Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On Friday September 25th, we reached our initial goal of raising $2000 for Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection by running the Chicago marathon. However, times are still tough and Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection needs your help more than ever. That's why we have increased our goal amount to $3000, which we hope to raise by Sunday October 11th. You can make that a possibility by donating at our FirstGiving site or by writing a check payable to "Cabrini Connections and mailing it to:
Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron, First Floor
Chicago, IL 60642
I would also like to thank all of Nick Infusino and my friends and family who have donated thus far:
- Carla Reyes
- Steve Gorodetskiy
- Mardel Chinburg
- Peter and Barbara Bergreen
- JoAnn Stevenson
- Jean Vinson-White
- Mike White
- Dan and Peggy Erickson
- Maryann May
- Nina Nashif
- Kari Wergeland
- Fran Fritzmann
- Bill and Nancy Guerry
- Ralph and Pam Infusino
- Anna Ashbaugh
- Nicole Keogh
- Matt Cohlmia
- Carlos and Elisa Reyes Monterrosa
- Claire Walker
- Erin Infusino
- Sveta Trivino
- Katie Infusino
- Eric and Sally Kemmler
- Laura Eckstein
- Sarah Randag
- Kathryn Lee
- Gloria VanMilligan
- Scott and Julie Holman
- Sam and Toni Pace
- Emmy Moore
- Karen and Jeremy Clay
- Jim and Nancy McCready
- Jim and Gaby Infusino
- Tom and Janet Heinonen
- David Yeh
- Virginia Farkas
- Ron and Suzy Crasilneck
- Lila Schwartz
- Jack Prior
Some of these are family members, some of them are family friends. Some of them are co-workers, some of them went to Northwestern with us. Some are even volunteer tutor/mentors at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. Most of them live outside of Chicago but think that helping an at-risk child succeed in life is important enough that they donated. I am inspired by each and every one of these people who stepped up to the plate and helped out. Hopefully you will find them inspiring too and find it in your heart to donate.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference is in a little less than two months and we already have lots of great speakers lined up including:
- Friday Morning Keynote: Isaiah Brooms, Director of Admissions at Isaiah Brooms is a long time alumni of The Cabrini Green Tutoring Program (Currently, Cabrini Connections). Formerly a teacher in the Chicago Public School System, he relocated from Chicago to recruit, coach and teach at a private school in Indiana, and is currently the Director of Admissions for Westwood College located in Arlington, VA.
- Friday Lunchtime Keynote: Valdis Krebs and Jean Russell discuss social networking. Together, Valdis Krebs and Jean Russell explore, explain, and empower thrivable communities. Valdis specializes in social network mapping and analysis. Jean specializes in weaving and thrivability. Together, we work with both online and offline communities in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Valdis has worked with organizations such as IBM, CDC, Cleveland Foundation and Barr Foundation. Jean works with organizations including PeopleBrowsr, Community Media Workshop, and Inspired Legacies. Together, Valdis and Jean are working with several on-line social networks to weave thrivable communities.
Valdis might also do a workshop as well.
Workshops that have already been booked include:
-Deborah McNelis, Braininsights - Creating Great Connections: Information EVERYONE Needs to Know - This workshop provides an overview of the basics of brain development. Through visual demonstrations you will gain insights into how you can have more impact on the learning brain. With this understanding, ideas are are also presented on how we can spread the word to those that can support of the needs for all young children.
-Joel Newman, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley - Mentoring Program Strategies - Mentoring programs have their own special needs and issues that differ greatly from tutoring program. Talk to a panel of mentoring program leaders on ways to make your mentoring program a success!
-Rafael Gomez, Madison, WI Metropolitan School District - The Paradox of Education - The paradox of education brings an awareness how youth can develop skills to navigate in a free enterprise society under the guidance of a mentor. It is a schematic method for mentors not only serve as catalyst, but educators of free enterprise.
-Joshua Fulcher, Erie Neighborhood House - Model-Coach-Fade: How to Teach Anything - This workshop provides and teaches a structure for tutors to build a student's skill set for sustained academic improvement. It is a structure to teach virtually anything so students can work on their own. This method is used by Masters in Education programs across the nation.
- Tim Fulcher, Washington Initiative for Supportive Employment - Diversity in Mentoring: Community Building through Inclusion - Project MOVE is the first mentoring Program in the nation to use Big Brothers Big Sisters Support Model to Match mentees with disabilities (ages 16-21) with mentors to support transition from high school to higher education or employment.
