Business Analysis

Core Business !!

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection provide products and services that help volunteer-based, non-school, tutor/mentor programs increase volunteer involvement, improve quality, and long-term impact, and reach more youth living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities (while our focus is on cities, the need for this type of support for youth is also in rural areas and on reservations). Our services are provided to leaders of t/m programs and to business, volunteers, donors, etc. who are needed to support the long-term success of these programs. One of the tutor/mentor programs that we helped between 1993 and 2011 was the Cabrini Connections tutor/mentor program, which serves Cabrini-Green area teens. Dan Bassill was the founder of Cabrini Connections in program in 1992 and led it until June 2011 in partnership with the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Strategic Goals !!
The organization’s growth over the next five years continues to focus on the development of capacities that improve the availability and quality of tutor/mentor programs in poverty areas. This strategy focuses on developing information that existing programs can use to improve their own chances for success, while leading a marketing campaign that draws needed volunteers, dollars, training and technology resources to all programs on a more consistent basis.

These goals divide into six categories, which are current business strategies and process improvement goals. Many of these have been in place since 1993 (view concept map that shows these goals):

Promotions/public awareness
Fund Raising
Channels of support from business/professional group

= Research !!=
The T/MC aims to collect and share information that helps individual tutor/mentor programs grow, while helping geographic areas have a full range of tutor/mentor programs. On the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site is an extensive library of information that can be used by volunteers, students, program leaders, media, donors and any business that wants to partner in helping a tutor/mentor program lead kids to careers. This information is intended to show what programs operate in the city, where they are, what age groups are served, and where there are voids. It is also intended to provide models of what works, so that other programs or donors can borrow effective strategies from one location and duplicate them in many locations.

View concept map showing library organization:

Between 1993 and 2011 the Cabrini Connections portion of the organization drew upon this process to develop activities that supported 70 to 80 pairs of teens and volunteers who were enrolled each year. As a single site, Cabrini Connections was constantly looking for ways to rise money, hire and retain staff, improve process, engage youth and volunteers, etc. The organization was also constantly generating new ideas, based on its own success or failure. These were uploaded via T/MC web sites, databases and collaboration tools so that others learn from us as we learn from them.

The most important component of T/MC research is the list of volunteer-based Chicago area tutoring and/or mentor programs that we maintain. In 2004 an on-line search portal was created to help people find specific programs in different zip codes of Chicago. In 2008 an interactive map-based directory was created, which enabled leaders to use maps and the T/MC's list of programs in on-going planning intended to help high quality programs grow in every poverty zip code.

While national search engines like [ enable you to search by a zip code for a mentoring program, you only get a listing of programs in a five mile range and don't get information that narrows your search, such as type of program or age group served. With the T/MC program locator, you can search for specific types of programs, serving elementary school middle school, or high school, and in specific zip codes. This information is displayed on a Google map. The searchable program locator was created in 2004. The ability for programs to add and edit their own information was added in 2006. The Google map links was also added in 2006.

= Promotions/Public awareness !!=
The T/MC seeks to support tutor/mentor programs the same way Wal-Mart promotes stores located all over the county. This means we need to build a store support infrastructure and a broad-based, multi-media communications campaign, with reach and frequency that reaches into every business and every household in the Chicago market on a weekly basis, anchored by attention getting events held at least four times per year. Such a campaign will build a growing awareness of the needs/opportunities of tutoring/mentoring, draw programs together to share resources, bring volunteers and dollars to individual programs in each neighborhood and increase number of tutor/mentor program sites available throughout the city. Since a charity will never have the advertising dollars of a business, T/MC seeks to innovate ways to "ride along" with business advertising and create other forms of message communication. The web sites of the T/MC will become “hubs” where people looking for tutor/mentor information go on a regular basis to learn how to operate effective programs or how to support them as volunteers or donors.

The 1994 to 2008 growth of the SunTimesMarovitz Lend A Hand Program ( was an example of success in this area, and a model that we hoped would be duplicated in many industries. (After 2008 the LAH Program began to narrow its focus and was no longer a partner with Tutor/Mentor Connection). It still remains an example that professional groups could learn from and duplicate.

