Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dreams Become Reality for Former Mentee and Mentor!

Below is a GREAT story of the power of the Cabrini Connections' program and how not only the students benefit from being involved in the program, but how the volunteers that work with the students benefit from seeing all of their hard work, dedication, and commitment pay off. This is not only another great entry in the Cabrini Connections' story, but another example of why programs like Cabrini Connections need to be put in place in neighborhoods all over the country.

Just wanted to share with all of you that a couple of weeks before Christmas I had the distinct honor of watching Diara Fleming graduate from Northern Illinois University. It was one of the most amazing things I have witnessed. In just over 4 years, Diara has worked her way through NIU to graduate with a GPA of over 3.0. She plans to go on to graduate school as soon as possible.

For those of you who don't know Diara, she was a bright student at both Cabrini Green Tutoring and the Cabrini Connections. She graduated from Walter Peyten High School and went straight to NIU. Although the road was not easy for her- Diara has done tremendously through her career at NIU and I am confident she will accomplish amazing things. Diara will tell you that she could not have graduated without the support of many others outside of her family which simply did not provide the support she needed.

I tell you this not to be boastful in any way of my involvement- but to stress how critical it is for programs like Cabrini to continuing pairing up tutors/mentors so they have the support network they need to be successful.

Wishing everyone at Cabrini a very Merry Christmas!
Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Right Playbook vs. The Right Personnel

In the NFL there has been a handful of teams that have dominated the league in the last 10 years. Teams such as the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianpolis Colts etc...There are many factors that have contributed to the success of these teams over the years. Some would argue that they have some of the best players in the league, the most knowledable coaches, an outstanding front office, an unrivaled playbook, or a combination of it all. For whatever reason these teams have continued to dominate the National Football League and the impressive part is that the dominance has and continues to be consistant over the years.

As I continue to attempt to draw comparisons of the Cabrini Connections program to an NFL team, I wonder what truly does lead to success. Does success come from having great players that perform a step above the rest and the playbook is secondary; or if put in the 'perfect' system with an extensive playbook the players will come together in a way that leads to success of the team? Many people will argue both sides.

As a former athlete, but a current Head Coach here at Cabrini Connections I'd have to say it is a combination of both. This tutoring/mentoring game that we are playing is constantly evolving and the outside factors that affect our players such as poverty, underachieving schools, lack of parental invovlement at times, should cause a chain reaction to the thoughts and approach that the coaches and front office respresentative have to take to prepare our players for success Meaning that the playbook that we use should change as well. Just like in the NFL, something that worked in the 50's may not work or be as effective in the present and if you have a quartback that can't throw over 20 yards it wouldn't be smart to keep calling for the Hail Mary.

Since this is one of our bye-weeks for the holiday season, I studied all of the plays in the current playbook for the Cabrini Connections' program and there were a lot of plays, packages, and schemes that were either outdated or did not look like a good fit for the current personnel. With the current personnel there are some great talent in the players and coaches that has led to some huge wins in the past two seasons. At at recent Award's Banquest the Cabrini Connections' TEAM was honored as the #1 TEAM for Mentoring across the 6 Regions of Chicago, which is like winning the Super Bowl in this sport.

But there will be no parade through the streets of Chicago, no trip to Disneyworld, no car for the MVP of the the big game. Due to our personnel, our playbook, our fan base, our lack of a marketing/advertisement department, or a combination of all four...our season and maybe even the entire franchise could be coming to an unfortunate end. So tell me sport's world which one is it, The Right Personnel or The Right Playbook that leads to success?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Cabrini Connections Does It AGAIN..."

I just wanted to share some really good news on the Cabrini Connections' front. Assisted Program Coordinator, Bradley Troast, and I(EL Da' Sheon Nix, Administrative Coordinator) just returned from a Delegate Agency Meeting hosted by The Department of Family and Support Services. This is where we get our funding from the city each year. DFSS host 3-4 Delegate Agency Meetings a year where all of the programs that are funded by the city of Chicago are invited. The last meeting of the year is the meeting geared towards thanking all of us for the work that we do for the city and most importantly the youth.

