Our Values In Action
Making an Impact — Both “Little” and “Big”
Alize Delgado was 8 years old in 2008 when he was among a group of 35 kids from his Philadelphia elementary school who began visiting the Comcast Center every two weeks to meet with Comcast employees for one-on-one mentoring. These youngsters were the “Littles” to the Comcast “Bigs” — the terms commonly used in the Big Brothers Big Sisters “Beyond School Walls” program.
As part of the inaugural cohort, Delgado was matched with John Raezer, now a Comcast Vice President of Network Access and Technology, and the two formed an almost immediate bond. A decade later, Delgado can recall his first visit as if it were yesterday.
“I looked forward to coming to the building,” Delgado says. “Growing up in the neighborhood that I grew up in, a lot of kids didn’t have that opportunity to get out the way I did. If I didn’t have that positive influence that I got from John, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I was able to encounter now.”
The partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters and Comcast is probably one of the strongest partnerships in the country. They have been supportive of mentoring at all different levels and really started this whole Beyond School Walls concept of workplace mentoring.
Raezer, who watched Delgado grow up, says he benefited as much from the program as Delgado did. “I don’t think that either one of us would be the same today without each other,” Raezer explains.
Since that first group of children, the program has expanded across 15 Comcast NBCUniversal locations — and changed more than 2,300 lives, both “Little” and “Big.” Ours is the largest Beyond School Walls program in the country, with employees and students coming together every other week to engage in activities such as coding workshops, cooking competitions, and tours of the Comcast Technology Center. In 2018, the average length of our student–employee matches was 23 months, higher than the average of 16.6 months for other site-based mentoring programs run by Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“The partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters and Comcast is probably one of the strongest partnerships in the country,” says Pam Iorio, President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “They have been supportive of mentoring at all different levels and really started this whole Beyond School Walls concept of workplace mentoring.”
We recently celebrated our 10-year program anniversary, highlighting some of the past and present participants in a video.
Lakshmi Balaji, Manager of Sales Tool Deployment at Comcast in Philadelphia, has seen how regular Beyond School Walls visits with her “Little,” Alicia, changed both of them for the better.
Over the past three years, Balaji has introduced Alicia, a shy eighth-grader with a passion for art, to her Comcast colleagues who have various creative roles, including art director, graphic designer, and creative communications specialist, among others. “I wanted this to be useful for her and not just a chance to get out of school for an hour,” Balaji says. “She has an opportunity to see new possibilities and career paths for artists.”
Through drawings that are reflective of conversations with her “Big,” Alicia communicated to Balaji just how much she values their relationship. Those drawings help Balaji feel confident that “our time spent together is having a real effect on her — beyond just when we meet.”