Friday, July 15, 2011

Life is a Jouney. Detours happen.

Today is my last day on the payroll of Cabrini Connections, the Chicago tutor/mentor program that I and six other volunteers created in the fall of 1992. I've been the president CEO for the past 18 years.

While we operate a single tutor/mentor program serving a small group of youth, my 35 years leading a tutor/mentor program, and my advertising background with the Montgomery Ward Corporation, led me to create the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 at the same time as we were creating Cabrini Connections.

Our goal was to build a system of supports that would help more children in Chicago be able to participate in high quality tutor/mentor programs by increasing the way those programs are supported by volunteers, donors, media, etc.

The video below illustrates some of the ideas I've developed over the past two decades.

Unfortunately we've not been able to attract the high profile leadership, celebrity or political support that is essential to raising the philanthropic capital needed to do what we're trying to do. In the end, the struggle to find money to operate the Cabrini Connections part caused the volunteer Board of Directors to decide they can no longer support the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Thus, I'm leaving the organization I started and have led for so many years and re-launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Initially I'm creating Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which will enable me to move forward in organizing a November Conference, and see financial support from investors and others who believe in what we're trying to do.

I'll be working from my basement in Park Ridge and from donated space at HIGHSIGHT, located at 315 W. Walton in Chicago, which is one of the many Chicago tutor/mentor programs I've been connected to for more than 15 years.

The change from being part of Cabrini Connections to being a separate entity has happened quite quickly so many of the important details -- like how to generate income to support what we do and pay me and others to provide our time and talent -- have not been worked out.

Yet, in February 1990 when I left my job at Montgomery Ward, I did not know where the money was going to come from, yet I was committed to continuing my leadership of the tutoring program at Wards which I had led as a volunteer since 1975.

When I left the my role as Executive Directory and founder of the Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program in October 1992 I did not know where the money and help was going to come from to start Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Yet we've raised more than $6 million and involved more than 580 teens and 800 volunteers in the Cabrini Connections program since 1993. We've created a Tutor/Mentor Connection that connects the web sites and ideas of most of the tutor/mentor programs in Chicago to each other, and connects Chicago programs to the ideas of others around the world.

We still don't have a leadership system in Chicago or any other city that applies the ideas of the Tutor/Mentor Connection or draws consistent financial support to tutor/mentor programs in every neighborhood on a consistent and on-going basis. Thus we have an uneven distribution of programs, uneven quality, and inconsistent growth caused by constant changes of personnel.

So by leaving the CEO role at Cabrini Connections I will have much more time to devote to building tools that support collective efforts, collaboration, innovation and the on-going general operations of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and in other big cities of the world.

I hope you'll follow my progress, join the journey, and help put some financial gas in the engine so we can do this better then we've been able to in the past.

Thank you all for your support and thank you to the youth, parents, volunteers and friends of Cabrini Connections who have let me be part of your lives for so many years.

To those who give, much is given in return. I have given over 35 years to Cabrini Green youth and I believe I have been well rewarded through the love and friendship of the people I've met.

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