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November 23, 2020
App Is Helping Big Brothers Big Sisters of E. Mass. Meet Mission
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts

October 18, 2020 — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, a Boston-based nonprofit, noting that “mentoring is more important than ever” during the coronavirus pandemic, recently turned to technology to better support the mentor-mentee relationships they foster.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts (BBBSEM) said the development, called MentorHub, consists of an app and integrated web dashboard that enable mentors and programs to track students’ use of scientifically proven educational and mental health programs, including Khan Academy and Headspace, among others.

BBBSEM said the app will help diversify and strengthen mentor relationship outcomes while improving the mental, cognitive, social, and emotional health of mentees.

Developed in partnership with a team of clinical scientists led by UMass Boston professor Jean Rhodes, the new tool aggregates education and health applications under one umbrella and makes recommendations for apps that mentees and mentors to use together.

“While we can’t change the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on youth and families, we can get creative in the ways in which we help youth to reach their fullest potential through caring relationships with adult mentors,” says Mark O’Donnell, president and CEO of BBBSEM. “MentorHub offers programs and resources to help youth learn, play, and build relationships with their mentors regardless of geography or socioeconomic status.”

According to O’Donnell, layering evidence-based apps on top of one-to-one mentoring means “a Big can maximize the benefit of the relationship they have built with their mentee and their family. For example, a mentor has the power to responsibly encourage mental health wellness so long as they have the MentorHub App in their pocket.”

BBBSEM is currently piloting MentorHub with 50 Big-Little matches. If successful, it plans to offer MentorHub for free to all 4,000 of its matches “as a means to level the playing field and decrease the education gap for the diverse populations the nonprofit serves.”

Noting that “mentoring is more important than ever right now,” BBBSEM states, “The need is urgent to keep youth in our communities connected during this time of social distancing, school closures, and anxiety related to COVID-19.”

Founded in 1949 an organization serving fatherless boys in Boston, BBBSEM grew to become the largest youth mentoring agency in New England. Today, its serves3,600 boys and girls annually in more than 150 communities.

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