PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with the announcement of a new celebrity ambassador, WBC World Welterweight Boxing Champion Victor "Vicious" Ortiz. The champion joins a powerful team of supporters of the national mentoring network's Hispanic Mentoring Program, which serves more than 45,000 children nationwide.
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Introduced nearly a decade ago, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Hispanic Mentoring Program goes beyond simple translation by taking a culturally competent approach to engaging Hispanic families in the mentoring process. With committed support from MetLife Foundation, Cargill, The Goizueta Foundation, Univision, Orci and other national partners, Big Brothers Big Sisters is making noteworthy advances in bringing its proven mentoring services to more Latino children, families and communities. This month, in forging a new relationship with Ortiz, the organization is completing new English and Spanish-language public service announcements featuring the boxer, who encourages Latinos to support the organization by volunteering and donating.
"Our commitment to and strategic focus on deepening our knowledge of Hispanic culture, families and communities has allowed Big Brothers Big Sisters to give the nation's fastest growing segment of the population greater odds for educational success." said Karen J. Mathis, president and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. "We hold ourselves accountable for specific, measurable youth outcomes -- educational achievement, higher aspirations and greater confidence, and risky behavior avoidance."
This year, the U.S. Census reported the nation's Latino population has grown 43 percent in the past decade, accounting for more than half of the country's population growth since 2000. Since introducing its Hispanic Mentoring Program in 2002 at 10 pilot agencies, Big Brothers Big Sisters has seen an average three percent increase in the percentage of Latino children it serves. Currently there are 175 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies enrolling Hispanic children in its mentoring programs, representing 18 percent of all children served nationwide.
The Census also reported that the national Hispanic high-school dropout rate is 21 percent, more than twice the national average. Big Brothers Big Sisters' partners have joined forces with the mentoring network to expand opportunities for Hispanic children that focus on educational success.
This month, Big Brothers Big Sisters recognizes key supporters of its Hispanic Mentoring Program:
-- Big Brothers Big Sisters is pleased to kick off its relationship with new celebrity ambassador Victor Ortiz with public service announcements in both English and Spanish. Ortiz discusses the impact of a mentoring relationship and encourages adult males to become champions for local youths who are in search of mentors as children of color, primarily Hispanic and African-American boys, disproportionately represent those waiting to be matched with Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors. Ortiz will also volunteer his time and resources to assist the organization in public outreach, recruitment of mentors and fundraising activities to support Big Brothers Big Sisters' mentoring programs. Recently Ortiz hosted matches from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County at a special media event as he trains for his September 17 mega fight with Floyd Mayweather.
-- MetLife Foundation's sustained support has been the cornerstone for the growth and expansion of Big Brothers Big Sisters' Hispanic Mentoring Program. Since 2008, the Foundation has contributed a total of $1.5 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters to expand mentoring services to meet the needs of Hispanic children and families. In spring of 2011, 20 local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies received MetLife Foundation grant dollars to increase engagement with Hispanic families. This grant will allow Big Brothers Big Sisters to enhance its abilities to provide proven mentoring services to Latino children, families and volunteers and strengthen academic outcomes for their Hispanic youth.
-- In June, Big Brothers Big Sisters received a grant from The Goizueta Foundation to introduce Camino al Exito (Path to Success), an educationally focused mentoring program designed to match Hispanic and Latino students with mentors. Five Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Georgia are taking part in the Camino al Exito pilot, which will serve 730 students. The goal of the program is to keep Hispanic kids in school, help them advance to the next grade level, and prepare them to attain post-secondary education and/or employment.
-- Funding and support from Cargill has allowed Big Brothers Big Sisters to improve its cultural competencies to better understand and provide services to the Latino community, and to expand mentoring programs to its 178 Hispanic Mentoring agencies. Currently five local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies (Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star and Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters) receive grants from Cargill to advance their Hispanic Mentoring programs, which match thousands of children each year.
-- Orci, a Latino advertising agency headquartered in Los Angeles, has provided approximately $250,000 in pro-bono services to Big Brothers Big Sisters to help the mentoring network to fully maximize its five-year partnership with Univision and its academically focused "Es El Momento" initiative. Through the development of Spanish-language radio and TV public service announcements, implementation and translation of Big Brothers Big Sisters' national Spanish-language website and creation of a new bi-lingual mobile application, Orci is helping raise awareness for Big Brothers Big Sisters' Start Something(TM) campaign, which invites all adults to support its quality mentoring programs, and helping to deepen Big Brothers Big Sisters' engagement of the Hispanic community.
-- The Hispanic National Bar Association is Big Brothers Big Sisters' newest national partner. The two groups share a vision that, given the right tools, children from all backgrounds can achieve success in life. To reach that vision, the Hispanic National Bar Association is working to reverse a current trend -- though our nation is growing increasingly diverse, Hispanics continue to be underrepresented in law school and law firms compared to the general population. The Hispanic National Bar Association seeks to create a pipeline to reach high school students and increase the number of Latino students who want to pursue a legal career through mentoring. The group understands that specialized, effective mentoring, like that of Big Brothers Big Sisters, is necessary to achieve this goal. The partnership launches this year in eight cities and will expand to additional locations in subsequent years.
National Hispanic Heritage Month has been honored in the U.S. since 1988. Observed September 15 through October 15, it celebrates the Latino culture and recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Americans throughout history.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation's largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters' mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children ("Littles") with screened volunteer mentors ("Bigs") and monitors and supports them in one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The organization holds itself accountable for children in the program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as higher aspirations; greater confidence and better relationships; educational success; and avoidance of delinquency and other risky behaviors. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of about 370 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 250,000 children. Learn how you can positively impact a child's life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.
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