In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is launching LatinoBigs.org, the nation's first bilingual website focused on one-to-one long-term youth mentoring services. The website will feature and engage Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors and mentees; families, supporters and donors.
"With the launch of LatinoBigs.org, we celebrate progress we have made in employing culturally relevant mentoring approaches to guide and empower youth to succeed in life. At the same time, we recognize population trends and the demand to reach more children" said Hector Cortez, Vice President of Strategic Community Engagement, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. "Our Hispanic Mentoring Initiative is founded on research affirming that family members are a Latino child's first mentors. Recognizing that, we support families by carefully matching each child with the right mentor and providing ongoing support to the volunteer, child and family throughout the course of the long-term mentoring relationship."
Latinos represent 20 percent of children and 9 percent of volunteers Big Brothers Big Sisters serves through its 350-agency nationwide mentoring network. At the same time, Latino children, predominately boys, comprise 19 percent of the children who are waiting to be matched. Among the organization's goals with LatinoBigs.org is to recruit more Latino men to become mentors.
"We want to create more opportunities for young Latinos to realize their full potential and contribute to their communities and country," said Raymund Paredes, PhD, Commissioner of Higher Education at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Chairman of the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Big Brothers Big Sisters serves children in low-income, single parent, and military families or households where a parent is incarcerated. Independent studies find once enrolled in the program, children are more likely than their peers to improve in school, make healthier choices and achieve higher self-esteem and aspirations.
LatinoBigs.org will feature honorary Big Campeones, business, education and juvenile justice leaders; members of the mentoring network's National Hispanic Advisory Council; and others who support and promote the program. The site will also highlight video testimonials from Latino mentors and mentees who will share stories of how the program impacts their lives. In addition, LatinoBigs.org will feature popular Hispanic bloggers, enabling the mentoring network to leverage the power of social media to recruit volunteers and donors.
"Social media is a theater of reach and influence. Latina Mom Bloggers is committed to using our powerful forum to spread the word. The next generation of Latinos is depending on us," said Eva Smith, co-founder of Latina Mom Bloggers and Tech.Food.Life.blog.
Among the stories to be featured on LatinoBigs.org: Little Sister Teresa in Los Angeles leaned on her Big Sister Naomi to gain confidence to deal with bullies. In Savannah, Ga., Little Brother Carlos says college student and Big Brother Freddy "motivates me" to do better in school. In Phoenix, a single mother credits Big Brother Sabino for helping turn her son Sergio's life around and renewing his faith in adults.
As part of its Hispanic Mentoring Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters has partnered with Univision's Es El Momento initiative, which aims to increase Latinos' academic achievement. The collaboration includes television and radio public service announcements, news stories and online content showcasing the positive impact of Big Brothers Big Sisters on children's lives. Latino Bigs (mentors) have already been recruited as part of the Univision effort.
In addition to Univision, generous support for Big Brothers Big Sisters' Latino mentoring efforts is also provided by M&T Trust, MetLife Foundation, Cargill, Inc. and The Goizueta Foundation.