TAMPA, Florida – (February 23, 2017) Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), the nation’s oldest one-to-one youth mentoring organization, has been selected by Microsoft Philanthropies to receive a grant focused on advancing the technology used throughout the mentoring process. BBBSA will use these funds to update its proprietary database with language that is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, parents, and mentors.
Ensuring BBBSA services are inclusive of LGBTQ youth requires revising the pronouns and identifiers in BBBSA forms to offer additional identification options for LGBTQ youth. Over the past year, BBBSA has worked with researchers who have made recommendations on how to better involve LGBTQ youth and make the process of enrolling in a BBBS program easier. This update will help BBBSA connect more LGBTQ youth with mentors by creating an environment where youth can safely and freely discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity, thereby allowing the agency to create a successful match with a caring adult who accepts the youth for who he or she is.
“LGBTQ children are especially vulnerable to bullying and violence, and we are focused on making sure they have access to critical mentoring services,” said Pam Iorio, BBBSA President & CEO. “We are pleased that this Microsoft award will allow us to strengthen our LGBTQ programming.”
For more than 30 years, Microsoft has invested in programs to support non-profits like BBBSA and help further their mission through grants, employee volunteers, and software donations. Philanthropy has become an important part of the company’s culture and a point of pride for many employees. In that spirit, Microsoft recognized top performing employees from the United States subsidiary by funding a grant to the non-profit of their choice.
“Microsoft is proud to help Big Brothers Big Sisters of America increase its reach to LGBTQ youth,” said Joanne Harrell, Microsoft’s Senior Director, U.S. Citizenship and Public Affairs. “By supporting critical language updates to the nonprofit’s database technology, we will help ensure more vulnerable youth benefit from BBBSA’s mentoring services.”
The Microsoft Philanthropies team helped BBBSA determine the best way to maximize the impact of this grant to reach young people across all of their affiliates by updating their current technology solutions and intake forms with LGBTQ inclusive language.
Representatives from Microsoft’s Corporate Philanthropy team met with BBBSA President & CEO, Pam Iorio, on January 26 to discuss this grant and explore ways to expand our partnership, both at the national and affiliate levels.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Big Brothers Big Sisters ensures that the children in its program achieve measurable outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization’s 113-year history. With over 300 affiliates across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters has served more than 2 million children (“Littles”) in the past 10 years. Learn more at www.bbbs.org.
About Microsoft Philanthropies
At Microsoft, we believe that technology is a powerful force for improving people’s lives. But right now, half the world does not have access to the opportunities, capabilities and benefits of technology. For them, the knowledge and opportunity is out of reach. That’s why we’re investing our greatest assets – our technology, people, grants and voice – to advance a more equitable world where the benefits of technology are accessible to everyone. Through our philanthropic investments and partnerships, we are working to create a better future that everyone can share in. Learn more at www.microsoft.com/philanthropies