SchoolBased Mentoring Partnership for Boys In Roxbury and Dorchester | City of Ideas
Issue to be Addressed:
Boys living in Roxbury and Dorchester share many concerns: neighborhood safety, family stress, and unsettled futures. These same children tell us that while their communities have few positive youth activities, local gangs are always present and recruiting new members. Far too many of these boys – many of whom live in fatherless homes – unfortunately find their primary role models on the streets. The results: only half of all black and Latino male students in Boston graduate on time, and black male students are four times as likely to be arrested as white male students.
BBBSMB seeks to change the trajectories of the lives of boys in Roxbury and Dorchester through positive connections with caring adults. While many frame the needs of these youth in economic terms, we feel that their greatest need is access to supportive adults. We know that any child who has consistent, long-term adult support is far more likely to reach their full potential. Our collaboration will increase the number of youth in Roxbury and Dorchester who are connected to positive adult role models – friends who can help children to become more engaged in school, see the world from new perspectives, and develop positive visions for their futures.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay will collaborate with: (a) the Boston Public Schools, (b) athletic teams from local colleges, and (c) City Connects. We will match boys of color in Dorchester/Roxbury into mentoring friendships with adult volunteers. Student-athletes from local colleges will mentor local youth, meeting with children weekly for approximately one hour. Each student-athlete “Big Brother” will be matched with a child attending school in Dorchester/Roxbury. Big Brothers and Little Brothers will meet weekly for about an hour during the school day. We request funding support to seed, pilot and develop this program over a two-year period.
The emphasis of the program is friendship and relationship development; while many of our volunteer Big Brothers do get involved with their Little Brother’s education, mentors are not expected to be tutors or guidance counselors. Rather, Big Brothers and Little Brothers are friends who have fun together. Youth with Big Brothers become more adept at having quality relationships with adults, which contributes to their abilities to advocate for themselves throughout life. And independent research shows that a match of just one year helps kids stay in school, avoid violent and risky behavior, and gain confidence.
Role of Collaboration:
Mentoring is a simple concept – matching caring adults with children in need – but to do it right and achieve positive outcomes requires two key elements: skillful management of a high-quality program, and the participation of collaborators who contribute funds, generate volunteers, and advocate for success. For this program, the Boston Public Schools will help us to identify children who will benefit from caring adult mentors, provide facility space for program activities, and facilitate communication with families. Student-athletes from local collegiate athletic teams will serve as volunteer Big Brothers, committing to serve for a minimum of one academic year. And City Connects will facilitate relationships between BBBSMB and partner schools. City Connects is a non-profit organization that helps public schools leverage resources of local community agencies to deliver tailored supports for students, and is already partnering with six schools in Roxbury/Dorchester (Clap Innovation, Dexter-McCormack, Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter, Holland Elementary, Mason Elementary, Trotter Elementary School).
In the past year, BBBSMB supported 349 one-to-one adult-child mentoring friendships for children living in Roxbury/Dorchester, and we know that hundreds more youth can benefit from a relationship with a caring adult mentor. A Collaborate Boston prize would provide us with funds to offset a significant portion of program costs, particularly transportation costs (round-trip bus transport to bring student-athlete mentors from their campus to the school and back). Most of the children we seek to serve neither live nor attend school within immediate walking distance of an MBTA subway station, and the availability of convenient transportation is critical to ensuring that volunteer Big Brothers can consistently meet with their Little Brothers. Transportation is both the literal and figurative “engine” for the project, enabling BBBSMB and our partners to solve seemingly intractable problems by bringing the necessary resources closer together.
We envision a pilot program serving one school in the first year, and the program expanding in the second year both at that site (more new matches for youth) and at one or more additional schools. In future years, we plan to leverage initial program success to raise funds that will sustain the program and support continued expansion.
School-Based Mentoring traditionally occurs through partnerships with corporations, which provide flexible working hours for their employees who volunteer at a school nearby the corporate office. This particular mentoring model is new to BBBSMB – combining a new volunteer pool (collegiate student-athletes) and transportation of the entire cohort of volunteers to and from selected school sites. This “new version” of School-Based Mentoring will enable us to reach children attending schools that are not located close to a major corporation. Our partnerships with local college sports teams will also enable us to leverage these institutions enthusiastic commitment to community service, and provide inner-city boys with role models who are high achievers on both the athletic field and the classroom. And perhaps most exciting of all, this program model is designed to be replicable across the dozens of high-need schools in Boston – each of which can be paired with the dozens of athletic teams fielded by local colleges and universities.
Nora Leary is the Vice President for Program Services for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay (BBBSMB). Nora oversees all programmatic operations - including staff hiring and training, safety protocols, quality assurance, and program development - serving over 1,800 children annually (over 800 of whom live in the city of Boston).
BBBSMB is one of the nation’s largest and most effective one-to-one youth mentoring organizations. Our mission is to provide children who lack positive adult role models with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships with caring responsible adults that change their lives for the better, forever.
City Connects is active in Boston and Springfield and is a project of the Center for Optimized Student Support at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. City Connects identifies the strengths and needs of every student and links each child to a tailored set of intervention, prevention, and enrichment services in the school or community.
BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
BBBSMB currently partners with several Boston Public Schools for School-Based Mentoring. For this project we will work with City Connects to develop new relationships with schools/principals in Dorchester and Roxbury.
BOSTON AREA COLLEGIATE ATHLETIC TEAMS
BBBSMB will identify teams (and associated contact persons) on a case-by-case basis.