Thursday, September 15, 2022

Tutor/Mentor Connection Vision - 2001

I started this blog in 2005 to share ideas and strategies from a two part organization that I and six other volunteers created in 1993. We called it Cabrini Connections. Its first priority was helping teens in the Cabrini Green area of Chicago move through school with the help of volunteers who served as tutors, mentors, coaches and friends.  

Its second priority was to help similar programs reach k-12 youth in every high poverty area of Chicago. We named that the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  

Last week I searched for "Cabrini Connections" on the Internet archive and found many references. I opened the June 28, 2001 version which you can find at this link.  This was a website hosted on the Chicago Tribune platform. 

The graphic below shows the "home page", which features the Mission and describes the two program components.  

The links at the left all open to additional pages, which I will show below. Unfortunately, the next level of links which you find on these additional pages do not open. 

The first linked page was titled "CEO Editorial Letters".

Look at what I was writing about.  "Thinking Out of the Box"; "Another Shooting In Chicago";  "Bridging the Digital Divide"; "Who Wants This Challenge?"  Look at the short paragraphs under each heading.   It's 2022 and I'm still talking about the same things.  

The next page I'm showing is the "Tutor/Mentor Technology Center".  

This shows a vision of creating an Internet-based learning network, connecting youth and volunteers from many programs, with researchers, donors, policy makers, business leaders and others from around the country.  It's never been achieved, yet we're more connected now, in 2022, than ever.

From 1993 to 2003 we published a printed newsletter four times a year.  We created two versions. One, called "NewsLink" featured our own tutor/mentor program, which we called "Cabrini Connections Kids Connection".  This version also told of work being done by the Tutor/Mentor Connection. 

You can few topics from the Fall 1998 issue in the graphic below. 

Below is the second version of the newsletter, which we called T/MC Report.  You can view the PDF of this newsletter at this link

The final page that I'm showing is a "Strategic Planning" page.  Note that the subhead says "A continuous process that focuses on "what could be". 

Here's an enlargement of a portion of this page

Under "Vision" it says "A few people, with persistence and a deep commitment can change the world. The most important tool is "a mirror". We must look at it each day and ask "What have you done?"

Under "Strategy" it says "Poverty and poor schools were not created in a day. Solutions to these problems will not come from silver bullets or short-term solutions."

Under Tactics and Goals: Strategy 2, it says "Create a learning organization which seeks out information and applies it in an on-going process of reflection, comparison, application and innovation to improve our own actions, help others improve their actions,"

Under Tactics and Goals: Tutor/Mentor Connection,
it says "Build the city’s most comprehensive understanding of the availability and quality of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and use as a baseline for an annual increase in programs, volunteers, students served, as well as geographic distribution of programs in high poverty areas" 

Under Implementation - Kids' Connection, it says "Build it, and they will come. Make it better each year, and more will come."   We started the Kids' Connection in January 1993 with seven volunteers and five 7th and 8th graders, plus 8-10 older teens at Wells High School. We added more kids each fall until 1999 when we enrolled about 80 teens and 100 volunteers.  As we moved to smaller space we kept our annual participation at this level due to space limitations.  

We built it. We constantly tried to make it more appealing.  They came. 

I've used the image below many times to illustrate the role of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since 2011) to collect information that people from around the world would use to build and sustain programs that help kids in poverty move more safely and successfully through school and into adult lives. 

This could be a study program at any high school or college in the world!  The June 2001 archive of the Cabrini Connections website is just one version that you'll find that's saved on the Internet Archive between 1999 and 2022.  

The site also has archived versions (click here) dating back to 2001. Click on any of the hash marks on this timeline to open a website version for that date. 

Click here and open January 20, 2002 version.   Click here and view Cabrini Connections Art Festival page from October 2001. 

You can also find archived versions of the website, which was the primary site for the Tutor/Mentor Connection from 1998 to 2019.  

From these archives and the current live website anyone can learn from my efforts and build a new, better, and more effective city-wide strategy to help kids in  high poverty areas.  It just takes some leaders with persistence and a deep commitment.  It would make a huge difference if you have the long-term backing of a few deep-pocketed philanthropists. I never had that and we lost our major supporter, the Montgomery Ward Corporation, when they went out of business in 2000. 

Thanks for reading. Please share this with others.  While I draw breath I'm able to coach anyone to use these archives and help you think through steps toward building your own Tutor/Mentor Connection type structure.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Please reach out at these links and connect with me. 

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