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September 27, 2021
Big Brothers Big Sisters Forges New Path with Corporate Partner
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay

August 21, 2021 — What began as a corporate contribution to help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts retain volunteer mentors during the coronavirus pandemic has blossomed into a fuller partnership that is projected to save the organization $700,000 over five years, the organization recently announced.

At its core, the relationship between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts (BBBSEM), a Boston-based nonprofit that provides adult mentors to help youth reach their full potential, and C-Space, a global customer agency, aims to facilitate joint learning and asset and resource sharing.

In February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, BBBSEM brought in C Space, which donated 500 consulting hours and $20,000, to assist with retention of the nonprofit’s volunteer mentors, referred to as Bigs.

“Many of the skills used to mentor a child, including listening, unlocking creativity and collaboration, are the same skills we use on the job with our clients,” said Jessie Stettin, associate director of people development at C Space and a three-year Big Brother.. “We see this radical partnership as an opportunity to learn from each other, leverage existing resources, and develop new ones to help us be better individuals and colleagues and make a greater impact in our communities.”

According to BBBSEM, the shift in this partnership is already making a positive impact.

C Space is working with BBBSEM to execute three recommendations that came from the original pro bono project to help onboard, engage and assist Bigs, which in turn will save the nonprofit an estimated $700,000 over five years.

In turn, BBBSEM is helping C Space create an internal mentoring committee that will support employees who volunteer for like-minded organizations and connect with the agency’s existing contacts. Each of the partners has a champion who promotes accountability and communication with hiring efforts, trainings, and other innovations to heighten the partnership.

“Our partnership with C Space is really setting the tone for how we look at corporate partnerships moving forward,” says Mark O’Donnell, president and CEO of BBBSEM. “The idea that two like-minded organizations in very different sectors can come together in the way we have is incredible. We are so grateful to the C Space team and are excited for all the partnership has in store.”

Typically, BBBSEM goes into companies to help generate awareness for the need to mentor children and recruit more volunteers. However, employees at C Space are flocking to the cause, further creating an internal sense of community at the company.

Phil Burgess, global chief people officer at C Space, is among nearly 10 people in the process of joining six existing employees who are Bigs for the agency.

“It’s all about being there for people,” said Burgess, who was recently matched with his own Little Brother. “Just like the partnership between C Space and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, I am looking forward to getting back just as much or more from mentoring a child as I hope my Little will get from me.”

The two organizations will jointly showcase their experience at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce next month to highlight the impact and potential of partnerships between nonprofits and for-profit companies.

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