As an organization dedicated to inclusiveness, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado values and celebrates the diversity and individuality of every child, volunteer, employee, board member, family and community partner. We strive to honor our commitment to diversity not only in words, but in action.

In 2017, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado was selected by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as one of 20 affiliates for a 2-year pilot grant from Altria to enhance mentoring services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) youth. This grant seeks to close the “mentoring gap” for one of our most marginalized populations.

In October of 2017, a majority of our staff took part in a training to build empathy and increase awareness of the unique challenges facing LGBTQ youth. Using an assessment tool developed by BBBS of America, we also began to evaluate how our organization can better serve LGBTQ youth in our community. We engaged in a staff-wide conversation to look critically at our programs and ensure that LGBTQ youth receive safe and affirming mentoring services.

We then formed a committee of staff from all departments of the agency to address those changes that we feel are necessary to better serve LGBTQ youth. The committee’s first task is to review the entire intake process for both youth and volunteers to be as welcoming, intentional and inclusive as possible. They will also be creating a resource guide for LGBTQ youth, their families, mentors and staff.

Other goals of this grant include creating a community committee made up of LGBTQ youth, volunteers and Bigs to provide us with feedback on how we could further improve our programming and intake process. We will also be partnering with local LGBTQ organizations to make sure that our programs are reaching the youth we hope to serve. In addition, we will be training mentors in taking a youth-centered approach toward their LGBTQ mentee through various workshops and conversations.

It is our hope that by implementing these changes, we can give the LGTBQ youth in our community a voice, an ally, and the chance to have their lives changed by a mentor.