Friday, December 28, 2007

New Journalism Project, Starts Jan 22

In partnership with the The Urban Youth International Journalism Program, Cabrini Connections, is launching a new journalism club, which will meet on Tuesday afternoons, from 4:30 to 6pm, beginning January 22. We will be providing handouts about this in the Wednesday and Thursday sessions, beginning Jan. 9. Please make sure the youth you work with understands this opportunity:

Why is this important?

The role of our student as a communicator and journalist of his own life, and his/her role in the tutor/mentor program is one we've been trying to teach kids to take for many years, both in print and in video and on websites.

People talk of kids as leaders, but you seldom see them helping kids to learn how to research a problem, think through solutions, then use communications tools to get other people involved, get resources, and keep people involved for the long time it takes to solve a complex problem.

Our problem is that kids are more influenced by the poverty around them than they are by schools, or by our volunteer tutors/mentors. We can change that if we can get the kids involved as owners of their own future, and the future of their peers, siblings, and kids to follow.

The Urban Youth International Journalism Program is a great way to accomplish this.

Teens who participate in the Tuesday night program will be studying with professional journalists. They will learn valuable skills and get career advice. Those who are selected, will be be publishing article in Residents' Journal, and they will earn a competitive freelance salary for each article that is published.

This will expose their perspectives to a city-wide audience. By studying the
press, they learn what is wrong with it, and how to change media for the better.

Here's info about our partner:

The Urban Youth International Journalism Program broadens the intellectual, educational and career horizons of youths who live in public housing and other low-income neighborhoods by training them to communicate their perspectives and priorities in print, on the internet and on television. The program trains youths to be critical producers and consumers of media.

Youth reporters learn how to conduct research for articles; how to find and interview sources; how to structure and write a news piece; and also how the
media works in a modern democracy. Past articles produced for the Urban Youth International Journalism Program include ones about one young man's experiences
in the Cook County jail, teenage pregnancy and police brutality.

We hope that many students take advantage of this and as a result, many become more creative thinkers and more effective writers and communicators. This will have a huge impace in their success in school and in life.

Please make sure every one of our students knows about this opportunity.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Parties at Cabrini Connections

Guest article submitted by Kyle Petit:

Here’s some background information about me before you read on:

My name is Kyle Petit and I’m currently a senior at the University of Missouri. I’m from the Chicago suburbs home for Winter break. I thought it would be fun to come volunteer at the center while in town. This is a recap of my first two nights spent volunteering at Cabrini Connections.

Last Wednesday (December 19th) was my first night here at Cabrini Connections. Each Wednesday, while school is in session, high school kids from the neighborhood come into the center to receive an hour or two of tutoring/mentoring from a specific volunteer that is assigned to them throughout the year. The volunteers I met ranged from local college students to working professionals. Each volunteer I met was extremely nice and seemed really happy to be here working with the children.

I would estimate that there were between 20-30 high school students from the neighborhood in attendance this night. The atmosphere was very relaxed and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk to some of the local high-schoolers.

DeSean is a 10th grade student at nearby Wells High School and has been coming to the center since he was in 7th grade. He is also an exceptional artist as shown through the murals he painted that were on display inside the center.

All of the children I met seemed very happy to be a part of the program and they appeared to have an inseparable bond with their tutor/mentor. It really made me wish I was still in the Chicago area throughout the year, so that I was able to volunteer on a weekly basis and be able to form a lasting connection with one of the students as well.

The following night was set aside for the middle school aged children. I would estimate that there were between 50-60 children in attendance in that night. Needless to say, this set of children was a much more boisterous group than last night’s. These kids were a lot of fun to be around because there was never a shortage of excitement. A lot of them were extremely talkative. I talked to some children while we made Christmas ornaments in the designated art station. Jamal, a local seventh-grader, showed me some of his paintings that were on display. I was particularly impressed with his painting of Luol Deng.

All in all, the two nights spent here were a lot of fun and I met a lot of great people- both volunteers and local students. I’m looking forward to volunteering here at the center until I have to go back to college in mid-January.

Here is the link to see photos I took from these two nights.