The Cabrini Connections' staff are proud to announce that Cabrini Connections received the Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Performance in Youth Opportunities for the 2009-2010 Year (official hardware coming in January). We were recognized as the #1 Mentoring program across all 6 regions of Chicago!!!!! And...this is our 2nd year in a row. So I guess we can be considered Back to Back Champions!!!

With there being so many programs and organizations across the City of Chicago that are doing great work that benefits youth, adults, schools, and communities as a is a great honor to be one of the programs at the top of that list. We are not only appreciative of this recognition, but we are also thank for all that make this type of opportunity a reality. So we would like to definitely the volunteers that share their time, talents, and knowledge with the youth in the program, the students that are volunteers as well because they are not forced to come to the program. These students want to be here in Cabrini Connections, and take advantage of the resources so they can put themselves in a position to be successful in the future and to reach all of the goals and dreams they have. I personally want to thank all of the staff here at Cabrini Connections for all of the hard work and dedication you all put into making project.

Lastly, I want to thank a group of people that may not get enough credit or recognition for their contributions to the success that we have in Cabrini Connections, and this group is the donors. There are so many donors that I've never personally met and maybe have net stepped foot in the center, but you support shows that you believe in the program, the work that we do, and maybe most importantly...the youth! Know that without your support there is no way we could do the work that we do for the youth and volunteers we serve. With your continued support we will not only be able to keep the doors open, I'm confident that we will continue to provide the best possible services we can, we will earn more awards, and we will continue to turn "Dreams Into Reality"


Cabrini Connections - the past Decade

Below is a chart showing Cabrini Connections students who participated until their senior year and graduated each year since 1997.

This is one of several charts that Dan Bassill, President of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, posted on the Tutor/Mentor Blog.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to keep an organization like Cabrini Connections in business for so many years, or what the strategy is to connect our teens and volunteers?

We posted many of the organizational planning documents on wikis more than 3 years ago with the goal that a growing number of students, volunteers, staff and donors would read them, and begin to share in the effort of shaping the direction and success of the organization.

For us to be a true "learning organization" and share these habits with our teens, we need to find time to look at this information, reflect on it, and share it with friends, family and potential investors.

This 4-part strategy illustrates how the information we collect and share can be used to help Cabrini Connections and its students, and can be used by anyone else to help young people in other parts of Chicago.

Have a safe and happy holiday. I hope you enjoy reading this material.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Once in Cabrini Connections...ALWAYS in Cabrini Connections"

The Cabrini Connections' program has over 800 volunteer alumnus and over 500 student alumnus and we truly feel that once you have been a part of the program you will always be a part of the program...and the network. Earlier today, Bradley Troast (Assistant Program Coordinator) and I received a surprise visit from former volunteer Stephanie Rogers and former student Aarion Woods.

Stephanie started in the program as a tutor/mentor in the Fall of 2008, but in the first couple of weeks changed her role and began in the College Zone part of the program where she remained there for a couple of years. During her time as an active volunteer Stephanie not only assisted students and volunteers on a weekly basis, but she also either joined efforts or came up with other projects that assisted with bringing in resources for the entire program. Stephanie remains connected to the program through the internet and by visiting from periodically and by sharing information to the staff, volunteers, and students that are still active in the program. Ms. Rogers also makes an effort to donate to the program.

Aarion Woods joined the program in the Fall of 2008 as well and was paired with, now Board Member, Mike Ozmeral. Aarion faced a lot of adversity outside of the program, but worked extremely hard to be as consistent as possible with his attendance and taking full advantage of program resources. Unfortunately Aarion's homelife and lack of resources forced him to become inactive in the program. But Aarion's strong personality, charm, and his willingness to continue overcome adversity has put in a position where he is now working and taken courses to get necessary certification at his place of employment to move up in the ranks. During his visit today he was all smiles and displayed a sense of pride when talking about what he has been going through...but more importantly how he has overcome those obsticles.

Thanks to first year volunteer, Brian Kamajian, Bradley and I were able to share a great job opportunity at the Wyndham Hotel with Aarion who immediately contacted his good friend AND Cabrini Connection's alumnus, Lawrence Brown, to share the information about the job. Before hanging up the phone both Aarion and Lawrence made plans to travel to the Wyndham on Thursday during the open timeslots to acquire more information about the job opportunities.

