Creating a new Tutor/Mentor Connection and a Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC - 2024 and beyond


In the 13 years since forming the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC in 2011 to support The Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in Chicago and help similar versions grow in other cities I've managed to keep most of the T/MC resources that were created in the 2000s available on-line, but not in updated versions. Some are now only available as archives. I've not been able to build a team of supporters and/or investors. Thus, my priority for 2024-2028 is to recruit a team of leaders will take ownership of the T/MC and T/MI and provide the manpower needed to do all of the work described in this article, and other wiki pages.


Since mid 2011 Daniel F. Bassill has been continuing to support all of the activities provided by the Tutor/Mentor Connection from 1993-2011 while seeking out partners and volunteers who would help rebuild a non profit structure that supports the T/MC in Chicago, while creating a revenue-producing business model that can sustain its activities with less dependence on philanthropy. This will be the Tutor/Mentor Institute, which is now formally incorporated as an LLC.

CREATING AN ORGANIZATION TO SUPPORT THE MISSION OF A TUTOR/MENTOR CONNECTION IN CHICAGO, AS WELL AS SIMILAR INTERMEDIARIES IN OTHER CITIES. Between 1993 and 2011 the leaders at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection focused on functions that enabled the organization to succeed at our mission, but were never able to build the leadership, civic reach, and capital needed to create an organization that could have the impact needed, and could weather downturns in the economy that cause donors to withdraw support. In the next five years we need to focus on the organizational structure needed so that we can have success in functional areas.

For the vision of this organization to be institutionalized and sustained beyond our founder’s involvement, we must build an organizational structure and leadership team that share the vision, understanding and abilities that the organization’s founder has provided from 1993 till now.

A new organization will provide support in these impact categories:

• Research
• Promotions/public awareness
• Channels of business/professional group support
• Training/support
• Fund Raising
• Evaluation/planning In the discussion on the following pages there is an overlap of staff responsibilities since technology, marketing and research staff are part of each category.
• Operations/Org support

"When nonprofit and community leaders share ideas, insights and information in ways that promote social impact…knowledge-sharing can improve organizational effectiveness. When we share what works and what doesn't… it results in accelerated learning, less reinventing the wheel, better service, and measurable results."

2003 quote by Mr. Tim Wilmot. Chief Knowledge and Evaluation Officer, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

"If we know who does what, when, where and how, we can join together to actively make progress in a collective way".

Quote from Victoria Vrana, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in this panel discussion from 2013 Social Enterprise Conference.

Knowledge is power. It is the currency of the 21st Century. It is the accumulated experiences of individuals and organizations. Those organizations who are able to use knowledge to influence and support decisions of other individuals and organizations, will be leaders and change makers of the 21st Century. This is the type of role the T/MC seeks to play in helping youth move from poverty to careers.

Since 1993, the T/MC has been gathering, organizing and distributing knowledge that any tutor/mentor program leader or volunteer can use to build more effective programs and which partners (business, churches, schools, alumni and social groups, senior centers, etc.) can use to develop outreach strategies to connect with children in those programs. In 2011 the Tutor/mentor Institute, LLC was created to support the continued operations of the T/MC in Chicago and help similar intermediaries grow in every city with concentrations of persistent poverty. Visit the following T/MC web sites to see how information is gathered and organized. ; ; and

The T/MC's research and information sharing tools divide into the following categories:

Tutor/Mentor web library
Visit this page and see the list of youth serving organizations that has been built, and constantly updated, since 1993. Then visit [this page and view the library that Dan Bassill started building in 1975 when he first became leader of a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago. Visit this page to see some of the folders in Dan Bassill's Google Drive. Anyone who takes ownership of my strategies will need to do the regular work of adding/updating information on the lists I maintain, as well as keeping the website updated. Or they will need to raise money to hire someone to take this role.

Interactive web sites
The internet has enabled many people from different places to share the same knowledge and to network and collaborate on line. The T/MC is adopting these capacities into its own information collection/networking strategies, borrowing from new ideas as we learn about them, and find talent to implement them. At the Links Library shares information about more than 2000 organizations. These links point to sites we manage and sites managed by other organizations in Chicago and around the world. One section focuses on “process improvement, creativity, innovation, knowledge management and visualization” because these are the tools we use daily in to achieve the T/MC mission.