Thank you Kyle, for writing this article. We're constantly looking for others who will tell the story of Cabrini Connections. If you'd like to help, just email

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good to Great in a Decentralized Organization - The Cabrini Connections Holiday Vision

I've been a leader of a tutor/mentor program since 1974, and every year I feel that I have a greater appreciation for the gifts I've been given, and the lessons I learn from the people I meet through this organization. Last Christmas, Rebecca Parrish gave me the book "The Spider and the Starfish" as a present. As I read it, I realized that this book was describing our organization.

We are a decentralized organization in which each volunteer is the CEO of his/her own tutoring/mentoring business. You individualize your weekly activities based on the needs of your student, your own abilities and time, and the level of experience you have gained. We can support you with structure, ideas, information, but it is your own learning and networking with other volunteers that gives you ideas for what you do.

In a utopian world, our kids would also be growing into CEOs who take charge of their own futures, drawing support from each volunteer, from Cabrini Connections, and from the network of resources made available by the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

While I'm the catalyst that has drawn hundreds of people together each year, our success comes as each of you and many others become the leaders and owners of the vision of Cabrini Connections. If we surround kids with a wide range of adults from different workplace backgrounds, we can expand their experiences, their aspirations, and the network of adults who can help them reach jobs and careers.

If we help make programs like this available in every high poverty neighborhood, we can not only help thousands of kids and volunteers enjoy the same experiences as Cabrini Connections, we can also create teams of volunteers who work in the same industry, and who will work as a group to help programs like Cabrini Connections be more effective at connecting kids and volunteers and mentoring youth to careers.

In another book, titled Good To Great and the Social Sectors, a flywheel effect is described, which is a process of constant learning, and constant improvement, that makes good organizations great.

I hope that over the holidays you'll read these books, and review the goals and mission of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection

We need to be applying this thinking in our own ongoing efforts to help each of us and our kids become owners of their own futures, and to help Cabrini Connections be the type of organization that can support you the way each volunteer and student needs to be supported.

Finally, I encourage each of you to think of yourself as the CEO of our fund raising efforts. As you tell your friends and family about your volunteer involvement, point them to the Cabrini Connections donor page so they can make a contribution to support your involvement, or become a volunteer themselves.

On behalf of our volunteer board of directors, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.

Dan Bassill
President, CEO
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Make a Holiday Donation to Keep the Hope Alive

Each December we invite volunteers, alumni and those who want to help inner city kids succeed in school and in life, to make donations to support our work. I hope you'll do that, and that you'll forward this message to friends, family and co-workers, in Chicago and throughout the country. Just point them at the Cabrini Connections donation page, and they can print a form to mail with a donation, or use the on-line PayPal to submt a donation.

You can also join the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection Cause on Facebook, and make a donation via that site.

As you consider your choices of holiday donations, I encourage you to read the stories of some of our teens and activities that are posted on this blog, then also look at the Timeline, that shows the growth of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1965, when employees of the Montgomery Ward corporation started the tutor/mentor program that led to Cabrini Connections.

In addition to the time line, I encourage you to look at the Metrics page, this shows many ways that we quantify what we've accompished. Most important, is the growing list of youth who graduated from high school and college.

Then view this video and see how our teens are asking for your help.

Without the help of our volunteers, and people who make donations throughout the year, we could not provide this community of support. Please help by making a donation and encouraging others to do the same.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Building your personal brand

I've led a tutor/mentor program for 30 years and it constantly frustrates me that so many of the kids who come each week don't do more to take advantage of all of the help volunteers are offering. Some don't show up regularly. Some don't speak to volunteers, or show minimal interest in homework or school. Some are what I call "volunteer killers" who because of their behavior cause volunteers to leave the program.

I'm not sure this condition is limited to kids living in poverty. I think it's a condition of being a teen. Yet, when teens in more affluent areas create a poor brand image, they have an existing network of family, neighbors, community members willing to help them overcome a poor start, and help them move to careers.

If kids in poverty don't get it right the first time, they can end up out of school, out of luck, teen parents, ex-offenders, and with no network to help them get their lives back in order. Every now and then one of our former students reinforces this message when they talk about how they are now struggling to get a GED, and get a job.

If I had a medicine that would motivate teens to listen to the advise adults were giving them, when they were young, I'd be a wealthy man. And Cabrini Connections would not need to be asking you for money all the time.

