Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, Tutor/Mentor Connection http://www.tutormentorexchange.net tutormentor2@earthlink.


Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is a network-builder

I’m Dan Bassill, founder of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and a leader of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago since 1974. I connect people, organizations, ideas with places working to help kids overcome challenges of growing up to become contributing adults. You can learn more about me and my history at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/dan-bassill While I focus on volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring, I do this because I believe that volunteer involvement in well-organized, long-term tutoring/mentoring programs can be a strategy to expand the number of adults and resources needed to help kids living in high poverty areas overcome challenges as they move from birth to work. While I focus on youth living in big city poverty, I recognize that other kids also need long-term adult support. These include * kids w/disabilities * kids in broken homes * kids with parents in military deployment * kids with serious health problems * kids who have lost parents * kids w/incarcerated parents * kids who are involved with substance abuce * kids who have been/are being abused * kids who don’t yet have a purpose and a direction in life

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 1

Such kids live in cities, suburbs and rural areas throughout the US and the rest of the world. For the most part, what these kids have in common is a need for adult and system support beyond what a family or an impoverished community can provided. In addition, they do not have a strong political voice. They can not vote. They do not contribute money to political candidates. They don’t have a direct influence on local or global policy making and what adults do to help them.

While there are many groups and organizations working to help these kids, in Chicago and in other places, most of these groups work in silos, focusing on specific kids, specific needs, and/or specific neighborhoods, cities or states. While some of the networks focusing on issues of child and family well-being are huge, there are few shared visions that provide a common goal, shared strategies, or frame a vision of helping kids from birth to work that provides a larger enough tent for all of us to be united under it, or a powerful enough gravity, to connect us in actions that would influence what adults in business, universities, government, media and philanthropy do to support youth in all of these areas of need. By building a library of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago I have the ability to share ideas on a regular basis that any program, and their volunteers can use to their own selfimprovement. By building a library of programs serving other cities in the US and beyond, I connect Chicago programs to ideas and programs beyond Chicago. By hosting

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 2

links to organizations, researchers, leaders, etc. focused on a broad range of issues that affect the well-being of children and their success in moving from birth to work, I provide a platform that connects all of these organizations to each other, even if that connection does not go through me and my organization. One section of my library focuses on collaboration, network building, knowledge management, innovation, and similar ideas that leaders in any sector can use in their own efforts to be the best they can be at solving any problem they are trying to solve. These links point to thinkers, business people, consultants, and researchers throughout the world. I added one link in March 2012 where the writer describes this network building process and shows this can be a way to “rethink the idea of citizenship” and how this potentially can influence how organizations define common goals and work to influence process as well as decisions. This is the link. http://issuu.com/gfbertini/docs/knowledge_and_praxis_of_networks?mode=window&bac kgroundColor=%23222222 I encourage you to read this article. As you do, keep in mind what is being said as you review the maps, charts and graphics I’ve created and that I share in the www.tutormentorexchange.net web site and http://tutormentor.blogspot.com blog articles. In the T/MC library are a set of links to sites where young people are raising their voices as leaders. There are also links to a blog where I introduce interns who have worked with me over the past six years to share our ideas via visualizations that they create. In this article I show the potential of young people as leaders in this movement. http://www.scribd.com/daniel-f-bassill-7291/d/69970749-Network-Building-UnleashYour-Personal-Power-to-Make-Good-Things-Happen

I started this network-building in 1974 when I became the volunteerleader of a single tutor/mentor program hosted by the Montgomery Ward Corporation in Chicago. At that time100 pairs of workplace volunteers and 2nd-6th grade youth from Cabrini Green were meeting weekly at the Wards headquarters on Chicago Avenue. By 1990 when I left m corporate job and converted this program to a non profit more than 300 pairs of youth and volunteers were meeting weekly. By October 1992 there were more than 440 k-8 youth and 550 volunteers involved in weekly tutoring/mentoring and in leading this effort. The volunteers came from more than 100 different companies located throughout the Chicago region. One team came from the AT&T office in Naperville, almost 20 miles away. This was a huge network of adults and youth that met weekly throughout the school year, with volunteer leaders meeting weekly throughout the summer to plan each year’s efforts.

