2020 has certainly created many challenges for kids and families as they work to navigate the "new normal." It has also created many opportunities, like the opportunity for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts to bring their Big-Little community to the virtual space.
Mark O'Donnell, BBBSEM President and CEO, shares that 85% of matches went virtual when the pandemic hit in March. This transition was made a little easier by the Mentoring 2.0 Program. Four years ago BBBSEM piloted the program, which relies on a technology platform for mentoring content. Big Brother Omari Jahi Aarons explains, "It actually gave us a leg up going into the pandemic because we already had a virtual system for communicating and for looking and sharing curriculum."
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Mass wanted to continue adapting and serving. Earlier this year they partnered with Dr. Jean Rhodes, Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts Boston, to work on the MentorHub. MentorHub consists of an app and integrated web dashboard that helps mentors support and track students’ use of the world’s best and scientifically-proven educational and mental health programs. With accountability and a shared dashboard with a mentor, students can really identify and work on areas that are challenges.
It is still in its pilot program and the team is getting familiar with it. They hope to release it to the broader Big-Little community in 2021.
Another part of their commitment to serving the community: the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Road Map. This road map continues its mission to be an active participant in dismantling inequity. The Big Ambassador program is part of this road map. Aarons explains, "[The program] provides a differentiated content strategy for the agency beyond our traditional recruitment methods and really does a number of programs that are broader-based that appeal to people on topics that are the tough things to talk about."
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts visit their website emassbigs.org.