Nicole wrote an article on her blog recently about building your personal brand. It talks about how important your personal image is and how it influences how other people help you. For instance, if a student just shows minimal interest in class, by asking a question from time to time, it's amazing how much more the teacher will work to help that student. It's the same in the tutor/mentor program. The more interest you show, and the more responsibilities you take on, the more people will respect you and want to help you.

I think many of us can learn from this article, because it applies to more than kids. It applies to all of us. As you read this, I encourage you to think of ways you can discuss this with your student, to help them begin to build a their own brand image.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thinking Ahead to Year End Giving

This is the graphic that will be used with our annual holiday fund raising campaign. It was created for us by a volunteer who lives in Indiana. We met via the Internet. She's been helping us for about a year now.

I hope you'll think of two things as you look at this:

a) who do you know that would make a year end donation if you just told them that you are a volunteer or an alumni, and how important it is to raise donations to fund our work in 2008 and beyond. We raise 40% of our money each year in November and December, and the Holiday Fund is a big part of that. I hope you'll begin to make a list of people who might help.

b) we don't need to be in the same room to be helping each other, or to be helping our kids. I needed graphic design help. I found a volunteer in another state willing to help. Can we teach our kids to use the Internet to find people who will help them with homework, or with college and career choices, or with finding a job, or solving a problem once they get on the job?

The world our kids will grow up in is one without borders. It's a virtual world. We need to teach them to navigate that world, and to use its resources to be problem solvers.

One way to do this is to create stories about what you and your student do at Cabrini Connections, that you and your student can tell via our blogs, or Facebook, or MySpace or YouTube. If some of you do this every week, we'll create a much richer understanding of what happens at Cabrini Connections, and why people should volunteer time, talent, or dollars to help us, and our kids.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ideas for inspiring critical thinking and creativity

At Cabrini Connections we've more than 20 computer workstations. Volunteers and students can use these during weekly tutoring sessions, or can schedule time to come to the center on other days.

Volunteers who are not one-on-one tutors already host learning activities at the tutoring center on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before tutoring. These are the video, technology, writing and arts clubs.

Kids and volunteers are encouraged to join these clubs, or organize their own learning activities at the center.

Where do you get ideas? I've been looking at Animation web sites, or places where students learn computer animation. This is a growing industry, and if kids learn these skills it can lead to jobs and careers. So where do you start?

Visit the links on the T/MC site, here, and here. Scroll through the links and visit the web sites that interest you. Each has loads of ideas, lesson plans, and links to other related sites.

Many of our 2007-08 teens are in 7th and 8th grade. We even have some 6th graders. If volunteers can organize learning activities, based around some of the ideas you can learn from the links on the T/MC site, and keep kids involved in these activities all the way through high school, the doors you and your student will open will be life changing.

As you move into these activities, let us know what you're doing. If you're a volunteer intersted in teaching these concepts, contact us so we can help you get involved.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Video on Google: The Potion

One of the more creative videos produced by our Innervision Youth Productions program was titled The Potion. It's star was Tramaine Montel Ford, who since then has graduated from Syracruse University (2006) and began an acting career in New York City. In spring 2007 he had a dancing role in the Hairspray Movie. On h is blog he shows that he got acting start with the Cabrini Connections video project.

We've never had funds for consistent year-to-year staffing of the video program, so much of the work has been organized by volunteers. Jimmy Biggs, a former student, was a driving force in IYP and was taking over as leader in 2000, when he died suddendly from Diabetes. View Jimmy's video "The Real Cabrini" and others at

Rebecca Parrish has been leading IYP for the past year, as a volunteer. We thank her for creating a digital archive of the past videos and putting them on the Internet.

Since we're in the movie business, we need a producer, who would provide $25,000 to $40,000 per year for a part time or full time leader of the video/arts/technology programs at Cabrini Connections. Because of YouTube and Google Videos, the work that kids and volunteers do can now be distributed throughout the world. This gives much more visibility to a sponsor/financier.

If you know of someone who'd make a multi year commitment to this role, please show them the videos and introduce them to us.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mayor as Mentor - Great Idea

I encourage you to read Nicole's Blog . It's one of the links on this page.

