There is no more critical an issue in America today than the education of our kids. The gap between rich and poor is growing because of the huge differences in educational opportunities available to kids in the inner cities and those in more affluent areas. The real work and responsibility of helping these children must be shared by every business, institution, and individual in Chicago and the suburbs. We all need to continually ask “What can I do to help make a brighter future a reality for our children?”
Volunteer tutors and mentors make an incredible impact on youth through their efforts working to support parents and teachers in communities across the nation. By connecting children with adult tutors and mentors, we broaden their expectations, build their learning skills, and help prepare and motivate them to excel in school and beyond. The difference one volunteer makes by serving as a positive role model can last a lifetime for a child. Tutors and mentors work to equip our children with strong foundations for bright futures.
In 1993 the Tutor/Mentor Connection began creating a master database of Chicago's volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs. Our goal was to create a better understanding of what programs exist in Chicago, where they operate, who they serve, and where there was a need for more programs. Anyone in the Chicago region can now search the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator to find a program where you can volunteer, time, talent and/or dollars.
Using this information, we have worked to create an on-going public education campaign, aimed at mobilizing volunteers and donors to more consistently support constant improvement at every tutor/mentor program in the Chicago region, not just Cabrini Connections, or one or two other visible organizations.
The T/MC launched an August/September volunteer recruitment campaign in August 1995. Each year since we have recruited partners to help us build public awareness, and draw volunteers to tutor/mentor programs throughout the city.
In November of each year, we have organized a Tutor/Mentor Conference, and from 1995 to 2000, worked with the Lend A Hand Program to create a Tutor/Mentor Week, intended to draw attention of more volunteers and donors, who would support tutor/mentor programs in all parts of the Chicago region. Here are Tutor/Mentor Week Proclamations issued by Mayor Richard Daley in 1995 and 2000. See Campaign Final Reports for years 1995-2003
Between 1999 and 2002 the August/September recruitment campaign was supported by many public leaders, who signed a campaign manifesto, asking people to volunteer time, talent and treasure.
This Manifesto reads "You can be a volunteer at one of Chicago’s tutor/mentor programs, or help build a new program in neighborhoods which are now void of programs. And you can be a sponsor by making a financial contribution to any one of these programs, or by offering the services of your company or professional organization to help build effective learning programs for the kids who attend these programs. Make the commitment to a child’s future today. Our children need your help." . It was signed by the people listed below. Here's a sample letter of endorsement, signed by each leader. This one is from Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago.
Richard M. Daley Mayor, City of Chicago
Lura Lynn Ryan First Lady, State of Illinois 2001 Honorary Campaign Chairperson
George H. Ryan Governor, State of Illinois
Arne Duncan CEO, Chicago Public Schools
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. Archbishop of Chicago
Richard J. Durbin United States Senator
Arlene J. Mulder Mayor, Village of Arlington Heights
Ralph W. Conner Mayor, Village of Maywood
Lorraine H. Morton Mayor, City of Evanston
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr Rainbow Push Coalition
Michael Scott President, Chicago's Reform Board of Education
Joe Mantegna Actor (look at LINK on Joe's web site to the Tutor/Mentor web site)
Rod R. Blagojevich Congressman
Luis V. Guitierrez Congressman
Merri Dee WGN TV
Ted Phillips President, Chicago Bears
Gary Chico Former President, Chicago Board of Education
Jesse White Illinois Secretary of State
Dennis Franz Actor, NYPD Blue
Thomas Stone Chairman & CEO, Stone Capital Group, Inc.
Hon. Sophia Hall Presiding Judge, Circuit Court of Cook County
Paul Vallas Former CEO, Chicago Public Schools
Richard Devine Cook County States Attorney
Rev. Pedro Windsor National Alliance of HIspanic Evangelical Ministers
Norm VanLier FOX Sports & Chicago Bulls
Executive Directors, Presidents, CEO's of Tutor/Mentor Programs
Michael T. Johnson Executive Director, Chicago Youth Programs
Phillip Jackson President, Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago (now CEO of Black Star Project)
Rev. James J. Close President, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
Ann Alvarez Executive Director, Casa Central
Brooke Wiseman President & CEO Girl Scouts of Chicago
Barbara Castellan Executive Director, Gads Hill Center
Sandra Daffé President, Junior Achievement of Chicago
James Jones President, ChildServ
Dorothy Miaso* Executive Director, Literacy Volunteers of America, II
Mary Hollie Executive Director, Lawrence Hall Youth Services
Thomas C. VandenBerk President, Uhlich Children's Advantage Network
Frank M. Zirlle Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago
Rick Velasquez Executive Director, Youth Outreach Service
Daniel F. Bassill* President, CEO, Cabrini Connections and Tutor/Mentor Connection
Mary Moring INVEST, Evanston, IL
Duffie Aldelson Executive Director, Merit School of Music
* These leaders are also members of the Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.