We have also began to use blogs such as , and numerous [social networking forums to create tutor/mentor focused groups who draw from the information on the primary tutor/mentor connection web sites.

The traffic to T/MC web sites has grown to more than 1.5 million visitors and 13.85 million page views through December 2017.

= Training !!=
The T/MC seeks to create an infrastructure that helps T/M programs be where they are needed, increases staff quality, and also educate donors, volunteers and business partners on roles they need to play to assure success of a wide distribution of comprehensive mentoring-to-career programs. The organization hosted 41 November and May Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conferences from May of 1994 through May 2015, reaching more than 2,500 tutor/mentor leaders from Chicago and other cities. While these provide two opportunities for volunteers and staff to network and build skills, training must be available in more formats, in higher and more consistent quality, in more places and during more time frames. In 2005 the conference web site was completely rebuilt by a tech volunteer working with our eLearning Coordinator. The conference web site was built by a volunteer in 2005 and now serves as an archive and template for future conferences and on-line conferences.

Since the mid 2000s social media and on-line learning opportunities have created new ways to engage and learn. While Dan Bassill is active in sharing ideas and connecting with others via many social media platforms, the eConference goals outlined in 2004 still have not been developed.

In these goals the T/MC described a goal of expanding its training services with two new learning strategies:

e-Conferencing and Distance Learning !!=

We seek to use the Internet to support learners with what they want to know, when they want to know it. We would role out such a capacity in support of the May and November tutor/mentor leadership conferences and would recruit other cities to host similar, linked conferences, in other parts of the country on the same dates we hold the conferences in Chicago. This would generate move visibility, and would make training available to more people at a lower cost per person.

in 2004 and 2005 live conferences were hosted from (no longer available)
in 2005 and 2005 IUPUI hosted live conferences at (no longer available)
the May 2005 conference was supported by an international learning group -
In 2005 when IUPUI rebuilt the T/MC web site, it included a discussions forum feature, which we hoped would get extra traffic during conference time frames. This never generated the participation we hoped it would and has been inactive since the site was moved to a new host in 2013.
In 2007 we launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum on which is still available, but not used very much

While T/MC and T/MI have not had the resources to organize and lead an on-line learning community the T/MI continues to aggregate links to cMOOCs, which are templates showing what might be created.

This G+ test site was created in 2015 as template for on-line tutor/mentor community.

Learning from others!!
When we launched the T/MC in 1994 we started with a survey that collected information about existing tutor/mentor programs. 120 programs responded and in questions that asked how much contact they have with other program leaders, 54% said little or none and 70% said they wanted more contact. 90% said they would come to a conference if it fit their schedule or were low cost, and that led to the first conference in May 1994. This is an example of how we've responded to what programs are telling us to create T/MC products and services. Since we began hosting the conferences our goal has been to survey participants to learn what is important, what works, and what we could be doing as a group to make things work better, or what services T/MC could provide, to help all programs grow. In 1999 Paul Collins, an independent consultant ( ) began to volunteer time at each conference to gather information via web surveys ( ). Unfortunately we never have had enough of Paul's time, or other volunteers, to consistently summarize this information and use if for further collaboration. Findings from the surveys were summarized and can be found at

= College or Business Training Partner(s) !!=
We seek partners who will develop courses to train certified trainers and tutor/mentor program managers. With such a partner we could combine our Internet learning process with a curriculum development process that trains college students and alumni to be future tutor/mentor program leaders, and supports them in their leadership throughout their careers. Since 1995 IUPUI in Indianapolis has been working more closely with T/MC. In May 2007 representatives from the University of Toledo attended the conference and described a planning process that has included the T/MC. We've had many meetings with people at Chicago area universities. Thus far, none have led to a strategic alliance.

Read [blog articles showing goal of universities as partners and hosts of on-campus Tutor/Mentor Institutes.

