Thursday, October 22, 2009

November Conference Workshops - Social Network Analysis

Today I would like to highlight two exciting events that will be happening at the November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. Both of them will be on Friday November 20th and will discuss how you can use your social network to your advantage.

The Friday lunchtime keynote will be presented by Valdis Krebs and Jean Russell. Valdis is an expert on social network analysis and mapping and Jean helps companies and non-profits with weaving and thriveability. What does this mean exactly? Well, Valdis and Jean are concerned with how companies and non-profits can use their networks to their best potential. We all have networks - our work networks, school networks, family networks, etc. Some of them overlap, some of them don't. But sometimes people act as if they have blinders on and don't see who in their various networks might help them reach their fullest potential.

There are many tools you can use to help reach your fullest potential in social networking. Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, Blogspot and Twitter are all tools that I have used online to reach out to people who I know from my hometown, college, and who I have met in the working world. But many people do not use these connections to their full advantage. This is what Valdis and Jean want to help you do in their keynote and in their workshop, which will be Friday afternoon. As they say, sometimes we shut out people from our network when they could have ideas or connections that could help you out. For example, when a non-profit applies for a grant offered by a corporation, it often helps to have someone in that corporation that you know be an advocate for your grant. In fact, many grants will have you list volunteers and board members, both current and former, who work at that corporation. But in order to utilize that tool, you have to work your social network.

A great personal example of working social connections is how my boyfriend Nick and I fundraised for the marathon. We started out by listing everybody we knew who might donate and making spreadsheets indicating when a person was contacted for a donation, how they were contacted (online or by mail), whether they donated, and whether we wrote them a thank you note. We started out with immediate family, close family friends, and our close circle of friends. This resulted in $830.20 in donations by early September.

Then, when funding was starting to dry up in early September, we delved deeper into our social networks. Nick took donation letters to work and e-mailed co-workers about helping Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. 8 of his co-workers donated totaling $430 in donations. I then asked my mom and dad for their connections. My dad sent me the addresses of friends and former co-workers who he thought might donate. 3 of my dads former co-workers donated totaling $103.60. My mom then sent me the addresses of childhood friends parents and teachers, which resulted in $339.40.

We also made a push on facebook, twitter, gchat, and general e-mails about the need for funding for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. Our high school and college friends came through in a pinch! Three friends I met through the Northwestern Public Interest Program Fellowship hosted a party for Cabrini Connections which resulted in raising $232! Friends told their parents about donating and before we knew it we had raised a total of $2,783.20 before the Chicago marathon.

Moral of the story is - you don't know who in your social network might be able to help you out - either with their own talent, ideas or funding, or with connecting you to people THEY know with talent, ideas or funding. I learned this lesson in fundraising the marathon, but I know I will want to attend Valdis and Jean's workshop on Friday afternoon, the 20th. See you there

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Month Until the Conference! Workshops to look forward to!

The Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference is in one month! We're so excited about all of the great speakers and workshops that we will be hosting that I will be profiling all of them over the next month.

The first workshop I would like to highlight is the "Understanding Tutor/Mentor Program Distribution in Chicago" workshop, which will be on Friday morning, November 20th, from 9:40-10:50am. This workshop will be led by first-year students at DePaul University and their professor, Janet Hickey, and will be considered their final for their Explore Chicago Class: Growing up in Chicago. Over this fall quarter, these students have been assigned a region of Chicago and have explored and analyzed the tutoring and mentoring programs in this region. Then they write about what they learned and what they think about these programs in a blog. This is a great way for them to give feedback to each other, but it's open to the public, so this is yet another way people can become interested in tutoring and mentoring

This is a great way for first-year students at a university to learn more about the city that the university in. Tutoring and mentoring programs are often pillars in their communities and serve a purpose that is so much bigger than tutoring and/or mentoring kids. Hopefully the students in this class will be inspired about the tutoring and mentoring programs that they have studied and will be compelled to become, volunteers, donors, or even leaders of their own tutoring and/or mentoring program. Hopefully, other universities will be inspired by this class as well and might consider offering a class like this or similar to it in the future. IT doesn't even have to be about tutoring and mentoring programs in Chicago - this model can easily be replicated at other universities in other cities. I must say I am inspired by these students and all of the hard work that they have put in so far. I highly recommend visiting their blog and reading what they have found out. I think you will be just as impressed and inspired as I was.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Marathon is Over but We're Still Running!

The marathon has been over for a week, but here at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection we need your help to keep on running. Thank you to Maryjo Byrnes for your donation to our marathon training, which has so far raised $2,783.20 for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. If you had wanted to donate to Nick Infusino and me running the Chicago Marathon for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection but didn't or want to donate again, you still can through January 1st, 2010 on our FirstGiving page.

However there are a couple of other fun ways to give to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection this month. The first is through workplace giving. Over the past week, I have visited two CTA stations and the US Pretrial Services Office to speak about the Combined Charities Campaign or Combined Federal Campaign. What the Combined Charities or Combined Federal Campaign (depends on whether the organization is a federal organization or not) does is that employees can designate a portion of each paycheck to the charity of their choice and the donation is tax deductible. So, say I work for the CTA - I can designate a dollar per week to Cabrini Connections and that means a donation of $52 for the year. This is a great and easy way to give and it's been a lot of fun talking to people about what we do. We are "Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection" under the Black United Fund for the Combined Federal Campaign. For the Combined Charities Campaign, we're either "Cabrini Connections" under the Black United Fund or "Tutor/Mentor Connection" under Community Shares of Illinois if your organization does workplace giving already.