Nicole is one of the staff coordinators for the weekly tutor/mentor sessions at Cabrini Connections. She's also helping with the Tutor/Mentor Connection networking that connects tutor/mentor programs in Chicago with each other.

In this article, she writes about how the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is a mentor, and links to a story in the New York Times that describes his experiences. It's a great read, and Nicole shows how this relates to us who are doing mentoring here in Chicago.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Network Building and Mapping Ideas

Over many years of recruiting volunteers and donors, I've found that people over simplify what we're doing as the short term act of tutoring, or homework help, rather than the long-term process of building student aspirations and expanding the network of adults who help kids to careers.

Thus, I've started creating diagrams to illustrate my ideas. The one on this page shows how volunteers, leaders, friends and/or donors can connect people in their network to Cabrini Connections and other tutor/mentor programs, and to information that will help these friends do more to help our kids at Cabrini Connections, or kids living in high poverty in other neighborhoods, or other cities.

This spring I've started using concept maps, a free on-line took, that enables you to visualize ideas. Here's one that illustrates what I mean by a comprehensive, long-term support system.

I'm always learning new ways to express ideas, and new ways to engage students and volunteers. Thus, recently I was showns some concept maps created by youth in middle school and high school. These map out their home school study strategy, and serve as a portfolio (log in as guest) of what they have accomplished.

This is something that individual pairs of teens and volunteers at Cabrini Connections could be doing, or that a technology team could do to map their strategy.

I encourage you to take a look at these links and see how you can apply them to your tutoring, mentoring, and motivation work.

Friday, September 21, 2007

My Experience in Ireland, August 2007

Each year the students of Cabrini Connections participate in a wide variety of learning and enrichment activities, provided by their mentor, the organization, and by friends of Cabrini Connections. Below is an article written by LaFaye Garth, one of two students who went to Ireland for two weeks in 2007.

Wow, my trip to Ireland this summer was wonderful. It couldn’t have been better! I was accompanied by eight other bright individuals from Chicago. We had a blast! During our stay we enjoyed the great out doors and the beautiful green scenery. I must say that it was a very adventurous experience. I found myself doing things that I never thought I’d do.

We did so many activities, seeing the Famous Cliffs of Moher, a real cave, grave yards, doing a gorge walk, shopping, going to a doggy sanctuary, and seeing old castles and much more. We also did so much walking. However it was well worth all of the fun we had. Sometimes I was tired because the days were filled. We also met students from Paris, France. They were so cool and I loved their accents. There is so much I learned and I will carry this experience with me forever. The most memorable things were the gorge walk, riding Quad Bikes, my warm-hearted host families, touring Galway City, my group leaders, and the other students. Ireland is a very beautiful country although it is expensive. I recommend anyone to apply for the trip because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Oh, and of course the first week I was excited and half way through the second week I was homesick.

This trip is organized by the Center for Cultural Interchange. It's an example of the wide range of activities a tutor/mentor program can offer, if its volunteers and supporters reach into their own experiences and network and take the lead in organizing and finding the money to fund activities.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Welcome to 2007-08 Cabrini Connections

This week Cabrini Connections is holding orientations for returning and new volunteers on Monday and Tuesday, and for returning and new students on Wednesday and Thursday. Next week we start our 15th full year of tutoring/mentoring at Cabrini Connections. It's been 42 years since 1965 when volunteers from the Montgomery Ward corporation in Chicago started tutoring 2nd to 6th grade kids living in Cabrini Green(view timeline). My experience with that program (1973-1992)led to the formation of Cabrini Connections in October 1992.

The smiling face of the young man on this page provides a reason for why we offer Cabrini Connections each year. He'll be in 7th grade this year and he joins us after being part of the Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program last year.

Our goal is that six years from now he's still smiling (see success steps), but with a high school diploma and a number of options for college and a career. And if we can keep some of our volunteers and alumni connected with each other, and with this student via the internet, we want him to have the help he needs to be starting a job and a career of his choice by age 25.

For this to happen for all of our teens, and for kids living in poverty in other parts of Chicago, we need our volunteers and students to become innovators, using information we provide on the web site to find ways to motivate each other to stay involved each week, and finding ways to build and support student aspirations, work and study habits, and decision making skills that help them avoid negative choices as they move through high school.

