Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3rd (Spring Quarter) Upcoming Events

This week starts our 3rd quarter of our 2008-2009 tutoring/mentoring year and we just wanted to share a few of the many upcoming events during this quarter:

- Interns - Northwestern University student, Diana Castaneda, will be the newest member of the Cabrini Connections’ Team! Diana will be interning in the program from March 30th-June4th

-Birthday Celebrations - During the first tutoring/mentoring sessions of April and May we will be celebrating the birthdays of all our students, staff, and mentors with special treats.

-Art and Video Festival is taking place this Saturday, June 4 from 5-10pm, at the Palette and Chisel. Click here and here for more information.

-Career Week (April 6-10) The students, staff, and volunteers will be taking in Career week where our students will be visiting various workplaces of our volunteers on the 6th and the 7th to get a better understanding of various careers that the students are interested in. And on 8th and 9th several of our volunteers will be providing presentations during the tutoring/mentoring session about their careers and the path they took to get to their current careers.

-FREE Bike for Student! The students who earned 400 points or more during the 2nd quarter will be receiving their free bikes during the month of April.

-A new addition to the Art Club, Johnny Li, will be bringing his talents and services to the Art Club during the month of May. Johnny Li will be conducting an Art Therapy type of project for the students taking part in Art Club

-On May 28-29th we will be hosting our Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference at Northwestern University Law School http://www.tutormentorconference.org/

- Year End Dinner - On June 4th we will be concluding our 3rd Quarter with our Annual Year-End Dinner that will take place from 6-8 p.m., at Cornerstone; located at 1111 N. Wells in Chicago.

Please read the Weekly Newsletter to stay informed and use SVHATS to share your ideas and ask questions.

Donations are always needed, especially in this difficult economy. Stay tuned to fund raising activities by reading the Cabrini Fund Raising Blog

Finally, we hope many of you will join in the visioning and planning that helps us improve Cabrini Connections from year to year. You can read about our strategies on the planning wikis. If you'd like to volunteer as an editor of the wiki, or have ideas you'd like to add, you can log in using your SVHATS passwords.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Head Coach's Rookie Season

Whether it's a player or a coach, their rookie season in the NFL has to be filled with a huge amount of anticipation, thoughts/ideas, dreams, excitement, satisfaction, and maybe even a little fear. But the job must be performed and preparation, hard work, attention to detail, and a great support system provides the individual player and/or coach with the opportunity to put themselves in a position to be successful during that first year and for the years to follow.

I've never met the man personally, but I'm sure Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin had similar feelings in his first year as the leader of the Steeler's organization. I mean, being that young, leading a great Steelers' organization, and following in the footsteps of the legendary and hopefully future Hall of Famer, Bill Cower. And look, in less than 3 years Mike Tomlin has not only solidified his role at the leader of the Steelers organization, he has won the Super Bowl!!!

On March 26, 2009 I completed my first full season as the Cabrini Connections Head Coach. And on my first day in the organization I will filled with anticipation, thoughts/ideas, dreams, excitement, and not fear but thoughts on if I would be able to do as good of a job at the former Cabrini Connections coach Ana Llorens.

And as the days and weeks continued to go by I made an effort to be as much of a student of the game as the Head Coach. I made an effort to read and understand the playbook that had been used to determine what plays worked and what didn't work...and why. I worked towards getting to know the organization's personnel, from the players, parents, coaches, alum, to the fans and other supporters of the organization. And one of the biggest ways in which I prepared for the entire season was by working towards learning the history of the organization and the overall goals in which the organization wants to reach in the near and far future. And today, all of those actions are on a continued basis.

And as a result of that preparation, continuing to learn week in and week out, putting the right people in the right places on team, and always trying to get one day better I am happy to say that my rookie season went pretty well. Our organization has had some successes in the last year and I am confident that we will continue to have even more successes in the future. I've made some rookie mistakes, but learning from those mistakes and with continued efforts to move and keep this organization on the road to success I'm sure that our Super Bowl victories will be coming soon as well.

