United Way Worldwide and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America have created a partnership to expand evidence-based, one-to-one mentoring programs for elementary and middle school youth in America’s highest-risk schools and neighborhoods.
The new partnership, which builds on years of work together at the national and local level, focuses on three areas: targeting elementary and middle schools that feed into America’s lowest-performing high schools, using data to drive results and accountability, and mobilizing communities to give time, talent or money to support students’ educational success.
The partnership was announced at this week’s Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C. “Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring model is proven to have positive effects on a child’s life,” said United Way Vice President for Education Nina Sazer O’Donnell. “And, United Ways recruit people with passion, expertise and resources to create long-term change. Together, we’re aligning our resources, working in partnership with school superintendents and the American Association of School Administrators.”
The partnership supports the United Way goal to reduce the number of dropouts in the United States by half and recruit one million volunteer readers, tutors and mentors. The partnership also advances Big Brothers Big Sisters’ work to improve academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth facing adversity.
Max Miller, Big Brothers Big Sisters co-CEO, cited communities in which this new partnership is active and where innovative methods of working together are showing results. “Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way and the schools are working so closely together that if a mentee skips school, acts out or fails a test, that child’s Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor is part of the team – with the teacher and family – that jumps into action to get the child back on track,” he said. “Our mentors are also there to celebrate their mentees’ successes.”
“That’s the kind of synergy we want to see all over the country,” O‘Donnell said. Over the next few months, both organizations will be spreading the word to their national networks – some 1,200 state and local United Ways and 355 local Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates – to engage them in more collaborative, more strategic approaches to engaging the entire community to support struggling students.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a donor-supported volunteer organization that places caring adults in the lives of children in one-to-one mentoring relationships. Through the positive impact of those friendships, children with a Big Brother or Big Sister are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to begin using drugs, begin using alcohol or engage in negative conflict. For more information, contact 888.887.BIGS or www.bbbstx.org.