That's how I felt as I read this Civic Enterprises report, titled "Untapped Potential: Filling the Promise of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Bigs and Littles they Represent. If you're a current or former BIG, I encourage you to read this, and add your talent to our efforts.
Youth who are part of the mentoring provided by Big Brothers, Big Sisters do benefit in a variety of ways, but many face "challenges of ruptured families and unsafe neighborhoods, bad influences from adults and peers in their lives, and schools marked by low expectations and insuficient student supports". These challenges are greater obstacles to successful youth development and movement to college and jobs than what a single mentor alone is able to overcome.
Many of the BIGs feel that their experience has motivated them to do more to mitigate these challenges. This report summarizes those feelings and suggests strategies that Biggs could take.
As your read this, I encourage you to read the collaboration strategies on the http://www.tutormentorexchange.net site. If you're one of those Biggs who wants to do more to help these kids, join with us in events aimed at building greater public awareness, better understanding of tutoring/mentoring strategies, and a greater flow of operating dollars and volunteers to all of the neighborhoods, and programs, where kids and volunteers can connect.
Here are some highlights of focus group discussions with more than 557 adult volunteeers (Bigs) and 400 youth (Littles) :
Overall the "Big" experience profoundly changes the volunteer's perspectives on the lives of at-risk youth. More than four out of five Bigs (84%) said their experience has changed the way they look at the challenges that at-risk youth face a great deal, or a fair amount.
Over half of the Bigs surveyed (56%) said they worry that theirLittles are not getting the education they will need to support themselves as adults.
More than one out of three (37%) of Bigs said that not having enough to do after school was a barrier to their Littles' future success.
Seven out of 10 Bigs said that kids having more access to positive role models like coaches and teachers (73 percent) and role models like Bigs (69%) would improve childrens' chances for success a lot.
Four out of five Bigs *82%) said their experience as a Big leaves them feeling like they wish they could do more to help their Littles and children like them.
Seven of 10 Bigs (69%) said that they would definitely or consider helping encourage more adults to help disadvantaged children in some way
Four out of five *82%) believe that Bigs working together can make a very significant or significant impact.
One Big said, "Why go to the government.? This country isn't designed for that. It's about all of us volunteeringand making it a better place."
More than 78% said that encouraging other individuals to become more involved in directly helping children was more important than working to change public policy.
There were more than245,000 active mentors involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2009. Think of how many have been involved over the past 30 years! If this survey represents the feelings of all of these current and former volunteers, they represent an untapped army of support for volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring strategies in every city and state.
Imagine if just a small portion of these volunteers took on some of the leadership and organizing roles suggested in this report, or suggested in the Leadership and Collaboration strategies suggested by the Tutor/Mentor Connection.
It does not matter what city you live in. You can connect with each other, and with us, on this forum, or on forums you create. Let's put the potential of this report into action. Let's start now.
Visit http://www.tutormentorjam.org and support the Chicago volunteer recruitment efforts of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.
Visit http://www.tutormentorconference.org and take a lead at bringing Bigs and BBBS programs from all over the Midwest to the November Tutor/Mentor Conference.
Visit http;//www.tutormentorpogramlocator.net and see how you can map locations of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, or your own community, and use the maps as part of an outreach campaign intended to help more
volunteers connect with kids in well-organized programs in Chicago and throughout the country.
<b>Finaly, read the leadership ideas on the http://tutormentor.blogspot.com and enlist your business, college,
faith group, professional group and/or hospital network as leaders and resource providers to this mobilization.</b>