Bradley and I definitely enjoyed catching up with Stephanie and Aarion and to hear about all that they have been doing outside of the program, but it also felt good to exchange information and resources as well. This is a perfect display of how the Cabrini Connections' program is one big network and how that network can and should benefit any and everybody that has, is, or will be a part of the Cabrini Connections' TEAM.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Volunteers Step Up To Organize FUNdraisers

We have had several volunteers AND students answer the call of doing what they can to get the resources needed to keep the doors of the program open. Here are a few of many ideas and efforts that are currently in place. Please make an effort to support these events and share with those in your network

Santa's Naughty or Nice Charity Pub Crawl

HO HO HO - What better way to feel the joy of the season than to fill yourself with HOLIDAY SPIRITS and give a little something back to the community? For a donation of $10 (or more), you will get the company of some very fine individuals and a big red Santa hat (first 45 attendees).

-Elena Lugo and Melanie Munsey

Beard For Kids

This holiday season I’m participating in the Beards For Kids 2010 Challenge. I’ll be growing a beard from now until the end of the holidays and have a goal of raising $10 per day for Cabrini Connections. Please help me reach my goal by donating here today:

-Gabriel Chapman

Matt Golden's Fundraising Page

I have asked family and friends to help me raise $2,000 for Cabrini Connections in the month of December. I have set up a website on FirstGiving and have already raised $270! Hopefully, our contributions can help Charles Hill and other students continue to succeed at Cabrini Connections.
-Matt Golden

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Beards For Kids! Support Cabrini Connections!

Fellow Tutor/Mentors,

Along with a few friends, I created this week to raise money for Cabrini Connections. Check out the site: (Also,

I'm wondering if any of the male tutors would be interested in participating...AND if any of the female tutors might be able to get any of their male friends to participate, as well!

The idea is to try to raise $10 per day per person up until New Years. I think this is a very modest goal and that together we can build a critical mass to really make this a success!

I've included a short email below to make it easy. Please let me know if you're in by sending me a note and a picture of you sans beard!

Thank you!

Here’s an email you can send to friends and family:

Dear Friends,

This holiday season I’m participating in the Beards For Kids 2010 Challenge. I’ll be growing a beard from now until the end of the holidays and have a goal of raising $10 per day for Cabrini Connections , a program in Chicago that helps underserved kids finish high school with the goal of moving on to complete college and have successful careers.

The program has helped countless students during its almost 20 years of existence, and I want to make sure they’re able to continue doing the good work that they do!

Please help me reach my goal by donating here today:

Thank you and happy holidays!

--Gabriel Chapman

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

'Tis The Season & Cabrini Connections' Is The Reason

Over the past couple of weeks the Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection staff have been encouraging all in the program to make an effort to share the "Cabrini Connections' Story" and their personal experience with those in their network. We have also been taking part in our annual Holiday mailer. The packages of information will be going out to many past, current, and hopefully future Cabrini Connections' supporters. Our aim is to share a little more about what all we do here at Cabrini Connections with the youth and volunteers who participate in our program, and by sharing this information we hope more and more people will be willing to support our program in various ways.

Beyond just the mailers that we are sending out to the large group, the entire staff, and hopefully students and volunteers, will personalize letters for personal use. Individually, we all have been taking some time to think of people in our own personal network that we feel would not only like to hear more about what we do, but could further support our program. Whether the support comes from just spreading the word about Cabrini Connections to people in their network, donating a dollar or two, sharing other valuable resources, or all of the above...we will be appreciative of any support that is provided.

Over the weekend I will continue putting my list together continue making an effort to reach out to people who not only have been supporting me and my career, but the people I selected to add to my list are also people who care about improving the lives of youth.

In order for this to continue we need your help in finding holiday donors. Please send this form to people you know, telling of your involvement and asking for their help. If you reach out by email, point people to our blogs, or videos, to show the work we do. Or pick up some holiday fund brochures, with art created by our teens, and mail them to friends, family, co-workers. We have these at the Cabrini Connections center at 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642 .

