May 04, 2021
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit (BBBS) is tackling social justice, inequities, and racism through its longtime mentorship program that aims to improve the lives of children.
Earlier this year, BBBS launched a new social justice lens for its mentorship efforts to provide mentors with a more tangible understanding of the inequities and racism that their young mentees face in their daily lives. The new mentoring framework encourages mentors and mentees to participate to form improved understandings through new training and firsthand conversations.
“It’s not enough to come to the table and say let’s go get ice cream,” said BBBS CEO Jeannine Gant of the reframed mentorship program. “It’s a bigger vision of trying to create a society for our youth to live in that is equitable and just.”
Also this year, BBBS launched training and programs that aim to better inform mentors about some of the barriers that youth come across in their day-to-day lives that may be buoyed by racism and social injustice.
The mentoring nonprofit asks that mentors learn to grow into ally roles, which could lead them to understand the police killings of unarmed Black men and women, such as George Floyd and Breonna Floyd, in new, profound ways. Mentors may also think differently about how they recognize inequities in hiring, education, and voting laws differently.
BBBS has also transformed its mentor orientation training to include content focused on unconscious bias, microaggressions, allyship, and systemic racism. The training is meant to provide more context around race, social injustice, and inequities embedded in systems and society. BBBS curated the training with materials from national sources and experts including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Search Institute and Global Alliance Solutions and others.
The new social justice training and programs was developed with assistance from BBBS’ corporate partners such as AAA Michigan. The Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan and Ally Financial also enabled BBBS to turn grants supporting in-person mentoring to the development of virtual programs and the new social justice training and programs.
To learn more information about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit and its mentoring efforts and programs, visit their official website.
Written by Let’s Detroit Alica McClendon