Beyond School Walls: Empowering the Potential of Tomorrow’s Workforce Through Workplace Mentoring

Across the globe, about 40% of employers find it difficult to recruit people with the skills they need for their businesses (The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World, 2016). Mentoring can be an integral part of the solution in both better preparing youth for high-demand careers and offering employers a means of engaging and retaining their talented staff.

In 2008, Big Brothers Big Sisters established a workplace mentoring program, and partnered with Comcast NBCUniversal to grow it into a national program. The program addresses the challenges of preparing youth for post-high school success. Typically, students (called ‘Little Brothers’ or ‘Little Sisters’) from a neighborhood elementary, middle or high school, spend time with their mentor (called a ‘Big Brother’ or ‘Big Sister’) onsite at the offices of a local corporation. The Littles have an opportunity to visit a professional workplace setting, and learn about different career opportunities, from financial literacy to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), while developing meaningful relationships with the employee “Big.”

“Our employees are passionate about being positive role models and champions for young people,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, President of the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation. “After more than a decade of experience with Beyond School Walls, the program remains one of our employees’ most popular volunteer initiatives, and helps them to become better leaders while inspiring young people about what is possible.”

At Beyond School Walls sites across the nation, young people enrolled in the program report improved grades and peer relationships – mirroring the positive youth outcomes synonymous with Big Brothers Big Sisters legacy, community-based mentoring program, while reducing potential barriers to entry for volunteers by meeting them in their workplace.

And companies have found that the mentoring program can improve morale for employees; studies show volunteerism can reduce the high costs associated with employee turnover by 39% (Source: Youth Truth Survey, 2016).

Currently, 52 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in 30 states offer a Beyond School Walls program, serving more than 8,400 youth. The 343 corporate partners engaged in the program include the financial sector, government, travel and leisure, business services, and health care. Click here to read the 2020 Big Brothers Big Sisters report, Equipping Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Case for Workplace Mentoring.

“The challenges youth are facing today are compounded by the restrictions and stress of the pandemic,” said Pam Iorio, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.  “We have heard from Littles who have said they did not feel prepared to enter the workforce after high school. Keeping our youth connected to their Bigs in the Beyond School Walls Program is critical for their future as tomorrow’s leaders.”

Even with physical distancing limitations in place due to the pandemic, Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies are enhancing the Beyond School Walls Program by providing virtual connections for Bigs and Littles. Staff members have created targeted curriculums for corporations and provided additional coaching, training and other resources to ensure youth have the support they need, long after this crisis ends.

To learn how your organization can get involved in a workplace mentoring program, contact

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