Big Brothers Big Sisters Launches New Mentoring Programs

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina has launched two new mentoring programs, Beyond School Walls and Corporate Bigs.

The organization says 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 September 8 in partnership with Vortex and Salina Public Schools.

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. Typically, students (called ‘Little Brothers’ or ‘Little Sisters’) from a local high school, spend time with their mentor (called a ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Big Sister’) onsite at the offices of a local business. The Littles 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 “Big.”

“Vortex is excited to be a part of the Beyond School Walls program,” says Tom Blythe, Vice President of HR & Organizational Development. “Currently we have 6 shop leaders enrolled in the program as Bigs. 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.”

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 launched September 7 in partnership with Bennington State Bank and Salina Public Schools.

As a Corporate Big, Bennington State Bank 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.”

“Now more than ever, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina is finding innovative ways to serve young people and strengthen our community,” said Amanda Otto, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina. “With the support of partners like Vortex, Bennington State Bank and Salina Public Schools, we can drive more meaningful impact at a time when young people need us most.”

Former Salina Public Schools Director of Student Support Services, Tiffany Lowe, facilitated early conversations last spring with Big Brother Big Sisters of Salina in getting this exemplary mentor program off the ground. She left this position last spring after being appointed as an assistant principal at Salina Central High School. Jody Craddock-Iselin was appointed as the new Director of Student Support Services and helped continue the planning efforts for the 22-23 school year. Salina Public Schools is willing to create more partnerships similar to this one with local businesses and industries who are willing to facilitate mentoring, job-shadowing, internships, and work-based experiences for area students. The district is inviting the community, businesses, industry, parents, students, and educators to the upcoming 2nd Annual Building Bridges Event on November 3, at Salina Central High School from 5:15-7:30 p.m. to collaborate and discuss future possibilities. Those wishing to participate are encouraged to RSVP at

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 the volunteer experience to their place of work or to the child’s school.

Companies have found that the mentoring program can improve morale for employees; studies show volunteerism can reduce the high costs associated with employee turnover by 39% (Source: Youth Truth Survey, 2016).

To learn how your company can get involved in a workplace mentoring program for the 2023-2024 school year, contact Amanda Otto at [email protected] or 785-825-5509.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina

Since 1968, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salina has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As a donor and volunteer supported mentoring organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 5 through 17, throughout Saline County. We develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.  Through partnerships with local schools, businesses, parents and guardians, volunteers, and others in the community, we are accountable for each child in our program achieving extremely important qualities: increased confidence, improved social skills, avoidance of risky behaviors, and academic success.