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 3

As I became involved in the Wards program I began to reach beyond our organization to find ideas to help me become a better mentor, and a more effective leader. In 1976 I began to reach out to locate other programs serving young people to invite them to gather once a month for a “lunch and learn” where we could share ideas with each other. At first I could only find a few programs, such as the company sponsored programs at Continental Bank, Borg Warner, Quaker Oats and the church sponsored programs at 4th Presbyterian Church and LaSalle Street Church. As we began to meet and share ideas we saw the opportunity to share the work of organizing fall volunteer training events. As we organized these we tried to find other programs in Chicago to invite to come and share ideas. While we found a few, such as the Blue Gargoyle in Hyde Park, there was no master list. Between 1975 and 1992 as I built the network of youth and volunteers in the program at Wards, and the network of leaders who met monthly, I also begin to gather research about tutoring/mentoring and build a library of articles that helped me expand my thinking about why tutor/mentor programs were needed, and where they were most needed. The people and organizations behind these articles represented an expansion of my network. In 1993 I formed Cabrini Connections, a site based program aimed to help 7th graders from the original Montgomery Ward 2nd to 6th grade program continue in a mentoring support system through high school. We started with five teens and 7 volunteer and grew each year. By 1999 we were averaging 100 teens and volunteers at the start of each school year and the first group of teens who had joined in 1993-1995 were now finishing high school. When we formed Cabrini Connections the front page stories in Chicago newspapers were focused on the tragic death of a 7-year-old boy in the Cabrini-Green area where our tutor/mentor program operated. The media were demanding action to solve this problem, but were only pointing at a few of the high poverty neighborhoods in Chicago, and a few of the volunteer-based organizations that were connecting kids and mentors and extra learning as part of a long-term process. We saw a need for someone to build a master database of all tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and to lead and effort to help each program get more public attention and more of the resources and volunteers each program needs to grow and constantly improve. We decided to split any money we raised between the Cabrini Connections site based program, and this new effort called Tutor/Mentor Connection. We launched a first newsletter in 1993 and mailed it to about 350 people. We launched a survey to locate tutor/mentor programs in Jan. 1994 and had 120 responses. In this 54%

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 4

of programs said they had little or no contact with peers, 70% said they desired more contact, and 90% said they’d come to a conference if it were low cost and within their schedule.

So we launched a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in May 1994 and published the first Directory of tutor/mentor programs. The people who hosted workshops and shared ideas were drawn from the list of 120 organizations we’d identified through the survey. Response was so good we held another conference in November 1994 at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and 200 people attended. We’ve done the conference every six months since then and more than 1000 organizations have attended with many of the tutor/mentor programs in Chicago attending more than a dozen times. In 1995 we began to use our Directory and a partnership with Chicago Access TV to launch an August/September Chicagoland Volunteer Recruitment Campaign. At the same time we built a partnership with the Lend A Hand Program of the Chicago Bar Foundation and began efforts to increase funds donated to the various tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. A shared effort was a Tutor/Mentor Week held each November until 1999, where I hosted the Leadership Conference and the Lend A Hand Program held a fund raiser to raise money from lawyers to support tutor/mentor programs. We continued to send a newsletter every three months during the 1999s and the distribution list reached over 14000 at its peak. We did two versions, with 1/3 of the mailing including information about Cabrini Connections and intended to raise money from our supporters, and with 2/3 not including information about Cabrini Connections,

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 5

but instead focusing on the work other tutor/mentor programs were doing, and the work the Tutor/Mentor Connection was doing to help them. In 1998 we launched the www.tutormentorconnection.org web site and in 2001 began an email newsletter to share ideas with our network. In the T/MC web site we began to build a library of links to tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and to research and resource organizations in Chicago and around the world. In 1999 we launched the Tutor/Mentor Institute web site at www.tutormentorexchange.net to share our ideas. In 2005 IUPUI rebuilt the T/MC web site into the format we still use today. In total we’ve recorded more than 800,000 visits and 7 million page views to these web sites. If you search Google for ‘tutor mentor’ or “poverty maps” our web sites show up on the first page. We now have more than 2000 links in our web site and share the information in a variety of social media platforms. I’ve faced many challenges doing this work, many coming from my own ideas and vision being too future focused for others to easily understand from their own perspective and experiences.

