Recent updates big & small
Above + Beyond School Walls: Summer 2017

Above + Beyond School Walls: Summer 2017






The Hamilton Lane Beyond School Walls partnership supported 31 matches with Mastery Charter School – Shoemaker Campus this year. This program has supported 129 matches since its launch in 2009, and looks forward to making more mentoring matches in the future.

This past year, the mentors hosted Bigs’ Career Interviews, where Littles had a chance to interview their Bigs about the careers they chose and how they succeeded. Matches also participated in a Reverse Day and Super Bowl guessing game. At the end of the year, they all celebrated with a bowling party.

“The program next year is going to be focused on preparing for college and whatever is after high school since over half of the Littles will be graduating,” said Kelsey Alderman, BBBS Independence Program Coordinator. “I want thank Dean Dia Jones, the liaison at the school and an amazing advocate for the program. I also want to thank Kellee Andrews, the liaison from Hamilton Lane. She is also a great advocate for the program and an amazing support for all the Littles and Bigs.”

We are thankful for everyone at Hamilton Lane and Mastery Charter School – Shoemaker Campus for supporting this program and youth mentoring.


OUTCOMES & IMPACT: Philadelphia Union Foundation

The Beyond School Walls partnership with the Philadelphia Union Foundation and Toby Farms Elementary School supported 19 matches this year. Littles took part in fun activities with their Bigs, such as creating spaghetti marshmallow towers and cotton ball catapults, which provided a much-needed break from their stressful academic year. They also had the exciting opportunity to watch a Philadelphia Union soccer match from the box level seats at the stadium this spring.

It’s very clear during program visits that the relationships between Bigs and their Littles are very strong. Our recent surveys of Toby Farms Littles confirm the positive outcomes produced by this program:

  • 100% of Littles said their Bigs give them good ideas about how to solve a problem
  • 100% of Littles said when something is bugging them, their Big listens while they talk about it.
  • 44% of Littles went up at least one letter grade, and maintained it for the remainder of the year.

We are grateful to everyone involved in our Union Foundation program that has helped Littles achieve these great outcomes. We would especially like to thank Eddie Boyd, our school liaison at Toby Farms, for his tireless work, and Nicolette Stoner, our liaison at the Union Foundation, for fully believing in our mission.


School Perspectives: Lawnside School & Holman Enterprises

Our first Beyond School Walls program in South Jersey kicked off in January with Holman Enterprises and Lawnside School. Lawnside School was a school partner in another BBBS mentoring program a few years ago, but due to a lack of funding and resources, the program closed.

Students and administration at Lawnside were elated when the opportunity arose to re-engage the school in our Beyond School Walls program. Dr. Ronn Johnson, Superintendent of the Lawnside School District, recently spoke at BBBS Independence’s annual Big Stories Breakfast fundraiser about the impact BBBS mentoring has made on his students. Here is an expert from Dr. Johnson’s remarks:

“As a superintendent in today’s educational climate of limited resources, we are always seeking ways to provide support to students and their families. From 2010 – 2013 we had an opportunity to collaborate with Big Brothers Big Sisters in providing mentoring for our students. The students enjoyed the opportunity to meet with their mentors and share their experiences. Unfortunately, due to a lack of resources and the [partner] company’s relocation, the program ended. Many of our students were devastated and asked about continuing the program.

 Fortunately, in January of this year, Big Brothers Big Sisters contacted me about the Beyond School Walls program, and partnered our school district up with Holman Enterprises. We currently have 23 5th & 6th grade students who are participating in the program. The students are referred for participation by their teacher or a member of the school staff that believes a mentor would benefit the student.

 In fact, my daughter is a participant in the program. As some parents may admit, you can say something to your children and it appears to go in one ear and out the other, but someone else can say the exact same thing, and it sticks. While our daughter has been greatly impacted from her participation in the program, I have noticed a change in all of our students.

 I have seen their overall attitudes towards school and life improve. Obviously, we require the students to maintain acceptable grades since they leave school to visit the site with their Bigs on Fridays. Furthermore, some of the poor choices and bad decisions some participants made have diminished. We currently have a young lady that participated in the first program that is now in 7th grade. Her overall attitude towards school has changed dramatically, and she is actively involved with several activities at the school. Most importantly, she is now seen as a leader of our school community and serves as a representative on our Student Council. She is just one example of how programs such as these make a dramatic impact in the academic and social development of our students.