In today's tough economic environment people all over are cutting back on their giving, but if everybody can just give a little, that adds up! And there are still many people in the world who have benefited greatly from having tutors, mentors, and just a variety of support networks, that have the ability give more than others. And as a result of that success, these individuals have the opportunity to GIVE BACK in a huge way, especially during the holiday season!

~Happy Holidays~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Showing impact

We feel the best way to judge the impact of Cabrini Connections is by the response of our teens and volunteers. If they show up each week and continue to participate from year to year, that show us we are providing a valuable service.

However, we're looking for other ways to show value and we post reports on the Stats page of the Cabrini Connections web site each week that anyone can review.

This Student Character Survey for 2009-10 has just been posted. It shows "strengths" of our students, which we feel the program helps enhance.

You can few three reports on the Cabrini Connections web site.

2009-2010 Student Satisfaction Survey Analysis Report

2009-2010 Volunteer Satisfaction Survey Analysis Report

2009-10 Student Character Report

As you view these reports and view the videos and blog articles we hope you will become a fan, and a supporter, providing your own time, talent and dollars to help us continue this work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Status of Cabrini Connections...

Last week during the tutoring/mentoring sessions we cut our regularly scheduled announcements and shared some pretty upsetting news. The staff, Volunteer Coordinators, member of the Youth Leadership Council, and Mike Hayes (veteran tutor/mentor and Board Member) took the time out to inform all that was present that the financial situation in the organization is at one of the worst places since the program started. This news was something that the staff and Board members have known and have been working towards fixing for months now, but following our November Staff Meeting, we decided that this was news that all in the program should be made aware of in hopes that everybody would be willing to rally together in an effort to obtain the necessary resources to keep the doors of Cabrini Connections' open.

In a small volunteer based non-profit program like Cabrini Connections, it is safe to say that we need everybody being willing to take ownership of the program and being willing to be advocates. With having 4 full time staff and 2 part time staff we can only do so much to get the word out, but with having nearly 80 current students and nearly 100 volunteers in the program that has the potential to reach thousands and thousands of people that may be interested in not only hearing the "Cabrini Connections' Story" but they may be willing to contribute to this story having more and more chapters.
Although we are going through some very tough times financially, I not only felt good leaving the center at the end of the sessions; as one of the leaders of the program...I felt proud of the positive response from both volunteers and students. We had a number of students and volunteers share ideas about ways in which to get the word out and we even had two Thursday night students kick off the FUNdraising Campaign by donating some cash themselves!!! There were tons of ideas thrown out and here are a few:
*Holiday Banquet
*Use the Cash for Gold service
*Phone raiser (donating used electronic devices)
*More people participating in writing grants
*Matching program from various companies
*Selling candy bars and other candy
*Various tournaments (ex. Flippy Cup)
*5K run/walk in Lincoln Park
*Talent show and Penny Jar
*Utilize various websites (Donors' Choose and Charity Navigator)
and MANY MANY more!!!

One of the basic ways in which everybody in the program can assist with getting the word out during the holidays is by using the annual Holiday Appeal letter that is located on the homepage of the website. We have made over 100 hard copies along with the request form, but we are encouraging all students, volunteers, and anybody else that is looking to assist with getting the word out, to personalize the letter by talking about your own personal experience in the program. And one of the easiest ways in which people can contribute is to donate online using this link.
Again, it is unfortunate that we had to share this news about the financial status of the program, but unless we get more and more people out being willing to share the "Cabrini Connections' Story" with those in their network in hopes that they will support...we will not be able to continue running this program that over 500 youth and over 800 volunteers have been a part of since 1993.

As the holiday season quickly approaches us there are many things to be thankful for and we believe there are many that can share stories about being thankful for being a part of the Cabrini Connections' program. Make an effort to share those stories. And many believe that "Tis the Season for Giving..." so hopefully you and others in your network will consider giving to a program that has meant so much to so many.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cabrini Connections' Students Are a Hit!!!