Corporations do workplace giving too, such as Northrup Grummond, Allstate, and Abbott Laboratories. You can read about how Northrup Grummond is helping organizations such as ours on El's blog. You can also read about how your work can get involved in workplace giving on Dan's blog.

Also, right now, the Chase Foundation, Parade Magazine and Facebook Causes have teamed up to give $50,000 to the cause that has the most donations on Facebook Causes until November 6th. The contest works like this (courtesy of Facebook causes):

The contest is simple: the cause that gets the most people to give $10 or more wins. Causes can win daily awards of up to $1,000 for getting the most donations in a single day, and overall awards up to $50,000 for getting the most donations over the entire challenge, which ends November 6th.

Go to to see the leading causes in the Challenge. From here, you can browse all competing causes or start a new cause. Or you can go directly to the list of your causes and pick one to help.

Once you have picked a cause, there are two easy ways to help:

  1. Donate. Go to the cause you want to support and click on the green “Donate” button.
  2. Tell your friends. Go to the cause you want to support and click on the green “Tell Friends” button. But don’t stop there—make phone calls, put your cause’s URL in your away message, and find other creative ways to get your friends to donate"
What we're trying to do here at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection is to have the most donations for a single day. We want YOU to donate this Friday October 23rd so we can reach our goal. I pledge to donate $25 this Friday. What are you going to donate?

Finally, don't forget about the Charity Hill Climb, organized by one of El Da'Sheon's former Northwestern football teamates, Matt Ulrich. Here's the information on that, via Facebook Events:

"What: A charity workout! TWR will host our second “Hill Challenge”. The “Hill Challenge” consists of walking or running up and down a sledding hill as many times as you can in one hour. There will be a minimum $25 dollar donation fee. You are also encouraged to find sponsors to raise additional money. We suggest passing along this info to family/friends/businesses, etc. They can sponsor you per hill or give a flat donation.
Why: All proceeds and pledges will be donated to Cabrini Connections: an after school program dedicated to helping underprivileged youth become extraordinary adults (All proceeds are tax deductable).
When: Sunday October 25, 2009 at 9:30a.m.
Where: The sledding hill behind the Southeast end zone of Soldier Field.
Who: TWR clients and any friends, family members, peers, or colleagues who would like to get together for a great workout and raise money for a great cause!!!
Details: Minimum donation of $25 dollars will allow you entry to Soldier Field Hill Challenge plus you will receive a complimentary t-shirt!!! The winner of most donations will receive one Train With Ron personal training session!"

So, there are variety of ways to donate to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection even post-marathon! I'm going to keep trying to raise money - it's up to you to help us out!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Marathon is Over! But we still need your help!

I can now say that I have run a marathon. On a cold, sunny, Sunday morning, I ran 26.2 miles through the streets of Chicago. I finished the race in 4 hours, 44 minutes, and 28 seconds. My goal was to get under 5 hours and I was very happy with the result. (Picture at the right is me tired and happy after the marathon. The picture was taken by one of our outstanding tutor/mentors, Anna Ashbaugh, who was volunteering for the marathon and greeted me at the finish line!) My boyfriend, Nick Infusino, (photo bottom left, looking a bit worse for wear, but hey, he ran fast!) who was also a tireless fundraiser for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection ran the marathon in a speedy 3 hours and 59 minutes. We both agree that we would do a marathon again in a heartbeat! In fact, I'm already looking at Spring marathons to run in since I had such a great time!

To add to the list of people who donated since last time, they are:
- Emily Byers
- Kathleen Cox
- Bob Baeppler
- Susan Lanza

Thank you again to everybody who donated to our cause! It was truly inspiring to see the outpouring of support and encouragement - both financially and emotionally - from family and friends as Nick and I took on this race. It was an honor to accomplish something both for myself and for such a great organization. Thanks also to our family and friends who braved the cold to come out and support us throughout the race.

In total we raised $2,757.00 before the marathon, which is incredible! However, Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connections still needs your help and our FirstGiving website is still live and taking donations until January 1st, 2010 if you wanted to donate, but didn't in time for the marathon, or if you want to donate again. The marathon is over, but the need is still pressing and here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

School Violence Problem of the Day - Where are the Solutions

If you've been following Chicago news lately, you have probably been inundated with stories about leaders from Mayor Richard M. Daley to President Barack Obama have been trying to come up with answers to the recent spate of violence in our inner city schools. You'll read about how Secretary of Education and former Chicago Public Schools Superintendant Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder visited Chicago and promised an emergency grant to Fenger High School, the scene of the fatal beating of Derrion Albert. You'll read about how Mayor Daley has introduced new Police Patrols in schools and new CTA stops as measures to quell the violence. Unfortunately you will also read how a young mother was killed in a drive-by shooting in East Garfield Park last night, yet another victim or a random act of violence.

