Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My Dreams Keep Taking Me Back

How many of you rehash what happens at your workplace in your dreams? Do you have those dreams almost every night?  I do.  

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 1990 as a volunteer, while holding a full time advertising job. We had 100 pairs of 2nd to 6th grade kids attending weekly in 1975 and we grew each year until we had 300 pairs in 1990. I led the conversion of that program to a non-profit in 1990 when I left my job with Montgomery Ward, so I could lead the program full time, and earn a living while doing it.  By June 1992 we were up to 440 kids and 550 volunteers and had began a successful fund raising strategy. 

Every week for 17 years, from 1975 to 1992, I spent time thinking of how to recruit, retain and support the kids and volunteers in that program, and how to get a few volunteers to help me.

In the fall of 1992 I left the first program and with the help of six volunteers, formed a new program to help kids who aged out of the first program after 6th grade move from 7th grade through high school, and hopefully college or vocational school, and then a job.  We started with 5 teens and 7 volunteers in January 1993 and grew each year. By 1998 we were averaging 80 pairs of kids and volunteers weekly, with another 20+ volunteers helping.  

We also built the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

As we started the second program in late 1992 we also decided to fill a void, and build a strategy that would draw attention and needed resources more consistently to every tutor/mentor program in Chicago. During 1993 we developed a 10 part strategy, which we launched in January 1994 with our first survey to identify as many other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago as we could find. Using that information we organized the first Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1994, published the first printed Directory of programs, and organized a citywide volunteer recruitment campaign in spring 1995.  

We raised $50,000 the first year and $114,000 the second and by 1998 we were raising over $300,000.  Can you imagine how many fund raising letters and requests were involved in raising that money. Most came from donations of less than $5,000.


The 10 point strategy was condensed to 4 steps by 1996 and I've spent the past 25 years finding ways to share that strategy with others and recruiting help to operate our own single program, which I led until 2011.  View this 2010 PDF showing impact of our work. 

We used the walls at the donated space in the Montgomery Ward complex to show the strategies we were following so they were visible to our volunteers when they came to work with our teens, and to potential donors when they visited.


After a while I began to notice that I was overwhelming people when I walked them through the strategy, so I started creating visualizations using PowerPoint and desk-top publishing.  We shared these in printed newsletters that went to 300 people in 1993, and 12,000 by 2003. We put them on websites starting in 1998 and on this blog starring in 2005. I've shared them regularly on social media since 2009.

By 1998 some of our teens were finishing high school and by 2003 some were finishing college. Today I'm connected to many on Facebook and seeing them tell stories of their own kids finishing high school and college. Many offer thanks for the support the tutoring programs provided.

Every day for more than 45 years I've been trying to answer one big question. "What are all the things we need to know and do to assure that all youth born or living in high poverty are entering careers by age 25?"

I wake up many times in the night with these conversations taking place in my dreams.  

I have probably led a single tutor/mentor program for more years than most other people in the world.  There are probably others who have been continuously involved for 20 or more years and they may have the same dreams I have.

However, there are even fewer people who've tried to help mentor-rich programs like I led reach kids in every high poverty area of a big city like Chicago,  by building an information library and communications strategy and trying to motivate leaders from every sector to use it to support their own actions to help kids to careers. 

Many of my dreams are nightmares, rehashing all the things that did not work, or that I did wrong, or that did not do what I hoped they would do.  Many just seem like live reality TV, with me watching scenes from various program activities, or me trying to explain the four part strategy to another person.

I chronicled these activities, like our trips to Great America, in yearbooks I created every spring from 1975 to 1999.  You can find links to these on this page





Here's what kept driving me to do this work. This was a front page story in 1992 after a 7 year old boy in Cabrini Green was shot and killed. The editorial said "it's everyone's responsibility."  

However, another far greater motivation was the love and caring shared by the kids and volunteers I had the honor to get to know over all of these years.  Look at the pictures in the yearbooks from past years (see links here).

Another has been the thank you's I've received from parents, program leaders and others for how the Tutor/Mentor Connection has helped them. 


I keep repeating a phrase Merri Dee of WGN TV told me in the early 1990s.

"If it is to be it is up to me."   and YOU.

I can't do this by myself. Never could. I have tried to enlist  universities for many years. Here's a page on my planning wiki outlining steps for a university to get to know the strategies I've developed and take ownership.  This is not a new invitation. I've been sharing it since the late 1990s.

Imagine if there were a PhD program someplace where students spent 4-6 years learning from my archives, and from hands-on work in different youth serving organizations.  |

Such a program would create leaders for youth programs everywhere, who had the same learning and sharing strategies that I've modeled.  However, it also would create thousands of leaders in business, politics, media, etc. who were proactive in seeking out tutor/mentor and learning programs and helping them grow, using their own time, talent and dollars.


You can see this visualization and how I described it in this article

Would that lead to more people having the same dreams I have?  I hope so.

Thanks for reading my articles. Please share them.  Have a Happy New Year with freedom from Covid19 and with more hope and opportunity for all.






Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 As the last few hours before Christmas Day arrives, I offer wishes of good health, happiness and safety to all.  


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Connecting like #CLMOOC

Here's a post that I saw today on Twitter. What I liked about this is that Simon Ensor (who teaches in France) points to 2014 and 2018 articles to show how the educators in the Connected Learning cMOOC (#clmooc) have influenced his current work. 


I've used this graphic in the past to show major networks that I'm part of. This includes extended family, Illinois Wesleyan Acacia Fraternity current and alumni members, youth and volunteers from the Chicago tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011, people in other programs, foundations, universities I've met via the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, social entrepreneurs from the USA, Europe, Asia, Africa, and others.

