Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Letter from Barbara Bush, March 1991

I along with millions of others was sad to hear news yesterday of the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Many tributes to her are flowing on my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin feeds.

Below is a copy of a letter I received from Barbara Bush in 1991.

In the second paragraph she leads off saying "George Bush has said that every child deserves to have someone who knows his or her name. That is the critical kind of individual attention that can transform a child's life, and that's what a program like yours does so well."

Isaiah with mentor, Sara Caldwell
A few years ago when Tutoring Chicago (which was originally the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program when I led it between 1975 and 1992) celebrated its 50th Anniversary, the keynote speaker was alumni Isaiah Brooms. He is pictured at the left with his long-term mentor, Sara Caldwell (a founder of the Tutor/Mentor Connection). 

Isaiah told a story of how important it had been to him when he first joined the tutoring program that I knew his name and how transformative that experience was in his life. He's now a college grad, married, holding a job, and raising his own two kids.   In 1988, around when Isaiah joined, we had more than 250 kids enrolled and I made an effort to try to know all of their names....aided by my PC spreadsheet attendance list!

Barbara Bush continued her letter with "I salute you for reaching out to involve other corporations in establishing programs like Montgomery Ward's, and I have every hope that your experience with Cabrini-Green's children will  convince others that education is everybody's business."

View "it takes a village" map
Note the word "HOPE".

If you browse through the many articles I  have posted on this blog, and the printed newsletters I was sending in the 1990s, you'll find me using "I hope" over and over to spread the wish that leaders in businesses, hospitals, universities, professional associations, faith groups would become strategically involved in building and sustaining mentor-rich non-school programs in all high poverty areas of Chicago,

I really believe that "It takes a village to raise a child" and that organized, non-school tutor/mentor programs can be that village for many kids.

I put this 1993 Chicago SunTimes story in an article I wrote in April 2015. I've highlighted the opening and closing sections to show the problems that were keeping big solutions to poverty from forming in the 1970s and 80s, were the same keeping them from forming in the 1990s and 2000s. Too many people want to do their own thing. Too  many are reinventing the wheel. Too little commitment to long-term solutions.  Too many with "not invented here" attitudes.

Thus, the problems that motivated leaders to launch the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward in 1965 and that have motivated me to form the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011, are still with us.

My resources to do this work have shrunk to almost nothing and I've been looking for new leaders to invest in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC or to adopt it and move it into a university or some other institution. 

Maybe Mrs. Bush will provide some help to fuel that hope from her place with the angels in what ever Heaven there may be.

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