member or student with a tutor/mentor program in Chicago, or another city? Have you ever thought of the non profit you work with as a "store" where the shelves are full of products and services that benefit the community served by this organization?

Is the tutor/mentor program in your neighborhood a shopping mall of good things for kids? What can people who don't live in these neighborhoods do to help great tutor/mentor stores reach kids in inner city markets?

Have you thought of yourself, or your donors as customers? This PDF illustrates my vision of the Tutor/Mentor STORE. It's a place in a high poverty neighborhood where the customers are the kids and volunteers who connect each week through the year.

If volunteers and students are customers, what are the products and services they find at the store? For the youth, it's an adult who gives some special attention to them. It's the books, technology, arts and other experiences that they can take part in. It's the help with homework or study habits.

Last Saturday we shared some of the products and services of the Cabrini Connections store, with volunteers and potential donors. We hosted an Arts and Video Festival, showing and selling art created by students and volunteers, such as the mural these kids are standing in front of. We also presented a new Cabrini Connections video documentary, created by other teens and volunteers.

In our vision of a tutor/mentor program, the volunteers, and the donors are customers. They are also owners. We need to show them what we do, how they can help us. We need them to share the responsibilities of making sure the store is stocked with learning experiences and mentoring activities that will motivate kids to participate each week. We need them to make sure we have well trained staff, who want to work in the non profit environment, and who will make this a career.

We share information about what the Cabrini Connections store does on the web site and on blogs. Our aim is that as volunteers and donors read reports about poverty and poor schools, or respond to "calls for involvement" by public leaders like President Obama, they will learn to SHOP, like customers do in most communities, to choose what tutor/mentor program they want to support with their time, talent and dollars.

What makes Cabrini Connections unique is that while we operate one tutor/mentor "store" in one part of Chicago, we lead the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and maintain an on-line resource library and Program Locator database, that enables volunteers and donors and parents to shop all neighborhoods of Chicago to choose what program they will support, based on how that program tells its story on its web site or blog.

We also work as a trade association, helping every program get the ideas and resources they need to operate an effective tutor/mentor "store" in their own neighborhood of Chicago, and in other cities. In May and November we host a conference in Chicago. On Ning we host an on-line forum. We use this blog, and our maps, the way newspapers use special interest columns, to provide daily focus to the need for great tutor/mentor programs to be operating in every high poverty neighborhood.

Are you interested in being a customer, or an owner? Look in the mirror. If you want to help kids living in inner city poverty escape the drugs, gangs and violence, you need to help them move through school and into jobs. While schools are one type of store, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs, operating in the non-school hours, are another kind of store. They are needed in many places throughout the Chicago region. You can use your time, talent and dollars to help one, or many, of these organizations become the greatest places in the city for kids and volunteers to connect, and transform the life journey for each other.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tutor/Mentor Programs in Chicago

I encourage you to read the introductions Nicole White of the Tutor/Mentor Connection has written about ABC Chicago Youth Centers, Girls on the Run, Casa Central, 826 CHI and Erie Neighborhood House.

This illustrates the diversity of volunteer-based tutoring and mentoring in Chicago. These are just a few of the 266 organizations we have in the Chicago Program Locator database.

They all need a constant flow of operating dollars, as does Cabrini Connections, which is operated by the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

That's why we need leadership strategies from industry, faith groups, universities and professional groups that encourage on-going giving and volunteering to tutor/mentor programs in the different neighborhoods of Chicago.

Help if you can. This is not an April Fools Joke. This is a real need.