This PDF from 2012 shows my networks and my goal of growing the network and nudging it to encourage more people to duplicate my actions in trying to help tutor/mentor programs grow in more places. 

While I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, I've not succeeded in drawing people from my network together in on-going interactions where they help each other the way the educators in the #clmooc do.  


Between May of 1994 and May of 2015 I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago, which brought together people from the tutor/mentor program ecosystem.  You can read conference goals, on this page

And you can view participation maps on this page

However, these did not attract people from my college or family network, nor many current and former students and volunteers from the tutor/mentor programs I led. Furthermore, I've not been able to host a conference since 2015.


And, they did not draw together leaders from business, politics, philanthropy and other sectors, visualized in this concept map.  All of these people need to be interacting on an on-going basis in order to innovate solutions that help bring hope and opportunity to people in high poverty, and reduce racial injustice, segregation, violence and inequality.

So social media is the only place where people from different places can connect in on-going relationship building the ways the #clmooc educators are doing. 

I encourage you to browse some of the articles on this blog, tagged #clmooc, which show my growing participation in their network since first meeting them in 2013.   Then browse the Twitter feed for the #clmooc group and see live interactions. You can scroll back as far as you wish. 

My goal is that people from different parts of my network get to know and support each other, in many of the same ways as the people in the #clmooc network have done.  

I point to Twitter because while the #clmooc group is on Facebook (it started on Google+) I find the most interaction on Twitter.   

I'm there @tutormentorteam.  Join me.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Vertical and Horizontal Social Capital

I participated in a webinar today hosted by the Social Capital Research Group. The featured speaker was Joseph D. Lewandowski, an expert on social capital and social poverty.

In his presentation Dr. Lewandowski introduced the following terms:

- Horizontal social capital is resources (networks of social trust and connections) that are accessible and appropriable within a specific socioeconomic or cultural stratum. 

- Vertical social capital is resources (networks of social trust and connections) that are accessible and appropriable between and among various socioeconomic and cultural strata

I've been interested in social capital for many years and on this blog you can find 31 articles (now 32) tagged #socialcapital.  You can also find a section on my website devoted to this idea.   

I've supported volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs for more than 40 years because of how they expand the "who you know" network of kids living in areas of highly concentrated poverty.  They also expand the network for volunteers who get involved.  The graphic I show above is a picture of my Facebook network which has grown as a result of the work I have done with inner city kids and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 


However, the articles I've been following talk about "bridging, bonding and linking" social capital.  Dr. Lewandowski introduces the ideas of "horizontal and vertical" social capital within the context of "social poverty".  I finished reading this article today. 

One of the conclusions is "it is the task of civil society-based mediating groups to self consciously create vertical social capital where it does not exist, and to use this resource to influence legislation and policy when appropriate."

This is a message I've delivered regularly since becoming a leader of a volunteer based tutor/mentor program in 1975 and forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.  Leaders from ever sector need to be involved in creating places where people from different social, racial and economic, groups, both  horizontal and vertical, can connect in build relationships over a period of months, and  years.

I feel that volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs like the ones I led and like many others that operating in Chicago are ideal places to build such connections.  However, leaders of these programs need to do much more to educate volunteers about issues facing children and families in high poverty, and to motivate them to take actions beyond their weekly commitment as a tutor and/or mentor.  This has to be intentional.

As I read Dr. Lewandowski's article I was thinking of this pdf presentation where I talk about "vertical and horizontal networks.  


I invite you to read this an other articles that I've tagged #socialcapital, then offer your thoughts. Let's connect on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and try to draw more people into this conversation and into actions that build and sustain mentor-rich youth programs reaching k-12 kids in all high poverty areas of Chicago and Ameria. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Cabrini-Green - Broken Promises

This story about Cabrini-Green was published today by the Better Government Association (BGA).  It tells of the re-development of the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago and the broken promises that government leaders made to residents who lived there before the development began.  Click here to read.

I came to the Cabrini-Green area in 1973 to be a retail advertising copywriter with the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters, bordering  Cabrini-Green's West border.

I joined the company sponsored tutoring program that fall and was matched with a 4th grade boy named Leo Hall. A year later I became part of the volunteer leadership team, and in 1975 I became the program's volunteer director. I led this program until 1992 then formed a new version, called Cabrini Connections, which I led from 1993 to 2011.  

The map of Cabrini-Green, shown at the right, was part of a story I wrote in 2010 about the re-development of the area.   I talked about the promises that were being made and the prospect of them not being kept.

Below I show the front page of the Chicago SunTimes, from October 1992, following the shooting of a 7-year old boy in Cabrini Green.  The headline reads "7-year old's Death at Cabrini Requires Action".


I've kept a copy of this story for the past 32 years as a reminder of the commitment I and others need to make to kids born or living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other parts of the country.

I've used it in many blog articles, such as this from 2008,  encouraging others to get involved. 

Today's BGA story reminds me to repeat this call to involvement.

As we formed Cabrini Connections to help a small group of teens, we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to help a city full of kids living in high poverty areas. I've used maps since 1993 to emphasize the need for investment in every high poverty area, not just the Cabrini-Green area.

Thus, the broken promises that affect kids and families who once lived in Cabrini Green, are broken promises affecting thousands of people.

Look at the photo of me standing in front of a map, with a microphone in my hand.   Then look at this article with a map in the background. 

If you read my blog articles or some of the printed newsletters from the 1990s, you'll see a constant invitation for others to take a lead, sharing the same call to involvement, using their own media, talent and visibility.

