Monday, January 24, 2011

Thank Your Mentor Day!!

Thank Your Mentor Day is January 25th!! Watch this video to see the 2010 Thank Your Mentor Day video from Cabrini Connections.

I hope you'll join me in expressing gratitude to personal mentors while also taking special note of the value of programs that connect caring adult mentors to youth who might not have the automatic support many of us (myself included) are blessed with at birth through loving parents, invested teachers, and supportive communities.

Thank You
to all mentors
and to all supporters of programs like Cabrini Connections.

2010 Thank Your Mentor Day from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Cabrini Madness Sign-Ups Starting!!

The Second Annual CABRINI MADNESS Tournament is about to start! Beginning this week, teams are forming to take part in the 2011 tournament.

This is my first year participating in Cabrini Madness, and it sounds like a lot of fun. Cabrini Madness is a fund-raising team challenge that involves students, volunteers, board members, staff, and outside supporters in a competition to see who can raise the most money to support Cabrini Connections. Teams find a wide variety of creative ways to raise donations ranging from bake sales to pizza/game parties to social events. All teams on the roster are part of a bracket, and teams are gradually eliminated to the elite eight, final four, and so on until the champion is determined
(sound like March Madness at all?).

Each week of the tournament, videos will be posted updating the fans of Cabrini Connections about how their favorite teams are fairing. Below, you can watch a video on the 2010 first draft pick (and be sure to stay tuned for the week of February 1st when we'll have our first video for 2011).

Cabrini Madness Episode 2 from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

Last year, the tournament was a huge success with 13 teams and 114 players together raising over $23,000!!! We hope 2011 will bring in even more support. This is a really unique and dynamic fund-raiser because it involves so many different people within our program. Everyone from board members to students to community members are encouraged to get involved in this friendly (but from what I understand, also quite heated) competition.

How to create a team:
Teams are made up of 5-10 members. Each team must include at least (1) current or former student, (1) current or former volunteer, (1) current or former staff member, volunteer coordinator, club leader, or board member, and (1) person that is not a current member of the program such as a close friend, spouse, or co-worker. Each team must also create an online fund-raising page using platforms such as GiveForward, Razoo, or FirstGiving.

If you're interested in joining the tournament, I can help place you on a team!
I will be working with team captains to fill their rosters, so be sure to contact me if you are interested in being part of a team. This is a great way to get involved (and as you'll notice, there is a special spot on each team for those not currently involved in the program--meaning anyone can join!).


  • February 6 - Deadline for entry
  • February 6 - Deadline for fundraising page
  • March 20 - First cut (Top 8 advance)
  • March 27 - Second cut (Top 4 advance)
  • April 2 - Third cut (Top 2 advance)
  • April 4 - Final cut (Winner chosen)
  • April 6/7 - Awards at tutoring

You can read a full recap of the 2010 tournament on Cabriniblog here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"'What are you doing for others?'" -MLK, Jr.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we pay tribute to the life and leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, the recent shooting in Arizona is undoubtedly also on our minds. Sadly, this tragedy is a reminder that while our country has certainly progressed in many ways since MLK Jr.'s era, we are still far from the nation of nonviolent equality that this hero envisioned.

In addition to calling for nonviolent resistance and ending segregation, Martin Luther King, Jr. also fought strongly for economic equality. As he said: "The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."

I think it's fitting that National Mentoring Month coincides with the date when we celebrate MLK Jr's life and leadership. Mentoring relationships often break down barriers of culture, generation and socioeconomic status while challenging assumptions and stereotypes. Through building intentional relationships, both mentors and mentees have an opportunity to build a new understanding of those from of different backgrounds, life experience, and/or takes on the world.

As we enjoy the long weekend, I hope we also take the time to reflect upon these words spoken by MLK Jr, taking them as a lifelong challenge: Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

If the answer to this question leads you to want to explore tutoring or mentoring programs: find a program in Chicago, in another city, learn more about tutor/mentor programs and how they could use your help (no matter what your skills) through Tutor/Mentor Institute, or contact me so I can help you find what you need!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Brief Snapshot of National Mentoring Month

"Across our Nation, mentors steer our youth through challenging times and support their journey into adulthood. During National Mentoring Month, we honor these important individuals who unlock the potential and nurture the talent of our country, and we encourage more Americans to reach out and mentor young people in their community."
-President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, Dec. 21, 2010

It's the 10th Anniversary of National Mentoring Month, so let's take a look at what it's all about!

