The roots of this organization extend back to 1965 when associates from the Montgomery Ward Corporate Headquarters in Chicago began to offer weekly one-on-one tutoring to elementary school youth living in the nearby Cabrini-Green public housing complex. Dan Bassill, founder of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, joined Wards as an advertising writer in 1973 and became a volunteer in this program. He became its volunteer leader in 1975. In 1990 Bassill left Wards and converted the original 2nd to 6th grade program to a non profit called Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, Inc. (CGTP).
In October 1992 Bassill and a small group of volunteers left the original CGTP program and formed Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection to address the needs of youth who were aging out of the 2nd-6th grade CTGP program and to help build a citywide support system that would help tutor/mentor programs throughout the city get a more consistent flow of resources needed to constantly grow to be good and then great.
This new organization was Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection. It was created in aftermath of the Dantrell Davis killing in Chicago in October 1992. Davis’ death was the catalyst for a city-wide media campaign to ‘stop the killings’. The media ran feature articles profiling after school programs in the area that were working to keep children safe during non-school hours.
Research showed that:
- More than 200,000 school-aged children in the Chicago area could benefit from comprehensive mentoring-to-career programs
- The areas of the city most desperately in need of school reform and after school programs tend to be in the same areas plagued by poverty, violence, and segregation.
Unfortunately, the media’s attention to the events and research findings was short lived and it focused on only a few neighborhoods. This was not the type of support that companies like Wards, Sears, and Walmart use to put stores near customers or to draw customers to those stores on a daily basis.
Daniel Bassill saw a leadership void in the wake of the media attention, and he decided to fill it with two organizations:
- Cabrini Connections - An organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive, volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring program for 7th to 12th grade teens in the Cabrini Green neighborhood
- Tutor/Mentor Connection(T/MC) – An organization dedicated to connecting all tutoring/mentoring programs in the city while generating a flow of money, visibility, and volunteers to help each program grow to its full potential
In April 2011 the Board of Directors voted to separate Cabrini Connections from the Tutor/Mentor Connection, effective June 30. Dan Bassill has incorporated the Tutor/Mentor Institute LLC to provide an operating and innovating structure to support the re-organizing of the T/MC into a new non-profit structure and to support the growth of similar structures in other cities.