Big Brothers Big Sisters Expands Mentoring Programs

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina is expanding its new mentoring programs, Beyond School Walls and Corporate Bigs.

According to the organization, Beyond School Walls is a program aimed at developing the next generation of employees through one-to-one mentoring relationships.

The program, which is part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s national initiative, launched as a pilot program in 2022 in partnership with Vortex and Salina Public Schools.

This year Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina is partnering with Great Plains Manufacturing, as an additional participant in Beyond School Walls. Across the globe, about 40% of employers find it difficult to recruit people with the skills they need for their businesses (The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World, 2016). Mentoring can be an integral part of the solution in both better preparing youth for high-demand careers and offering employers a means of engaging and retaining their talented staff.

The program addresses the challenges of preparing youth for post-high school success. Students from local high schools spend time with their mentor, onsite, at the offices of a local business. The students have an opportunity to visit a professional workplace setting, and learn about different career opportunities, from financial literacy to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), while developing meaningful relationships with the employee, their mentor.

“Vortex is excited to be a part of the Beyond School Walls program,” says Tom Blythe, Vice President of HR & Organizational Development. “This is a unique mentoring opportunity to show our future generation that a technical career can be a rewarding career path.” “Our company strives to be community based,” says Travis Young, President, Vortex. “We encourage our employees to volunteer time, resources, and talents back into the community that shapes our everyday lives. Volunteering as a Big is just as fulfilling for us on a personal level as it is for these young adults.”

“Great Plains is always seeking ways to support our community and develop tomorrow’s leaders. This mentorship program with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina helps serve that purpose, giving local students/youth opportunities to explore future career paths and make valuable connections in the community. Great Plains is invested in making Salina a great place to work, live and play,” says David Disberger, President and CEO, Great Plains Manufacturing.

Corporate Bigs is a program aimed to create impactful, positive friendships that help children build greater self-confidence and reach their potential, while engaging with a child in their school environment. The program was also launched, as a pilot, in 2022, in partnership with Bennington State Bank and Salina Public Schools.

This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina is expanding the program by partnering with American Family Insurance – Jeff Wells Agency, Salina Family YMCA and Schwan’s.

As a Corporate Big, partnering businesses’ employees (called a ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Big Sister’) are matched one-to-one to a child (called ‘Little Brothers’ or ‘Little Sisters’) from a local elementary school and spend time together, once per week, at school. Throughout the school year, these Bigs and Littles will spend one-to-one time together during a day that best fits their schedule. It allows Bigs and Littles individualized time and attention on a consistent basis, with the venue being the child’s school. Matches in the Corporate Bigs program eat lunch together, have fun at recess, assist with school work, or just catch up all while building a positive friendship.

“The Bennington State Bank is passionate about giving back to our communities and we are honored and proud to be part of the Corporate Bigs program that gives our team the opportunity to invest in a child’s future and make a positive impact in the community,” commented Carolyn Sichley, Marketing Officer, Bennington State Bank.

“The team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina is incredible and goes out of their way to make a difference in kids’ lives, and the Corporate Big program is another impactful way that they help to create connections and change a child’s life through corporate teams who are passionate about community involvement.” “Schwan’s leaders are always looking for opportunities to get more involved in the Salina community and feel this is a great way to help support the community and Salina’s future residence,” commented Abigail Mather, Human Resource Generalist, Schwans.

“Every day we work to help develop young people and strengthen our community. Becoming a Corporate Big partner is an amazing way we can provide connections and support to the kids that need good role models and friends,” says Angie Lassley, President/CEO, Salina Family YMCA.

“ The ability to spend time with the Littles during the work/school day removed the barrier of finding time in the evenings and weekends, and the ease of the process with the BBBS team to get staff engaged made it a very easy decision for those on our team that wanted to get involved. It is a win/win for everyone and we are excited to be a part of it.” “Throughout the year, our agency is dedicated to giving back to the Salina community. Corporate Bigs provides an opportunity for our employees to give back through mentoring. Together, we believe in the transformative impact that mentorship can have on a child’s life. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina,” said Jeff Wells, American Family Insurance, Jeff Wells agency.

“These programs were created as a way to serve more young people and strengthen our community,” said Amanda Otto, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina. “We are excited about the expansion of these programs and being able to meet the needs of more youth in our community. Through Corporate Bigs and Beyond School Walls we look to empower every kid to graduate with a plan for their future and a mentor whose impact lasts a lifetime.”

At Beyond School Walls and Corporate Bigs’ sites across the nation, young people enrolled in the program report improved grades and peer relationships – mirroring the positive youth outcomes synonymous with Big Brothers Big Sisters’ community-based mentoring program.

Beyond School Walls and Corporate Bigs makes mentoring accessible to employees with busy schedules by bringing volunteer experience to their place of work or to the child’s school. To learn how your company can get involved in a workplace mentoring program for the 2024-2025 school year, contact Amanda Otto at [email protected] or 785-825-5509.