This past Tuesday 3 Cabrini Connections' students were standouts at the Red Shoe Review Silenct Auction at UIC. Victoria Rivera, Dominique Curtis, and Marquita Fisher shared their time and talents by performing some select poetry and spoken word at this event. All three of the students did an amazing job!!!

The event took place in a small intimate type of setting, but the energy from the students, the guests, and the hosts of the event was great. Jessica Grant and Namrata Shah not only did a great job with putting this silent auction together, the entire Cabrini Connections' program is thankful for these young ladies selecting Cabrini Connections as the organization where the proceeds from the event will go. There was food, beverages, art, entertainment, and an overall positive event.

The total amount that was brought in from the event has not yet been determined, but should be tallied up very soon. Whether the amount brought in is $100, $1,000, or $10,000...the entire Cabrini Connections' program is thankful and appreciative of the gesture from this group of students from UIC. Hopefully the presence and performances of the Cabrini Connections' students at this event will lead to the guests of the event becoming even more interested in the the program and will lead to further support in the future.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Student's Ready to Showcase their Talent!!!

Dominique Curtis and Marquita Fisher are posing in the photo with Alexi Giannoullias just before President Obama spoke in Hyde Park

On Tuesday November 16th from 4-8pm Cabrini Connections will be teaming up with Namrata Shah and Jessica Grant of UIC's Red Shoes Review to host a benefit event. All of the details are listed here. The actual building location has been determined and the event will take place in Room 121 of the Burnham Hall building located on the East Campus of UIC (near the Morgan and Taylor St intersection). Please call 312-996-7000, and an operator can give directions to Burnham Hall.

Below are a few of the poetic pieces that several of the Cabrini Connections' students will be showcasing at this event. Please take the time to read their work and hopefully their words and feelings will encourage you to make and effort to come out and be a part of this event or support the overall project from afar.

If you can't attend but would like to support this event, please make an online donation here

By: Dominique Curtis

Mommy, mommy. Mommy
I call out for you but you don’t hear
Mommy, mommy, mommy
I am filled with so much fear

Mommy, mommy, mommy
I touch you but you don’t feel
Mommy, mommy, mommy
I’m telling you I need you

Where are you mommy?
I don’t know why you’re leaving me
I’m looking at you
But you pretend you don’t see

Mommy how could you do this to me
Don’t you understand I am you’re other part
Mommy you don’t understand
Mommy you have no heart

You were not ready for me
That I understand
But what about what I was ready for
Mommy what about my plans

Who will speak up for those who can’t?
Who will be the voice for those without?
Who will hear the cry’s of the baby?
Who will see the tears of the child?

I see for those that are invisible
I stay for those who everyone leaves
I stand for those who can’t walk
I talk for those with no voice

(95%), are done as a means of birth control
Number of abortions per day: Approximately 126,000

It all starts at home
By: Dominique Curtis

Killing and dying, abusing and abused, raped, hurt and fill with the pain

It all starts at home when mommy tells you, you ain’t s***
And how much she hates you and regrets you
It all starts at home when daddy hits you and beats you
When he breaks you up inside and out
It all starts when hell is the place you call home

The problem is that homes are broken and no one’s listening and no one’s learning
You see everyday we see people lost to the streets
Gun shots missing and piercing the innocence of child
But you see we don’t change because we have become immune to it
The gun shots and deaths have become common nature

See but this starts at home
It starts with the little girl who was raped and abused when she was young
So when boys only wanted her for her body she didn’t know that this was wrong
And when she ended up pregnant at 15
She raised her child while she was still a child herself
And you see she still didn’t understand right from wrong
So she raised her baby girl the same way her mother raised her
Teaching her that her biggest power is between her legs
And that if a man hit her it was ok just deal with it
And the cycle just continues of young girls abused and raped
Blind to the problem in their situation

And see this starts at home
It starts with the little boy that was raised in a home where momma smoked and daddy drank
And daddy was the man he looked up to and followed behind
And so when daddy hit momma it was fine
And he was taught the only way to be a man and be define is by clutching a nine and committing crimes
And so when he got a girlfriend he didn’t see a problem with putting his foot on her face when she didn’t do what he said
Because this is what he was taught and how he was led
And the cycle continues of little boys not knowing how to be man
Blind to the problem in their situation

