Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

What ways are you finding flexible operating dollars for your tutor/mentor program?  (This discussion was started in 2008, and has been updated to reflect where we are in 2013. The opportunity and need have not changed since this was first launched.)

 Since 1994 the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) has been working with groups such as the SunTimes Marovitz Lawyers Lend A Hand Program in an effort to increase the amount of flexible operating dollars awarded to volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in the Chicago region. While the first award in 1994 was $2,00, the LAH grew to where $240,000 was awarded in 2007 and $217,000 in 2008 to more than 25 different volunteer based tutoring and/or mentoring organizations in Chicago. I received on grant of $30,000 for the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2007 and 2008 and grants of $5,000 and $4,500 for our Cabrini Connections program.

While Lend A Hand did not fund T/MC after 2008 it has continued to raise funds for tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and in 2013 thirteen programs received grants.  In addition, an annual MY HERO Awards event has continued to raise visibility for tutoring and mentoring and encourages lawyers, law firms, businesses and others to get involved. I wrote about the 2013 Lend A Hand Lunch on this blog article.

We need this type of giving strategy to develop in every industry, and we also need funding to support the intermediary role of a Tutor/Mentor Connection.


The T/MC goal is that every industry, faith group, social and civic group, build communications and funding strategies that distribute their support into all of the high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, and into programs that engage mentors and technology to help kids move through school and into jobs and careers. Furthermore, we want to see such strategies duplicated in other cities and countries.

In 2011 the T/MC strategy was discontinued at the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program where it originated in 1992, due to financial challenges and a change in the mix on the Board of Directors. Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC was created as a business structure to keep T/MC operating in Chicago, and to help similar intermediaries grow in other cities.

Through this forum we hope to help similar networks grow in other cities and countries, so that individual programs in each city are funded on an on-going basis, along with the intermediaries who are trying to build these types of collaborations.


I've suggested for many years that if programs in other cities would create a volunteer-based tutor/mentor strategy, or build a database of who they are, with segmentation showing what they do, and who they serve, they could build business support for all of their programs, similar to the Lend A Hand Program.

Furthermore, if this were happening we could give recognition each year to which support programs in which city were doing the best, thus encouraging a competition to do good, or better than the competition, among the people we all depend on for support.

Instead of each program competing for a shrinking funding pool. Why not collaborate or work together to increase the pool? What are your fund raising ideas?

What art the challenges to this thinking?  Why don't leaders in tutor/mentor programs support efforts that would increase resources for them an all other tutor/mentor programs in a city?

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This is another collaboration forum that I've found. It's called Good.is
Hey everybody,

If you haven't seen the fundraising tournament we started at Cabrini Connections - called Cabrini Madness - I encourage you to take a look at it. More than 100 students, volunteers, staff, board members, and friends have joined teams to compete to raise the most money. In the first month of the tournament, February, we raised $10,000 thanks to the energy and creative of all team members. I think this can be a great model for other volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs. It creates camaraderie and competitiveness and it gets people working together in ways they never imagined.

I started this discussion in December 2008. I think the challenges we face and the questions are still relevant.  How are you collaborating with peers in your city or state to make more resources available to you and others in the sector?

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