Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City Celebrates 110th Anniversary

by LP Green, II

Big Brother Big Sister of New York City, the nation’s first mentoring organization and one of the city’s longest-running nonprofits today celebrated 110 years of changing the lives of young people across the five boroughs.

On December 3rd, 1904, Ernest Coulter spoke to members of a local men’s club on behalf of a young boy he encountered in his capacity as a clerk in the New York City children’s court. In response to Mr. Coulter’s call for a volunteer to intervene in the boy’s life, nearly 40 men spoke up, starting what is known today as Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.

“With a humble dream to help a young person in need of a friend, our founder Ernest Coulter inspired a powerful mentoring movement that has changed the lives of countless children,” said Hector Batista, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. “Today, we celebrate not only the vision of Mr. Coulter, but the legacy of all the Big Brothers and Big Sisters who have shared his dream by helping young people reach their full potential over the past 110 years.”

As the first nonprofit dedicated to youth mentoring, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City has inspired and trained thousands of other mentoring organizations, including BBBS chapters in more than 500 cities. BBBS of NYC currently serves more than 3,600 young people across the five boroughs through a number of specialized programs.

In 2014, BBBS of NYC commissioned a study by Philliber Research Associates that demonstrated mentoring has a positive, long-lasting impact on the lives of young people, helping them to achieve higher levels of academic success, develop stronger relationships with their peers and families, and make better choices.

Among young people in BBBS of NYC programs:

  • 98% are promoted to the next grade
  • 97% graduate from high school, and
  • 86% who graduate from high school are accepted into college.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City has been a leading voice in the effort to raise awareness for the urgent need for volunteer mentors through National Mentoring Month, which occurs each January. The organization has enlisted the support of elected officials, businesses and community leaders to bring attention and financial support to this issue, and has developed a series of initiatives intended to recruit mentors from underrepresented demographics. Through the Barbershop Initiative, launched during National Mentoring Month 2012, BBBS of NYC has partnered with barbershops in the Bronx and other boroughs to encourage African-American men to volunteer. The Shine With Us initiative, which began during National Mentoring Month 2014, enlists the help of shoe shiners located near transit hubs and financial centers in Manhattan to recruit corporate partners for the Workplace Mentoring Program, which introduces middle and high school students to the business world.

To help celebrate and honor 110 years of making a profound, positive impact on New York City youth, One Bryant Park and 4 Times Square are lit green and blue, representing BBBS of NYC colors. In collaboration with The Durst Organization, the lighting took place on the eve of the 110th anniversary.

“Our responsibility to New York City’s most at-risk young people continues after 110 years,” added Mr. Batista. “Today is a reminder that we must remain steadfast in our commitment to our continued mission of service.”

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