Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Merchandise Mart PO Box 3303, Chicago, Il.


Building and sustaining a Collective Effort aimed at helping inner city youth move through school and into jobs and careers.

On Feb. 4, 2011 a White House Council on Community Solutions meeting was held in Washington. One of the workshops, hosted by John Kania of FSG consulting, focused on Collective Impact. On March 23, FSG & Stanford Social Innovation Review hosted a conference in California, titled Collective Impact: Creating Larger Scale Social Change. This was a follow up to an article written by FSG and posted in the SSIR in December 2010 which can be found at http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/collective_impact/ I’ve been reading this information, and I recognize the challenges pointed out in the articles and the opportunities of bringing large number of groups together around a common purpose. From 1993 to June 2011 I led a small non-profit in Chicago called Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection (CC, T/MC). While the CC part was a site based tutor/mentor program serving 70-80 7th-12h grade teens each year, the T/MC strategy was aimed at helping mentor-rich programs operate and reach more youth in all poverty areas of Chicago. Through the T/MC we’ve been bringing people together in a collective effort since 1993, with the goal of “doing all we can to help inner city youth move successfully through school and into jobs and careers.” This effort was funded by the leaders and volunteers of the Cabrini Connections program and never was able to generate the leadership support and philanthropic investment needed to impact the whole city. Thus, after 18 years the Board decided in April 2011 to no longer support the T/MC strategy and only focus on the single sitebased program.

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I resigned in July and created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (www.tutormentorexchange.net) to continue this work in Chicago and to help similar groups form in other urban areas of the US and the world. I’d like to invite your company, university, faith groups and/or foundation to become a partner in this effort. Help us build the philanthropic capital, talent and civic reach that is needed to grow our organizational capacity to lead this effort.

This graphic is one of many that have been developed since 1993 to express our ideas. This link points to one place on the Internet where I share graphics and ideas. http://www.scribd.com/daniel-f-bassill-7291 Please think of it as a strategy for building collective efforts aimed at reaching the goal in Step 7: “More youth stay in school, are safe in non-school hours, graduate, and move to careers.” That is a goal that should unite every sector of Chicago business, political leadership, philanthropy and education. Yet while millions of dollars have been spent, too many young people still drop out of school before graduation, too many don’t have the skills to succeed in college, and too many don’t have the networks of support that kids in more affluent areas grow up with. Many donors only want to fund programs. Others only want to fund policy or research. I would like your help to redefine what we are all doing as a “collective effort to help more of Chicago’s kids become productive adults”. The Cabrini Connections part of our organization was a “site based tutor/mentor program”. We want to encourage people to think of programs like this differently. They are a “collective effort” of many people over many years to help kids who come to us in 7th grade be finishing high school 6 years later and be starting productive jobs and careers another four to eight years after that. This graphic illustrates our goal of connecting volunteers and businesses in efforts that pull youth through school to jobs. This is a 12 year process for kids starting in 1st grade. It will take the collective effort and ownership of many leaders to provide the continuous resources needed for tutor/mentor programs to be operating in every neighborhood with volunteers, philanthropic partners, and other leaders working to help each be the best they can at helping kids move up this ladder. When we launched Cabrini Connections in 1993 we realized that the city did not have a master database of tutor/mentor programs, or a “collective effort” aimed at helping each program be the best it could be at connecting youth and volunteers. We also recognized

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that we’d have a difficult time funding our own efforts as just one more tutor/mentor program in a city where people perceived that there were already too many of us. So, we decided to fill the void. We created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which at its core is an information-based networking effort. In the graphic above we show that the first step in building any type of collective effort is that someone has to build a database and mailing list consisting of the people they want to connect and the people they want to help. We have been building this since 1993 and maintaining it every year. We have piloted the use of GIS maps to show the distribution of these programs with poverty overlays showing where they are most needed. This is now a searchable map based system at http://www.tutormentorprogramlocator.net Because we have the database we’ve been the only organization in the city able to constantly invite programs from throughout the city to connect and share ideas, while also creating greater public awareness intended to draw volunteers and donors to ALL of the different volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the city. We’ve printed our directory and created an on-line version and organized events and public awareness activities intended to draw programs together to learn and build relationships with each other, while also attracting volunteers and donor directly to the individual programs. The Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Association has raised more than $2.5 million since 1994 to fund tutor/mentor programs as a result of our efforts. Two other programs received $50k grants in 2007 as a result of our efforts. We don’t think that in a city like Chicago any leader will every be able to unite every other non profit, the business community and the philanthropy community around a single banner and organizational structure, or keep that energized for 10 to 30 years. Instead, we seek to build off the strengths of decentralized organizations, and the ideas represented in a book titled The Spider and the Star Fish, which describes companies like eBey supporting the independent actions of millions of user/owners. By creating an information base, on-going recognition of good ideas, good organizations and effective philanthropy supporting the growth of mentor-rich organizations, we feel we can use the strengths of social media and the internet to support the actions of many leaders, over many years, all focused on a common goal of “helping kids born in poverty today be in jobs/careers in 25 years.”

