Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA) will launch Bigs in Blue, a program aimed at recruiting local law enforcement to serve as mentors to youth in their local community. The program, part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s (BBBSA) national initiative, will be officially announced at a reception introducing BBBSA President and CEO, Pam Iorio to the Atlanta community on April 25. She will meet with agency donors, Atlanta civic and corporate leaders, and the BBBSMA Board of Directors.
“We want to be part of the solution to the growing tension between many of our youth and our law enforcement,” said Iorio. “As a former mayor, I saw firsthand the positive impact that came from police mentoring young people.”
“We know one-to-one mentoring helps children unlock their potential, and we believe it can also play a role in building understanding and bridging divides in our community,” said Janice McKenzie-Crayton, President and CEO of BBBSMA. “Who is better to work with on this than our local police departments?”
In Atlanta, BBBSMA is collaborating with the Atlanta Police Foundation to serve young people in the Westside neighborhood. BBBSMA also plans to work with law enforcement in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties to serve young people through this program.
“The sense of purpose that our officers experience when they become a part of the community is very real, and it makes the job so much more meaningful," said City of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who has signed up to become a Big Sister. “I have already seen how impactful and effective Big Brothers Big Sisters is in the community, and Bigs in Blue will make it possible for more of our officers to become invested in the communities that rely on them.”
Funds raised for the program go toward volunteer recruitment efforts, training, and the process of matching Littles with the Big mentors. Law enforcement officials who volunteer to serve as a Big Brother or Sister will be vetted, trained, matched and monitored just as any other mentor in the network.
Bigs in Blue is the first national campaign of its kind, supplementing the efforts of law enforcement officers mentoring youth in communities across the country. With more than 300 affiliates nationwide, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is actively fundraising in hopes of bringing the initiative to as many communities as possible.
Bigs in Blue programs have already been implemented in cities across the United States, including Austin; Baltimore; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Los Angeles; Louisville; Miami; New York City; Philadelphia; St. Louis; and Tampa. To learn more, visit BigsinBlue.org.