So you see the problem is
The respect we are being taught is turned and spun
Boys defined by tattoos and guns
Girls walking around with babies like hand bags and accessories
We have babies raising babies
Bad parents raising kids to be bad parents
And so we see kids killing kids and then we become kids killing kids because we don’t know any other way
See when we know better we do better but all we know is our hearts and souls
Which we were taught was define by our body and how many men we slept with
And our guns and how many people we kill
And so we can not change our future until we correct our past

We were never taught that our brain is the best thing to fight with
And our true potential lies in us not with what we have
Our true talents are not material things
And our true beauty is inside

So we need examples of good parents we need teachers
And I think you should have to take a class before you can be a mother
I think you should be a man before you can be a father
Because I find it painful to see the babies beautiful faces
Being brutally beaten and disgraced

See I think it should all start at home
When mommy gives you hugs and kisses
And daddy tells you he loves you
And this makes you feel so special
When your house is finally a place you can call home

I'm From...
By: Marquita Fisher (Quita)

I’m from Chicago and Cabrini Green
Where you hear gun shots
I’m from phony and backstabbing a** friends
Wanting to love and hate

I’m from home to home
Living with my friends
I’m from kids getting raped and beat
Police not doing s***

I from going home and hearing about girl X
I know yall heard about it
How she was raped, beat, and got poisoned

All on the news and on TV
Police lying saying they gone find them

I’m from don’t do that cousin please
To shut up and don’t say s***
I’m from my so called family
Where was they when he touched me

I’m from my so called daddy
Not being there for me
I’m from my mother walking out on me
And I have no place to go

I’m from Bam! A slap to my face
Blood dripping from my lip
I’m from mother sitting there
And not saying s***.

I’m from moving in with my auntie
And Kiera being there for me
I’m from seeing Kiera on Wednesday’s
In our laughter and goofiness

I’m from a place I could call home now
My auntie staying by my side
I’m from a better life now
Sleeping very safely

I’m from get up and get ready for school
6:00 got to get to get up
I’m from “have a good day at school
And be good”

I’m from “Marquita come in the house to eat”
Grandma’s cooking on a Sunday
I’m from who I don’t know?

Friday, November 05, 2010


"Good evening? How are you all doing today," (in the voice of a 7 year old)? "I AM ORLANDO CEASAR!" (in the voice that could be compared to the roar of a lion. This week the Cabrini Connections' program was honored to have Motivational Speaker, Orlando Ceasar, come in to share a little of his history and his life story, but a lot of how the students, volunteers, and staff can reach their many goals in life.

Orlando Ceasar was born and raised on the West Side of Chicago and said that his mother was on the "11 by 30 plan" saying that his mother and father had 11 children by the age of 30. Mr. Ceasar did an amazing job of talking about his youth and the ways in which he used his mind, the values he learned, poetry, and determination to assist him with becoming a very successful man.

One of the activities that he used during his presentation was a decision making tool that ANYBODY can use by using the word KNOW. He asked the group to come up with words that can be produced by using the 4 letters of the word KNOW. A few of the many were the words: won, ok, on, ko, now, ow and several others. Then students shouted out some of the decisions that they will have to make in life. Some students said, picking a college, picking a career, who to date, where will they live when they get older etc... Mr. Ceasar took the words from the word KNOW and explained how these words can be used for all of the Cabrini Connections youth and anybody else that have a decision to make.

He asked how much do you KNOW about the decision you have to make? What are the pros and cons of your decision. Who do you know that is in the career you want to be in, at the college that you want to attend, or how much do you know about the girl or guy that you like. Then asked what does it look like when you WON? He encouraged the group to envision success! He told the students they have to be ON at all times, and said that "when you are ON at all times there will be people there for you, doors will be open, and good things will happen because you are ON." He asked the group what are you doing NOW to reach the goals that you have in life, "You can't say you want to be a doctor in the future, if you are not willing to take the proper steps now to reach that goal." Another word he used was the word NO. He told the group that at some point in your life you are going to have to tell your friends, your family, and even yourself NO in order to reach your goals. Lastly he told the students that life can K.O. you if you are not prepared, so make sure to take advantage of resources and prepare for life.