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This graphic illustrates the range of people the T/MC seeks to engage as a result of its strategies. The “village map” above is a different way to illustrate the goal of connecting and involving people from many different sectors in a network of common purpose. While we have been able to grow our idea to an effort recognized all over the world, what we have not done is build the philanthropic support needed to build the strength and capacity for the Tutor/Mentor Connection to do all we know needs to be done to move beyond maintaining a basis network, to building a network of people who share common goals and work collectively to achieve them. One reason for this challenge is that too few people understand the impact T/MC has had, or the role of a small group in building an ever expanding network of purpose. Part of the funds from this project are intended to map the growth of the T/MC network since 1992 when seven volunteers launched the Cabrini Connections program and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. The result will be an ability to visually demonstrate the many ways people have been touched by the T/MC and to create a tool that encourages those who have been active in the past to re-connect in the future. Each year we raised money from a variety of donors to fund parts of our work, but every year we’ve had to replace grant makers and business partners who were not able to continue funding from the previous year. In the years when the economy has been down, we’ve had even more difficulty finding the money to maintain the library of information and network-building activities of the T/MC and the collective effort of our own Cabrini Connections program. The result is that the Tutor/Mentor Connection is no longer operating as part of Cabrini Connections, nor is it operating under a non-profit, 501-c-3 structure. The Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC was created in July 2011 to provide new ways to generate revenue, build partnership, and expand the ways intermediaries like the T/MC can connect “those who can help” with “those who need help.

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This graphic represents our goal. Over the next few years we will continue to build an information platform that collects and shares information about where and why tutor/mentor programs are needed, and what it takes for programs to grow to be good, then to be great, then to stay great for many years. With this platform we will support the collective efforts of millions of users who want to apply the information to support the growth of tutor/mentor programs helping youth through school and into careers in their own communities. With this platform we will also create competitions, events, and mapbased tools that help volunteers, youth, schools and donors connect directly with existing tutor/mentor programs operating in their own cities. We cannot do this without significant investment from people who share our vision and want this strategy to be working for their own kids and their own community. If just one of the people who gives $25 million or more to a university or hospital so his/her name is on a building will step forward to put his/her name on this vision, we can do the work we describe and we can better support the collective efforts of people who understand that the world we want will only be that way if we work and sacrifice harder than those who may want a different type of world for themselves. In the Tactical Philanthropy blog articles of early March, http://www.tacticalphilanthropy.com/2011/03/an-investment-approach-to-philanthropy, Sean Stannard-Stockton described a type of philanthropic investor who helped build organizations with the strength and capacity to do good work. In a different SSIR article titled, Increasing Civic Reach, the author says “Nonprofits must have influential board members who connect them to the
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communities they serve.” http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/increasing_civic_reach/ Visit these sites to learn more of these ideas and to find ways you can become a co-owner of this vision.

Tutor/Mentor Institute and planning wiki: http://www.tutormentorexchange.net Tutor/Mentor Program Locator: http://www.tutormentorprogramlocator.net Tutor/Mentor Connection library: http://www.tutormentorconnection.org Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference: http://www.tutormentorconference.org Tutor/Mentor Connection forum: http://tutormentorconnection.ning.com Tutor/Mentor Institute on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TutorMentorInstitute#!/TutorMentorInstitute Tutor/Mentor Institute on Twitter @tutormentorteam We have a long history of building collective efforts and now we invite your foundation to become our partner in moving this to the next stage over the coming decade.

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