The bus rolled up to the Comcast offices in Beaverton, Oregon to popping flashbulbs. Dozens of excited fans -- Comcast employees decked out in their best gear -- were buzzing with anticipation. They held up signs, cheered for the celebrity guests, shouting their names. "Isabelle!" "Patrick!" "Mikey!"
When the doors opened, the stars emerged, their eyes shielded with glitzy sunglasses in the shapes of stars and guitars. Walking the red carpet, waving to the crowd, soaking in the excitement, they greeted their biggest fans, Comcast employees who have the honor of serving as their new Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors. The celebs, third graders from Portland's Barnes Elementary School, are enrolled as "Littles" in the new Comcast Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest Beyond School Walls program. The company staged the red carpet event as a way to introduce the "Bigs" to their new mentoring matches.
Comcast's Portland office is the sixth across the country to launch the employer-based mentoring program. Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania introduced Beyond School Walls two years ago in Philadelphia, giving employees at Comcast's headquarters an opportunity to mentor kids without leaving the office. Through a national partnership in 2008 with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Comcast employees are now mentoring kids in Beyond School Walls programs in Philadelphia, Houston, Hartford, Salt Lake City, and Twin Cities. In addition to Portland, the program will expand in Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Detroit by the end of the year, where kids will be paired with Comcast Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors.
Comcast and its local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency partner with local schools to bring the kids to their offices, usually twice a month, where they meet with their Comcast employee Bigs. Kids in the program are of all different ages -- Portland's program involves third graders, while Jacksonville's matches employees with high school "not-so-little" Littles. This national program, consistent with Comcast's community investment focus areas, develops tomorrow's leaders while giving Comcast employees a chance to make a significant and direct impact in the lives of kids in the communities where they live and work. And the kids? They get long-term mentoring from caring adults. Independent studies find kids mentored in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are more likely to overcome adversity by achieving in school and succeeding in life.
By the end of 2010, Comcast expects more than 200 employees from the company will be paired with Littles through these Big Brothers Big Sisters school partnerships. We hope they all begin with the butterflies and smiles the Bigs and Littles in Portland experienced. Some kids said they couldn't sleep the night before. Others said they felt like movie stars. This is why we do what we do, and why we are grateful to Comcast for their continued support.
We wish the Comcast employees and their "Little" stars the very best.