Hopefully YOU will join our team in one way or another, and not only assist me with my 2nd season and the seasons to follow, but put yourself in a position to assist the overall organization. Whether you're a student reading this blog and want to become a player on the team, a prospective volunteer who is looking to become an assistant coach, or a fan/supporter of the organization and would like to donate to the overall organization....Any and all of these roles and more are not just welcomed but are greatly appreciated!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays...Cabrini Connections' Style

If you are person who loves sports, then I'm sure it is safe to say that Sportscenter is one of your top 5 shows on television. True, there is sport's radio, the sport's section of the newspaper, Sports Illustrated, but ESPN's Sportscenter is where millions of people turn to to catch the latest in sports. And on Sportscenter the Top 10 plays of the week is what catches the eye and attention of many of the viewers of the show. Where else can you witness the most amazing dunks, deepest home runs, and those unbelievable catches from your favorite college and NFL receivers.

Following 'Top 10 Plays of the Week" segment, Cabrini Connections would like to go one step further and show our fans our "Top 10 Plays of the Quarter." Cabrini Connections program is broken into quarters very similar to the grading periods in which our students follow in their various schools, and we are in our last week of our 2nd Quarter (Winter Quarter). I would like to to take the time now to announce our "Top 10 Plays of the Quarter." And just like Sportscenter, I will provide you, the fans, visual of these fantastic, amazing, and jaw-dropping plays.

(10) Vjekoslav Hlede (eLearning and Technology Coordinator) launches the new and improved Cabrini Connections' website in the month of February.

(9) Cabrini Connections was featured in the Chi-Town Daily News on February 16, 2009.

(8) Several of our players were stars of the "Who Am I" Trivia game that took place during the month of February. This was a educational but fun way for our students and volunteers to learn more about some of the famous African Americans who make Black History Month truly historic. (Raheem Muhammed, Whitney Hemphill, Cazimir Ozuruigbo, and many more)

(7) The outstanding attendance of our mentors and mentees this quarter in comparison to the 2nd quarter of last year. At this time last year the attendance for students was 68% and for volunteers it was 52% and the current attendance for students is 79% and for volunteers it is 82.9 %. Check out the STATS section on the Cabrini Connections' website. With several of our students and volunteers who have made an effort to attend every tutoring/mentoring session of the quarter. (Mentors/Volunteers: Alexandria Hill, Mike and Jen Jozwik, Sein Lui, and Sarah Randag. Students: Gregory Hatchett, Angelene Hemphill, Whitney Hemphill, Ashaunti Roby, Breonca Hyles, Yolanda Hyles, Akeim Phipps, Cierria Tharpe).

(6) Sophomore student Whitney Hempill get 1st place in the Cabrini Connections' "I Have a Dream" project. This project encouraged students to put together and submit either a written piece or an audio/visual piece off how they felt Barack Obama and the new Administration could assist them with making their dreams come true.

(5) Cabrini Connections volunteers, students, and staff support our College and Career month by wearing college apparel during the month of March.

(4) Cabrini Connections' tutor/mentor Mary Catherine Nelson has been the leader of the FUNdraising for Quarters competition for the entire 2nd Quarter. This is a competition in which the Cabrini Connections' volunteers make an effort to spread the word about all of the their involvement in the program to their network, and in return their audience supports the program by making a donation OR find ways to get involved themselves.

(3) January is National Mentoring Month and our students put together videos to express their feelings of gratitude for their mentors being in their lives

(2) Cabrini Connections was featured on Oprah's Angel Network's website.

(1) The number one "Play" of the quarter has not actually taken place. Hopefully in the near and distant future the "Top Play of the Quarter" will be a Corporate Sponsor being willing to support our program by providing us with a donation. Because without more and more Corporate Sponsors and their donations....then not only can we maintain our great players and our overall team, without those donations it will be a struggle to have the overall Cabrini Connections' organization!
Hopefully our 3rd Quarter will be filled with even more "Top 10 Plays" and hopefully YOU will be one of the many people who will assist us with reaching that goal!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oprah and her 'Angel' Supports Cabrini Connections

The Cabrini Connections' staff works tirelessly to try to provide any and all resources that our students and volunteers need in order to be successful inside and outside of the program. We believe that if we can provide these necessary resources to the students and volunteers over an extended length of time, then our students will graduate from high school and college, and be in a career by the age of 25!

Reaching these goals are nearly impossible without the support of people who can and will assist us with obtaining these resources through their financial support. Throughout the year we provide several major fundraising events. The Annual Art Festival, the Annual Jimmy Biggs Memorial Golf Benefit are two upcoming examples.