As we head toward Christmas, remember how Jesus recruited 12 disciples and told them to go forth and multiply.   I've been trying to have the same influence for many, many years.  

Today's story is just another reminder that we've a long way to go. 


I'm not the only one working to help kids and families in poverty areas, not the only one calling for others to be involved.  But I'm one of the few using a map of Chicago and calling on people to support tutor/mentor and youth development programs in every high poverty area, not just the program I led in one small part of Chicago.

We need more leaders using maps like this, to draw people they know to places where those people can help. 

Use my articles as a template. Then create your own.





Thursday, December 09, 2021

What you don't see when you visit a Tutor/Mentor Program


Every year about this time between 1990 and 2010 I was writing grant requests, hosting site visits, and writing final reports to gain the operating dollars needed to support the annual activities of the site based tutor/mentor program I led in Chicago called, Cabrini Connections, and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which I now lead through Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. 

It’s amazing how many people assume that getting teens and volunteers to Cabrini Connections each week was a simple process, and wanted to focus on how many kids are now college graduates because of the $5,000 to $25,000 they have provided in the past year. 


In October 2008 I thought I’d write and article to reflect on this. That article is posted below, with some updates.  


I called it “Below the Ice” because when you see an Iceberg, all you see is what’s above water. Most of it is below water and out of site. When you see a student and volunteer meeting at Cabrini Connections on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening, you'd you see what was happening for these two hours. You wouldn't see the infrastructure and program support it takes for the student and volunteer, or Cabrini Connections, to simply be here to make this connection.

So, what are we not seeing, or taking for granted?  This is a long article. In the first section I write about the thinking that goes on to make a program like this available to kids and volunteers.  

In the second section is a list of elements that must be in place to support this process. 

a) Someone had to make a commitment to start this organization, and keep it going. Cabrini Connections was not created by some government initiative, with a bundle of up-front dollars. It was started in October 1992 by seven volunteers who saw a need. They created Cabrini Connections to provide a 7th grade through high school support system for kids who were aging out of the 2nd to 6th grade Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program. They had no money. They had no space to operate. During the spring of 1993 there was no paid staff, and volunteers and kids met each week in the day-room of St. Joseph’s Church on Orleans Street in Chicago, and once a week at Wells high school.

b) Space is needed. We operated from the dayroom of a church for the first six months of 1993. Then the Montgomery Ward Corporation donated an entire floor of their corporate tower (almost 20,000 sq. ft. of space), along with desks, cabinets, parking and security. We operated from there from August 1993 until June 1999. Then we moved to rented space as Wards went out of business. We actually spit into two buildings, 8 blocks apart. The Cabrini Connections program operated at Holy Family Church on Larrabee, while the T/MC, and Fund Raising, operated from a room at 1111 N. Wells. In 2001 we moved into our current 4,000 sq ft location at 800 W. Huron, just a few blocks from Cabrini Green. 

While we had donated space we could devote all funds raised to our programs. And we had a $40,000 annual grant from Wards. This really helped us get off the ground because in 1993 we only raised $50,000 and in 1994 we only raised $114,000. Without the help from Wards the program would never have built any kind of following. However, since 1999 space, utilities, and insurance expenses were over $70,000 per year. This was a fixed expense that was necessary for us to continue to offer the program to kids in Cabrini Green. Without funds for the space, insurance, equipment and utilities there is no program.

c) If you want good results, you involved talented people. Volunteers can do tremendous things. I led the tutor/mentor program at Montgomery Ward for 15 years while holding a full time retail advertising job. We had more than 300 kids and 300 volunteers participating by 1990. We had nearly 50 volunteers involved in various leadership roles. Many of these volunteers came from companies beyond Wards. However, to support this type of volunteer involvement I spent my lunch, evening and weekend hours, plus at least one week of vacation each year, doing the work of leading this organization. I had tremendous freedom to take phone calls and work on this during the day, as long as my own work was being done to an outstanding level.

And while we did a great job of keeping kids and volunteers connected, I think we could have done much more if I or another leader had been able to devote 40 to 50 hours a week on this. At Cabrini Connections the glue that keeps the kids and volunteers coming is the lead coordinator, who is a paid staff person. In 2008 we had 70 kids and more than 90 volunteers participating weekly and a more than 400 alumni. We had two full time staff people, one full time e-learning coordinator, and myself. To keep the lead coordinators in place we needed to reward them with decent compensation and benefits, and try to surround them with extra help (staff and volunteers) so they don’t burn out and leave after a couple of years.

d) Volunteers are critical to success of this organization; but they need support, too. We have volunteers in a variety of leadership and organizing roles, not just on the board of directors. Many of them have been involved for five or more years. They represent the organizational knowledge, in addition to my own. However, these lead volunteers need to be recruited, supported and mentored by our lead staff.

e) Volunteers are customers. The need to be recruited. They are not standing in line waiting to be your tutors and mentors. The best way to recruit new volunteers is to provide a great experience for your current volunteers. We started with seven volunteers in October 1992 and added new volunteers each school year from 1993 till I wrote this in 2008. We grew Cabrini Connections, and before that the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, by converting volunteers into ambassadors who go out and recruit other volunteers. Many of these people are also recruiting the dollars we need. However, this is not something that happens by accident. It takes lots of time, and a consistent effort to provide a well-organized experience, and to mentor volunteers as they attempt to build relationships with kids. It takes a constant external communications (see below) to attract new volunteers to replace those who leave the program during every year.