-Xavier Salvado, Gads Hill Youth Center - You are the Best! Tips for Keeping Mentors Happy - Why are mentors volunteering in your program? What makes them choose to stay with you? What makes them leave? This workshop will explore different strategies that you can use in your program to ensure that your mentors feel that they are making a difference and are willing to stay longer with you!
This is only just a sample of the great workshops that will be offered at the November 2009 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. Just as a reminder, the conference will be held Thursday and Friday November 19th and 20th at Northwestern University's Evanston Campus. Please visit www.tutormentorconference.org for more information.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
As you have probably noticed from previous entries pleading for funding, money is tight right now at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. However, it's not just our organization that needs help. Tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago are struggling to find adequate funding.
Knowing that probably this was the case, and also in an effort to help programs throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, I sent a survey out to the leaders of all of the tutoring and mentoring programs in our database. 17 programs responded and the results were striking but not surprising:
We asked programs to rate what were their most important priorities at the start of the 2009-2010 school year? There were eight needs for the programs to prioritize.
1. Finding operating dollars - This was the need that was given a high priority by programs and 53.9% said it was the highest priority. 18.8% said it was the 2nd highest priority, 6.3% said it was the 3rd highest priority, and 18.8% said it was the 4th highest priority. No one said it was the 5th 6th, 7th, or 8th highest priority.
2. Recruiting and retaining volunteers - This was the need that was also listed as the highest priority by 43.8% of the programs. 25% said it was the 2nd highest priority, 18.8% said it was the 3rd highest priority, 6.3% said it was the 4th highest priority and 6.3% said it was the 5th highest priority. No one said it was the 6th, 7th, or 8th highest priority.
3. Training volunteers - While I think is a very important need, because where is a program without properly-trained volunteers - it was judged by most to be the 5th highest priority with 40% responding that way. No one thought it was the highest priority, 13.3% felt it was the 2nd highest priority, 33.3% said it was the 3rd highest priority, 6.7% felt it was the 4th highest priority, no one felt it was the 5th highest priority, 6.7% said it was the 7th highest priority and no one thought it was the 8th highest priority.
4. Legal support - This was felt to be the least important need right now with 78.6% responding that it was the 8th highest priority. No one said it was the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th highest priority. 7.1% said it was the 6th highest priority, and 14.3% said it was the 7th highest priority.
5. Technology support- I was surprised that this was also not a very popular need with 42.9% saying it was the 7th highest priority. We always are looking for volunteers to help us with updating our websites and fixing our computers. Maybe programs don't realize how important their websites are for marketing and publicity and how important it is to have computers to help the kids learn. Anyway, no one said it was the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd highest priority, and 7.1% said it was the 4th highest priority. 21.4% said it was the 4th, and 21.4% said it was the 5th highest priority. 7.1% said it was the 8th highest priority.
6. Marketing and publicity - I feel like this coincides with funding because programs won't get funds if people don't know about them. This is why 35.7% said it was the 2nd highest priority even though no one said it was the highest priority. 21.4% said it was the 3rd highest priority, and 21.4% said it was the 4th highest. No one said it was the 5th highest, 14.3% said it was the 6th highest, 7.1% said it was the 7th highest priority, and no one felt it was the 8th highest priority.
7. Parental support - This was the only other need judged to be the highest priority other than finding funds and recruiting volunteers. 6.7% said it was the highest priority, but the majority of people judged it to be either the 4th or the 6th highest priority with 26.7% responding those ways. 6.7% also said it was the 2nd and 3rd most important need, 13.3% said it was the 5th highest priority, and 6.7% said it was the 7th and 8th highest priorities.
8. School Support - This was not the biggest priority either with the majority of the responses saying its the 6th most important priority at 26.7%. No one said it was the highest priority, 6.7% said it was the 2nd highest priority, 13.3% said it was the 3rd and 4th highest priority, 20% said it was the 5th highest priority, 13.3% said it was the 8th highest priority, and 6.7% said it was the least of the needs.
So, in essence, here are what the needs are of programs in descending order:
1. Finding operating dollars
2. Recruiting volunteers
3. Marketing and publicity
4. Parental Support
5. Training Volunteers
6. School Support
7. Technology Support
8. Legal Support
This is why I highly encourage you to donate to your favorite local tutoring and mentoring program as they start a new school year. If you would like to support tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs by donating to the Tutor/Mentor Connection, please send a check payable to "Cabrini Connections" and mail it to:
Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron, First Floor
Chicago, IL 60642
Also, you can through PayPal by clicking this link.