We are using Free Concept Mapping technology to visualize the organization of our library, and our strategy, with links to various sections of the web site that related to different parts of the strategy. These links are interactive. Other people can add links. They can rate them. They can talk about them in the on-line forums on the T/MC site. We can talk about them in forums hosted by other people. Thus we lower our costs of gathering information and increase the number of people who find and use the information.

Tutor/Mentor Program Locator
The T/MC has been maintaining a directory of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago since 1994, using traditional one-to-many forms of outreach to collect the information. Beginning in 2004 we started to host this information on the Internet, making it easier for people to find and use the data, and easier for other people to add new information and update existing information. Programs can now log in to add or update their own data. Using this on-line form, T/MC can maintain more accurate, and constantly expanding, knowledge about tutor/mentor programs, aided by all of the people who contribute to the knowledge on the T/MC site.

In 2008 an interactive map-based directory was created, reversing the process of searching for a single program by showing a map of the entire region, and all of the tutor/mentor programs in the region. Users can zoom into sections of the map to focus on neighborhoods, overlay indicators to show need for programs based on poverty and poor schools, and even add overlays of assets (business, university, faith group, political leaders, etc.) who should be supporting programs because they share the geography. This portal has not been updated since early 2009 when funds ran out.

The T/MC directory has primarily focused on the city. However, it is also needed for many of Chicago's suburbs and in many cities around the country. The Directory already provides many different levels of information that is not available from most other volunteer match internet services, or local Chicago program directors.

The T/MC subdivision of information is:
• Time service offered - 1) school day (8am to 3pm); 2) after school (3pm to 5pm); 3) evening (5pm to 8pm); 4) weekend; 5) summer
• Type of service – 1) pure tutoring; 2) TQM tutor/mentor; 3) pure mentor
• Age Group Served (k-5; 6-8; 9-12)

The T/MC survey also asks some of the following questions, but we do not have the resources yet to share this information on the Program Locator.
• Activities (technology, arts, school-to-work, health education, etc.
• Sources of funding
• Diversity of volunteers (age, race, economic, business/ profession)

At this point we cannot quantify the number of youth and volunteers in all tutor/mentor programs, and we must educate programs to use this resource and maintain their own data. However, with funds received in 2008 and 2009 we had had a full time person dedicated to collecting and maintaining this data, and to teach tutor/mentor programs to use it. We had funds for a part time map-maker from 2008 to 2011. (Funding for these positions begin to run out in 2009 as the economic downturn increased).

Visualization of Data - Geographic Information System (GIS) databases – The T/MC has been applying concepts of visualization to its strategy since 1994, using Geographic Information System databases to create maps that show areas of need (high poverty, poor schools, youth violence, etc.) and to show existing NGOS (tutor/mentor program) in those areas. The T/MC rebuilt its GIS capacity in 2008, with funds received in late 2007. In addition, it has created an interactive GIS capacity that can also show business, hospital, university and faith groups in the same geographic area where poverty shows a need for tutor/mentor programs.

Sample of map created with Interactive Program Locator


Above is an example of a map created using this interactive program locator.

This information can be used by individual tutor/mentor programs, or other local community leaders, to encourage collaboration of NGOs and Resource Providers. The Beta version of the Interactive Program Locator was launched in March 2009, but has not been updated since 2011. Further development is on hold until new funds are received.

Once we make this system work in Chicago we can lease it to other cities or other charitable causes, or share it as open source technology, if we can find sponsors who will continue to support our own innovation and uses of the technology. Examples of our GIS can be seen in the Program Locator Map Gallery which can be found at . Visit to see how maps were integrated into blogs and public awareness between 2008 and 2017.

Social Network Analysis/Visual Communications Databases
A GIS is just one form of visual communications tool. In the LINKS section of the T/MC web site are many other examples of visual databases, such as “concept mapping” and “social network analysis”. In the ABOUT US section of the T/MC web site we use concept maps to visualize the strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and to illustrate “ideas”.

We are reaching out to information departments of the University of Michigan, University of Indiana, the University of Michigan, IIT and elsewhere for the talent needed to expand our use of these tools. Read more about interns working in Technology at T/MC, here, and here.

Under the structure of a Tutor/Mentor Institute we could be constantly innovating new ways to gather and visualize information then provide what we learn as tools and practices that intermediaries like a Chicago Tutor/Mentor Connection could be applying in their own efforts.