f) Kids are volunteers, too. This is not a court mandated program, or a program for failing kids who are sent here by schools. We focus on kids who can succeed in school and life if they just get the support the need to overcome the obstacles poverty put in their lives. These kids did not start Cabrini Connections. Our founders saw a need and invited kids to participate. Each year our customer service intends to provide an experience that motivates kids to come back each week, and each year. Each year our outreach aims to recruit new students who don’t know about our program, but might participate if given the chance.

g) Our volunteers are the CEOs of this effort, not the staff. Each volunteer is different and each youth is different. The strength of a one-on-one program is the ability of a volunteer to tailor his/her mentoring and tutoring to the needs of the student and the talents and time available from the volunteer. The longer someone stays involved, the more experienced and effective they become. And while 25% of our volunteers will stay 3 or more years, many only stay one year, and some do not complete their first year. This means the volunteer work force is in constant need of mentoring and coaching from other volunteers and from experienced staff.

h) Finding space, finding staff, setting up a structure and a recruitment campaign to get kids and volunteers to participate is just the beginning. Each week during the school year there is constant follow up and coaching of each student/mentor pair. There is constant planning to develop activities to support the weekly tutor/mentor sessions. There are mountains of details required to track attendance, keep information current in databases and on email lists, and to stay in touch with parents, teachers, social workers, as well as volunteers. There are new volunteers to be interviewed. There are 70 kids, and 70 different sets of personal and family issues to deal with each week.

i) Communications is hard work and takes time. Creating the training materials, writing the weekly email newsletter, maintaining the web site and on-line documentation systems, and creating brochures to recruit new students and volunteers requires time and talent. The less talent you have at writing, the longer it takes to write a letter, or a brochure. We are required to multi-task because we only have 3 people. Yet, if we do not provide these communications, we cannot mentor and guild the process of our kids and volunteers.

j) Does it work? We say kids and volunteers vote with their feet. Thus, if they come most of the time (80% is our goal), and most return from one year to the next (kids goal: 80% return; volunteer goal: 65% return) then we feel they are telling us that they like what we are doing. However, donors want to know more. What impact does this have on grades, test scores, social and emotional behavior. We can say from observation and feedback that it benefits some kids more than others and that some volunteers have had life changing experiences because of their involvement. That’s enough to keep me working on this every day.

However, we can’t quantify this via traditional research and evaluation. Why? We barely have the manpower to do what we’re doing. That’s why.  Furthermore, the impacts of this type of mentoring are long term. The benefits accumulate over time. An evaluation would need to cover many years and extend into the years after kids have finished high school to paint a true picture of our impact. Such research is not being done in very many places because most programs have the same problem we have of not being able to stay connected to kids or volunteers once they no longer attend the program.

(visit my page on Facebook and look at my friends list. Many are alumni. If you look at the posts on their own timelines you'll see stories of their success, and the success of their own children who are now finishing high school and entering college.)

k) The money does not come out of thin air. It took six months to find donated space at Montgomery Ward, along with a $40,000 grant, that enabled the program to hire part time staff, and purchase needed office equipment. Every year since then, the organization has started the new fiscal year (Jan. 1) needing to raise all of the money for the program’s operations (rent, utilities, insurance, staff, etc.) as they also provided coaching to kids and volunteers. During the 10/7/08 Presidential campaign debate one question asked was “what level of sacrifice will you ask from Americans”. I don’t think either candidate answered that question. If you read my blog I think that for there to be programs like Cabrini Connections in hundreds of places, lots of people are going to need to go beyond 2% annual donations, and a few hours of volunteering. Our men and women in the armed forces give 100% for our freedoms. Each person needs their own personal barometer, but hopefully our leaders can light a fire so some people will go beyond the call of duty for citizen service.

l) And we cannot attract donors without good communications and consistent outreach and evidence of impact. Many larger non profits have full time development directors and staffs with many people. They can farm out creative work to ad agencies and creative services because they have the money to do that. One potential donor, who was worth about $500 million, once asked me why I needed to spend $70,000 a year on fund raising. He said his charity did not need to do that. He could just call someone and get the money they need. He gave me $1,000 one year and nothing after that. My budget for Cabrini Connections was about $200,000 in 2008. How did he think we were finding the other $199,000? If we’re spending all of our time coaching kids and volunteers, where do we find time to market and do fund raising?

m) The answer would be to have people with high net worth adopt Cabrini Connections. Then they could call themselves up each year and say how much good work we are doing, and ask for a donation to cover the budget. A CEO of a real estate company once said “that’s a tax deduction” when talking about the $4 million it would take to purchase a building for our operations.

n) Another answer would be to build a network of 1000 people with modest means who would each provide $250 per year to support the program. That has more potential. $250 is really just $5 a week, or, maybe the cost of one latte at Starbucks each week.  Is the potential future of an at-risk child worth a cup of java to you?


What Basic Conditions need to be met, to attract students and volunteers to a site based tutor/mentor program?

Listed in order of priority are the organizational needs that had to be met each week for CABRINI CONNECTIONS to maintain the high quality level for which it has earned a reputation of excellence.

1) Create positive environment for tutors and students to spend time together. 

    • Clean, orderly area (70 desks, 100 chairs)
    • Pencils, paper, calculators, scissors, attendance lists, and other needed supplies stocked in cabinets
    • Learning resources, such as library, worksheet binders, and geography materials in place and orderly.
    • Coffee and snacks in stock and prepared for distribution. 

2) Provide a structure and support that offers an opportunity for a satisfactory experience. Focus primarily on tutors because if volunteers were to stop coming, the program would not survive.