Last December Cabrini Connections' staff members Chris Warren and Mike Trakan organized a Benefit Concert where all of the proceeds went to the program. (Two of the bands that donated time were led by Mike and Chris. See Video ).

These are few of the many opportunities that take place where we have an opportunity to get large groups people together in a physical space to talk about Cabrini Connections and the importance of supporting tutoring and mentoring in general. These are also opportunities for people who are fans of Cabrini Connections and the advancement of youth to provide financial support to the program.

Oprah Winfrey and her staff at the Angel Network have not been able to physically attend one of these fundraising events, but the Cabrini Connections' story has reached their ears. That's why We're honored and thrilled to have Cabrini Connections profiled on Oprah's Angel Network's web site. And not only was Cabrini Connections profiled on Oprah's Angel Network our organization was blessed with a very generous grant!!

We are truly grateful for this gift, and we hope that others follow this act of kindness with support of the program as well. And I know...we all don't have the bank account of Oprah Winfrey, but this is an example that this level of support is out there and a donation of ANY amount greatly supports our overall program.

Sidenote: Cabrini Connections' Senior LaFaye Garth was interviewed and had a brief segment on Oprah's show about the Rihanna and Chris Brown story which aired last week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Only 2 weeks left to earn points for free bikes and scholarship money!!!

Only 2 weeks left to earn points for free bikes and scholarship money!!!

As we have been announcing at tutoring each week and on our blogs , all students who earn more than 400 points during this winter quarter will receive a FREE BIKE, courtesy of our partners The Recyclery and Working Bikes Cooperatives.

Students earn points through attendance, each time they log into SVHATS, completing reflection sheets and through handing in their report cards each quarter. However, to enable every single student who is interested to earn a free bike, we are permitting students to turn in ANY AND ALL GRADE CARDS THAT THEY HAVE from 7th grade to the present!

For each report card that students turn in, they will get 25 points plus: 25 points for each A, 15 points for each B and 5 points for each C. Therefore there is no reason why every student shouldn’t turn in all of their report cards, especially those from before they started coming to Cabrini Connections.

We will copy them and immediately return them to you. High school students are encouraged to bring transcripts and 8th graders are encouraged to bring their cumulative report cards if possible.

To give just one example: Cabrini Connections Senior Dominique Dobbs recently turned in 7 report cards, which earned her 635 points. This makes her eligible for a free bike and $63.50 in additional scholarship funds (aka FREE CASH MONEY) when she graduates this spring! So please, follow Dominique’s lead and bring in your grades before this quarter ends! You can also print them off from online from the CPS student portal at: https://student.cps.k12.il.us/pc/studentlogin.aspx

So, there’s no excuse, bring in your grade cards and get a free bike and money…it’s that simple! Volunteers and parents, please encourage students to take advantage of this unique opportunity before it’s too late!

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Very Special Team Dinner

I'm unsure on how often "Team Dinners" take place in NFL organizations, but I'm almost 100% sure that they do happen in high school programs and the like. I'm not talking about the type of team dinners in which all of the players, coaches, and other staff have before a game or after practice at the organization's facilities. I'm talking about the more intimate type of team dinner in which the Head Coach and the Assistant coaches have the privilege of eating dinner in the home of a player and his or her parents.

As the Head Coach of Cabrini Connections I was privileged to be invited to a team at the home of one of our star players this past Saturday. Mr and Mrs. Rodney and Shavonne Clark, parents of 8th grade standout player, Savon Clark, hosted this very special team dinner. The reason this dinner was special was not just for the great spaghetti, chicken, fries, and cole slaw that Mrs. Clark provided the group; this team dinner was special because of members of the team that were invited and the reasons why.

Savon Clark just recently selected his high school (Lindblom Math & Science Academy) and Mr. and Mrs. Clark wanted to get some of Savon's position coaches together. Mike Kolberg (Savon's tutor/mentor at Cabrini Connections), Brian Duffy (Savon's Big Brother from Big Brothers and Big Sisters), Tom Stauton (Savon's mentor when enrolled at Cabrini Green Tutoring Program), and myself (Administrative Coordinator of Cabrini Connections) were invited to this special team dinner. This gathering was called to thank a few of the people who have been assisting with getting Savon to the playing level that he is now, but also for all of us to meet each other and discuss ways to get Savon to an even high playing level in the future...to the level of a future college and career standout as well!

