New Mentoring Program Inspires Students “Beyond School Walls”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties (BBBS) has a new program that takes the “career day” concept in a new direction. In January of this year, the agency launched the Beyond School Walls program which adapts the familiar school-based mentoring format and applies it to the workplace. As part of the program, students from the Cumberland County Technical Education Center are matched with faculty and staff at the Rowan College of South Jersey-Cumberland Campus.

According to Donna Bennett, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties President and CEO, “The Beyond School Walls program first started in 2008 as a partnership between Comcast and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Since that time, the program has continued to spread across the country and has become a unique volunteer model that we are very excited to offer in our area. The response so far has been great, and we are pleased that our first-year goals have already been met.”

Students in the program meet twice a month where they spend one-to-one time with their mentor learning about college student life and being a working professional including business etiquette and educational requirements for professional success. Student presentations have included campus tours, educational opportunity fund and financial aid opportunities, and information about STEM careers.

“The Beyond School Walls program is a great vehicle for youth in our community to learn professional skills from local mentors who are committed to seeing them succeed,” Bennett said. “For the employee volunteers, it provides a meaningful way to give back to the communities where they live and work. This feeling of service is felt throughout the corporate culture and can create some amazing bonds amongst coworkers, as well as the employees’ social network.”

“Mentors who live in the community can have such an amazing impact on youth within that community, fostering a profound sense of accomplishment,” said Melody Montgomery, BBBS Director of Development.” Results from around the country have shown that Littles mentored by Beyond School Walls Bigs improved their focus at school, improved their grades, believed that their Bigs were important to them, and experienced a positive change in attitudes or perceptions.”

BBBS would like to expand the program to additional sites and help more youth get a potentially life-changing opportunity. If your company is interested in becoming a partner through financial support or by hosting a Beyond School Walls program at your office, please contact Melody Montgomery at 856-692-0916, or by e-mail at mmontgomery@SouthJerseyBigs.org.

For more information on volunteering or additional ways to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties, visit SouthJerseyBigs.org.

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