At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest, we offer a number of special initiatives and unique programs designed to strengthen our community.
Bigs in Blue
Bigs in Blue is a one-to-one mentoring program that connects youth with police in our communities, building strong, trusting, lasting relationships. These relationships can help children develop into confident adults and help build stronger bonds between law enforcement and the families they serve. We rolled out this initiative during the fall of 2018 in partnership with the Worcester Police Department. In 2018, we matched 10 police officers from the department to serve as Bigs for children in the area.
In the fall of 2019, we expanded the program to our Metrowest region by partnering with the Framingham Police Department.
In our efforts to expand the program, we are collaborating with additional towns in our service area to further connect youth and police through mentoring.
We would like to offer our sincerest thanks to the Worcester Police Department for working with us to make the vision of Bigs in Blue a reality!
[Creating Access to Resources and Emergency Support]
Often during evaluations and match-support meetings, BBBS staff become aware of situations in which a child or their family need more services in addition to mentoring, so we created BBBS C.A.R.E.S. (Creating Access to Resources and Emergency Support). Through this initiative, we can connect our families with other supportive agencies that provide critical items needed by families, such as food, clothing, emergency loans, holiday help and other support to help get them through challenging times. By providing these types of services to the families engaged with Big Brothers Big Sisters, we aim to decrease the stresses that children may experience at home. Our referral service partners are Cradles to Crayons and Axuda to provide the resources some of our families desperately need.
The MYSTEAM Program aims to inspire our youth to engage in STEAM subjects in a safe and fun way, to enrich our already existing matches, and to draw in new volunteers and partners interested in the STEM field and the arts. We provide STEM activity ideas and kits, site programs, traveling demonstrations, and partnerships with STEM corporations and professionals to augment the proven work of BBBS.
To learn more check out our MYSTEM Toolkit!
GEM (Girls E-STEAM Mentoring)
As part of our MYSTEAM program, we saw an opportunity to create a new program specifically for young girls. Launched in April 2021, our GEM program exposes Little Sisters in Middle School to the STEAM field by matching them with a mentor who is a STEAM professional or STEAM college student. As of April 1st we have 8 GEM matches! Matches meet virtually via Microsoft Teams once a week and as a group twice a month! If you are a woman in a STEAM field who is interested in mentoring a young girl, let us know! For more information, please email Courtney Evans.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & MetroWest is committed to ensuring we recruit and retain a diverse group of volunteers and staff members. The organization established a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force in July, 2016 upon analyzing a striking difference between the ethnicity of youth served by the organization and its staff and volunteers.
Through the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest is taking strides toward understanding these disparities and making efforts towards actively recruiting staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds.
The mission of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force is to recruit and retain staff and volunteers (in all capacities) of color, increase the visibility of the agency within communities of color, and to increase the training in cultural competency of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest.
Our vision is to see an increase in the ethnic and cultural diversity of our volunteers and staff and to develop long lasting partnerships within communities of color.
Currently, 72% of our Littles are of color (Asian, Black, Hispanic and Multi-Race) while only 15% of our Bigs are of color. Approximately 75% of our Big and Little matches are cross ethnicity. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest hopes to increase the percentage of volunteers and staff members of color in order to more accurately reflect the population of children served.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest seeks partners to help move this initiative forward. If you are interested in becoming a program partner or resource for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force, please contact Yarimar Figueroa.
LGBTQ+ Champions Group
As of July 2020, BBBS CM & MW staff have newly formed an LGBTQ+ Champions Group. Our goal is to create an agency that is completely inclusive and safe for our youth and families in all areas of work. With this goal in mind, we will be reviewing our current policies, procedures, paperwork, and training through an LGBTQ inclusive lens. By doing so, we hope in the near future to be able to properly serve and work with the LGBTQ+ community and recognizing that the LGBTQ+ youth face unique challenges and offering one-to-one mentoring can help ignite, empower, and defend the potential of all youth. If you are interested in becoming a program partner or resource for the LGBTQ+ Champions Group, please contact Courtney Evans.
Currently, the LGBTQ+ Champions Group, is working on making all of our program documents as inclusive as possible. This way, we have a strong internal structure for prioritizing inclusion. We are also conducting regular trainings with staff, where we have been discussing small ways every staff member can contribute to making our agency safer for queer and transgender children, volunteers, families, staff, and so forth. So far, we are doing this by listing our pronouns in our email signatures and Zoom names; discussing the ways in which queer and transgender members of our community may need extra support, and how best to give that support; discussing ways in which queer and trans issues may manifest in match support, and how to respond; and so forth. Finally, we have been building partnerships with agencies in our service areas that specifically serve queer and trans communities, including GSA Link and Planned Parenthood.