As the Head Coach of the Cabrini Connections I would in turn like to thank those Position Coaches (Mike, Brian, and Tom) for their dedication and commitment to providing Savon with the necessary skills and knowledge needed to be successful in this game of LIFE. I would also like to thank and commend Mr. Rodney and Mrs. Shavonne Clark for ALL THAT THEY DO for Savon and his younger sister Alonje Clark (future Veterinarian). In this sport where a player's success or failure can be greatly impacted by the role of the parents and/or guardian, it is imperative that the parents support and guide these players...their children, and Mr. and Mrs. Clark are definitely contributing to Savon's success on and off the field!

Charlie Trotter's Excellent Opportunity...

On March 10, 2009, thanks to tutor/mentors Mike Hayes and Mike Jozwik, several Cabrini Connections' students and staff had the opportunity to take part in the Charlie Trotter's Excellence program. For those who don't know Charlie Trotter's Restaurant is considered one of the best restaurants in the world by many (http://www.charlietrotters.com/).

As part of this opportunity the group were provided with a private tour of the world famous Charlie Trotter's restaurant here in Chicago, we had the opportunity to meet and greet many of the chefs and they all provided a brief presentation about what excellence means to then, and lets not forget about the food!!! Our group was provided an amazing 8-course meal!!! This meal ranged from Pickering Pass Oyster with a Celery & Guava as the starter dish to Milk Chocolate Semifreddo with Carrots & Star Anise is the final dish. And I think I speak for the group, all of the dished in the middle were great as well.

But this experience was much more than about the food. The group learned about etiquette, culinary arts, and EXCELLENCE. And what made this opportunity even more special and relevant to Cabrini Connections and the group that took part in this experience is that the theme of excellence was not just tied to Charlie Trotter's and culinary arts. The staff at Charlie Trotter's encouraged our students to be hard working, dedicated, committed, and to strive for excellence in whatever career path they decide to follow! GREAT ADVICE!!!

Cabrini Connections would also like to thank Charlie Trotter's and the entire staff for making our experience one to remember!!!

Please take a moment to look at the pictures of this trip located on the website (http://www.cabriniconnections.net/) in the photo section.

Parent Leadership in Education Blog Passes on T/MC message

I encourage you to read this article in the Parent Leadership in Education blog. It illustrates how one writer is able to connect people in one network with ideas in other networks. I met the writer of this blog in a LinkedIn group forum where we've been sharing ideas with others.

As more and more of us use blog exchanges to expand our network and focus it on common goals, we build a greater army of support for Cabrini Connections and similar tutor/mentor programs which we could not reach on our own.

Read more on the Tutor/Mentor Blog that I write.

Dan Bassill
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection

Read this week's Student and Volunteer Profiles

Each week Chris Warren interviews one student and one volunteer and writes a profile on his blog. This week Mike Hayes and Christian Palacios are featured.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Becoming a Fan and Filling the Stands

Why do sporting events such as the Rose Bowl, Rivalry Games, and the Super Bowl sell out year in and year out? I have not done enough research, but I'm sure in the last 10 to 20 years each of those events have sold out almost 100% of the time! So why do these die-hard fans do any and everything to fill the stands and be a part of these sell out crowds every year? Are they supporting the star players, are they alum of the the colleges or universities, former players, do they like the razzle dazzle plays of the team, or is it just a family tradition??? I truly believe it is a combination of many of those items, along with just the overall love for the sport!

Here at Cabrini Connections we are looking to fill our stands as well. We are looking for die-hard fans who will do any and everything to support the program and all that we do. For those potential die-hard fans who support programs because of their star players, we have star players at Cabrini Connections. Take a look at the Assistant Coach's (Chris Warren) blog (http://chrispip.blogspot.com/) and read the Student and Volunteer in the Spotlight sections. Here the fans have the opportunity to read the bios of a few of the many key players on our team.