Programs throughout Chicago have voiced their need. It's up to you to help them out!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
With funding for tutoring and mentoring programs becoming increasingly in short supply, just as the year starts, I thought it would be a good idea for people who have worked with the Tutor/Mentor Connection and its events, such as the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference to tell you in their own words what the Tutor/Mentor Connection means to them:
“The Tutor/Mentor Conference is a great way to recharge the batteries and connect with non-profit professionals facing many of the same dilemmas I confront on a daily basis. It’s an excellent tool to collaborate and learn new strategies on volunteer recruitment and retention that helps not only in Chicago, but in many rural communities in reach I serve. The conference, and its subsequent workshops, is a valuable resource to all attendees and is something I can’t afford to miss.”
- Joel Newman
Program Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley
Davenport, IA"I just wanted to thank you and your staff connected with the Mentor/Tutor Conference for all the hard work you are doing with our youth. I have implemented a lot of the information I learned from the conferences in to our mentoring tutoring program at the (Education Initiative in Milwaukee Public Housing- see pdf). We are starting to see growth. I have professionals, parents, and college students involved with the youth. We started to see students getting more involved when we stopped taking about grades and started focusing more on who they are and what they want to achieve in life."
Milwaukee Housing Authority
I think these two testimonies from professionals who work outside of Chicago are better than anything that I could tell you. The Tutor/Mentor Connection and its conference has helped people from all over the world help kids in a variety of ways.
If you would like to help out with the November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, please leave a comment and I will contact you. Just as a reminder, it will be held Thursday and Friday November 19th and 20th at Northwestern University in Evanston.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I want to first of all thank everyone who has donated to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in the past couple of weeks. I came back from vacation to find out our payroll had been cut in half and that our organization was in danger of being shut down. This has been ameliorated in the short term by the incredible outpouring of support from donors like you, but there's still lots of work to be done.
This week we've had our volunteer and student orientations. Tutoring starts next week. It looks like it's going to be a great year from the enthusiasm and energy of the kids, volunteers, and staff. It would be such a shame if this all went away just because the funding wasn't there.
If you haven't donated to our marathon fundraising yet, NOW's the time. So far, we have raised almost $1500 from individual donors. We would like to raise much more to do our part to help keep Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in business. If you would like to donate here are a couple of ways:
1. Write a check payable to "Cabrini Connections" and mail it to:
Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron, First Floor
Chicago, IL 60642
2. Go to our PayPal Link: http://www.cabriniconnections.net/donate-online1
3. Go to our FirstGiving site and track our progress there:http://www.firstgiving.com/nicolewhite3
Thanks so much everybody for all of your support. Nick and I will continue to run and train so we will be able to run 26.2 miles. It's now time to do your part and donate so that Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection can help the kids of Chicago succeed.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Since I view the world in the tutoring and mentoring perspective after having worked at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection for a little over two years now, I'll just comment on a couple of things that struck me after watching the speech yesterday, digesting it, and then reading the transcript today.
At the beginning of his speech, President Obama says:
"I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide."
This is one of the main tenants of tutoring and mentoring - that every child has the potential for greatness, no matter what the circumstances they grew up in. However, some of these kids need a little help along to discovering what they have to offer, especially if they have no support at home. This is where tutors and mentors come in.
President Obama goes on to say:
"And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it."
One of the main ways to prevent dropping out of school is for students to enroll in an afterschool tutoring and mentoring program. With someone who ha their back and who won't give up on them, these at-risk students are less likely to give up on themselves and drop out of school.
Also, in regards to preparing for a career - Many tutoring and mentoring progams offer career training such as on how to write a good resume or how to dress for success at a job. Some tutoring and mentoring programs even offer job shadowing or internship programs at a variety of professions. When students learn what it takes to get the job of their dreams, they are also less likely to drop out of school.
An especially central part of Obama's speech was where he talks about his own story, growing up with no dad and not having a lot of money. This is something that a lot of kids that tutoring and mentoring programs can relate to. He says:
"Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork. . .
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right."
These are all circumstances that many of our kids face everyday. Obama talks about how he succeeded despite difficult circumstances, as did the First Lady. He also highlights three students who have also succeeded despite difficult circumstances, including Shantell Steve, a young woman who has grown up in foster care on the South Side and who has succeeded acedmically and has become a leader in her community. What Obama doesn't say is that I'm almost positive that he, Mrs. Obama, and the three outstanding young people that he talked about all had mentors in their lives who encouraged them when they were about to give up and who helped them realize that they could be even better than they thought they could be.