    • Annual evaluation, review and plan which incrementally builds on previous year accomplishments
    • Regular communications program (newsletters, email, blogs, web sites, bulletin boards, etc.)
    • Informational and historical record (Annual Report, brochures, etc.)
    • Information on community resources, field trip activities, etc.
    • Motivation activities such as parties, field trips, and writing contests

 3) Provide a broad base of resources from which individual children and tutors can build activities.

    • Library, with reference materials and motivational activity worksheets 
    • Internet Library with home work help, suggested activities, tips for tutors/mentors, networking opportunities.
    • Student history file with report cards
    • Teacher referral forms from local schools
    • School supplies, learning resources, library
    • Computers, with dedicated work area
    • Speaker/Role Model Program
    • Field Trips to business and college sites
    • Parties and informal social gatherings for kids and volunteers 

 4) Ensure frequency and consistency of participation. Focus on student attendance because if students come inconsistently tutors will eventually stop coming. Focus on tutor attendance to improve relationships and quality of tutoring/mentoring children receive.

    • Preparation of weekly attendance record, with volunteers to do check in
    • Maintenance of tutor and student address data-base with up-to-date info
    • Tutor contact network with weekly follow-up
    • Weekly calls and letters to children with 2+ absences
    • Perfect attendance recognition and reward for 10 weeks without absence
    • Recognition for volunteers with 90% or better attendance
    • Marketing and maintenance of Point Bank system

5) Provide training and other motivational resources to enable tutors to have more satisfying and effective experience.

    • Written Handbook, plus regular handouts
    • Organized training sessions (Orientation, Fall Workshop, Jan. Workshop)
    • First Year tutor orientations every 6 weeks
    • Encourage participation in program committees and after-tutor activities
    • Files full of math and language-skills worksheets, to be used as individual lessons
    • SVHAT20 on-line support system for students and volunteers

 6) Provide direct service benefits to children.

    • Safe environment in which to interact with caring adult.
    • Role models to spend time with
    • Extra learning activities such as arts, technology, writing clubs
    • Computer and Internet access for homework  help, networking, communications with volunteer
    • Learning materials (books, pencils, reference books, dictionaries, etc.)
    • Books to check out and take home to read.
    • Snacks at sessions
    • Experience and enrichment activities (field trips, etc.)
    • Parties, with gifts and treats 

 7) Involve parents in tutoring activities and children’s education.

    • Parent Orientation at start of year
    • Involvement of parents in weekly sessions
    • Informational literature provided through program
    • Auxiliary parent-education programs on subjects such as nutrition, or reading to children at home

8) Involve teachers and social workers in tutoring activities and children’s education.

    • Teacher and Social Worker  Orientation or Introduction at start of year
    • Involvement of teachers and social workers in developing mentoring and tutoring strategies
    • Informational literature provided through program
    • Report Card permission from parent so school can release information directly to program
    • Coach volunteer to contact teacher or social worker directly

 9) Involve business in tutoring and mentoring activities and children’s education.

    • Through the Success Steps engage business in providing training programs to prepare students for work
    • Create a pool of part-time and summer jobs for qualified students, at companies which commit to also “mentor” students while on the job
    • Create scholarship pools from Success Steps companies which help student obtain advanced education.
    • Invite businesses to Career Day activities
    • Teach volunteers to be ambassadors for tutor/mentor within their company or industry

The leaders of Cabrini Connections needed to be thinking about all of the things listed above, every day, every year. Finding people who understand this, and can recruit volunteers and donors to help do some of the work, and who can relate to kids and families, and who will stay with this five or ten years, is the biggest challenge we faced. 

We can overcome part of this challenge if we can find donors who understand what's under the surface and who will help us have the operating dollars to try to make this type of program available to teens in this part of Chicago.

If you've read this far, thank you.  I led this process every year from 1975 until mid 2011 (as a volunteer from 1975 till 1990).  

The original program I led is now Tutoring Chicago.  Cabrini Connections is now Chicago Tutoring Connection.  They and each other youth tutor/mentor program in the Chicago area need your contributions this year, and every year. 

If you lead a non-school youth program, what are the elements that make your volunteer-based tutor/mentor program a success. Do you share this on your web site so others can learn from you?

What I described above only showed work we did weekly to operate our youth-serving tutor/mentor program.  At the same time we were working to make our program successful, we were trying to help more than 100 similar programs located in different parts of Chicago get the ideas and resources each of them also needed. And we were trying to build and share a library of information that our volunteers and leaders could use, as well as leaders from other programs.

We were doing that with no more than 2 full time staff. 

I only am responsible for the Tutor/Mentor Connection now, via Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. This blog is one of the resources I use to share information others can use.    While I no longer lead a direct service program I share my 35 years of experience in posts like this to help other programs grow throughout Chicago and in other cities and states.

Feel free to borrow and share the ideas.  

If you'd like to connect I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.  

If you'd like to help, see my FundTMI page, or my 75th Birthday page. 





Friday, December 03, 2021

Building long-term mentoring support

 Former President Obama is in Chicago today.  I saw a Tweet showing that he made a surprise visit at a South Side YMCA.  It prompted me to create the graphic shown below.


The former President's visit gets a lot of attention, but it is just one small dot on the 12 year timeline from 1st grade through high school, or the even longer timeline of birth-to-work.  


If kids live in areas of highly concentrated, segregated poverty, there are too few people in their lives daily modeling all the careers they might have when they are adults, and helping them do the work every day to reach those careers.

I'd love to see a blog by President Obama where he talks about his visit, and then shows a map like the one on the left, and says, organized non-school programs that connect kids and volunteers from many industries and professions need to be in every high poverty area of Chicago, for many years.

Maybe more people would listen and begin to figure out how to make such programs available and keep them in place for 10 to 20 consecutive years.