At the same time, we want our students, volunteers and alumni to take ownership of Cabrini Connections, and a growing responsibility for recruiting other volunteers and finding donors who will provide the thousands of dollars that enable us to provide Cabrini Connections' support every week for the next year, and many years after that.

If you're a returning student or volunteer, thank you for joining us again. If you're a new student or volunteer, thank you for choosing to spend time with us. On behalf of the staff and leadership of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, I look forward to getting to know you as we journey through the coming school year.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Message from 2001 graduate of Cabrini Connections

At a recent event Ana Llorens met one of our alumni in a chance encounter. Ana asked her to email us with an introduction and update on her life since Cabrini Connections. Here it is:

Well lets strat off by saying that my name is Akhia L. Plamer and my mentor/friend's name is Karla Van Fleet (used to be Gruenwald). Karla his been a part of my life for over 15 years. This woman has held me through so many satuations in my life and shared smiles, laughter, and tears with me. I am blessed to have a woman like Karla in my life.

As for myself I am an only child. Growing up in Cabrini Green it was just me and my mother. She was a determined parent to make sure that her child didn't get caught into the streets. After graduating from St. Joseph(on Orleans Street in Chicago) I continued my education at St. Scholastica Academy. I graduated two and a half years ago from Northern Illinois Unv. with a BS in Early Childhood Education and I'm planning to persue a teacher certification and maybe a masters in eduaction.

However, I am currently working at St. Vincent DePaul Center as a Pre-K assitant teacher.

It's great to hear from alumni and this shows the long-term bonds that are formed from the matches of volunteers and youth first made at Cabrini Connections or the Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program (which serves 2nd to 6th grade kids prior to coming to Cabrini Connections).

We'd like to here from more of you (including our alumni volunteers). Submit your stories using the form on this web site.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

New Cabrini Connections Video on Internet

Rebecca Parrish has created a new video about Cabrini Connections that is intended to help us recruit volunteers and donors.

You can view it at

I encourage you to take a look, and email this to friends and family to show what we are doing to help kids and how they can help us as volunteers and donors.

Thank you Rebecca and Cabrini Connections students for creating this!!

Dan Bassill
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bears Pre-Season Tickets - Want them?

Win Bears Tickets - 8/30 pre season game
- Drawing. All volunteers who RSVP by 8/23 to the Sept. 10 and 11, 2007, Volunteer Orientation Evite sent by Ana (read the CC Weekly Newsletter) will be entered into a drawing to win 2 tickets to the 8/30 Chicago Bears pre-season football game. If you did not get the Evite, email Ana Llorens, or call 312-492-9614 to get details and RSVP for the Sept. 10 and 11 orientations.

These tickets were donated by Becky Danahey. Thank you!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Volunteer Recruitment - Will you join us again this year?

School starts soon and volunteer recruitment starts now.

I hope that you'll all return for the coming year, but I know that some of you are going to grad school, or are not able to return for other reasons. Even if you're not tutoring, please continue to be part of the Cabrini Connections family.

While Cabrini Connections will be recruiting volunteers in August and September, so will every other Tutor/Mentor Program in the Chicago region. Through the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) we try to help every program get more volunteers, and we provide information to help new programs grow where there are no programs.

We're trying to teach other programs to act the same way, so that every program is asking volunteers to do the same things we ask volunteers at Cabrini Connections to do. The result will be more volunteers, and more operating dollars, for all of us. That means each volunteer and student will gain more from being part of a tutor/mentor program.

Can you help? Write a letter and send it to five friends, encouraging them to volunteer, at Cabrini Connections, or another program. A sample letter can be found on the T/MC web site

Ask your company to put a message on its web site, intranet, or in its newsletter, encouraging people to be volunteers, and pointing to the Chicago Programs Links.

With the help of many people, we can do more to help kids at Cabrini Connections, and kids in other high poverty neighborhoods.

Do you want to get more involved with the recruitment campaign? Call or email and I can give you more information. Read more and introduce yourself in this forum..

I hope your involvement with Cabrini Connections will continue for another year and a lifetime and that you will help us find new volunteers (donors) to support the 2007-08 school year program.

Thank you.

