Since 1981, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBSCR) has operated an evidence-based program that creates meaningful, professionally supported matches between adult mentors and children, ages 7 through early adulthood in south-central and central Pennsylvania.
Partnering with parents/guardians, volunteers and the community, BBBSCR is dedicated to making sure each child in the program achieves higher aspirations, builds better relationships, avoids risky behaviors, and achieves educational success.
Recognizing a need for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) mentorship and a way to bridge the opportunity gaps challenging youth of color in the Capital Region, BBBSCR partnered with the Harrisburg Regional Chamber/CREDC and the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts to create the Youth Rise: Stand Together program.
Originally offered as a digital series during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is designed to help youth of color build a foundation of professional and personal connections, soft skills development and self-confidence. Believing that young people can’t be what they can’t see, the program introduces young people of color to adults who look like them and who have experienced racism and discrimination in their journeys to success.
At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Youth Rise: Stand Together became an in-person program that focuses on workforce development by teaching workplace soft skills to middle/high school-aged teens. BBBSCR and the Whitaker Center customized the curriculum to address justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, discrimination and self-advocacy by utilizing hands-on STEM activities, while the HRC/CREDC connects BBBSCR and the Whitaker Center with community and business leaders of color who serve as mentors.
“I have witnessed first-hand how students and families both inside and outside of our district directly benefit from the YouthRise: Stand Together program,” said Dr. Tamara Willis, Superintendent of Schools, Susquehanna Township School District. “Our district is extremely grateful that a program of this caliber exists, and our students are its focus.”