= Fund Raising !!=
While the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-present) and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (2011-present) needs to increase the flow of flexible operating dollars to it’s own operations, our work will ultimately be measured by how well we are able to increase funding and the flow of volunteers and ideas for ALL tutor/mentor programs.

Since 1993 our goal has been to increase flexible funds for general operations of all tutor/mentor programs, not just the Cabrini Connections program that we led. These are the dollars program need to innovate, to hire and keep great staff, to provide training and incentives and to meet opportunities for improvement as they arise. At least 50% of the funds at any tutor/mentor program, including Cabrini Connections, should come from this stream of funding. There are many strategies for doing this, which are influenced by the public awareness, channels of support and information capacities that we develop.

As a result of the annual work we did to support the Lend A Hand program at the Chicago Bar Association between 1994 and 2005, the LAH received a $2 million award in November 2006 which was intended to increase its funding of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from $45,000 in 2006 to over $200,000 in 2007 and each year thereafter. This is an example of the growth of funds we seek. See LAH archive files from 1994-2008

= Channels of Support from Business and Professional Groups !!=
The T/MC seeks to develop "channels" of support for tutor/mentor programs throughout the city. Channels of support can come from groups looking to share their knowledge, or from groups seeking to involve themselves and their members with tutor/mentor programs. An example of a “Channel of Support” was the Chicago Bar Association/Foundation ( Between 1994 and 2008 this organization become a highly visible channel of support. They recruited volunteers; they used their newsletters and web site to promote tutoring and mentoring opportunities; and they raised funds to help neighborhood tutor/mentor programs operate.

The Tutor/Mentor Connection used its own print newsletters and Tutor/Mentor Conferences to give visibility to the LAH efforts, with a goal that others would duplicate them! See examples. Summer 1995 T/MC Report and photos from conferences.

Any company or professional group can duplicate this model. Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC goal has been to to consult this process, using its GIS capacity to help companies focus on tutor/mentor programs in areas where a business site might exist, or where employees or customers might live. In this same manner, alumni from various universities, such as Illinois Wesleyan, can become a channel of support. So can social organizations, such as the Union League Club. Any association of people can become a channel of support for tutor/mentor programs throughout the city, or in a part of the city, or in a specific neighborhood.

As the T/MC increases the number of channels, it increases the number and variety of learning opportunities for kids in every neighborhood. Since 1995 T/MC has sought support from business schools at Northwestern, DePaul and University of Chicago. In 1998 a Kellog Business School Marketing Report suggested that T/MC draw on business school students to support T/MC strategies.

In December 2005 a Cabrini Connections volunteer launched the idea of a Business School connection on the T/MC discussion forum. In January 2007 a Net Impact Public Interest fellow from the University of Chicago joined the T/MC for a six month internship. Her goal was to create a business plan for this project. She created a wiki page at the conclusion of her term so that others could pick up this project in the future.

= Evaluation/Planning !!=
The Tutor/Mentor Connection is an out-of-school learning distribution system. As it builds more sites in more neighborhoods, with more students and volunteers participating on a regular basis, it will achieve the primary need of any distribution system, a point of contact where a student and volunteer and donor can meet.

In many parts of Chicago where there now are no programs, or where programs have limited structure and irregular participation, accomplishing this step will be a major accomplishment, taking many years. However, in every program, as these steps are being achieved, there must be commitments to improving the quality and effectiveness of the services provided.

At present, the T/MC knows of few tracking systems or measurement standards to quantify short term and year-to-year success. By any measure it takes a child at least 12 years to pass through high school from elementary school and another four to six years to complete further education and become employed. The long-term between the year a child joins a program and the program's ultimate success, requires interim measures that can be used to judge the effectiveness of process, and keep the focus on the ultimate long-term goals of the tutor/mentor program.

The T/MC therefore seeks to help programs determine and share measures and stories of success which can be used to benchmark individual programs and provide evaluation points for funding decisions. In a shrinking pool of dollars available this system must be able to demonstrate results if it is to effectively compete for the dollars it needs to succeed. The T/MC has begun to develop an on-line tracking system. One version (Organizational History and Tracking System) can be seen at

A second version, called Student Volunteer History and Tracking System, was created for the Cabrini Connections program and was focused at the actions of youth and volunteers in a single tutor/mentor program. This is no longer available.

