Previously, I wrote a blog about the importance of being a mentor. Now, I would like to spotlight an organization in the Chicago area that is giving people the opportunity to do just that. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago (BBBSMC) falls under the umbrella of the oldest and most respected mentoring organization in the country. This specific chapter has made it their mission to provide high quality one-on-one mentoring services to more than 1,700 of Metro Chicago’s most at-risk children across four counties (Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties in Illinois and Indiana). They offer various programs that prove to keep children in school and out of trouble.
Community-Based Mentoring: This program carefully matches volunteers to a child between the ages of seven and fourteen. The relationships between the mentor and mentee develop through one-on-one time in the local community. The matches create a schedule that is mutually beneficial and perform everyday activities that give the child opportunities to discover all the possibilities available to them. They agree to meet two to four times month for a minimum of at least one year. These outings range from dining at an ethnic restaurant to going on a college tour. There is also a professionally trained staff member who provides support throughout the duration of the match.
Site-Based Mentoring: The site-based mentoring program involves a professional Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago staff member leading and shaping the future of students through relationship building, a structured group activity and free time to share stories and interests.
They offer four types of site-based mentoring programs: Workplace, Club-Based, Neighborhood Based, and School-Based. The workplace program pairs a specific workplace with a school and students are transported from their school to that office space to meet their mentor.
BBBSMC partners with Boys & Girls Clubs to provide mentoring to youth at the various Boys and Girls Clubs locations in Chicago through the club-based program.
The neighborhood-based program involves matches to meet in a common community space or neighborhood center.
Finally, the school-based program has the mentor meeting their mentee in the student’s school. These programs often pair a university with a K-12 school.
Flex Mentoring: Flex Mentoring is a new online program that matches volunteers with local high school students. It provides the volunteers the flexibility to mentor on their own time and build connections with students across distances. BBBSMC is the first sector in the country to use the iCouldBe mentoring platform to create this e-Mentoring program. The initial program launched in February 2016 and they recently added five more programs.
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and their various programs, please visit their website at bbbschgo.og.