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Workplace Mentoring: Changing the Way We Volunteer

Workplace Mentoring: Changing the Way We Volunteer

by Marianne Weiss, Vice President of Programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast offers a unique opportunity for local companies to offer their employees a chance to give back to the community through their workplace mentoring program, Beyond School Walls. Companies host high school students once a month for 3-4 hours at their place of business to help them develop career building skills and stay on track towards graduation and higher education.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for local companies to allow their staff to volunteer who wouldn’t otherwise have the time to do so. It also gives the company the chance to showcase their philanthropic efforts while making a difference in the lives of children. The program has enrolled many people as mentors who never thought they’d have time to volunteer or felt they had the skills to mentor a youth.

During the sessions, mentors pass on basic professional expertise to the youth that many adults take for granted. The students are at an age where they want to learn the skills that get them a job and are interested in watching the volunteer in action. This is a very simple volunteer experience with highly impactful result.

Joy Mahler, President/CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, expressed her appreciation for the support of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to help grow the program so more youth can achieve their career and educational dreams.

Mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast programs have shown tremendous impact. Results prove kids’ self-confidence increases, their attitudes towards risky behaviors decrease, they find purpose to motivate their academic performance, and more kids will be empowered and qualified to enter the workforce.

What Does It Take?

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast works with the company to customize the program to fit the company’s needs. They apply their proven system to recruit, screen, match and coach mentoring relationships. The non-profit also offers professional support every step of the way to help the company make the most of their experience. One of the expert staff is assigned to the program, they handle ALL coordination of students with the school, schedule transportation, offer support to the mentors and plan activities for the sessions.

This program is designed to be flexible to meet the workplace demands of the staff. Mentors are asked to be in attendance during the 7-8 scheduled sessions a year to guide students through the activities planned by the company and BBBS team. Mentors also have the choice to take students to work meetings or other workplace commitments, so students can benefit from watching the mentor in the work setting.

The program aims to help high school student facing adversity reach their fullest potential. Participating students are already getting jobs, attending special workshops, receiving internships, obtaining scholarships, gaining self-confidence and setting life changing goals with the support of their mentors.

Florida Weekly has graciously allowed us, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to spotlight the nonprofit organizations funded through the Foundation’s 2018 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked these grantees to share their stories. We are pleased to partner with these change-makers.

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.3 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $79.9 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit

Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!