This graphic represents my vision, and my challenge. No one has a magic pill that kids would take to become motivated learners who work hard and are able to overcome all of

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 6

the obstacles life, poverty and their own circumstances put in front of them. No one has a magic pill that would motivate adults to focus as much attention on the well-being of youth living in poverty as they do on which sports team wins a national championship, or which celebrity or entertainer wins a TV show contest. Thus everyone is like Thomas Edison, constantly experimenting to find a solution that helps kids through school and into adult jobs and careers with the least cost to society and the least damage to themselves. As the leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program I’ve been experimenting for over 35 years to find better ways to connect kids, volunteers, ideas, and to keep donors and supporters involved. I’ve been doing this with too few resources, not enough personal time and talent, and too many obstacles for a single volunteer-based tutor/mentor program to overcome. When Edison invented the light bulb, he then had to create an industry to enable light bulbs to be distributed all over the world. If we think of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs being “light bulbs” then the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been our attempts to create an industry that would make constantly improving tutor/mentor programs available in every poverty neighborhood of Chicago. Through the internet we’re trying to help such programs be available in every big city of the USA and the world. Since one of the resources I don’t have is money for advertising and sharing my ideas, I’ve been using a blog to share ideas and attract support. Here’s where I share this idea about what I call, “The Edison Affect” http://tutormentor.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-didedison-do-it.html Right now there may be millions of people in the world who are trying to invent an industry to support volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs and there may be thousands of people providing the dollars and talent to support them. My network-building is intended to find and connect with these people. I want to share my ideas and embed them in the work of other groups so that many leaders take ownership and try to find better ways to help tutor/mentor and other volunteer-type programs reach kids in high poverty who need extra help to move through school and into adult lives. This essay could become a book if it were to draw from all of the ideas I’ve posted on the http://www.tutormentorexchange.net and http://tutormentor.blogspot.com sites and other places where I’ve shared my ideas. I’ve begun to share some of these ideas at http://www.scribd.com/daniel-f-bassill-7291

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 7

I don’t have the time to organize this information into book format because I spend every day doing the work and trying to find the talent and dollars to help. However, if you’re a grad student looking to write a book about network-building and social change, and you’d like to help tell my story and pass it on to future generations, I’d love to have your help. Email Daniel F. Bassill at tutormentor2@earthlink.net or connect with me at www.twitter.com/tutormentorteam or http://www.facebook.com/TutorMentorInstitute Read The Tutor/Mentor Business, by Sara Coover Caldwell, and learn the origins of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute strategy. http://www.scribd.com/daniel-f-bassill-7291/d/85752195-TutorMentorBusiness6-97 Visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute Channel on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/TutorMentorInstitute?ob=0&feature=results_main Visit the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and use interactive search features to learn about where tutoring and/or mentoring programs are operating in Chicago. http://www.tutormentorprogramlocator.net Visit the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference site to see how we’ve invited leaders and supporters to gather and network every six months since May 1994. http://www.tutormentorconference.org Visit the Tutor/Mentor Forum at http://tutormentorconnection.ning.com and see how interns have been involved in sharing these ideas. Visit the OHATS (Organizational History and Tracking System) to see how actions can be documented to show what people do to achieve a shared goal. More than 1500 actions have been documented in the T/MC OHATS at http://www.tutormentorprogramlocator.net/OHATS/home.aspx Read more about challenges facing non profits: http://tinyurl.com/TMILibraryChallengesFacingNPO Read about 2000-2010 Decade of Challenges and Accomplishment for Tutor/Mentor Connection and Cabrini Connections - http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/images/PDF/decade20002010.pdf Compare Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago to Mentoring Partnerships in other parts of the USA - http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/images/PDF/tmccomparison2010.pdf

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 8

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC Network-Building, 3/17/2012

Page 9