While January may be National Mentoring Month, Comcast’s focus on mentoring is a yearlong commitment. The company’s ongoing relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters includes providing funding and mentors for one of the longest running Beyond School Walls programs in Allegheny County at Sto-Rox Middle School and the Read To Succeed program in Fayette County in addition to funding BBBS services in Lancaster or Lebanon Counties.
During the 2010-2011 school year, the Sto-Rox School District formed a partnership with Comcast and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh to become the first district in the region to implement Beyond School Walls. During the first year of the program, 22 matches participated in the program, with Comcast “Bigs” and Sto-Rox “Littles” meeting for one hour twice-a-month during lunchtime. “Matches” focused on activities such as digital literacy education and exposure to different careers to help build and later strengthen their relationships.
During the past nine years, more than 91 Comcast NBCUniversal Keystone Region Employee “Bigs” have mentored 116 students from the Sto-Rox School District. These relationships have helped students thrive. Many have graduated from high school, are now attending college or have jobs and have the self-confidence to begin planning for their futures. In last year’s Youth Outcomes Survey of Sto-Rox students who participated in the program:
- 96% reported “above average Satisfaction” with their mentors;
- 84% reported have higher education expectations;
- 89% reported disapproval of risky behaviors (drugs, alcohol, missing school).
Last year, Comcast employees from the Keystone Region clocked more than 245 mentoring hours with their Littles, including Mauro Nofi, who has mentored 4 different Littles over the past nine years. Mauro is only one of the many dedicated, caring adults at Comcast who have given their time to help Pittsburgh disadvantaged youth reach their full potential.
Ai-Lin Chen and Winter were first matched in October 2016. Winter was a seventh grade student, who did not like to become attached to people, because her family had moved about every two years. She is also the sixth child of eight in her family; she wanted to be able to have more one-on-one time with an adult. Winter had said that her grades were not “all so good”, and that she was only “kind of sure” that she would even finish high school.
In 2016 Winter and Ai-Lin were matched based on their common interest in baking. Winter wanted to be a pastry chef and Ai-Lin was interested in cake decorating. After their first meeting Ai-Lin said that Winter was “very open and easy to talk to,” and Winter said that Ai-Lin “listened to [her] and was interested in what [she] has to say.” Two years later Winter and Ai-Lin’s relationship has developed into a strong mentee/mentor partnership. The two are continuing to grow their relationship, with Winter improving some of her grades, and now stating that she is “very sure” that she will finish high school.
In Lancaster and Lebanon Counties, the BBBS program that Comcast supports is designed for each child to establish goals for each match and go beyond mentoring. Programs include one for girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math; a leadership initiative for boys to combat bullying; a program to encourage healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, and access to college and workforce planning support for Littles who are approaching high school graduation.
Littles told BBBS Capital Region staff that they turn to their Bigs for help and advice to conquer life’s challenges. Youth in this program report positive relationships, aspirations for educational success and avoidance of risky behaviors. Bigs help Littles build self-confidence, strengthen social skills, engage in their communities, learn new crafts, explore career options and learn about the environment.
The Read to Succeed program that Comcast supports in Fayette County is designed to help students achieve the education goal of 77% of Fayette County students reading at grade level by the end of third grade. In recent “reach and risk” data from the Department of Education, in the Brownsville Area School District 28.1% of students were below proficient in 3rd grade PSSA reading scores. Since piloting the program in 2015-2016, the agency has served 27 children in Brownsville.
Together, BBBSCR staff, Bigs and families work to help children maximize their full potential. To learn more about how to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters click here.