The entire Cabrini Connections' program would like to thank Mr. Orlando Ceasar for taking out time out of his busy week, driving a couple of hours in traffic and bad weather, and volunteering his time to share some knowledge, insight, and helpful tips so that not just the students of the program but for the entire audience can be successful in life!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Benefit Event for Cabrini Connections.

The Red Shoes Review, UIC's Undergraduate literary journal, invites you to attend its first-ever silent auction. The event will showcase local works of art both students and artists in the larger community. The night will also feature musical and spoken-word performances. All proceeds from the night will benefit Cabrini Connections, a local mentoring organization that promotes higher education and creativity to inner-city youth. Students from Cabrini Connections will attend as special guests of the night. This is a great opportunity to meet and network with other. So we hope you join us for a night of great artwork, performances, and free snacks!

This event is being presented by Namrata Shah and Jessica Grant. These young ladies visited the program last year and helped students, volunteers, and staff in various ways. They have put this event together and decided to "give back" to the program from the positive experience they had while being here at Cabrini Connections. And everyone knows that "Once in Cabrini Connections...Always in Cabrini Connections!" For more information, or to make a donation of artwork for the silent auction, contact us at

This event will take place on Tuesday November 16th from 4-8pm on the UIC campus. Official building location will be in Room 121 of the Burnham Hall building located on the East Campus of UIC (near the Morgan and Taylor St intersection).

Prospective students that will be showcasing their talent at this event will be Cabrini Connections' senior Victoria Rivera (Lincoln Park High School), junior Marquita Fisher, and new sophomore student, Dominique "Di Di" Curtis. Both student attend the Global Citizenship Experience. Hopefully you will make an effort to attend and show your support...and bring a friend or two!!!

Cabrini Connections' was Buzzing on a Monday Night

Most people who know about Cabrini Connections, know that the tutoring/mentoring sessions take place on Wednesday and Thursday from 6-8pm. But there is so much more taking place throughout the week that may go unnoticed. On Monday and Tuesday evenings we host several Enrichment Clubs and we also provide the opportunity for mentor/mentee pairs meet due to changes in their normal schedule.

On Mondays we offer an Art Club and a Video and Filmmaker's Club from 5:30-7pm, on Tuesday we offer a Tech Club from 6-7pm, and on Wednesday before the actual session we offer a Writing Club from 5-6pm. All of our clubs have dedicated and committed volunteer (and staff) leaders that teach the youth a variety of skills that could lead to current jobs/intern opportunities, and maybe even a future career.

Last night we had a lot of activity in the center with the clubs working hard, but we also had several Wednesday and Thursday night pairs working hard on a variety of academic and career based work. There were nearly 30 people present last night all working in various ways towards similar goals. And of the goals that was and is usually always universal here in the program, and that is the goals of learning something new, learning positive habits, and expanding your network.

We are an academic based program in the sense that each student should be bringing work each and every week to the program. But we are more of a program that looks to build and enhance the soft skills and positive habits to that any student that joins are program are prepared with the skill necessary pursue any career in the future.

But whether its a buzzing Monday night, quieter Tuesday night, or a packed house on Wednesday and Thursday nights....none of this can be made possible without the necessary resources. So instead of considering making a donation, consider making an investment. Invest in the future of our students today, who can and will be the leaders of tomorrow!

PS: PLEASE...if you read this article please post a comment or just let me know we have people actually reading these blog posts. Thanks SO MUCH!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cabrini Green gone? Are you sure?

This is a map that was included with a story in this week's Chicago Sun Times, titled "Cabrini Green Last Stand", talking about people in the last Cabrini Green high rise getting eviction notices. We were contacted by an ABC TV reporter who wants to talk to people living in the area.

Dan wrote a story about this on the Tutor/Mentor Blog, with maps showing the row houses and other parts of Cabrini Green. These maps show that there are still almost 400 families and possibly 1200 youth living in the row house are. The story shows that if the developers keep their promises, there could be 1200 units for public housing families by 2015.