Dan Bassill
President, Cabrini Connections

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cabrini Connections Videos on-line

Since 1996 teens and volunteers from Cabrini Connections have been creating short videos as part of an annual learning and skill development activity. Many of these videos can now be viewed on line at

These videos include many testimonials about how Cabrini Connections is important to these teens. If you are watching them and want to volunteer to help current teens create similar videos, or are willing to be a sponsor to help provide the money needed to pay for space, equipment and staff, email and introduce yourself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cabrini Connections student alum on Today Show

I received an email today from Tramaine Ford, who was part of Cabrini Connections in the late 1990s while in Junior High and High School. He told me that he's in the new "Hairspray" movie and will be on the Today Show this Friday, July 20. Here's what he wrote;

"I will be performing with the cast this Friday July 20th on The Today Show. I will be dancing and singing with the Hairspray cast throught the show as well as dancing in a number with Queen Latifah at the end. It comes on NBC this Friday morning if you or anyone from Cabrini Connections wants to tune in to The Today Show performances or wants to go see the movie, it also comes out that day. I would appreciate the support greatly. I am definitely a spokesperson for CC and will continue to explore how I can support the program's longevity and success."

In another email he told me more about his part in the movie: " In the movie, I'm in a number called lady's choice with Zach Efron. This number is also on itunes and the disney channel as a music video for the film. "

Tramaine got his start in acting as part of the video group at Cabrini Connections. We'll be posting one of the video projets he stared in on YouTube soon. However, here's another video done by our kids:

We'll be holding our annual golf benefit tomorrow to raise money to fund our 2007-08 Cabrini Connections. Maybe one of the new 7th graders will be our next Tramaine. If you can make a donation to help, that can be possible. Visit to learn more.

Dan Bassill
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Edgewood Experience Connects College and Urban Students

On July 16, graduate students from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin will be joining with Cabrini Connections students for a three-day experience. You can read about the 2006 visit. This will be the 8th year that we've had this partnership, and the goals are that the Edgewood students will learn more about working with inner city kids, and more about Chicago, while the Cabrini Connections students will learn more about college and careers, and some of the learning habits that they need to adopt in order to have the careers they aspire to.

We won't know how much change these events generate for many years. This is why we've created these forums and an eLearning strategy. Our hope is that the Edgewood students and the Cabrini Connections students learn to use this site, or our Cabrini Blog, as a place to stay connected to each other, so that as they get to know each other, they do more now and in the future to help each other. This can lead to more help for the kids, and more help for programs like Cabrini Connections, who need annual donations in order to pay for facilities, and pay for the staff that facilitate these activities and the on-going connection of youth and adult volunteers.

If you're an Edgewood alum or a Cabrin Connections alum who has participated in the Edgewood experience in one of the years since 1999, I encourage you to introduce yourself and tell how you are still drawing from this experience in your current life activities. You can post your message here, or in the Tutor/Mentor Connection discussion forums.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Using Blogs to Tell the Story

The year - end dinner was held in June and now we're just a week away from our annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Cabrini Connections Golf Benefit, which raises money to operate Cabrini Connections each year.

Why is this money important? I encourage you to read Meghan's account of the year-end dinner, which is on the CC Writing Group blog.

This dinner is the end of one year and the beginning of another. Without money to fuel this process, it's almost impossible to make the year to year impact that leads young people to graduate and builds adult networks of support that last well beyond graduation.

When did all this start? Back in 1965 when employees of the Montgomery Ward corporation began tutoring 2nd to 6th grade kids living in the Cabrini Green area. I've created a timeline showing the 1965-1992 years, and the 1993 to 2007 years.

I've also created a graphic showing the services we've provided and the list of kids who have graduated from high school

I hope you'll help me reach out to others who have graduated, from high school, and/or college, so we can update this list and rebuild the connections of our kids and volunteers.

If you feel this is a value that should be continued into the future, please consider supporting us with a donation, either through the Golf Benefit, or by sending a contribution to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60622

Thank you.

Dan Bassill
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More year end Dinner Pictures

This photo is of Kevin Stanfield (left) a 2007 high school graduate, Bob Lassandrello, Kevin's tutor/mentor, Kenneth Chatman (2006 grad) and Jonathan Summers (2006 grad). All three students have been with Cabrini Connections for six years.

