Monday, August 23, 2010

Game Day & Buffet

As part of the Cabrini Connections program, we offer various incentives throughout the year to encourage and reward students for doing well and fulfilling expectations. We strive to offer rewards to those with the greatest attendance each quarter, and after third quarter, the end of the year, rewards become extra-special because we have more time to plan.

In June, Ana Tate was awarded a bicycle for being the only student with perfect attendance for the entire year; earlier this month, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders with 75% or better attendance in third quarter were invited to Dave & Buster's; and, last but not least, 7th, 8th, and 9th graders with 75% or better attendance in third quarter were invited to a "Game Day & Buffet" here at Cabrini Connections.

This past Saturday, Chuck "Diesal" Seaton of Concepts by Design hooked us up with four 42" flat-screen televisions with Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360 video game systems. We also provided sandwiches from Subway and wings from Hooters. We started the day off with group "get to know you" games like Catchphrase and a fun worksheet called "The Number Game," and then kids were free to roam the center and play video games.

Thank you and congratulations to all of the following students who were able to attend: Savon Clark, NyShanell Freeman, Kierre Halbert, Arden Harris, Dionte Herron, Charles Hill, Charles Kilpatrick, Sean Mayfield, Brittany Murphy, Reggie Murphy, Amari Roby, Ana Tate, Malina Tate, Crystal Townsend, Olivia Williams, and Patricia Williams.

Friday, August 20, 2010

University Partnerships

In my 14 months at Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I have seen a host of university students contribute to our successes. In May, I spotlighted many of our interns here. Since then we have welcomed two interns from Hong Kong Baptist University and two summer volunteers from DePaul University. Jenny and Willow (above) reached out to the Chinese community and helped promote the Tutor/Mentor Jam. Chris (below) and Damien have been streamlining our computer lab in preparation for the 2010-2011 tutoring year. (I should also note that they have gone above and beyond in helping staff and students with tech-related issues. Thanks, guys!)

All of this gets me thinking... What would a full-fledged university partnership look like? What if a college or university - not just one department or one program - "adopted" a tutor/mentor program? Their alumni association could be responsible for recruiting a certain number of volunteers each year. Departments of the school could develop resources for core subjects like math, reading, and writing. Facilities of the school could be provided for programming and special events. Fundraisers could be sponsored by the university and supported by the development office. A scholarship could be awarded to the top senior in the program each year. The possibilities are endless!

At CC, T/MC, we appreciate of all the work interns have done for us. We are better off as an organization because of it. But I hope universities will start to think critically about what more they can do, either in their surrounding communities or with organizations that they already have ties to. My alma mater, Northwestern University, has connected four graduates to us for staff positions over the last four years through its Public Interest Program. Cabrini Connections had 10 volunteer tutor/mentors last year who are alumni of NU. The Freshman Urban Program, a pre-orientation activity for incoming freshman at NU, visits our center each September to work on a project. Could all of this be part of an official partnership which expands and excels and is beneficial for both parties over time? I think so.

Here is a reflection from our president, Dan Bassill, about this very idea. My predecessor, Chris Warren, wrote about this topic, too. I also suggest you skim through our ABC University presentation which outlines many parts of this vision. Colleges and universities do seem to be taking a greater interest in community service and engagement in the 21st century. Well, we are taking a greater interest in them as well. Let's get together and make it happen!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick hits

My blog updates have been intermittent lately, which I plan to remedy, but briefly I wanted to catch you all up on recent happenings at Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.
  • Today I was asked by my friend Kathy Engelken to join Illinois Campus Compact's Executive Advisory Council. I was happy to accept and I look forward to reconnecting with this organization that I interned for in 2009. Expect a "university partnerships" blog post from me early next week.
  • GIS Mapping Coordinator Mike Trakan was on Outside the Loop Radio this week to talk about the upcoming Tutor/Mentor Jam. You can check out the interview here. Mike comes on at about 4:30.
  • 2010-2011 NUPIP Fellow Karina Walker has begun networking with tutor/mentor programs in her position as Research and Collaboration Coordinator for T/MC. I joined her recently for visits to Chicago Lights and BUILD which are recapped on her blog here.
  • Last Saturday, Cabrini Connections, in partnership with other organizations from Region 2, hosted "Back to School - Make It Cool." We had lots of games and performances for entertainment and lots of backpacks and school supplies to give away. You can view great pictures from the event here and recaps by staff here and here.
  • Going into this summer, EL Da' Sheon and I set out to meet with every student and volunteer looking to return to the program in 2010-2011. So far we have met with 75 people! As part of his sports concepts series, EL Da' Sheon talks about these meetings as conditioning tests here on Cabriniblog.
  • Follow me on Twitter! I may not be blogging as often, but I am tweeting!
  • It's Friday the 13th. Be careful!

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's who YOU know

I hear it a lot... "It's who you know." Whether it be a close friend, a family member, or a fraternity brother, your network has the potential to guide you to new heights. A lot of opportunities in life are inspired by those personal connections, and that is why at Cabrini Connections our mission is to engage workplace adults in structured activities that make a life-changing difference for youth in economically and educationally disadvantaged neighborhoods. It takes a village to raise a child, but many inner-city youth start with a deplenished village due to poverty, violence, low performing schools, and other risk factors. What can YOU do to help?

Take a look at this network chart created by our president Dan Bassill. In each box, think of one or two people who you can tell about Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection. Send them e-mails, Facebook messages, tweets, letters, whatever you prefer, asking them to visit our web sites and get involved with our work or with a local tutor/mentor program. People from all over the world have a stake in this. Please be a part of our village. Thank you!

Monday, August 2, 2010


We're jammin
I wanna jam it with you,
We're jammin, jammin

And I hope you like jammin too

-Bob Marley

Tutor/Mentor Jam is a benefit concert for Tutor/Mentor Connection to be held on Sunday, August 29th, at Darkroom on West Chicago Avenue (map). This coming-together of bands, entertainers, and the local business community represents a village, coming together to draw public attention and support toward volunteer-based, non-school tutor/mentor programs in high-poverty neighborhoods throughout the Chicago region.