The History and Theory behind National Mentoring Month:

National Mentoring Month was launched in 2002 by Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership. Since its inception, these collaborating organizations have worked in conjunction with leaders and organizations throughout the country to create a public awareness campaign that helps more caring adults become involved in mentoring programs. As it says on the NMM website, "By focusing national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us—individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits—can work together to increase the number of mentors, we assure brighter futures for our young people. "

Prominent Leaders Who Have Participated in National Mentoring Month:
  • Maya Angelou
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • Clint Eastwood, Academy Award Winner
  • Senator John McCain
  • General Colin L. Powell
  • Bill Russell, five-time NBA Most Valuable Player
  • Usher, Grammy-award winning R&B artist
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • The U.S. President and Congress (each year since NMM's inception in 2002)
How Can You Get Involved:
  1. Reflect upon the people who have been mentors in your life and the impact they've had on you.Thank them personally and/or contact me with your note of gratitude to any of your mentors, and I'll post it here on my blog (Thank Your Mentor Day is January 25th!).
  2. Learn more about mentoring and its impact. See the Tutor/Mentor Institute for a wide range of articles on the importance of mentoring, mentoring best practice, and how entire communities can get involved in supporting local programs.
  3. Find programs in the neighborhoods where you work, live, or care about. Explore their individual website to learn about what these organizations are doing in your community. (see Program Locator for Chicago area programs, or search here for programs throughout the nation).
  4. Partner with organizations in whatever way you can. If you find a program you think is doing important work in your community and you feel compelled, become a volunteer mentor. Or perhaps you can make a financial commitment to providing ongoing support to a particular program now and throughout the coming months.
  5. Think strategically. How can you help more volunteers and donors reach programs in your neighborhoods? What can be done to get more businesses and those with means involved in mentoring programs? Join the brainstorm discussion through the TMC-hosted online forum on its NING page.

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Resolution: Make 2011 a Year of Serving Others

Happy New Year!! 2011 has officially started as has National Mentoring Month!

Among the most common New Year's Resolutions in the U.S. is to volunteer to help others, which is obviously a laudable goal. It is wonderful that many many people are making the resolution this year to help those in their community--in the form of both time and dollars to programs and organizations they find valuable.

Yet as we all know, sometimes our intentions to make big changes in our lives drop off a few weeks into a new year. I was reminded of this fact yesterday when meeting a friend for coffee. The usually packed Starbucks I went to was nearly empty. When I commented on this fact to the barista, he noted: "Yeah, people always make New Years Resolutions against their coffee addictions. We'll get busy again around March."

It is ironic that the patterns at at a nonprofit like T/MC are kind of the reverse of Starbucks. People tend to give to us more around the holiday season and near the first of the year when they are focused on what is "good for them and good for the community," and then the donations let up in the months after. Similarly, while we start out each year with the best of intentions for positive changes, we often fall back into old patterns after a few weeks. I hope those of us who resolve to volunteer and invest in our communities in 2011 will stand by these goals for the entire year.

As you can see from this calendar of events made by T/MC, tutoring and mentoring programs operate based around a similar annual calendar of events throughout the year. Programs need ongoing support all year round to keep operating. You can see an animated version of this calendar on the Tutor/Mentor Institute site.

To kick off 2011, I've created a calendar of international, national, and local events that might serve as reminders and reasons to support your community tutoring/mentoring programs throughout the year. Add these events to your calendar as reminders of opportunities to join with others across the country and world to volunteer your time, give a monetary donation, or show your support for tutoring and mentoring programs in your community. I hope keeping these dates in mind will enable us all to have a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2011.

ALSO: For those who have New Year's Resolutions related to bettering your health, read this report on the Health Benefits of Volunteering.

Resolve to Do Good in 2011:


National Mentoring Month:
Find a program in your neighborhood (click here if outside of the greater Chicago area), then visit the program's website. After you learn more or find a program you can see is doing good, commit to becoming a volunteer or give a donation!
January 17:
MLK, JR. Day of Service: Join with thousands of other Americans in a day of community service.
January 25: Thank A Mentor Day:
Post a message of gratitude to your personal mentors!

