Low-income NYC children, many growing up in single-parent households, face innumerable challenges in achieving success to break the cycle of poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it significantly harder to ensure these vulnerable youth have access to the support and tools critical to their mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.
To improve outcomes for high-risk youth throughout New York City, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation has granted $500,000 to Bigs & Littles NYC Mentoring (Bigs & Littles NYC) to expand and enhance their Family Strengthening Initiative, which provides holistic mentoring and wraparound services to youth and their caregivers.
Founded almost 120 years ago, Bigs & Littles NYC reaches impoverished New York City youth, ages 7 to 19, and their families. They received the support and tools to succeed, including comprehensive social and emotional support, crisis counseling, and referrals to community resources. The majority of families are single-parent households and include children in foster care, first-generation Americans, and those with involvement in the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.
Bigs & Littles NYC’s evidence-based one-to-one mentoring and year-round targeted academic, health, and life skills programming helps youth and families succeed in school and in life. In addition, a site-based college and career readiness program partners with local corporations, including Good Apple and JP Morgan Chase, to prepare, guide, and empower the next generation of minority leaders in the workplace.
Last year, the Foundation’s grant enabled Bigs & Littles NYC and their Family Strengthening Initiative to reach 644 youth and family members. Of the mentored youth served, 100% graduated from high school and all 13 seniors in the program are now attending college or post-secondary programming. All parents/guardians met or made progress towards at least one of their goals in the areas of professional growth, strengthened relationships, and healthier lifestyles.
This strengths-based family systems approach, including wraparound services and support to high-risk children and families, is critical to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. For well over a century, Bigs & Littles NYC has demonstrated how meaningful relationships between mentors (Bigs) and youth (Littles) and access to comprehensive resources can ensure all vulnerable New Yorkers are set up for success and fulfill their potential.