New High-Level Advisory Council to Guide Big Brothers Big Sisters' Native American Mentoring Work

PHILADELPHIA, May 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has established a high-level Native American Advisory Council to guide the organization in its strategic efforts to expand one-to-one staff-supported mentoring services to help Native American children achieve in school and succeed in life.  

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The Advisory Council, which will meet quarterly, assembled for the first time in Philadelphia in early April.  The group will support and guide Big Brothers Big Sisters and advise on matters of cultural competence as the national mentoring network increases its volunteer and donor base to serve more Native American children. 

"The Big Brothers Big Sisters Native American Advisory Council is extremely important as we support our affiliates in their work to provide one-to-one staff-supported mentoring services to more rural and urban Native American families and communities," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Director of Native American Mentoring, Ivy Wright-Bryan, a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada. "Longstanding studies, complemented by our real-time Youth Outcomes Survey data, illustrate the effectiveness of these services in helping youth overcome adversity to succeed in school; avoid risky behaviors and have higher self esteem and aspirations.  To hold ourselves accountable for these outcomes, we need support from experts such as those who have agreed to serve on the Native American Advisory Council," she added.

Members of the Council include:

  1. Margo Gray-Proctor (Osage), President, Horizon Engineering Service Company;
  2. Ernest Stevens Jr. (Oneida), Chairman, National Indian Gaming Association;
  3. Lucille Echo Hawk (Pawnee), former Strategic Advisor for Indian Child Welfare Programs, Casey Family programs, and founder of Native Americans in Philanthropy;
  4. Andrea Maril Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico;
  5. Juana Majel-Dixon (Pauma), First Vice-President, National Congress of American Indians;
  6. Jared Ivins-Massey (White Mountain Apache), co-President, national U.N.I.T.Y. Council;
  7. Josie Raphaelito (Navajo), Program Coordinator, Center for Native American Youth;
  8. Quintin Lopez (Tohono O'odham), co-President, National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission

With support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Big Brothers Big Sisters established its Native American Tribal Community Initiative in 2008. The program serves more than 4197 Native American children, 42 percent of whom are matched with Native American mentors.   Local Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates serve 25 tribal reservation communities and 10 pueblos, where Native American staff, with the help of advisors and elders, carefully match youth with mentors and provide ongoing support to the adult volunteers, mentees and the children's families.  Big Brothers Big Sisters' local affiliates are engaged with tribal reservation and urban/community-based businesses; educational and vocational training institutions; non-profit groups; and faith-based institutions that serve Native Americans. 

"Our program is already resulting in measurable positive outcomes, most notably improved attitudes toward antisocial behavior; stronger parental and peer relationships; better school attendance and scholastic competence; and higher educational expectations, social competencies and school attendance," Wright-Bryan said.  "Ultimately these mentoring services will help improve overall wellness, including the avoidance of substance abuse and suicide."

About Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation's largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success; avoidance of risky behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships.  Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children ("Littles") with screened volunteer mentors ("Bigs") and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course.  The first-ever Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Summary, released in 2012, substantiates that its mentoring programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity, often those of single or low-income households or families where a parent is incarcerated or serving in the military, with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.  This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization's 100-year history.  With about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 630,000 children, volunteers and families. Learn how you can positively impact a child's life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.

SOURCE Big Brothers Big Sisters



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