Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored campaign. I was compensated for it and for creating and coordinating the campaign with other bloggers. Photos are courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas. All opinions are mine.

workplace mentoring improves the futures for San Antonio kids

During my first year in college, I took a course that required me to find a mentor in my intended field. At the time, my dream was to become a lawyer. In reality, I didn’t understand what entailed. It just sounded cool.

An attorney at a friend’s father’s law office took me under his wing and, for a few weeks, I shadowed him, observing the ins and outs of practicing law. The time we spent together, when he asked me questions about what I wanted out of life, and when I took some time to reflect and really consider my answers, led me to a new verdict: becoming a lawyer wasn’t for me after all.

Without my mentor’s help and guidance, I might have followed my initial path into law and ended up on a trajectory I’d forever regret. To this day, I credit that important mentoring relationship for my decision to change my degree from pre-law to communications. Over the last 20 years I’ve enjoyed a rich and fulfilling professional life suited to my specific talents and skills and also one that matches my personality and life goals well.

I was already in college when I experienced the power of a mentor. But in San Antonio, many children struggle to believe that college itself is even a possibility. Organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas are working to change that.

Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas aims to, “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”

A Public/Private Ventures study determined that kids who participated in a Big Brothers Big Sisters program were:

  • 46% less likely to start using drugs
  • 27% less likely to start drinking
  • 52% less likely to skip a day of school
  • 33% less likely to hit someone

One of Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas’ newest programs, InspireU, matches San Antonio children (usually middle and high schoolers) with mentors at their place of business. The kids travel, once a month, as a group, and for one hour, to their mentors’ workplace. The “Bigs and Littles” have lunch together to talk about school goals and career options which leads the Littles, over time, to build a relationship with a trusted adult who helps them plan for their future.

I look forward to coming [to InspireU]. I get to talk to [my mentor] about stuff that I can’t talk about with other people. I can count on [my mentor] for whatever – she doesn’t judge me when I need help. I have more information to get to my goals and I’m starting to accomplish them!”       –Alondra, student participant in InspireU

Unlike Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas’ community-based programs, which can require a longer commitment of volunteer time, InspireU fits seamlessly into one hour of one workday just once a month, requiring less time on behalf of the mentor while still making a huge impact on the life and future of a child.

Chantelle Ellis, a Chase Employee said this about her experience as a mentor in the InspireU program: “I love this program because it gives people like me an opportunity to volunteer while juggling a lot of other commitments. Like many other volunteers in the program, I have little kids of my own and a community-based match is not something I can commit to at this time, even though I would love to. This program has afforded me the ability to participate in a program that I have always admired but have not been able to join.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters matches kids with workplace mentors to guide them towards careers

Over 500 students are already matched in San Antonio’s InspireU program, but more volunteers are needed. You, your business and your fellow employees can get involved in InspireU at any point during the year and the process is simple:

  1. Contact Big Brothers Big Sisters to enroll your workplace in InspireU.
  2. Big Brothers Big Sisters selects a school.
  3. Mentor recruitment, screening and training occurs at the workplace.
  4. A start date is selected by your business and the school.
  5. Bigs and Littles are paired together by Big Brothers Big Sisters.
  6. Monthly meetings facilitated by Big Brothers Big Sisters begin and continue once a month during the school year.
  7. Outcomes are measured.

January is National Mentoring Month, but Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas’ programs are designed to mentor kids in many different ways, all year long. Visit their website to learn how you can become a mentor to change a child’s life.

Over the next week, San Antonio bloggers are writing about InspireU and National Mentoring Month. Be sure to catch their posts on the following dates:

Friday, January 24: San Antonio Charter Moms
Monday, January 27: At the Fire Hydrant
Tuesday, January 28: My Six Ring Circus
Wednesday, January 29: Kids Stuff World
Thursday, January 30: Living in the (Mom)ent