Navigating the Transition to Young Adulthood with BBBS’ Big Futures Program
At age eighteen, Little Brothers and Sisters are facing a pivotal time in their lives.
Just as their mentoring matches are coming to a formal close, the time has also come for them to make significant choices about their life after high school.
While the transition to young adulthood can be difficult in the best of circumstances, for the youth enrolled in BBBS’ program, 98% of whom are facing additional challenges, this transition can be especially daunting.
To address the many issues and decisions that Little Brothers and Little Sisters often face after high school, BBBS launched the Big Futures program in 2016.
“Big Futures extends the mentoring relationship beyond age eighteen,” says Christina Eisenlord, BBBS’ Big Futures Program Coordinator. “It allows our agency to continue to provide support and serve as a resource for matches as Littles move into young adulthood.”
The program doesn’t just focus on higher education, however. It also helps Littles explore opportunities for employment or for enlistment in the military and helps them find the most useful resources for their individual goals.
“Whether they want to learn more about job readiness, resume building, college entrance requirements, life skills, or enlistment requirements, Big Futures is dedicated to helping Littles achieve success on their terms and as they define it,” says Christina.
This year, BBBS has committed to growing and strengthening the program to serve even more youth. With 59 matches already participating in Big Futures, Christina is expecting an additional 25 – 30 matches to join the program this summer as the “class of 2019”.
“We’re incredibly excited to develop the Big Futures program as the crucial next step in our services,” says Joe Strychalski, Vice President of Programs at BBBS. “I love that we can offer support to our Littles during this important time in their lives.”
For Big Brother Terry and Little Brother Jeremiah, continuing their mentoring relationship with support from Big Futures has been a positive and productive experience.
“I wanted to help get Jeremiah launched into his adult life,” says Terry. “It used to be that finishing high school was enough to prepare you for the work world, but those days are over. You need something more.”
When he graduated, Jeremiah didn’t have a specific plan for his life after high school. With his Big Brother’s encouragement, however, he enrolled first in Austin Community College and later transferred to Texas State University, where he is currently a Junior. Along the way, as Jeremiah has explored various academic and career options, Terry has been able to share his own life experience and his perspective as a former university professor to help his Little Brother navigate these choices.
“I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the process and seeing Jeremiah grow,” says Terry. “He’s done better and better and keeps making progress.”
For Terry and Jeremiah, Big Futures is the natural “next step” in their relationship.
BBBS’ Executive Director, Brent Fields, agrees. “Big Futures is an innovative and effective enhancement of our proven mentoring model,” he says. “It’s a great example of how we’re working more broadly to serve young people in our community and to help them achieve their biggest possible futures.”