That's what tutors and mentors are here for - to help young people who wouldn't have the support, guidance, and belief in them otherwise. Students working hard and striving to succeed are one part of the equation. The other part of the equation are caring adults who can help these young people become contributing members of society.
Unfortunately, many of these programs where students meet these tutors and mentors are being cut due to the economy. This is a shame and you should do everything you can to support your local tutoring and mentoring program. If you want to help tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago continue to succeed in this rough economy, I encourage you to do two things:
1) Volunteer - the role you may play in the program may be an even bigger role than just a one-on-one tutor/mentor. You have the potential to impact a large number of people with doing whatever you can with your time in helping these programs.
2) Donate - your dollars will come back to you better used than you can imagine. With the money you donate, programs can retain staff, help kids get into college, and help them into adulthood with the continued support these programs can offer.
If you would like to volunteer or donate visit the Cabrini Connections or the Tutor/Mentor Connection websites to find out more. Also, you can quickly donate by clicking the PayPal icon in the upper right-hand corner of this blog. We need your help now more than ever. But the payoff will be sure in the future.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
They do a great job talking about all the great things we do at Cabrini Connections, but didn't mention the Tutor/Mentor Connection at all. What needs to be promoted as well is how important the Tutor/Mentor Connection is to the tutoring and mentoring community in Chicago. If you read my blog articles under the label "Other tutoring and mentoring programs" you'll see articles highlighting other outstanding tutoring and mentoring programs in Chicago that I have visited over the past six months. Of course we want to promote Cabrini Connections, but we also want to promote other great programs too. We can only serve so many kids in a just one part of Chicago and so we want to support other programs in other parts of Chicago who are doing the same thing we're doing.
To further prove to you why the Tutor/Mentor Connection needs your dollars too, here are just a couple of reasons:
-We're the number one site for helping parents, teachers, social workers, students, and potential volunteers find tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. To see all the programs that are in the database, visit Tutor/Mentor Program Locator
-We help tutoring and mentoring programs throughout the country with starting up, better business practices and just general operating questions. To see all the ways we help tutoring and mentoring programs serve at-risk youth and be the best non-profits that they can be, visit Tutor/Mentor Exchange.
-We have a links library of over 1000 resources about everything from the school drop-out crisis to helpful homework help links. To see all the resources we have in our web library, visit the Links Library.
- We host a twice-yearly Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference which brings together tutoring and mentoring programs, as well as leaders in the education, media, legal, medical, and other communities, to discuss how they can better help kids. To find out more about the conference visit Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.
As you can see, the Tutor/Mentor Connection does a lot to help connect people who are in need of these tutoring and mentoring programs, as well as people who to support these tutoring and mentoring programs, with the tutoring and mentoring programs themselves. Unfortunately all these great things that the Tutor/Mentor Connection does will end if we don't find a consistent source of funding in the near future. We recently learned that we received $35,000 grant from HSBC, which will support our technological needs - something that was greatly needed and welcome. However, there is no foreseeable source of funding for the Tutor/Mentor Connection as of right now.
There are several things you can do to help the Tutor/Mentor Connection:
-If you have been touched by the Tutor/Mentor Connection in any way, please leave a comment to this blog post. It's always good for potential funders to see why they should fund these programs.
-If you want to help me plan the November Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, which will be held Thursday and Friday November 19th and 20th at Norris University Center at Northwestern University in Evanston, you can also leave a comment or call 312-492-9614.
- If you want to help recruit volunteers to be tutor/mentors for programs throughout the city of Chicago as a part of our August and September Volunteer Recruitment Campaign, please leave a comment as well.
-Finally, if you would like to support the Tutor/Mentor Connection financially in any way - becoming a sponsor for the conference or helping fund salary for staff to keep the Tutor/Mentor Connection going, also contact us by phone or by e-mail.
Thanks to everybody who has donated in the past week! We raised $2500 individual donations alone! That's incredible. However, we need similar grants like the one we got from HSBC. Please let us know if you have any leads for us.
Friday, September 4, 2009
So, apparently someone from the Garrard McClendon Show on CLTV Channel 10 read my blog post yesterday about CPS's 30million dollar anti-violence plan and asked Dan Bassill, the president and CEO of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection to come on. You can watch the interview here.
At the end Dan says "Give me $1 million a year for 10 years and I can do a lot more than they can with $30 million." This is so true. I think people would be shocked to find out what miracles we can create with as little money as we have. A lot of you are fans of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and have seen all the good work we can do. If we had $1 million a year? Just you watch what great things we create with that!
