PROGRAM: Riverside Unified School District joins forces with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire to create lasting partnerships.
By Micah Pierce, Staff Writer
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire (BBBS) is a group dedicated to creating one-on-one mentor or mentee relationships for children facing adversities. These mentorships are professionally supported matchups between volunteer “Bigs,” and their “Littles,” whose ages can range from six years old to 18. The BBBS provides the support and resources necessary to ensure the success of the partnerships. There are two major categories that the different mentorship programs are placed into: community-based and site-based
There are three separate community-based BBBS programs: the traditional one on one mentorship, a Big couple, and a faith based initiative. The traditional program matches one adult with one child, who both commit to seeing each other at least twice a month for a few hours. The matches are chosen by a select BBBS team, based on shared interests, geography, and personalities of the potential Bigs and Littles. Although BBBS creates the mentorship matches, the responsibility of planning outings is up to each specific pair. These outings can range from taking trips to the beach, participating in sports, and listening to live music. The second program is the Big couples program, in which a Big and his or her significant other, of at least two years, is matched with one Little. With a Big couple, there is more flexibility and variety in the types of outings possible. Outings can be arranged by either both Bigs or an individual one. This program places emphasis on not only improving a Little’s life, but also creating a family dynamic within the trio. The final program is a faith based initiative. In this program, BBBS partners interact with a multitude of different faith organizations to improve the lives of children in need.
There are only two programs in the site-based category of BBBS. The site-based programs are similar to the community-based programs, but take place entirely at a single location and are facilitated by a BBBS team. The first program is a workplace mentoring program, in which a local corporation pairs with a nearby school. Employee Bigs are matched with students, and all of the pairs meet as a group once a month at the host corporation. This program focuses on constructing authentic relationships while also simultaneously students to experience different career possibilities. This program has a specific curriculum for exposing the Littles to career exploration, relationship building, and college preparation, with the curriculum differing slightly from corporation to corporation. The second program is one that takes place on different high school campuses. Older, qualified students can volunteer to mentor elementary school students. In this program, all of the pairs meet up once a week at the partnered elementary school. The curriculum of this program is based on the interactions between similar age groups.
BBBS has been significantly impacting the lives of all the children enrolled in its programs and its mentees. There is a 100% high school graduation rate and a 96% college enrollment rate for Littles. Hopefully, in the future, the partnership between Poly High and BBBS will have the same effect on the students at Poly.