PHILADELPHIA -- Bolstering First Lady Michelle Obama's appeal to U.S. corporations to launch, expand or provide financial backing for mentoring programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters is introducing new corporate engagement initiatives.
Mrs. Obama's announcement of the Corporate Mentoring Challenge came during her keynote address at the "Achieving Academic and Social Success: Supporting Youth through Mentoring" National Mentoring Summit, held at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the goal of the Corporate Mentoring Challenge is to help youths gain leadership skills, achieve their educational goals and increase their confidence.
"Consistent with the First Lady's call to action and as part of our own National Mentoring Month Start Something™ challenge, Big Brothers Big Sisters offers specific ways corporations can support quality mentoring to set children on a positive path," said Karen J. Mathis, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America president and CEO. "We have a 24-year track record of partnering nationally and locally with corporations that are committed to mentoring. We hold ourselves accountable for and can measure specific youth outcomes, educational achievement, avoidance of risky behaviors -- especially juvenile delinquency -- higher self-esteem, confidence and ability to relate to others," Mathis added.
Illustrating the importance of corporate support for mentoring, Mrs. Obama introduced and shared the story of 16-year old Justina ("Tina") Colvin and her mentor, Veronica Cool. Big Brothers Big Sisters/Maryland Mentoring Partnership matched the two in a mentoring relationship in December 2009 as part of a partnership with Baltimore Talent Development High School and Wachovia/Wells Fargo. Tina is now a "peer leader" and marching band member at her high school. Veronica, whose husband is a former Little Brother, knows first-hand the value of quality, long-term mentoring.
Following the First Lady's remarks at the summit, Big Brothers Big Sisters long-time mentor and Director of the White House's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois moderated a high-level mentoring panel. United States Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr., U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service Patrick Corvington discussed the administration's work to use mentoring as a tool to improve educational outcomes and reduce juvenile delinquency.
Big Brothers Big Sisters' Corporate Mentoring Challenge initiatives include:
The summit launched the first Corporate National Mentoring Leadership Roundtable and recognized corporations already meeting the corporate challenge, including Comcast, which will support Big Brothers Big Sisters' Start Something™ campaign and the organization's other initiatives by contributing more than $3 million in PSA airtime and online media in 2011. Comcast is one of the largest national corporate partners of Big Brothers Big Sisters and has contributed more than $27 million of in-kind media to the organization since 2008. Other corporations that have already committed to expand their Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership efforts as part of the Corporate Challenge include Jack in the Box, NIVEA, Great Wolf Resorts, American Eagle Outfitters and HSBC Bank USA.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a founding partner of the summit, hosted by MENTOR, the Harvard Mentoring Project, Corporation for National and Community Service and the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation's largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers ("Bigs") and children ("Littles").
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a system of ongoing evaluation and support which is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that "Littles" will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of about 370 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 250,000 children.