When I moved from Cambridge to New York to run Signet’s New York City office, one of the first things I did was schedule a meeting with Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC (BBBS-NYC for short).
I've always been impressed with the great work that Big Brothers Big Sisters does all over the country to pair adult mentors ("Bigs") with children ("Littles") to form supportive relationships. I was especially excited to learn about BBBS-NYC's Center for Training and Professional Development; the Center is essentially a school for organizations and individuals that are developing mentoring programs. Because of our shared interest in mentorship, I was confident that Signet would have a lot to offer BBBS-NYC and the 30,00 plus Littles they serve each year.
Since 2008, BBBS-NYC has had an initiative to improve educational opportunities, but in talking with them, I could see that there were areas for improvement in their program. Bigs and Littles tackled academic issues, such as study tips and homework help, all the time. Parents often called the BBBS-NYC office for advice on topics like standardized tests, college applications, and other types of academic support. BBBS-NYC's education initiative needed assistance in identifying reliable resources and tailoring advice to each student’s needs. To further help them out, Signet NYC offered two free 7-week SAT courses in the fall and spring, with over 40 Littles in attendance. We also had one of our former admissions officers lead a FAFSA workshop to guide parents and Littles in the process of applying for financial aid. In the summer of 2013, we also organized remedial tutoring sessions in math, reading, and writing.
Last summer, BBBS-NYC furthered its commitment to the educational initiative by officially incorporating educational mentoring into their programs, of which Signet is a proud partner.
Together with their three full-time staff members dedicated to the new education initiative, Signet has planned two 8-week ACT courses, a 3-week college essay writing workshop, and several professional development seminars to help parents and Bigs coach their Littles towards academic success. We've also been invited to several of BBBS-NYC's workplace mentoring sites, where Littles meet with Bigs at their place of work. This past fall, Signet gave free 2-hour presentations at these sites on the college admissions process (complete with school selection and writing exercises). We're slated for more sessions at these mentoring sites in the spring, too!
Our NYC tutors are enthusiastically rising to the occasion to help develop materials, teach classes, and lead icebreakers for BBBS-NYC.
We’re excited to continue this partnership and support BBBS Littles through academic challenges, standardized tests, and college applications. Our work with BBBS-NYC has already started to show great results. The Littles who attended this fall's ACT class saw—on average—a score increase of five points. That translates to moving from the 49th percentile (right below the national average) to the 79th percentile. We couldn’t be prouder of their hard work and dedication. We can’t wait to see where these Littles go, and to continue helping BBBS develop its education initiative!