Technology Strategies !!
The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) seeks to impact the decision-support structure of any stakeholder who wants to help youth move from poverty to careers. Planning and management are based on a generic problem solving process, which begins with problem definition, and description, involves various forms of analysis, moves to prediction and thence to prescription or design that often involves the evaluation of alternative solutions to the problem.

Decision characterizes every stage of this process while the process of implementation of the chosen plan or policy involves this sequence once again. The process takes place across many scales and is clearly ‘iterative’ or ‘cyclic’ in form. Following are technologies that T/MC seeks to integrate into its actions. We seek to emulate the best business practices of innovation, creativity, collaboration and problem solving in the work we do. We've created a section of links on the T/MC web site to other sites that we look at as models and inspiration for any of the work we do.

This section is at this link. These links should be a resource for any volunteers working on the T/MC technology projects, now or in the future.

= Tutor/Mentor Connection Database !!=
The single most important T/MC asset is its database of Chicago tutor/mentor programs and potential partners.

No other Chicago organization is actively collecting and sharing such data and maintaining it so it is current from year to year. With this data the T/MC is a valuable member of any group that seeks to help youth in any poverty neighborhood connect with adult support systems. Part of the T/MC action plan is dedicated to finding more reliable ways to collect and maintain this data, as well as to share it in user-friendly ways with multiple stakeholders.

Between 2004 and 2008 we succeeded in moving the database to the Internet and linked it with all of our services. That means we were not only collecting the Tutor/Mentor Survey information using an interactive data collection system, but we were linking this data to our GIS maps so that when an agency listed itself in the database the entry could immediately be found on a map by a donor, parent or volunteer looking for a place to volunteer or find service.

Three other sections of this wiki describe 1) the database; 2) use of GIS maps: 3) goal of creating a fund raising portal to use with the Program Locator.

These sections also show current status for each of these, which are dormant due to lack of funding.

= The Internet !!=
Tutor/Mentor Institute and Tutor/Mentor Connection seek to build an Internet community that connects every one who is concerned with poverty, diversity, economic injustice and poorly performing schools with knowledge and with each other. Furthermore, it seeks to build a network of web sites that connects donors with programs in a way that also generates better on-going knowledge about programs throughout the city. Our ability to create better data, using GIS maps and the Internet to make this data available and understandable to any stakeholder is one of the most powerful concepts of the T/MC. The three main T/MC web sites have had more than 1.5 million visitors and 13.85 million page views through December 2017 and are linked to hundreds of diverse organizations throughout the world. T/MC internet forums connect more than 200 program leaders, volunteers and students in meetings focused on turning knowledge and networking into action that draws volunteers, training, media attention and dollars to each group in the network and others throughout the city.

= Collaboration Tools !!=
Since 2003 T/MC and T/MI have had a goal of building participation in its conferences and on-line forums, adding an e-conferencing capacity so that the people attending a conference can attend virtual workshops and network with more of the people at the conference. With this feature the T/MC will also enable people who cannot come to Chicago for our conference to attend via the Internet, thus increasing participation. The T/MC also seeks to develop and use decision-support technologies, such as GroupSystems, to help build a better understanding of what it takes to operate a long-term total quality mentoring program, and what actions stakeholders and programs can take to help constantly improving programs grow.

