Chicago Tutor/Mentor Organizations Heed the Call from Super Bowl Coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith

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Leaders, volunteers, educators and business volunteer managers are encouraged to attend the May 17 and 18, 2007 Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference. This event is part of an ongoing effort to improve the quality and availability of tutor/mentor programs in areas of Chicago and other cities with high concentrations of poverty. The event serves two purposes. It connects leaders and supporters of volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and education-to-career programs with each other. It also builds visibility so that more volunteers and donors will choose to support tutor/mentor programs in large cities such as Chicago.

Chicago Tutor/mentor organizations heed the call from Super Bowl coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith. PSA underscores the importance of mentoring as local organizations gear up for May 17 and 18, 2007 conference

The 93 million viewers who tuned in to Super Bowl XLI heard an important message about the power of mentoring.

Coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith came together to share their thoughts on mentoring during a 15-second public service announcement sponsored by CBS Cares, NFL and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In the ad Smith references Dungy, who helped him get his first job in the NFL, as a personal mentor.

"Many kids don't have someone to help them compete in life," Dungy adds, underscoring the need for more mentors to get involved in the lives of young people.

Dungy's words ring true for many Chicago-area tutoring and mentoring organizations as they gear up for a semiannual Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, hosted by the Tutor/Mentor Connection and the Children & Family Justice Center at the Northwestern University Law School in Chicago.

The annual conference is a place to connect many different public and private sector organizations who are engaging volunteers in organized learning, mentoring and tutoring programs. Among the speakers at the May 17 and 18 conference will be Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools and Jesse Ruiz, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. Among the workshops will be one led by Art Mollenhauer, Executive Director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, which shows how businesses can connect with volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring. Another workshop, hosted by Karina Ayala, Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Lend A Hand Program at the Chicago Bar Association, will talk about how youth mentoring can be a strategy of the diversity pipeline goals of the legal community, and other industries. Other workshops will show roles of faith communities and universities in tutoring/mentoring, and ways tutor/mentor programs can collaborate to raise visibility, and recruit volunteers. In addition, a special group of workshops will focus attention on young men, age 16-30, who are out of school, but not in jobs. This set of workshops is hosted by the Fathers for the Future Foundation.

The entire conference agenda and roster of speakers can be found at Registration is now open and conference leaders are looking for participants and sponsors who want to answer the Super Bowl coaches' call and make a commitment to improving the lives of youth from high-poverty areas around Chicagoland.

"We're not just looking for volunteers to be tutors and mentors, though they are very important," said Daniel F. Bassill, president of the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) and 33-year leader of a Chicago-based tutor/mentor program. "We're also looking for volunteers to use their talent to help build eLearning and technology programs. We're looking to engage leaders of organizations that focus on workforce development, diversity, philanthropy and education reform, as well as business leaders interested in social investing and employee volunteerism. These organizations should view tutoring/mentoring as part of their own strategic efforts."

According to Bassill, the biggest hurdle currently facing tutoring and mentoring programs is a lack of consistent support from public and private sector funders.

"People tend to think that our work stops at the end of the academic year. In fact, each year is just that: one year out of many in the lives of the young people we help," said Bassill. "Thus, our goal is to encourage leadership strategies that support the operations of on-going, constantly-improving tutor/mentor programs."

The Tutor/Mentor Connection is committed to creating and strengthening programs that offer long-term support to the young people they serve, with a goal of getting every child into a job or career by the age of 25.

Businesses, faith and hospital leaders, individuals and organizations who would like to participate in the Conference are encouraged to register to attend. The fee for the two-day conference is $100. Single day fees are available. Scholarships are also available.

More details about the Conference and T/MC are available at

View conference video at ###

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