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One America - Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Diversity Initiatives

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One America

Program: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Diversity Initiatives, Philadelphia, PA
Contact(s): Viola W. Bostic, Assistant National Executive Director: (215) 567-7000
Purpose: To promote and support racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity among the staff and volunteers of BBBSA and the children the federation serves

As a federation of over 500 agencies serving more than 100,000 children across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) has actively recruited volunteers in recent years to serve the growing number of minority children who need mentors. However, some staff members felt that the lack of diversity within the federation weakened BBBSA's image and quality of service to minority communities. In order to address this situation, in 1996 BBBSA launched a number of new initiatives to encourage diversity within the organization: the Diversity Work Group, The Cultural and Ethical Advisory Committee, Friends of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pass It On, Community Collaborations, and Corporate Partnerships. The Diversity Initiatives are operated by employee coalitions that include staff members from all levels of the federation, advisory committees, and an "association of volunteers." All of the initiatives work towards their goals through encouraging discussion, solution-forming, increased awareness and appreciation of diversity, and maximizing volunteer involvement. For example, the Friends of Big Brothers Big Sisters initiative strategically employs current and potential resources to maximize involvement through retention, recruitment, and re-engagement in program operations. The overall purpose of Friends of Big Brother Big Sister is to increase the involvement of people of color in the federation by serving as role models to America's youth. In October 1997, the BBBSA's board of directors adopted the Cultural Ethnic Diversity Policy, which incorporated the concept of diversity into the organization's business plans. When the BBBSA contracted a consultant for volunteer recruitment within the Hispanic community, a grant from the Pillsbury Company to the Corporate Partnerships initiative made this possible. Pass It On is a quarterly publication of the Diversity Initiatives that is distributed to more than 2,000 readers. Visit BBBSA's Website at www.bbbsa.org or email: bbbsa@aol.com for further information on the organization.

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