Collecting and hosting information is just the first step in the T/MC strategy. Getting more and more people to look at the information every day, is equally important. See Public Awareness Strategy Map.

The T/MC seeks to support tutor/mentor programs the same way Wal Mart, Sears and other retailers promote stores located all over the county. This means we need to build a store-support infrastructure (see below) and a broad-based, multi-media communications campaign, with reach and frequency that reaches into every business and every household in the Chicago market 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, we need to innovate ways to "ride along" with business advertising and create other forms of message communication. The SunTimes Judge Marovitz Lawyers Lend A Hand to Youth Program at the Chicago Bar Association/Foundation ([] ) is proof that it is possible to build business ownership of the T/MC strategy. The T/MC has helped this program grow since its inception in 1994 when it was awarding a single grant of $2,000. By 2006 the LAH had raised and awarded more than $500,000. In 2006 a $2 million grant was received from the Chicago SunTimes, and since 2007 the grant pool was over $200,000 a year. In 2007 and 2008 grants of $30,000 and $50,000 were given to the Tutor/Mentor Connection to support its research and training capacity. Unfortunately this funding was not continued in following years.

If we can duplicate this type of commitment, and funding, in other industries and other cities, we can diversify the revenue stream for many tutor/mentor programs and lower the costs associated with finding operating dollars. This is a key part of the T/MC strategy.

Visit the Creating Public Awareness page of this wiki to see more ideas for creating greater public awareness

While much of the world seeks to improve teaching, the T/MC seeks to create a culture of learning, that connects people to knowledge, and to people/organizations/web sites that help a person understand and apply the knowledge to daily life circumstances, or to solving large community problems. To accomplish this we seek to recruit teams of students/faculty and alumni from different universities who will take a role in the knowledge collection, and in the use of the knowledge to generate resources that distribute to the programs in our databases.

We seek to support the learning, public awareness and resource strategies of the T/MC with a variety of learning strategies:

  • face to face conferences;
  • one-on-one and group facilitation;
  • distributed learning groups;
  • virtual learning via MOOCs, on line communities, ZOOM, Microsoft Teams, Google hangouts, etc..
  • a Mobile Phone/apps strategy will need to be developed in coming years

Our aim is encourage the growth of learning communities in business, hospitals, universities, faith groups, K-12 schools, etc. so more people are engaged with the information we host in our web sites and are building relationships with others in their community who share the same goals and challenges.

We aim to support this with a variety of on-line learning vehicles which include MOOCs, web conferencing, Google Hangouts, etc. What we pilot through our own efforts will be used by many different partners to connect participants in face to face events with each other, and with an expanded based of knowledge and contacts. By providing an on-line platform to support face to face events, we encourage collaboration and learning among those who attend any event, we increase interaction after the event, and we link participants from various events with each other in an on-line community. By linking conferences strategically at key times each year, with others around the world, we will expand public awareness, increasing involvement, and of draw resources directly to programs throughout the network. The T/MC already is beginning to implement this strategy on

College or business training partnership(s)
Much of the work we describe is already being done at universities around the world. It’s just not being used to support the work of the T/MC, or other partners. Thus, while we invite such groups to be our partners because “it’s the right thing to do”, a more practical goal is to recruit an investor who will endow a chair at one or more universities, dedicated to supporting the goals of the Tutor/Mentor Connection and its partners. At a university we can not only tap the annual pool of students who come to a university to do our research and facilitate our networking, we can organize our information and teach our concepts.

Needs: TRAINING BANK - T/MC seeks to create a fund that would enable those with knowledge/experience to reach out to individual programs and groups of programs and volunteers to share what they know. By building the training bank, the T/MC can control the distribution of funds and require trainers or programs using training funds to document via OHATS when, where and how the funds are used. This will lead to GIS maps that show the distribution of training, which will lead to a better public understanding of how well (or poorly) training is distributed into every poverty areas.

T/MC CONFERENCE SPONSOR (s) – The T/MC conferences were held every six months between May 1994 and May 2015. We able to attract 150 to 225 people prior to 2001. From then until 2009 the numbers have been closer to 100 to 150. From 2011 through 2017 attendance was around 80 per conference. Lack of funding has put these on hold since then.

