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TutorMentorBusiness6_97

TutorMentorBusiness6_97

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Published by Daniel F. Bassill
This 1997 article shows the growth of a single volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1973-1996 and how that led to the development of a strategy intended to help such program become available to youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city and suburbs.
This 1997 article shows the growth of a single volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1973-1996 and how that led to the development of a strategy intended to help such program become available to youth in all high poverty neighborhoods of the city and suburbs.

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Published by: Daniel F. Bassill on Mar 17, 2012
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The Tutor/Mentor Business, by Sara Coover Caldwell, 1997, a story of one person’s effort to create change. Page 1
The Tutor/Mentor Business
 
Chicago’s First Citywide Strategy to Bring Kids Out of PovertyBy Sara Coover Caldwell, written October, 1997
This story was written in 1997, with a goal of attracting an investor to help convert the story into a book,or into a feature film, or TV series. The author, Sara Coover Caldwell, was a volunteer with the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program from 1998 through 1990, then served as a member of the paid staff, in 1991-92, after the leaders converted the 25 year old volunteer program into a non profit named Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program, inc. It is now September 2012, 15 years later. A new chapter is starting. In June 2011 the Board of Directorsvoted to discontinue support of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) and focus only on CabriniConnections, the site based tutor/mentor program. Dan Bassill, who left Wards in 1990, then left CabriniGreen Tutoring Program in 1992, has now left Cabrini Connections to continue to pursue a vision of astrategy that would provide better support for tutor/mentor programs in all poverty neighborhoods of urban areas like Chicago, and thus provide a better system of adult supports helping all kids in povertymove through school and into jobs and careers. In July 2011 Daniel F. Bassill created the Tutor/Mentor Connection to continue providing support to theTutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago, and to help similar intermediary structures grow in other cities. Thewww.tutormentorexchange.net web site shares these strategies. However, he is now 65 and seeks writers, partners, investors and leaders who will add new chapters to The Tutor/Mentor Business, based on what has taken place since this first version was written, and what might take place as a result of this newstrategy and the collective efforts of many people who are concerned about the growing gap between richand poor in America Emailtutormentor2@earthlink.net if you’d like to help with this project.Follow this story on line at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net and http://www.tutormentorconnection.org 
 
The Tutor/Mentor Business, by Sara Coover Caldwell, 1997, a story of one person’s effort to create change. Page 2
The Tutor/Mentor Business
 
Chicago’s First Citywide Strategy to Bring Kids Out of PovertyBy Sara Coover Caldwell, written October, 1997He didn’t care if the other kids thought he was a nerd, he couldn’t see without thoseglasses. His mother would shake her head in despair every time some bulliesknocked them off his face, softly whistling his name with slight condemnation --“Isaiah!” How many more times could she tape up the cracked frames? He lookedat his mother through those nerdy glasses before leaving, and then made his waydown the fourth story hallway, separated from the chilly autumn air by only achainlink fence. He hugged the inner wall, passing three pubescent girls skippingrope, their bobbing braids topped with bright plastic baubles, light feet suddenlytangling in the rope. The girls eyed him accusingly, one sneering, “You made usmess up, you dumb nappy head!” He met a girl like her once, a neighbor whosename he never knew. He remembered seeing her fall from a much higher place,remembered hearing her shrill screams before and after the man took her to theroof. But he was out of the Hornets now. The Cabrini projects were supposed to besafer. He wished he could forget that girl.“I’d like a second grade girl,” I said to the harried young woman manning thedesk, around which clusters of anxious students and volunteers were checking in.Twenty minutes later, the now calmer young woman at the MontgomeryWard/Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program (CGTP) introduced me to a fifth-grade boy.“This is Isaiah. It’s his first time here, too.”She told me she would try to pair me with a young girl the following week.Tonight, I could “sub” for Isaiah. It’s not that I particularly wanted to tutor a littlegirl. Older boys intimidated me. I didn’t hang around many kids at the time, despiteaspirations to help one from a neighborhood whose dark reputation terrified me.We were left alone. I babbled incessantly, filling the awkward silence withmeaningless words, as we looked for an empty table to sit at in the spaciouswarehouse hall. The poor boy mumbled polite, almost incoherent replies to mybarrage of questions: Where do you go to school? Do you have brothers or sisters?What is your favorite subject? That’s all I remember about the first time we met.What I remember about the second time is the way his eyes lit up when I entered theroom. It surprised me, and I realized I was stuck with him.Nine years later, now nearly 2000 miles apart, Isaiah and I are fast friends,staying in touch primarily through the wonders of the internet. He’s a sophomore atBradley University in Peoria, Illinois, following six years at private and militaryschools, funded by private grants. The once-shy boy is now taking center stage incollege plays. He’s studying theater and reaching for the stars.
 
The Tutor/Mentor Business, by Sara Coover Caldwell, 1997, a story of one person’s effort to create change. Page 3
Although Isaiah and I were paired together by chance, the growth of ourrelationship, of my greater understanding of his social condition, and of his personalsuccess were not. Instead, they were part of a well-thought out process that beganevolving over fifteen years before we had ever met. A process which mostvolunteers like me took for granted, not realizing the incredible time, toil, anddedication taking place behind the scenes. In the 1970s, there were fewer“poverty” neighborhoods than today -- 187 where 20-40% of the residents werepoor, compared to almost 250 in the early 1990s. Very impoverishedneighborhoods, with over 60% poor, also jumped from 5 to 63 in that time frame.Some believed that this increase was not due to chance but was a form of economicand racial apartheid resulting from conscious governmental policy.The early ‘70s also saw a variety of church- and business-based tutor andmentor programs spring up throughout the city, though no one really knew howmany were operating, where they were, or how many children were being served.While a number of programs had originated, there were no measurable results bywhich to gauge the success of the different models. And the programs had little, if any, communication between each other. This isolation between tutor/mentorprograms would exist until 1993, when Cabrini Connections would become the firstcitywide program in Chicago to connect programs together for mutual benefit.Cabrini Connections was the brainchild of Dan Bassill, its president and CEO,who brought with him twenty years of experience, plus a few lessons from theschool of hard knocks.In 1972, the gangly, mild-mannered Bassill joined the Montgomery Ward retailadvertising group. The following year, a co-worker encouraged him to volunteerwith the CGTP, one of fifteen such programs initiated by the Chicago HousingAuthority (CHA) in the mid 1960s after violent riots rocked Chicago and destroyedmany of its neighborhoods. Some programs were sponsored by churches, others bycorporations such as Sears, Quaker Oats Company and Borg- Warner. CGTP wasloosely sponsored by Montgomery Ward, with a team of employees providing theleadership on a volunteer basis.Although initially more interested in the attractive female co-worker who hadencouraged him to join the program, Bassill became very committed to the youngman he was assigned to work with, an energetic fourth grader named Leopoleon(Leo) Hall, who at age 10 was nearly 5'7" tall and weighed more than 200 lbs. AsIsaiah and I would do so many years later, Bassill and Leo met once a week forthree years. Over the next twenty-five years, Bassill would attend every one of Leo's graduations, including his 1992 graduation from Memphis State University.At the end of his second year, Bassill was recruited to become the CGTP leaderafter the incumbent leader announced he was moving to Europe. He anointedBassill “since he talks so much.”Although Bassill was initially a reluctant leader, he immediately took steps toimprove the program and ensure its long-term growth. Most significantly, he

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