This photo is of Diara Flemming, who graduated in 2006 after six years with Cabrini Connections. She just completed her first year at Northern Illinois University.

Cabrini Connections 15th Annual Year End Dinner

On June 8th, 2007 Cabrini Connections celebrated its 15th year end dinner. More than 180 teens, alumni, parents, volunteers and supporters attended. The event was sponsored by a donation from the law firm of Schiff Hardin, and by donations of many different individuals. We thank you all.

The dinner celebrates the year long work of our students and volunteers and recognizes 2007 high school graduates, as well as alumni who are in college, or who have already graduated. Rising 12th graders were hosts of the event. Above is a photo of students from the writing club, doing a performance telling about attending the play, The Color Purple.

Pictured above is Jabar Norman, a 2007 high school graduate, who will attend the University of Iowa in the fall. Jabar has been part of the program for six years. For many of those years he worked with Ted Bills, who now supports Jabar and Cabrini Connections from a different city where he now works.

This illustrates the goal of Cabrini Connections. While we introduce students and volunteers to each other during one to six years with the program, we want to help them stay connected, and continue helping each other, for the rest of their lives.

If you'd like to make a donation to support this program, send your contribution to Cabrini Connections, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60622

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Alumni Update: Tramaine Ford

Tramaine was a student at Cabrini Connections from 1995 to 2000. He sends the following message:

I hope all is well. Wish I was able to tell you sooner, but I was recently in Chicago. I flew out there to be on The Oprah Show. I was very lucky to perform with the cast of Hairspray The Movie on Oprah live this past Wednesday May 16th. It was an amazing experience and a dream come true. I was only in town for three days and I was very busy and didnt get to tell everyone that I would have liked to tell so they could tune in. However Im sure the show will re-air. Since I didn't have the opportunity to tell her, I plan on writing Oprah a letter of thanks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Alumni Update: Kenneth Chatman

Kenneth graduated from the program last year and still visits us here at Cabrini Connections quite often.

Here's Kenneth's update on his life:

"Although I am supposed to be in school right now, i'm not. I've decided to rest for a while but i didn't give up on opportunity. Right now i'm working for the Cabrini Green Rowhouse housing for Urban Property Avisors. You can say i'm still in school because i'm learning how to repair things that are broken such as doors or locks, and/or other things that are required as a maintenance technician."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Student Spotlight: Cabrini Connections 2007 Graduating Class

Kevin Stanfield
Years at Cabrini Connections: 6
Volunteer: Bob Lassandrello
Years with volunteer: 4

How his tutor impacted his life: "He did not give up on me and stuck in for the long run."

After graduation: Kevin plans to attend Kennedy-King college and also continue working.
In five years: Kevin wants to be finishing college with a Master's degree in graphic design.

Jabar Norman
Years at Cabrini Connections: 6
Volunteer: Tim Bradley
Years with volunteer: 3

How his tutor impacted his life: "Tim has shown me that education and hard work is important. He always stayed and patient and honest."
How Cabrini Connections impacted his life: "They have provided a service that allows me to better my career goals and dreams. Cabrini Connections has taught me how to be a leader and a successful student."

After graduation: Jabar will attend the University of Iowa on a full-ride scholarship.
In five years: Jabar wants to be graduating from college and starting his first career.

Terika White
Years at Cabrini Connections: 4
Volunteer: Ginny Whipple
Years with volunteer: 1.5

How her tutor impacted her life: "Even though I've only been with her for a short period of time, it seems like we've been together forever. She's very cool, down to earth, intelligent and helpful. We always get the hard stuff knocked out of the way to chat about daily lives. She's just fun to be around. I am able to talk to her about whatever."

After graduation: Terika wants to get her Bachelor's in Accounting or get a massage therapy license.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cabrini Connections Career Day 2007

Each Spring, Cabrini Connections organizes a Career Day for our students. This year, we partnered with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. The 12 guest speakers included Kellogg students from all areas of business, a cosmetologist, and an artist. Nicole Gordon, the artist, is also a volunteer tutor at Cabrini Connections.

Each speaker spoke about what they do at their job and what kind of education and experience you need to get into their field. Students, volunteers, and speakers all had a great time and made some new friends in the process!