The conferences have the potential to grow to more than 750 participants because of the central location of Chicago and the high visibility of tutoring/mentoring. However, to continue to expand the quality of each conference, including facilities, presenters, networking and information available, we must find sponsors to fund the conferences. At some point we will also find sponsors to help TELECONFERENCE the event to other cities so that more people can share information from high-quality presenters without the huge expense and time commitment of bringing everyone to a central city.

E- CONFERENCE Sponsor or Partner - companies like already are hosting internet conferences. We need funds to hire them, or the ability to find partners from this industry who see partnering with the T/MC as a way to do good, while building product awareness among potential customers.

T/MC TRAINERS - there is a lack of qualified people, with availability, who can help programs learn to be good businesses and who can speak to groups of volunteers and deliver a meaningful message. Funds from the Training bank would help establish a "Training Corps" drawn from veteran volunteers who are looking to take a two to three year sabbatical.

UNIVERSITY BASED TRAINING Universities (see invitation to universities) are geographically distributed in each community and therefore are ideal hubs for the variety of training that needs to be available. Universities have the potential:
• to make training for volunteers and program leaders more available/higher quality
• to provide incentive for training (e.g. credits, image)
• to train students to be tutor/mentors, as part of campus-based service, or in community based organizations
• to equip students to become better future leaders for community based programs
• to equip teams of graduates from multiple disciplines (business, marketing, education, health, etc.) to build new tutor/mentor programs in cities and neighborhoods that are now underserved
• to build alumni connections with tutor/mentor programs (as volunteers, hosts, leaders, and donors)

Many groups, such as the Drucker Foundation, talk about outcome based planning, but the cost of their workshops and conferences is far beyond the scope of the small, emerging tutor/mentor program. We must find ways to bring this type of training down to the local level, through our conferences, and through groups who will work for months and years to help small programs and groups of programs internalize and implement these new forms of evaluation.

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.

For instance, the SunTimes Judge Marovitz Lawyers Lending A Hand to Youth Program ( has become a highly visible channel of support. They recruit volunteers; they use their newsletters and web site to promote tutoring and mentoring opportunities; and they raise funds to help neighborhood tutor/mentor programs operate. Any company or professional group can duplicate this model.

T/MC seeks 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.

The United Way works because CEO's recruit other CEO's to be part of the annual campaign. The T/MC seeks to duplicate this process, recruiting CEOs who will become leaders in the Tutor/Mentor Movement. See the power point essay titled ROLE OF LEADERS, in the Tutor/Mentor Institute section at

While the Tutor/Mentor Connection needs to increase the flow of flexible operating dollars to itself, we’ll ultimately be measured by how well we are able to increase funding for ALL tutor/mentor programs.

Our goal is to increase flexible funds for general operations. 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.

Following are some ideas that can lead to such funding:

• workplace fund raising – we seek to use our database to create a tutor/mentor funding federation that can compete with United Ways for workplace fund raising dollars. This is the most consistent flow of dollars that can be reached.

• Internet fund raising portal – while hosts more than 700,000 charities, it does not evangelize for any single service category the way T/MC does for tutor/mentor programs. That means our site can attract more people who care about this cause than their site does. It also means that if we can establish a giving capacity that attracts donors to the programs in our database, we can begin to demand more from programs. This will lead to more programs completing the annual survey, which will lead to the T/MC site hosting more cutting edge data. That will lead to more visitors and more donors. Visit this page on the wiki to see our vision for a fund raising portal that would integrate with the interactive program locator and its maps.

• event marketing – we should be able to create events four times a year that raise more than $500,000 to fund tutor/mentor programs in Chicago. Wards held an annual event that raised $1million for the YMCA. • planned giving – we seek to strategically recruit volunteers from finance, legal, accounting, etc. who are involved with planned giving. These volunteers will lead an education process within their industries that gets the T/MC and tutor/mentor programs listed in planned giving directories. Over time this will lead to a flow of major giving into tutor/mentor programs all over the country.

• edutainment – the stories of our youth and volunteers, as well as the movies and videos that are produced to tell their stories, can build awareness and generate revenue. We can self-produce and publish our “edutainment” vis the Internet. As we increase quality and impact of our products we will attract more visitors who will buy these products.

• consulting – As we build the T/MC in Chicago and continue to demonstrate its impact via the Internet, we will be able to sell our services to other cities and to other social service categories.

