Two Philadelphia-based national organizations, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, are launching a landmark partnership aimed at helping children of single, low-income and incarcerated parents succeed. The Father’s Day weekend announcement comes as Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the nation face waiting lists disproportionately represented by African American boys.
The news also follows recommendations made at the historic Great Gathering Summit in March, where AME, African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) and Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) leaders concluded that mentoring should be a part of the solution to help black boys, particularly those who have no contact with their fathers, achieve in school and succeed in life.
“There is a clear and very strong case for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the AME church working together,” said AME Director of Christian Education Reverend Daryl Ingram. “We have 2.5 million members across the country and as a congregation, we have a rich history of serving and improving our communities. We can become Big Brothers or recruit volunteers, and we can help Big Brothers Big Sisters raise funds to grow their quality programs and provide the kind of ongoing support that makes their mentoring matches successful.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ nearly 400 agencies carefully match and provide long-term mentoring and provide ongoing support for volunteers and families throughout the course of its long-term matches. Independent studies find kids mentored in their programs are more likely than their peers to succeed in school and avoid making violent, illegal and unhealthy choices.
“We are extremely proud of and encouraged by this national partnership,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of America President and Chief Executive Officer Karen J. Mathis. “We share the AME church’s commitment to incorporating quality long-term mentoring as a part of the solution to helping families and communities.”
Several agencies in the national mentoring network, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, already have close and successful partnerships with AME congregations and will serve as a model for others. The Nashville partnership has provided the agency with opportunities to recruit mentors at district and annual conferences and has resulted in a number of matches including one that is going into its fifth year. The national mentoring network expects the AME partnership to enhance efforts that started in January with its national partnership with a collaboration of historically black fraternities, Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi and Omega Psi Phi.