African American History Month: The 2011 theme is 'African Americans and the Civil War.'
February 14: Valentine's Day:
Read about 14 Charitable Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day.
February 21: President's Day:
Learn about those recognized by the President's Volunteer Service Award and keep track of your personal volunteer hours.


Women's History Month:
See how mentors are giving girls a model for success in Chicago.
March Madness:
Get in the spirit of the Big Dance while supporting Cabrini Connections with Cabrini Madness!
March 2: Read Across America Day:
The National Education Association calls for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult today--a great reason to become a mentor!!!


National Child Abuse Prevention Month:
Support mentoring organizations that work to provide nurturing adults role models in the lives of kids.
April 10-16: National Volunteer Week 2011:
April 18: Tax Day:
Admittedly, this day is not usually cause for celebration. But be sure to make tax exempt donations to 501 (c) 3 non-profits (Shameless plug: Our tax ID is 36-3893431 and
donations are greatly appreciated!)

National Foster Care Month:
Find opportunities to mentor youth in foster care
Older Americans Month: Read about the Benefits of Community Service for Senior Citizens
Spring Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference: Help us make sure that this event on our calendar comes to fruition in 2011. Join the online conference planning forum and become a conference sponsor!
May 8: Mother's Day:
Give a donation to help kids in honor of your mom!
May 30: Memorial Day: Honor lost loved ones through a life of service, and learn about how returning veterans are engaging as community service leaders in their communities.
May 31: World No Tobacco Day:
Read the abstract of this study to learn how substance abuse goes down amongst lower income adolescents who are in a mentoring relationship with an older adult.


Tutor/Mentor Programs Ending for the 2010-2011 Year:
Celebrate along with programs for their work with kids during the 2010-2011 school year. Be sure to look out for Cabrini Connection's Year End Dinner as well as similar celebration ceremonies throughout the country.
School's Out for Summer!:
Find opportunities to help in programs mentoring youth and keeping kids engaged and learning during the summer months (check out Camp of Dreams for one such program!)
June 19: Father's Day:
Honor your dad through a donation or through your service to a tutoring/mentoring program.


July 4: Independence Day:
Celebrate our country by investing in its future! Visit Volunteering in America to learn about civic engagement in the U.S. and let it inspire you to volunteer in your community.
Jimmy Bigg's Memorial Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection Golf Benefit: (date TBA): Don't miss this fun opportunity to tee up and support our work with Chicago's youth!


Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign:
In preparation for the start of their 2011-2012 season, tutoring and mentoring programs all over the country are recruiting volunteers. It's the perfect time to find a program and become a volunteer tutor or mentor! Also look out for fun ways to support programs while drawing visibility to these organizations through events like Tutor/Mentor Jam.
August 12: International Youth Day This day recognizes the efforts of youth in improving global society while encouraging youth to become increasing involved in service work. Invest in the futures of youth by becoming a mentor role model, an academic tutor, or giving generously to a program serving these kids.


School Begins and Tutor/Mentor Programs Begin!:
Find a program and get involved as a volunteer, donor, or business supporter.
September 11:
National Day of Service and Remembrance: Make a difference on 9/11 by exploring charitable causes that need your help.
September 15-October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month:
Explore tutoring and mentoring programs that focus on Latino youth in Chicago or other cities like Casa Central.


October 2: International Day of Nonviolence:
In honor of Gandhi's birthday, this day calls for nonviolence in all communities. Read Dan Bassill's articles on stopping youth violence through mentoring programs for at-risk youth.
Martini Madness: (date TBD):
Raise your glass to the work of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection at this annual fundraiser event!


Fall 2011 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference:
Help us make sure that this event on our calendar comes to fruition in 2011. Join the online conference planning forum and become a conference sponsor!
November 6-12: Tutor/Mentor Week in Chicago:
In 1994, then Mayor Richard M. Daley officially proclaimed this as Tutor/Mentor Week as a means to call attention to the good work tutor/mentor programs are doing. Learn about the history of this campaign and become involved!
November 16:
GIS Day: Support Mapping Solutions and the use of innovative mapping technologies to connect adults and ideas to inner-city kids.
November 24: Thanksgiving:
Give a thanksgiving gift to a program helping youth!

Year End Holiday Giving Drives:
During this season, programs all over the city are calling upon the generosity of their donors. Please give what you can!!