• affinity programs - we aim to set up a "store" on the T/MC web site where we sell training materials that we create, and that other non-profits or for profit organizations distribute through our store.


The Tutor/Mentor Connection is an out-of-school learning distribution system. As it helps more sites grow in more neighborhoods where programs are needed, 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 which 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 began to develop an on-line tracking system in 2000. One version (T/MC Organizational History and Tracking System (OHATS) can be seen at

NOTE: The T/MC OHATS is introduced at this link]. Since 2013 the data entry and review feature has not been working. Looking for tech support to fix.

A second version, called Student Volunteer History and Tracking System (SVHATS), was created to focus on the actions of youth and volunteers in a single tutor/mentor program. A link to this is no longer available.

The T/MC is also learning about Youth Development evaluation systems that are being piloted by Public/Private Ventures and similar groups, as well as those being uses by business to track performance or spur innovation. (see the Learning and Management section at for examples.

As more programs find and use these systems, and funds become available, we’ll build a better understanding of which programs are designed well, which work well and which need improvement. This will lead to better donor and volunteer decision making when they seek to find or support a program. This will begin to motivate programs to enter into on-going quality improvement processes.

This Shoppers GUIDE pdf was created to illustrate the type of information might be shown on tutor/mentor program web sites as a result of better data collection capacity, and a funding program that rewards programs that share this information.


Currently the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC is one person (Dan Bassill) operating from a home office, without a salary since 2011. If a new organization is built it will also need funding for leadership, operational support, office space, technology, web hosting, legal and finance. Each of the functional categories cannot achieve their purpose without this operational support also in place.


A new Tutor/Mentor Connection and/or a well capitalized Tutor/Mentor Institute can create tools that provide better information and draw volunteers and donors directly to programs in different places. The result will be better programs, and programs that have more motivation to network, learn and collaborate with peers.

Creating a new Tutor/Mentor Connection will require a commitment of $300-$500k a year for 3-5 years, and a team of individuals who understand and share the vision and the work required.

In 1992 when this organization was formed, the T/MC was only a vision. Our first priority was forming a tutoring/mentoring program that would help area youth move from 7th grade to high school graduation and on to jobs and careers. Thus, we named the organization Cabrini Connections. We called the tutor/mentor program a Kids’ Connection. We formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) to help our own program get the ideas, volunteers, leaders, dollars and business partners we needed to help us mentor our own teens to careers.

By 1997 the T/MC was so well known that it was selected as one of 50 organizations from throughout the country to have a Teaching Example booth at the April 1997 Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future, held in Philadelphia.

This success and the T/MC strategy led the organization to develop two brands. Cabrini Connections was the brand associated with the Kids’ Connection program hosted at the Montgomery Ward headquarters from 1993-1999. It operates at 800 W. Huron from 2001-2011. The T/MC was the name recognized throughout the city and country as a leader of the Tutor/Mentor movement in Chicago. Due to a decision by the organizations Board of Directors, the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy was dropped and Dan Bassill was given two weeks to retire. As part of the agreement, Dan created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, to keep the T/MC operating in Chicago and help it grow in other cities. The Cabrini Connections program's name was changed around 2013 to Chicago Tutoring Connection. After several years of decline, the organization has ceased to operate.

This duo strategy was successful at raising more than $6.2 million between 1993 and 2011, however, it has confused many of our supporters and potential supporters. Thus, in the spring of 2004 the board of directors voted to formally change the name of the organization to Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection and the name of our own site based program to Cabrini Connections.

The meltdown of the economy beginning in 2007 and a change in the mix of Directors at Cabrini Connections in 2010 and 2011 lead to a decision to discontinue support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, leading to formation of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and hopefully a new non profit Tutor/Mentor Connection in 2025 or beyond.

The major obstacle: While businesses support multiple store locations from central corporate offices, this strategy is not embraced in the non profit sector. Each organization competes with all others for resources and competitive and short term grant making practices of government and foundations ensures that only a few organizations are funded as well as they need to be funded. I have never found leaders in business or philanthropy who would understand and champion the T/MC strategy, with a goal of influencing how non profit youth organizations, and other social services, are funded.

If you would like to be part of this vision and help develop the organizational structure required, email Dan Bassill at tutormentor 2 at earthlink dot net.

Back to Fund Raising work page: click here