We would like to thank all of the volunteer guest speakers and the Kellogg School for their support of this event.

For more information and pictures see this article from the Kellogg School of Management site

Friday, April 20, 2007

Alumni Update: Demetris Smith

Demetris Smith, a graduate from the Cabrini Connections program last year, sent us the following message:

Right now I am currently working at two law firms, one of them is Alfred T. Whiters, Modupe A. Sobo, Denise M. Mercherson, and Bonita Coleman & Associates. The other one is Ainsworths & Associates, P.C. They are both located downtown in the loop. I also go to Harold Washington College,which is also in the loop, where I plan to go long enough to get credits in order to transfer to a four year university.

I started going to CC in my freshmen year of high school. Since then CC, along with my mentor Brian, has kept me focused on my goals. I have to admit though my grades in school didn't reflect my potential, but I didn't stray too far behind. Even though I go to a community college I'm still not satisfied. Someone asked me "Why not, isnt' that good enough?" I said yeah, but I don't like to settle for good enough, I'm trying out for great.

Want to leave a note for Demetris? Leave a comment below!

Are you a graduate of the program and want to tell us what you are up to now? Use this form

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cabrini Connections gets a Facelift

Please visit the newly redesigned Cabrini Connections site. In addition to getting an entirely new look, the new website is easier to use and provides more up-to-date information. New features include:
Take a look around and let us know what you think!

This is the second of our sites that have been rebuilt in the past few months. In February, the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference site was rebuilt and moved to a new domain.

Both of these were large projects and could not have been accomplished without the help of volunteers. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers who helped with these redesigns:

Cabrini Connections site
Holger Proske - helped with web design and programming
Amy Frey - rewrote and reorganized the history page, reorganized our Volunteer Weekly Newsletter

Conference site
Donna Schmid - helped write and edit most of the content for site
John Bull - created and programmed our online registration system and list of attendees

These behind-the-scenes volunteers are not very visible, but without them and many others, our program would not run. We are always looking for talented, enthusiastic people to volunteer with us. Please see the volunteer descriptions pages at Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Connection for more information.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cabrini Connections Writing Group now has a blog!

Cabrini Connections has a new, hip writing group! They meet on Wednesdays before tutoring from 5 to 6pm. To find out more about this group and what they are doing, read their blog.

Cabrini Connections Writing Group Blog

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Student Spotlight: A New Feature of the CabriniBlog

The Student Spotlight features a current student or graduate of Cabrini Connections. This feature is posted periodically throughout the year as a way to showcase the wonderful work our students are doing!

In the past, this feature has appeared on our website. Starting this month, the Student Spotlight feature will become a part of our blog. New Student Spotlights will be posted here periodically. You can also look through the archives for previous Student Spotlights.

Leave a comment: Want to congratulate a student? Want to ask a question? Want to reconnect with a graduate? Click the Comment link below each post to comment.

Are you the next Student Spotlight?
If you are a student, volunteer or alumni at Cabrini Connections and would like to nominate a student (or yourself) as the next Student Spotlight, please send us an email at

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Year-End Dinner Theme Announced

"This is Just the Beginning"

As spring approaches, many of the students and volunteers are getting ready for Cabrini Connection's Annual Year-End Dinner. This year, the dinner will be held on Friday, June 8 at Cornerstone on Wells Street. Our theme at the dinner this year is "This is Just the Beginning," which was created by Tajeria Beacham. We would also like to recognize the students at Cabrini Connections who submitted entries for a possible theme for the dinner. "Dreams are Real," "Success is Real," "Reach Your Goals," "Open Your Mind," and "Believe in Yourself" were just a few of the many submissions. Thank you to the following students for your entries: Cheyenne Clegette, Marquita Fisher, LaFaye Garth, De'Sean Hale, Chris Hatcher, Angelene Hemphill, Breonca Hyles, Camenlita Jackson, Tyran Pratt, Chucky Ratcliff, Joyce Reliford, Victoria Rivera, Kaylynn Spires, Vontesha Stanfield, Tajeria Beacham, Jazmine Terrell, Cierria Tharpe, and Terika White.

We look forward to honoring all of the students in June at the Year- End Dinner!