At Big Brothers Big Sisters, justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) is an integral part of our values and mission. We recognize, affirm, and celebrate the diverse backgrounds, lives, and experiences of all of our stakeholders, including youth, families, donors, volunteers, and staff. We ensure the opportunity for all voices and perspectives to be heard and honored. In the workplace, we foster an environment where all people can be their best selves. We affirm that every person [regardless of ability, age, cultural background, ethnicity, faith, gender, gender identity, gender expression, ideology, income, national origin, race or sexual orientation, marital or veteran status] has the opportunity to reach their full potential. We strive to realize the full potential that is within all of us by ensuring that all voices and perspectives are heard and honored.
OUR JUSTICE, EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION INITIATIVES
It’s not enough to say we are committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. We have to work intentionally and diligently to bring about change in our organization and our communities. To ignite the potential of all young people, we have to ensure all young people have the opportunity to have a strong mentoring relationship in their lives. We are actively working to promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout our organization, and there are several initiatives that illustrate this commitment.
In 2016, we launched our LGBTQ Youth Mentoring Enhancement Initiative, funded by the Altria Group. This initiative was research-based, thoughtful, and deliberate. It was designed to ensure not just that LGBTQ youth and mentors would be accepted or tolerated within Big Brothers Big Sisters, but that they would be affirmed, understood, and celebrated. The initiative began as a pilot program with five local agencies. A year later, we expanded it to 20 agencies. Now, we’ve included our whole network in the program, which includes training opportunities, inclusive policies and procedures, and specific focus on anti-bullying, self-advocacy, and identity exploration.
TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
In 2019, we began an intensive training program for local agency staff and leaders on JEDI. At our annual National Conference in 2019, we focused specifically on these issues to ensure our entire network has access to the information and guidance it needs to become more equitable and effective. In 2020 we launched a new JEDI Curriculum that is accessible for all levels of the organization: Staff, Board, Families, and Volunteers.