= Computer Generated Maps Showing Poverty, and Locations of Tutor/Mentor Programs !!=
The adoption of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in planning and managerial and decision-making tasks has grown steadily since the 1960s. In recent years, one notable area of application is in neighborhood planning. A GIS is able to greatly facilitate neighborhood strategic planning through its data analysis and visualization capabilities. A GIS is helpful not only in analyzing the data, but also in communicating the outcomes of such analysis to the citizens through its visualization techniques. The T/MC uses its GIS for similar purposes. The T/MC has been developing a GIS capacity since 1994. It creates maps that show where poverty is concentrated, where existing programs are located and where there are voids in services. It uses overlays to show businesses, hospitals, universities and churches that are near tutor/mentor programs and/or poverty areas that could be more strategic partners of growing programs. The T/MC's is also using its GIS to generate public awareness of the need for tutor/mentor programs in all poverty neighborhoods, not just the few who receive much public attention. This public awareness is also intended to create greater accountability within business and philanthropy, and lead to a better distribution of needed resources into every poverty neighborhood of the city and suburbs. See this section of this planning wiki for more information on our use of maps.

= Evaluation Tools ( !!=
Dan Bassill, founder of the Tutor//Mentor Connection and T/MI started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in 1975 and has been using Excel spreadsheets since the late 1970s to learn from Cabrini Connections’ student and volunteer participation and enrollment history. In 2000 the T/MC been building an on-line documentation system to enable many stakeholders to contribute to an Organizational History and Tracking System (OHATS) that was initially piloted at the University of Kansas. The T/MC OHATS is intended to be a systematic, ongoing evaluation system that can better inform daily actions, long-term strategic planning and report its accomplishments in a way that other organizations and supporters can learn from and replicate. The system is designed to track community changes (new or modified programs, practices and policies), community actions (actions to create community change), services provided, resources generated and planning products (e.g., meetings to set objectives, develop the initiative). The version launched in 2000 focused on T/MC activities. A second version of this documentation system was developed a few years later to track the student/volunteer journey in a single tutor/mentor program.

Between 2000 and 2013 more than 1700 actions were documented in the OHATS system. Unfortunately, that data is currently unavailable due to technical issues that cannot be resolve without locating volunteer talent. (read more about OHATS).

Summary !!
The uses of technology described on this page are innovations that few non-profits are using. (The T/MC was recognized in a 2000 Policy Link report titled “Bridging the Organizational Divide” for it’s innovative uses of technology.) Even fewer are using such concepts to empower an entire generation of organizations focused on inner-city children. In 2010 a team of Net Impact volunteers did a comparison of the T/MC with mentoring partnerships in other cities and confirmed the unique nature of the T/MC. See their report.

Measure of Success !!

Maintain database of Chicago area tutor/mentor programs; maintain information library on Internet; draw 30,000 visitors to T/MC web sites
Lead public awareness campaign, measured by number of media stories, and radio and T/V interviews T/MC generates each year, as well as traffic to T/MC web sites
Create events that draw programs together and draw volunteers and donors to programs. Success measured by a) ability to offer the event; b) participation equal or greater than previous average; c) satisfaction of participants; response of volunteers and/or donors
Provide learning and training opportunities, such as conferences and e-conferences, as well as Internet forums such as Yahoo eGroups. Success measured by a) ability to offer the event; b) participation equal or greater than previous average; c) satisfaction of participants;
Create on-line tracking systems, such as OHATS, that document number of actions generated in each key strategy area of T/MC (research, public awareness, events, resource development, training, technology)

Anticipated Challenges !!
Non-profits have a poor track record of finding dollars to innovate and are far behind for-profits in developing IT strategies. The T/MC has been developing the technologies listed in this plan since 1993; however, we’ve had to depend on volunteers for most of this work. The challenge will not be in making the technology work, but of finding the funding to staff the process.

In 2011 the Board of Directors at the Cabrini Connections-Tutor/Mentor Connection NonProfit voted to discontinue support of the T/MC strategy. This decision was largely driven by the funding challenges facing the organization due to the recession that started in 2008 as well as to a change in the mix of directors which resulted in too few understanding the T/MC strategy or how it benefited the Cabrini Connections program. The assets of the T/MC were given to Daniel Bassill as part of a separation agreement, but a second non-profit was not created to support the T/MC. Bassill created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in July 2011 to provide a legal structure to continue to operate.

As of March 2018 Bassill has not been able to create a revenue stream to support this work, or to find other leaders and/or volunteers who would share responsibility for the continued operation of the T/MC in Chicago or its growth in other cities.