(Contest Nominee) BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF COLORADO Brings Support to Children Facing Adversity

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado is one of seven nominated charities for the next Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place from December 1-14, 2012. The Denver/Boulder community is invited to participate by voting on Facebook and spreading the word about these seven Colorado causes. The top charity will receive $5,000 and the public can enter to win 1 of 10 prizes. 

What happens when you take a troubled child in school – one with excessive absences or behavioral problems – and match them with a dedicated one-on-one mentor?  According to the data that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado (BBBS Colorado) is collecting – a lot of good happens.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado“We know from research that we impact children by: 1) improving sense of self and future, 2) improving relationships, 3) improving attitudes towards school and academic performance, and 4) helping kids avoid delinquent behavior,” says Diane Stanek, Board Chair at BBBS Colorado. “ We achieve solid results by providing youth with one-to-one mentoring that is consistent, ongoing, supportive and educational.”

BBBS Denver has been matching children (“littles”, as they call them) with adult mentors (a.k.a. “bigs”) since 1918. Back then, the organization was called Big Brothers and its mission was to, basically, keep boys out of trouble. Then in 1967, an organization called Big Sisters was formed, with the same principles and guiding values, to do pretty much the same with young girls. In the 1990s, they merged and it’s now the largest mentoring program in Colorado. Its mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

For some children, it’s the only time they can count on to get dedicated attention. “We supply our mentors with the resources and support they need to be effective,” explains Stanek.

When it comes to matching the children with adult mentors, they try to find bigs and littles with similar interests and hobbies. “Our program specialists are key to our continued success,” Stanek says of the special relationships that form between the mentors and the mentees.

Because the kids must be from single-family homes to qualify for this program, and those single parents are usually women, there is a greater need for male mentors.

So, in addition to their traditional community matches where a big and a little meet one to four times a month to do planned activities together, BBBS Colorado started a Sports Buddy Program about eight years ago to help more boys get matched with male mentors. The program was so successful that it’s being replicated in communities throughout the country.

This program, where a little and a big meet at an agency organized and supervised sporting event (either spectator or participatory) about once a month, has been very successful in drawing in more male volunteers who might have been anxious about mentoring or not have enough time to commit to a more traditional program.

Additionally, the nonprofit also runs an Impact/Student Success Mentoring Program, where the focus is more on improving the child’s performance in school.

In addition to more male volunteers, Stanek says they are also in need of a more diverse population of volunteers. African American, Hispanic and Spanish speakers are very much in demand.  Stanek notes that you can also volunteer without mentoring through their homework labs, special events and fundraising activities.

BBBS Colorado is passionate about Accountability, from the perspective of its mentors, the children it serves, and as a donation-driven organization. The group is continually collecting surveys and data to improve and grow their programs and to realize their vision, which is for all children to achieve success in life. This year they will support nearly 2,000 matches in the Metro Denver and Pikes Peak region.  Most of these relationships last 18 months, but many go on to last several years, and even several decades.

A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would go toward supporting their Student Success Initiative, their Sports Buddy Program and about five traditional community matches for one year. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado, and ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.BigLittleColorado.org.

Vote to Give Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a Colorado owned, Front Range focused bank, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with BBBS Colorado. Through its Charity Hand-Up Contest the bank is spotlighting the great work and ongoing needs of local charities Vote in Charity Hand-Up Contestaround metro Denver. Based on the results of a 14-day vote on Facebook, the community will determine how $7,500 is split among seven Colorado charities nominated by Citywide Banks employees. The charity receiving the most votes will receive $5,000 and the runner-up will receive $1,000. The remaining donation amounts will correspond to the voting results for each nominated charity. The voting public can also enter to win 1 of 10 prizes, including dinner for two at a couple of Denver’s top-rated restaurants. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here.

How to Cast Your Vote – December 1 -14, 2012
The voting will take place at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to make sure they are logged into their personal Facebook account. If a user doesn’t have an account, it only takes minutes to set up a new Facebook account and it’s free. The online voting form will only be accessible for Citywide Banks Facebook Fans. To become a Fan, simply click on the “Like” button on top of any of the pages on Citywide’s Facebook Fan Page at Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Then, click on the link for the ”Charity Contest” tab to access the online voting page. Each Facebook account will be permitted one vote during the 14-day voting period.

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