Unfortunately, we do not have $1 million a year right now, or even enough to sustain us through September. We need your help. Here are a couple of ways that you can support Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection in these tough times:
1. Donate to Nick Infusino and me running the Chicago Marathon. Right a check, click on the paypal link in the upper right-hand corner of this blog, or visit http://www.firstgiving.com/nicolewhite3
So far we have raised $891! That's amazing and it's all thanks to you! Help us reach our goal of raising $2000 before October 11, which is the day we run the marathon. (And I'm running 18 miles on Monday so you don't think I'm slacking either:))
2. Pay for your Martini Madness admission today by visiting here. Admission is $40, but of course we will take more!
3. Attention all Northwestern and UofI Alumni! Our Cabrini Connections Administrative Coordinator, El Da'Sheon Nix, and former Northwestern Football Player is having a fundraise-off with Kurt Kittner, former quarterback for University of Illinois and now a board member at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection.
Are you a Wildcat alum who hates to see the Fighting Illini win? (I know I am!) Visit http://www.giveforward.org/illinivsnuchallenge/
Er, yeah, we'd still like to see donations from UofI alums too. Visit http://www.giveforward.org/illinialumsgive/ ;)
Or if you love Big 10 Football, you could just donate to both!
If you want to know more, visit El's blog.
Anyway, there a variety of fun ways that you can help out Cabrini Connections. The easiest way is to just spread the word. Have a "Support Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection" status on facebook or gchat. Tell people at the Labor Day barbeques about all the great work we do.
Ironically, I'm attending a wedding where the bride and groom are both Illinois alums and are HUGE football fans. I assume a lot of the guests will be as well. While it will kill me to have UofI possibly beat us, I will definitely tell them about the fundraising challenge and see if we can all do our part in supporting Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
So what's holding you back? Click the button and DONATE!
The article cites that two of the strategies that they plan to use to help kids in school and out of trouble is to have full-time mentors and getting the students jobs. Those are both great tools for giving at-risk kids the support they need. However, I wonder how CPS is going to approach this. Are they going to start their own mentoring and job-training program? Or could they align themselves with tutoring and mentoring programs in the neighborhoods where these schools with these kids exist? The Tutor/Mentor Connection and the Tutor/Mentor Exchange both have a wealth of resources to help CPS create a quality partnership with tutoring and mentoring programs throughout Chicago. I hope that CPS has a plan like this and will support tutoring and mentoring programs like Cabrini Connections and many others throughout the city as we face the economic challenges that are threatening to end all of the good work that we do.
The Chicago Tribune quotes that this anti-violence plan is going to help 1200 students. Now $30 million divided by 1200 is $25,000 per kid. Just to give you a sense of perspective, if we got $30,000 per month, we would be able to help 85 kids per month in our own program. Doesn't that sound more cost-effective?
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
It's September 1st, which means school is starting in many areas of the country, including Chicago. We're so excited about starting a new year of tutoring and mentoring here at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection as well. We have 85 students and 85 mentors already matched and volunteer and student orientations start next week. We also are getting the ball rolling on planning the November Tutor/Mentor Conference, which will be Thursday and Friday November 19th and 20th at Norris University Center at Northwestern University in Evanston.
With all the good work we're doing, we unfotunately are in a tough financial spot right now. We're beginning to feel the effects of the economic downturn of last year (non-profits are usually a year behind for-profits in how they're affected by the economy. You can read a couple of good articles about that mentioned on the Cabrini Fundraising blog.) If we don't get enough funding, there is a possibility we could go out of business by the end of the year, which means almost 100 kids would not have a safe place to go after school and will lose a relationship with an adult tutor/mentor, which will be devastating.
So what can you do? Well, if you had been intending to donate to Nick Infusino and me running the marathon for Cabrini Connections, we need your donations NOW and not in October. We also would prefer if you would write a check to us. (online donations are great, but we don't get the money until the end of this month) Make checks payable to "Cabrini Connections" and mail them to: Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron, First Floor
Chicago, IL 60642
We appreciate anything you can contribute, even if it's just $20. Also, tell all of your friends and family about our need for funds - we would appreciate any support we can get right now!
If any of you or anybody you know has any questions or concerns (or would like to volunteer! That would be awesome too!), contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-492-9614.
Thanks so much! We have faith that people will come through and help Cabrini Connections and other programs throughout the city start the best school year yet!