He could borrow ideas I've been sharing on this blog since 2005.

Heck, he could even adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection and make it a program of the Obama Foundation and the new Obama Library in Chicago.  

I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam if he wants to reach out to me.


I share ideas I've developed over the past 40 years on the http://www.tutormentorexchange.net website.  

If you visit, take a look at my "FundTMI" page and my "75th Birthday" page.  

Help me keep sharing this information in 2022 and beyond, or until someone like President Obama decides to take ownership. 



Tuesday, November 30, 2021

It's Giving Tuesday.

It's GivingTuesday today. My email inbox, Twitter and Facebook feeds, have been filled with appeals from youth serving programs.

I made small contributions to a few, but in no way can I support them all. Yet, they all need support, not just today, but every day, throughout the year.

That's why this graphic is important.


Through this blog, and my social media posts, I'm encouraging people I know, or who follow my posts, to visit the lists of programs I host at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net and look at the websites of various programs located in different parts of the Chicago region.

Pick one or two programs and send them contributions today. Do it next year, and the next, and the next.


Why? Because it takes 12 years to move from 1st grade through 12th grade and a few more to be anchored in a job.  Kids in high poverty areas need consistent extra support, not just a little here, and a little there.

And that requires on-going funding of those organizations who are trying to provide some of that support.

I hosts a Chicago list.  I also maintain Twitter, Facebook and Instagram lists. This makes it easy for anyone to get to know programs operating in the Chicago region.

I encourage people in other cities to build and share their own lists.  That enables anyone else to use their communications talent and social media to draw people they know, to the lists, and to youth serving programs who are working to help kids.

Note: Including a program on my list does not mean I think they are a great program or offer any endorsement, other than to say "they are there" and "look at their website to get to know them".  In other articles on this blog I invite people to help me maintain the lists, and to dig deeper to build a better understanding of what services are offered, what age groups are served, etc.

I created this PDF as a tool people could use as they look at youth tutor/mentor program websites. What information should they be seeing that would convince them to become a volunteer or donor or get their child involved?  


Very few organizations provide all of this information on their websites.  Unless donors ask for it, and do so by providing donations to those who do, and providing donations to help others collect this information and post it to websites, few programs will show this much.

My role is to spread ideas and inspiration and influence actions of others.  Today, the goal is that you choose one, or many, youth serving organizations to support with GivingTuesday donations.

Thank you to all who read this and to all who make donations today.


Friday, November 26, 2021

Creating service and learning organizations

If you've read some of the messages I've posted to this Blog since 2005 you'll see that I led a small non profit from 1993 to 2011 that connected workplace volunteers with children and youth living in neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty.


This graphic shows some of the people who we connected to each other. These were from 10 to 25 years ago. I'm still connected to many via Facebook. I'm now seeing some posting pictures of their own kids as they finish high school or head to college. That was the goal.


While we led one small tutor/mentor program (called Cabrini Connections) we also led the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which aimed to help similar volunteer-based programs reach k-12 kids in every high poverty area of Chicago. I'm still leading that via Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Since forming this two-part strategy in late 1992 our goal has been to create an organized framework that encourages volunteers to serve as tutors, mentors, coaches, advocates, friends, leaders in on-going efforts that make a life-changing difference for these kids. By life-changing, I mean that the kids will not be living in poverty when they are adults because they will have the academic, social/emotional and workplace skills needed for 21st century jobs, plus a network of adults who can and will open doors to jobs and mentor them in careers.

This graphic visualizes the type of programs I've tried to encourage, based on the ones I led.


We recruited volunteers from various business backgrounds to be on-on-one tutor/mentor support and many of these began to organize extra learning, such as a computer lab, a video club, a writing club and a college access group.

I have spent time almost every day for more than 40 years trying to figure out better, more efficient, and lower cost ways to accomplish this goal, first by leading one small program at the Montgomery Ward corporate headquarters in Chicago, starting in 1975, then by leading the T/MC since 1993.

I have learned to mine the knowledge and experiences of others to innovate strategies for tutoring/mentoring, rather than trying to develop my own solutions to problems. Using T/MC web sites, on-line networking and regular face-to-face training and mentoring, I am trying to share what I know, and the process of learning and service that I apply in my own daily routine, so that there are more people in more places accepting this role and responsibility.


This graphic visualizes a service-learning loop formed when a volunteer enters an on-going tutor/mentor program. This video shows the graphic.

So how do we make this vision a reality? We create a "learning organization", which is also the ideal of many of the best businesses in the world. We also create a "service culture" modeled after the work of heroes like Cesar Chavez, whose core values included sacrifice and perseverance, commitment to the most disadvantaged as well as life-long learning and innovation.

In a learning organization, everyone is engaged. In the world of Cesar Chavez, everyone is willing to make huge commitments, and sacrifices of time, talent and treasure to help disadvantaged people move to greater health, and greater hope and opportunity.

Our goal is to find ways to draw a growing number of our stakeholders into this learning process and to build an on-going commitment to service (as opposed to random acts of kindness). This process is intended to include our students and volunteers, our staff, donors and leaders, and members of the business, education, faith and media in the communities where our kids live. It also aims to engage leaders and volunteers from other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and in other cities, plus people and organizations in the communities that don't have high poverty, but benefit from a world envisioned by Dr. M. L. King, Jr. as well as a 21st Century America where there are enough skilled workers to meet the future workforce needs of American industry.

I use concept maps like this to visualize this goal.


Anyone can adopt this vision and lead it using their own talent and resources.

