Throughout the month of December, the Charitable Giving Coalition will be featuring a variety of voices in the charitable sector through our Season of Giving Guest Blog Series. These posts feature a fraction of the endless good work America’s nonprofit organizations are doing.
For nearly seven years, I have had the honor of leading Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. As the nation’s oldest mentoring organization, we pair caring adult mentors (called ‘Bigs’) with youth (called ‘Littles’) to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. And 16-year-old Hope is a great example of that.
Hope, like many of the young people we serve, is being raised by extended family; in Hope’s case, her 90-year-old great grandfather is caring for her. When you think about what we are all coping with these days—pandemic, economic uncertainty—for young people like Hope, those challenges are compounded by the fact they are unable to enjoy the day-to-day connection they would have at school or hanging out with friends. Add the complexities of virtual learning and the digital divide, it’s not easy. Hope’s Big Sister Paula has been a shoulder to lean on when Hope needed it most, providing a bit of normalcy when life is anything but normal. Despite it all, Hope is doing great in school: two As, two Bs and two Cs. It’s the encouragement from her Big Sister that has made an impact. And it’s a reminder to us, that our Littles—and youth across the country–are resilient.
Our mentoring programs remain strong because supporters understand that when you invest in nonprofit organizations like Big Brothers
Big Sisters, you are making a long-lasting impact in the community. Our 236 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies located in 5,000 communities are providing an even higher level of support to keep Bigs and Littles connected, while also helping families find the resources they need.
Since the pandemic, more than 10,000 new Littles have been matched with a Big. Agencies have learned to be innovative, using our new technology and virtual messaging platform, MatchConnect, that has made it easier for Bigs, Littles and support staff to stay in touch. Relationships with the families of our Littles ranges from coordinating food drives for families to providing Littles with the technology they need to attend virtual school.
This giving season, we hope policymakers will continue to support nonprofit organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters through expanding and extending giving incentives like the universal charitable deduction. We will get through this together, and our goal is to continue to empower the resilience of Hope and all of our nation’s youth.
President and CEO
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America