 I wish every school could have a program such as the Big Brothers & Big Sisters program to reach students.”


Since the program’s kickoff in 2013, the VideoRay program has been unique. This year, the program matched 27 mentors with Pottstown Middle School students. It has grown to encompass volunteers employed at several other Pottstown area companies, including the Borough Manager, and employees from The Hill School and Montgomery County Community College.

Matches participated in a number of special activities this year. A Reverse Day was held, where Bigs visited their Littles at school. In March, they took a trip to the local Pottstown Boys and Girls Club, and each Little received a membership! VideoRay also hosted the matches’ final visit at their Phoenixville location, where Littles toured “the barn,” ate in an on-site hanger, and played yard games.

“The VideoRay Beyond School Walls program has worked out very well for the Pottstown Middle School and its students, for VideoRay and our neighbors in Pottstown, and for me personally,” said Scott Bentley, President of VideoRay, a BBBS Independence Board Member, and Big Brother. “I have enjoyed getting to know both of my Littles; they have helped me balance my life as I mentor them on developing skills and navigating challenges.”

We would like to thank Scott for his willingness to include the Pottstown community in the program and for being a dedicated Big. We would also like to thank our corporate liaison, Robin Nafziger.



The BSW partnership with URBN and Sharswood Elementary School in South Philadelphia has spanned nearly 10 years! The program supported 62 matches this year, exceeding their goal.

In addition to serving as a longtime partner in this program, we are grateful to have URBN’s support in other areas. Most recently, URBN served as Presenting Sponsor of our Go Big or Go Home: College Edition fundraising campaign, involving Temple University Fox School of Business students. Students raised more than $13.5K for our agency through peer-to-peer fundraising, and URBN graciously provided gifts cards as prizes for top fundraisers.

“Adding another layer of support to Big Brothers Big Sisters through Go Big or Go Home was an easy decision for URBN,” said Meredith Boice, Administration Officer at URBN. “The efforts made by the Temple University students were inspiring, and sponsoring this campaign allowed us to reward their hard work and underline the importance of giving back to the community.”

Meredith even attended the campaign wrap up party – a networking event – and talked with Temple students about their plans for the future.

Big thanks to URBN for their ongoing support of youth mentoring in so many ways.


76ers, Camden High School, & City of Camden Team Up

This April, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Philadelphia 76ers, the City of Camden, and Camden High School teamed up to form our newest Beyond School Walls partnership. This program is significant because it marks the first workplace mentoring program with a professional sports franchise in South Jersey. The program matches 76ers employees with 9th and 10th grade mentees from Camden High School. The hope is for mentors and mentees to participate in the program throughout the Littles’ high school careers. Over the course of just four visits since the program was launched, the relationships between all of the Bigs and Littles have shown strong promise for the future.

Many of the Littles in this program have aspirations to play sports on a professional level, and the opportunity to meet people who have successful jobs in the sports realm is opening their eyes to the array of possibilities. In the future, Bigs plan on giving their Littles the amazing experience of touring the team’s new practice facility. They have also planned a reverse day for next year, where the Bigs will visit their Littles’ high school.

This program was made possible by funding from the City of Camden. We extend a special thank you to the City of Camden, the 76ers, and Camden High School for making these mentoring relationships possible.

Do you know a company that would be interested in sponsoring a BSW program?
For more information, contact Jennifer Carroll at

 Civic Engagement at Wawa & Comcast Programs

This spring, Littles in two of our Beyond School Walls programs had the opportunity to meet and pose questions to two civic leaders from Pennsylvania.

In February, Congressman Patrick Meehan visited our Wawa and Highland Park Elementary School program. Littles heard from Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens, BBBS Independence CEO Marcus Allen, and of course, the Congressman. They also asked the Congressman questions, including “What’s the toughest part about being a Congressman?”, “What are you doing to make college more affordable for us?”, and “What’s the bill your passed or sponsored that you’re most proud of?”. It was a memorable day Littles and Bigs alike won’t soon forget!

In March, PA House Speaker Mike Turzai​ paid a special visit to our Comcast and Potter Thomas program. He visited with Bigs & Littles and fielded Littles’ questions about state government, his political career, immigration, and more. Along with Speaker Turzai, Littles heard from Comcast Senior Director of Community Investment Fred Maahs, as well as our CEO Marcus Allen.

Thanks to everyone who helped make these very special program visits possible.