Are we certain that there won't be a need for programs like Cabrini Connections to serve those kids?

Isaiah Brooms, a 1992 graduate, posted this challenge on our Facebook page:

I graduated from the program back in 1992 and I'm troubled to hear that it is in financial peril and there is the real possibility that it can close. This program was a key factor in my finally seeing what possibilities lay out there for me to be successful.... They are currently doing that for so many of the Children of Cabrini and I'm not aware of many programs that do it in a grass root, no nonsense kind of a way.

I am throwing out a challenge. I will match donations to the program up to a total of $600. I wish I could do more. But unfortunately, I can't. However together, we can turn each others dollars into a significant amount. Facebook me if you want to join this challenge with me. If all goes well, we should be able to give the program at least $1200 dollars that they do not have right now and desperately need.

If we want to keep Cabrini Connections available to current, and future, young people from the Cabrini Green area, we need to find more people to make challenges like this and to match them with their own donations.

Send donations to: Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, 800 W. Huron, Chicago, Il. 60642

Monday, October 25, 2010

Melissa Young's 2nd Annual Cabrini Connections' Bake Sale

For the second year in a row, one of our students, Melissa Young, is hosting a Halloween Bake Sale to benefit the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program! She came up with this idea all on her own last year and raised over $330! This year her goal is $500. The event will take place at our center this Saturday, October 30th, from 11am-3pm. The address is 800 W Huron.

Ways to get involved:

Bake treats to be sold. You can drop them off during the week or bring them the day-of.
Donate food. Don't have time to bake? Just donate food!

Volunteer the day-of. Last year we had a lot of fun selling at the intersection of Chicago & Halsted.
Drop by, buy a few treats, and bring your friends!

If you are in the area on Saturday, please stop by. It isn't so much about how much money is raised as it is about supporting a student-led project.

This is not only a great project to support by donating treats and/or your time the day of, this is a student led project and an organization that could benefit greatly from your generous donations on a larger scale. Please show your support here if you can't attend but still want to contribute.
Contact at Cabrini Connections' staff if you are looking to get involved.
Thanks in advance!!!

~Cabrini Connections TEAM~

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is Cabrini Connections Heading in the Same Direction as the Arena Football League?

For any and all who have been following the Sport's Concepts entries throughout the year, you may be a little confused at the new comparison for this week. I have and will continue to work towards comparing our organization to an NFL organization, but this week I felt that this twist would fit just fine.

The Arena Football League has been in existence for well over a decade, providing players and coaches with an opportunity to showcase their talents, skills, and an opportunity to continue being a part of the sport that they know and love. The A.F.L. also provides its fans with sport's entertainment so they can continue to cheer on their favorite teams, players, and organizations.

True, the Arena Football League is not the NFL, but its still filled with extremely talented players, great coaches, and fans who truly love to show their support, but unlike the NFL that generates millions and millions of dollars each year to ensure that the league can continue, due to financial issues the AFL was forced to put this form of entertainment on hold until the necessary funds needed are in place to continue. In the last year or so the A.F.L. was able to get back on track and continue providing this great source of entertainment for fans and jobs the players, coaches, and all others that are employed as a result of the league being in existence.

Here at the Cabrini Connections' organization, we are trying to avoid that same fate. In our organization we have extremely talented players and coaches, and I'm 100% confident that we have fans who truly love our organization and all that we stand for, but with all that being said we need financial support for our league to continue! Just like the Arena Football League, I'm sure some players had no problems finding other places to continue playing the sport they love, but the majority were not provided an opportunity to go on to the NFL. And here I'm sure some players and coaches will find other places to continue playing this sport, and the fans will find other organizations to support, BUT we would like to keep our players, coaches, and fans in tact here!!!

And in the latest news on the Arena Football League it looks as though the the league has everything back up and running now and should continue in that direction now that financial support has been made available, which is GREAT news. But wouldn't it be even better if that financial support had been in place so that the league would not have been forced to close the doors at all?...

I truly believe we have standout players and coaches who just want to continue playing this tutoring/mentoring sport and continue pursuing those childhood dreams of one day becoming a professional.