The Internet is our meeting place. It's a virtual library of constantly growing knowledge. On T/MC web sites we collect and host information that shows why kids in poverty need extra help, where such help is needed, who is providing help, and what volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs can do to connect adults, kids and learning in an on-going, constantly improving process of mentoring kids to careers.

If we can find ways to increase the percent of our kids, our volunteers, and our leaders and donors who are drawing information on a weekly basis, and reflecting on this information in small and large groups, the way people in churches reflect on passages from the Bible each week, we can grow the amount of understanding we all have about the challenges we face and the opportunities we have. We can innovate new and better ways to succeed in our efforts.

This process has already started. We need to nurture and grow it in 2022.

Can you help?

Browse the articles shown in the list on the left side of this blog and start your own learning.  I tagged this article with "learning" just as I have more than 300 previous articles.  I encourage you to read some of these on a regular basis. I also encourage you to read some of the Power Point Essay I've written, such as the one that shows our Logic Model

This and other PPT essays in the Tutor/Mentor Institute library illustrate the T/MC vision and the community of organizations that we seek to engage. Then share your own knowledge, time, talent and dollars to help us build this service and learning organization.

Thank you all for reading my messages. I hope you share them with others. May God Bless you all with peace, good health and happiness in 2022 and beyond.

Daniel F. Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present)
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present)

Monday, November 22, 2021

Imagine if this support had continued beyond one year

In 2007 Cabrini Connections-Tutor/Mentor Connection received a $50,000 grant from the Oprah Angle Network. Below is a story that appeared in the Angel Network newsletter, which is now only available through the Internet Archive.

That same year we received a year-end gift of over $55,000 from HSBC international as the North American recipient of their annual Holiday Charitable Giving. This was combined with a $50,000 grant from HSBC North America's charitable giving program, and an anonymous $50,000 grant to support rebuilding of the geographic mapping project and Chicago Tutor/Mentor Programs Directory. 

We entered 2008 with momentum and optimism.  

Then the financial markets collapsed. HSBC did not repeat its giving after 2009. The Angle Network grant was for one year only.  There were no more anonymous gifts. Funding took a deep dive that continued through 2011 and ultimately caused the Board of Directors to discontinue support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, even though it was responsible for these major gifts in 2007. 

I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in mid 2011 to give organizational structure and identity to my efforts to continue the Tutor/Mentor Connection after the split with Cabrini Connections. I did not have a team of volunteers to help me form a new non profit, and have not found one since then.

I've launched an annual appeal to ask people to help me to continue to provide "Hope and Opportunity" to kids in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities, and by drawing from my savings I have been able to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection resources available.

But over the last 10 years I've had to discontinue some activities due to lack of financial support. The last Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference was held in May 2015.   The interactive Program Locator, Program Search Page, Map Gallery and Organizational History and Tracking System (OHATS) are now only available as archives.  


Yet, I still show Chicago area volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs on a map that you can zoom into to see small sections of the city. 

I host a list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website, along with lists showing the Facebook and Instagram pages used by some of these programs.


In addition I host a list of Chicago programs on Twitter which you can use to easily see what information programs are sharing (when they do). 

I've begun a migration of the entire web library from the tutormentorconnection.org site to the tutormentorexchange.net site. You can see a page with links to youth serving organizations beyond my list of tutor/mentor programs at this link.


I continue to share information about using maps in planning in articles on this blog, and the mappingforjustice.blogspot.com site. 

Plus I continue to share strategy essays on SlideShare and Scribd.com as well as on this page.   In addition I share images on Pinterest.com/tutormentor


I started sharing  ideas for helping inner city kids by helping organized volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs grow via a  printed newsletter in 1993. I began putting this information on a website in 1998 and started using YahooGroups and an email newsletter around 2001.

I started this blog in 2005 and the MappingforJustice blog was started in 2008. 

I continue to share information daily reaching people throughout the world.  

Imagine how much more I would have done over the past 12 years if the grants of 2007 had continued each year since then, by the original donors, or by new donors who would replace them each year.   

Now, imagine how much more would have been done to help inner city kids if hundreds of other people in Chicago and other major cities had been writing articles similar to mine for the last 15 to 20 years!

I'm sure you've heard this quote:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

Look through my archives and find ways to adopt the strategies I share as you begin 2022. Start telling the same stories as I tell, in any creative ways you can think of.  Do it weekly, monthly and yearly, for the next 20 years.  Change the future since we cannot change the past.

My websites and archives will remain available as long as I'm still alive, and will be available through the internet archive after that, unless some institution decides to take ownership and anchor the strategy for the future.  

I'm thankful for all of the people who have helped me since 1993 when we formed Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and even before that, since 1975 when I became the leader of the tutoring program at Montgomery Ward, which I led till 1992. 

I'm thankful for being allowed to be part of the lives of so many young people over the past 40 years and love seeing many post success stories on Facebook.  

Finally, I'm thankful for the small group of donors who continue to provide contributions at the end of each year (click here) or to support my December 19th birthday (click here).

Enjoy your holidays. We've much work to do.







Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Role of Leaders in Birth-to-Work

Today on Twitter I shared this graphic showing three of my concept maps. I put numbers on the maps so I could refer to them in my Tweet and in this article.

These three are the top tier of my collection of cMaps, which you can find at this link.   Let's look closer.

Below is the strategy map.  I explain its components in this article.


If you follow the lines to the left and the right it shows a goal of helping kids born in poverty move safely through school and into jobs and careers by their mid 20s.  This is a goal that any leader can adopt. It's not a strategy with any single leader, or where everyone is following my lead.  It's a shared vision, showing steps anyone can take to help kids in every high poverty area in the country (and the world).

