Partner Perspectives – Big Brothers Big Sisters

These blog posts feature the perspectives of some of the amazing partner organisations who are a focal part of our Immersive Experiences. At Emerging World, the work of our partners inspires the participants in our programmes in life-defining ways and challenges them to think differently about the things that deeply affect people and truly drive change. Our work also supports our partners to shift the way they work and have a greater impact. These posts allow our partners to share their stories and perspectives of the work they do and the impact this is having in communities and in the world more broadly! It is our hope that their experiences and insights will inspire us to look deep and explore ways we can do more for the world!

The next in our series is….

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Hi, my name is Jeannine Gant, CEO and President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit in the USA.

Big Brothers Big Sisters supports youth who face many obstacles related to domestic violence, incarcerated parents, foster care, poverty, low achieving schools, housing and food insecurity, and so much more. Sometimes it feels like no one cares but at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we do. We are dedicated to making sure youth know they matter. We put a Big Brother or Big Sister in their life to change them for the better, forever; guided by our belief, that belonging is a fundamental building block for all human beings to reach their full potential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2019, I participated in the Salesforce Leading Ohana programme in Detroit, which was in partnership with Emerging World. The Salesforce executives, assigned to our organisation worked alongside us over a 3-day period to identify opportunities within stakeholder engagement, both internal and external. This work planted a seed, that in order for us to ensure all youth achieve success in life, full alignment of our purpose, vision and values within all stakeholder groups is critical. In 2019, our organisation launched a new brand persona, “Together, We are Defenders of Potential”, and it was initially no more than a marketing strategy – a few splashes of new paint, updated social media, banners, and t-shirts. But our work with the Salesforce team allowed us to step back and consider the greater impact of cascading our new persona in real, meaningful ways throughout all systems of our organisation, including staff, parents, volunteers, donors and partners so that we could realize our full potential as a collective. Armed with board approval, we have since prioritised internal and external resources and opportunities to help support this work. This has included visioning sessions with stakeholder groups, work with an Industrial and Organisational Psychology programme at a local university to focus on staff engagement strategies, and writing innovative grants to support change management, including a complete overhaul of our physical space to inspire our volunteers.

Participating in the Salesforce programme gave me permission to step back from day to day operations and think more thoughtfully, systematically and strategically around organisational change. When one has limited resources, there is a tendency to spend time and resources as close to mission work as possible. We put a band aid on systemic problems and keep it moving. We never really open it up to figure out why it’s not getting better, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Now I realize, as a steward for this mission, that I’ve got to make the time. Leadership is not a quick race, but a marathon. We’re just beginning our journey of transformation and I’m hopeful. We are making time to reflect, put plans and actions in place, and feeling really motivated about getting everyone on board to fulfil our mission!

Recently, I received a note from an older man who was in our programme in the mid 1960’s, who just wanted to say, “thank you”. He said, because we took the time to “see” him when he was 12 years old, chasing his dreams in and out of juvenile court, he is now happily married with children and grandchildren. His words validate our collective work beyond measure!

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