Seven years ago, Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania (BBBS SEPA) started a relationship with Comcast, not knowing the tremendous path it would take and the impact it would have on the lives of youth in Greater Philadelphia – and across the country. This transformative journey was so powerful it led us to recognize Comcast NBCUniversal with our Corporate Partner of the Century Award during our 100th anniversary celebration this week at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. We were thrilled to have Comcast Corporation’s Chairman and CEO, Brian L. Roberts, recognize our collective impact when he accepted the award at our gala.
Selecting Comcast NBCUniversal for this honor proved to be an easy choice, based on its increasing commitment to our mission of providing children with positive role models to improve their lives for the better, forever. Back in 2008, Comcast was one of the first companies to jump on board with a new mentoring model called Beyond School Walls that was conceived by our BBBS SEPA staff members. The innovative program brought children from a local school into the workplace to meet one-on-one with employee mentors, twice a month throughout the school year. That first year, 35 students met at Comcast’s headquarters in Philadelphia. Today, the program – which just this week kicked off another incredible year of mentoring relationships – hosts 55 students from Potter-Thomas Elementary School. It has become a symbol of pride for Comcast employees who participate as "Bigs." Beyond School Walls also spawned a national partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, with Comcast NBCUniversal donating tens of millions of dollars in cash and in-kind support to help support matches and recruit more volunteers.
Today, Comcast offers Beyond School Walls in its offices in 15 U.S. cities, making it the nation’s largest workplace mentoring program with Big Brothers Big Sisters. To date, more than 750 youth have been served through the program, with Comcast employees collectively giving more than 25,000 hours of volunteer service. And the company supports our organization in many other ways, from board leadership, to sponsorship of our signature events, to encouraging other companies to offer Beyond School Walls programs, to airing public service announcements on our behalf.
While this support has been broad in scope, the biggest transformation can be seen in the individual lives of the children we serve together. Together with companies such as Comcast, we have been working for the last 100 years to break the cycles of poverty, break the cycles of incarceration, and level the economic playing field so that our kids can achieve the success they deserve. As we look to the future, we are seeking even more creative ways to reach the over 200,000 children facing adversity in our geographic footprint.
At BBBS SEPA, we recently launched a Mentoring Partnership & Resource Center to leverage the expertise we have to bolster mentoring programs and resources across the greater Philadelphia region. By providing training, technical assistance, data collection and other resources, we are bringing together the best practices of mentoring organizations to make a bigger impact in the lives of children. We’re also lucky to have Comcast Cable’s Senior Vice President and Controller, Ernie Pighini, step into the board chair role of our organization in January of 2016. Ernie has been a tremendous asset to our board over the past five years, and remains closely connected to our mission through his role as a Big Brother.
We were thrilled to have Comcast NBCUniversal help us achieve great success over the last 100 years. Together with Comcast NBCUniversal and its committed employees, we look forward to what the next 100 years will bring to the field of youth mentoring.