I shared it with the Presidents of the 12 Federal Reserve Bank in this Tweet.

Any leader can create their own version, putting their picture and/or company logo in the blue box at the top of the concept map, then sharing it on their own website.

In the middle of the graphic I point to the "mentoring kids to careers" concept map (#1 on the graphic), which you can find if you open the node at the 3 o'clock point of the strategy map. 

This cMap shows supports all kids need as they move through elementary school, to middle school, high school, college or vocational training, then into jobs and careers.  Kids in high poverty areas don't have access to all of these supports.  Adults who get involved in their lives, as tutors, mentors, coaches and teachers can be advocates who help motivate others to make these supports available in different places.  

Businesses who invest in tutor/mentor programs and encourage employee involvement can be strategically pulling kids through school and into jobs in their industries. Too few do this in enough places, or starting when kids are in elementary school where learning motivation and critical thinking skills begin to develop. 

Imagine if the Presidents of each Federal Reserve Bank adopted this commitment in 2022. Much would look different in 2027, 2032 and 2037 if they embraced the strategy and encourage leaders in other sectors to do the same.

Then I point to the 4-part strategy map (#2), which can be found if you open links from the middle node on the strategy map.  

In this article I describe the four steps shown on this concept map.   Step 1 focuses on collecting and sharing information that anyone can use to build and sustain needed programs that help kids through school and into adult lives.   I've been building a web library since before the Internet, from the 1970s when I started looking for ideas I could use to be an effective tutor/mentor, or support youth and volunteers in an organized non-school program.  We formalized the information collection process in 1993 when we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  

The web library contains my list of Chicago non-school tutor/mentor programs. It also points to a list of other youth programs beyond Chicago.  It includes an additional 2000 links pointing to research about where and why kids need extra support, to tips on building and sustaining programs, and finding money to fund programs.  Among the links I point to the Federal Reserve Bank #RacismandtheEconomy website.  (I'm currently migrating the library to a new hosting platform).  

You can see a list of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks at this site.  

Below is the featured Racism and the Economy page from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank website.  I had to dig through the site to find this page. It's included in "events" but not in "research". 

Below is the events page from the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. Note that two images point to the RacismandtheEconomy webinars.  However, it's not mentioned in the research page on the website.


I don't point to each of the 12 banks in my library, but maybe I should. It looks like they each collect and share their own research, based on their own priorities.  And, they give different emphasis to the RacismandtheEconomy webinars.  However, my goal is not to have links to "everything" on my website, but to point to other websites who aggregate information about specific topics, or specific groups of organizations.  Thus, I'd encourage each of the Reserve Banks to point to the research and events pages on each other's websites.


Here's the good news! Each Reserve Bank is doing Step 1 (collect & share information) and Step 2 and Step 3, which focus on increasing the number of people who look at the information, and help people understand it, and what solutions need to be implemented to improve the economy and quality of life for all Americans. 

The only thing the don't seem to do is Step 4, which points people to places where they can apply what they learn and support organizations with time, talent and dollars.

This graphic shows a shared goal of "helping kids safely through school and into adult lives" at the top and an extensive information base at the bottom.

While I aggregate links in my library, others are doing the same, but not with a duplication of information collected. Thus, leaders who adopt the strategy map can also adopt the commitment to collecting and sharing locally relevant information.

What should be included in information libraries?  The concept map below might offer some guidance.


This map shows a wide range of challenges facing all families, but that people in high poverty areas have fewer resources to overcome the challenges and face additional barriers not common in more affluent areas.  Research libraries should focus on each node in this map, showing what the problems are, where they are most concentrated, and how some people are solving the problems in some places, which are ideas to stimulate creative solutions in many other places.

Solutions should use maps to assure a distribution of resources, and solutions, to EVERY PLACE, where the maps indicate that people  need extra help.

That's the purpose of the library. Learn from what others are already doing rather than start over from scratch.  At the heart of each library should be lists of organizations, like my Chicago tutor/mentor program list, who need to be continuously supported in order to do needed work.

Many leaders are already doing part of this strategy. I point to hundreds of websites with research sections on their libraries. I point to many who are holding events to draw attention to that information. I love how the Federal Reserve Bank presidents took an active role in these webinars and how they encouraged people to post questions and ideas at #racismantheeconomy.  

I asked, "do these presidents personally review the Tweets that are posted."  I received the response below from Raphael Bostic, President of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank.

That's encouraging and it's a great example of what other leaders can be doing. 

Note. As I write this I'm watching today's To&Through Chicago webinar, talking about using maps and data.  

This webinar recording will be available on the To&Through website. I encourage leaders to view it.

By writing about this on my blog, Tweeting about it, and including these in my web library and eNewsletter I'm modeling what other people might do.

Since there's so much information on my site and I've been thinking about this for nearly 40 years I don't expect anyone to do a quick read and understand everything.  That's why I encourage leaders to appoint people who dig deeper into my websites then share what they learn via their own blogs or videos.  If you view this site, you'll see that I had interns doing this for many years. 

Imagine if the Federal Reserve Bank, or any foundation or philanthropist, launched a funding program that encouraged youth in every city and state to do similar work, helping make sense of all the information that's available in web libraries, and motivating a growing number of people to take actions regularly that build and sustain needed solutions, in many places, for many years. 

I describe this idea here.

Thanks for reading this far. It's a long article focusing on a complex problem.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (see links  here) and hope you'll follow me and share my posts with others. I'd be happy to connect via ZOOM and discuss these ideas with you.

If you value what I'm sharing, consider helping me with a  year-end contribution.  Read more here.

Thank you.