Dan Bassill has been writing about the complex solutions to an increasingly complex problem in his blog, that I encourage you all to read. What we can't stop saying however is that there are two very important ways you can help make kids lives better and steer them away from violence:

1) Volunteer to be a Tutor and/or Mentor. Visit the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and find a program near you to volunteer at. If you need help, don't hesitate to call us at 312-492-9614 and we'll help you learn how to use the program locator. Helping one student might not seem like a lot, but as the saying goes "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world."

2) Donate to the Tutor/Mentor Connection. When you donate to T/MC you're donating to programs all throughout Chicago that we help throughout the year. And! There's a variety of ways to do just that this weekend:

1. Come to Martini Madness, which will be TOMORROW, Friday October 9th from 6:30-9:30 at the Store, 2002 N. Halsted at Halsted and Armitage. Admission will be $40 and will include all-you-can drink martinis, soft drinks, and appetizers. Wine and beer will also be available for purchase. There will also be a raffle with prizes such as two airline tickets to anyone in the continental United States, a free hotel stay, dinner for four at a top restaurant and more. You can pay for your admission online here.

2. Donate to Nick Infusino and me running the Chicago Marathon for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, which will be this Sunday, October11th starting at 7:30am. You can donate here and find out how to follow us by text message or watch us here.

Remember, even a donation of one to two hours of your time in tutoring and/or mentoring a child or donating even $20 to show your support will make a WORLD of difference to solving the problem of youth violence.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I'm running the marathon for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection

If you read this blog, you of course know that I am running in the Chicago Marathon for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection on Sunday October 11th. The reasons for running the marathon were two-fold: 1) I decided that 2009 was the year I was going to get in shape and while I was always a casual runner who enjoyed running, I had gotten out of shape and decided that making it my goal to run the Chicago Marathon in October and get in shape was my New Year's Resolution for 2009. 2) I knew that 2009 was going to be a tough year for non-profits and I thought that my running in the Chicago Marathon to raise money for Cabrini Connections could come at no better time. So, my boyfriend Nick Infusino, who has been an incredible fundraiser himself, and I signed up for the Chicago marathon and have so far raised $2623.40 for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection.

However, there is a third reason and unfortunately it's been reinforced by recent events such as the beating of an honor student at Fenger High School which simply show us how important tutoring and mentoring programs are - now more than ever. In today's Chicago Tribune, Mary Schmich, who has written about tutoring and mentoring programs in the past, including our own, interviews Diane Latiker who is the founder and executive director of Kids off the Block in Roseland, the same neighborhood as Fenger High School. Unfortunately Kids off the Block is one of the few programs in Roseland, and we need many more people like Diane Latiker to step up and help kids have a safe place to go after school and where kids can have the resources to succeed in school and in life.

This is the purpose of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, to support individuals such as Diane Latiker who have gone above and beyond to help kids, but also to support individuals who take it upon themselves to start new mentoring programs. Tonight I will be speaking at a training for a new mentoring program for the Chicago Public Schools Summerquest Program and supporting the new tutors and staff memebers in starting a new program.

So what can you do to help stope the violence? There are two pretty easy things you can do. Number one, do what Diane Latiker says to do in the article:
"Volunteer," she said. "Find out who you can help. We need all the help we can get."

The other is to donate. You can donate to helping all of the tutoring and mentoring programs in Chicago by donating to my marathon fundraising for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection by visiting:
On Sunday I will be running 26.2 mile for the kids in Chicago. What will you be doing to stop the violence?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Marathon is in 5 days!

Hello Everybody! The Marathon is in 5 days and we're up to $2,623.40 in donations, which is fantastic. Here's a list of people who have donated since the last posting:
-Jenny Conat
-Melanie Kahl
-Kate Ashley
-Bethany and Nate Sutton
-Jimmy and Nancy Imamura
-Joey Knelman
-Ted Dearborn
A big thank you as well goes out to Courtney Spalding-Mayer, Whitney Spalding, and Sten Langsjoen for hosting a "Save Cabrini Connections Party" at their apartment Friday night. I'll write about it a bit more in the next post, but we raised $232, which is fantastic. Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection still needs your help though. Please donate by sending a check payable to "Cabrini Connections" to:
Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron, First Floor
Chicago, IL 60642
or by visiting:

Anyway, a lot of people have been asking about how they can track Nick and me in the marathon. The easiest and best way to track our progress is by signing up to get texts from the Chicago Marathon whenever we cross a certain distance (I assume the 5-mile, 10-mile, 15-mile, etc.) You can sign up to track Nick and/or me at:
You can also download the course map and figure out where you want to watch us run by here.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below. It says the weather is going to be about 45 degrees and partly cloudy on Sunday October 11th, which will be perfect for this runner, but you might want to dress warmly since you will be standing around. Also, the marathon begins at 7:30am (in light of the heat of the last two marathons), so plan accordingly.

Anyway, it's been a lot of fun training for the marathon and I'm so excited about it. Thanks to everyone's words of encouragement and financial support throughout the process of preparing for the marathon. I can't believe it's almost here!