Cabrini Connections has a long list of student and volunteer alums (former players) who have graced our program at some point in their lives and our hopes is that all of our former players begin or continue to support their former Alma mater by attending and/or supporting some of our annual games. Here are a couple of games that we have on our upcoming schedule; The Art Festival on April 4th (http://www.cabriniconnections.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86:cabrini-connections-art-club-&catid=42:learning-and-enrichment&Itemid=88), The May Conference on May 28th&29th (http://www.tutormentorconference.org/), The Year End Dinner on June 4th (check videos out at http://www.cabriniconnections.net/), and the Annual Golf Benefit on July 16th (http://www.cabrinitmcgolf.org/).

And when it comes to our razzle dazzle plays, unlike in the NFL and other sport's programs that keep their plays and playbook a secret from other teams, here at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection we ENCOURAGE others to not only look at our playbook, but we WANT other programs to use our plays in their program. Taking a look at the General Manager's, Dan Bassill, blog (http://tutormentor.blogspot.com/) and by looking at one of our playbooks at http://www.tutormentorconnection.org/, scouts, coaches, players, and other programs can not only see what we are trying to do within our program, they can use our plays for their program as well.

My goal with this post is that every reader of this article jumps on the bandwagon and becomes a fan of the Cabrini Connections program and gets others to do the same. We want you to assist us with filling the stands JUST LIKE the examples used above. We have all of the same features...standout players, notable alums, tradition, a great offense, a great facility, and the potential to win championships EVERY YEAR!

~Will YOU Become a fan and help us SELL OUT!!!~

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Teamwork. Building the Team.

Chris Warren wrote a new blog article showing how teams of MBA students can support the growth of programs like Cabrini Connections. I encourage you to read this and share it with friends and alumni of MBA programs in Chicago and in other cities.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Teamwork - Team Blogs

While El Da'Sheon writes most of the articles for the Cabrini Blog, he's not the only person telling the story of what happens at Cabrini Connections each week.

Chris Warren, our public interest fellow from Northwestern interviews one student and one volunteer each week, and writes stories about them. He also writes about some of our extra activities, such as the college and career group. In addition, he writes about our larger strategies, such as trying to partner with health care organizations.

Vjeko Hlede is our eLearning and Technology Coordinator. He is responsbile for keeping all of the technology in operation, and for setting up new web platforms such as the Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Institute blogs. One strategy he's focusing on is the Cool Cash program, intended to encourage kids and volunteers to build habits of using the resources on the T/MC site.

We all write articles for the CabriniFund Raising blog, and we hope you'll all visit there to learn how to help us raise money for this work.

In addition, Dan Bassill, Nicole White and Mike Trakan are writing articles that focus on ways business and community leaders can support all tutor/mentor programs in the city on a more consistent basis.

We hope you'll all get to know our team, and contribute your own ideas in forums like our Ning page, or in Facebook or on Linked in.

It takes a village to help kids grow up and our team has many people taking important roles.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It Takes a 'Team'...

A person does not have to be a part of a NFL football team to know and understand that it takes a team effort to be successful when working in a group setting. Whether its working with coworkers, being a part of a sport's team, teaming up with peers on a class project, or even being a part of a family unit; group dynamics are key to the overall success of the unit.

This week's Sport's Concepts' article will discuss some of the key members of what can and should be larger team. At Cabrini Connections one of our main goals is for our students to graduate from high school and to be in a career by the age of 25. Accomplishing this goal is how we get our championship rings(SEE previous article). For our organization to reach this goal it is going to take more than just the GM (Dan Bassill), the Head Coach (EL Da' Sheon Nix), and all of the Assistant Coaches (staff members and volunteer), and even the players (students).

On every NFL team there is a Head Coach, but there are position coaches who work specifically with the players of those positions. Whether is a Tight End coach, Quarterback coach, or Defensive Back coach, and although these coaches work individually with their players, collectively they work together for the overall success of the team.

I encourage all readers to take a look at this link (http://tutormentorexchange.net/images/flash/map2009/) and share with any and all people in your network. While looking at the animation on this link, think of the information in football terminology. Instead of "It Takes a Village" think "It Takes a Team," instead of Pipeline to a Career, think road to a Superbowl MVP, and on the second page of the graphic think of each individual bubble that links to the core as specialized position coaches on the team. And each specialized position coach is in charge of the players of that position.

It does not take a football guru or a sports analyst to know and understand that it takes a team effort for our youth today to be successful in life, hopefully this article and the animation will not only make things a little clearer, but encourage you and anybody you know to take a position on this team.

~What position will YOU specialize in?!?!~