Durbin Visits Big Brothers Big Sisters To Announce $500,000 To Expand Youth Mentoring Efforts

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago (BBBSCHI) to discuss the $500,000 in federal funding he secured through Congressionally-directed spending in the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Omnibus appropriations bill for the expansion of their youth mentoring efforts to include the West and far South Sides of Chicago and south suburban Cook County. 

“Too many children grow up facing life’s challenges without a strong support system,”said Durbin. “This makes the transition to high school, college, and the workforce all the more difficult for them.  Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs give our youth a chance to reach their full potential.  I’ll continue advocating for these critical federal investments that provide our children with the support they need to pursue their dreams.”

“We are at a critical juncture as we look towards the future of the Chicagoland community,” said Jeremy Foster, CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. “Young people are hurting. A pandemic and subsequent isolation from peers and positive relationships has taken its toll. That is why we must meet this moment with the urgency it demands and show young people that we care with support and solutions. Over the past five years, 99% of the high school seniors in the BBBSChi program graduated from high school and 97% moved on to 2 and 4 year colleges, a trade, the military, or a job placement. Thank you to Senator Durbin for his support and for lifting up the need for more mentors across Chicagoland. We are excited for this partnership and committed to doubling the number of children and families we serve in this life-changing work so more kids have a positive, caring mentor standing in their corner.”

BBBSCHI provides one-to-one mentoring relationships between underserved youth mentees (Littles) and volunteer mentors (Bigs).  They serve students between the age of seven and through high school graduation.  Littles and Bigs meet two to four times a month for a at least a year for outings. BBBSCHI positively impacts educational outcomes, social and emotional development, and prevents risky behaviors, such as violence.

This funding will allow BBBSCHI to match more mentees with mentors, hire additional staff to recruit mentors, expand its outreach centers, which connects children and families with wraparound services like nutritious food, academic support, and physical and mental health support, build partnerships with community services, and purchase technology. BBBSCHI currently serves approximately 1,900 children in the Chicago metropolitan area. 

Durbin has long been a champion for mentoring.  His Mentoring to Succeed Act provides grants to build, expand, and support school-based mentoring programs that help historically underserved students develop cognitive, social and emotional, and workforce skills.  School-based mentoring is an evidence-based method that matches underserved students with trained mentors.  Often, these students are at risk of academic failure, have been exposed to community violence and adverse childhood experiences, live in high-poverty areas, and have interacted with the criminal justice system.