GIVE through
December 31

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Organization Mission

Our goal is to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally-supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. With the support of volunteer mentors, children are more likely to stay in school, stay out of the juvenile justice system, and make healthy choices that lead to productive lives.

We envision a community where all children achieve success in life.

The Big Idea:
Big Brothers Big Sisters Transgender Youth Mentoring

Mentoring relationships can change the trajectory of a child’s life. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Make A Match program, volunteers are carefully paired with children who face serious challenges of poverty, single-parent homes, or are exposed to gangs, drug abuse and alcohol abuse.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed the lives of more than 6,500 local children in the past 35 years. We assess, create, supervise and provide ongoing support to mentoring matches. After thorough screening and training, volunteer mentors commit to spending 10-20 hours monthly with a child for at least one year.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County initiated a program of matching transgender youth with volunteer transgender adult mentors in 2015. We are requesting funding to help continue to serve these children and youth. Discrimination and bias typically begins in childhood, as transgender youth explore their gender identity, and these children are at high risk of harassment, physical and sexual violence, and suicide. Numerous studies document the pervasive injustice and bias faced by transgender people in every aspect of life.

This program applies the proven Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring approach to reach this underserved population. We work in partnership with the Queer Youth Task Force of Santa Cruz, the Transfamily Support Group of Santa Cruz, and other organizations to implement the program, which serves as a national model. It is estimated that 120 to 400 county youth could be candidates for this program.

Being a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters has been a transformative, healing experience for our family. Our daughter not only has someone whose focus is solely on her, but she also has someone with whom she can discuss things we simply do not have answers to, and for those of us who are dealing with broken relationships with family members as a result of being ‘out’ our match has been a balm.

M*, mom of trans child, Santa Cruz County
*name withheld for confidentiality