BIG FUTURES: Equipping Tampa Bay’s Future Workforce with Big Brothers Big Sisters

Across the United States, 69% of corporations and businesses are struggling to find top talent, according to a Manpower Survey. Additionally, according to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 78% of hiring managers across the nation say the skills gap persists across industries. Mentoring can be an integral part of the solution in both better preparing youth for high-demand careers and offering employers a means of engaging and retaining their talented staff.

To address these issues, Big Brothers Big Sisters established a workplace mentoring program and partners with dozens of companies across the region to prepare youth for post-high school success. The importance of this work is the backbone of economic development in the greater Tampa Bay region.

Because the nature of today’s ever-changing economy requires a closer connection between classroom and career, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay created the Big Futures School to Work program. This workplace mentoring program offers employers an easy, and convenient, means of bringing volunteer opportunities directly to their employees.

Youth from a local school are matched with a professional from the corporate partner for an academic year. The students visit their mentors at the business or company, on at least a monthly basis, to explore career opportunities, develop professional skills and interact with their peers in real-world settings. Employers benefit by training the next generation of the workforce and providing their teams with a meaningful, and engaging, way to give back to their communities.

One local partner that has invested in the program is JP Morgan Chase. Locally, JP Morgan Chase has a relationship with Brandon High School, in Hillsborough County, where over 30 students have been served. This year, JP Morgan Chase has committed to doubling the number of students, to ensure that more Littles are future ready for careers in Tampa Bay.

The JP Morgan Chase Big Futures program provides Littles with multiple workshops to learn valuable, professional, social and life skills. Littles work with their BIG mentors on goal setting and participate in product design teams focused on innovation. As much as the Littles have benefitted from this program, the BIGS from JP Morgan Chase have also reported high satisfaction.

For companies like JP Morgan Chase, the Big Futures School to Work program offers strong benefits. For example, turnover is nearly 40% lower among employees who participate in workplace volunteering. When companies combine volunteering with giving, turnover is reduced by nearly 60%. Studies also show that for millennial employees, 64% report a stronger sense of loyalty to employers who are socially responsible, exemplifying how powerful a partnership with the Big Futures program can be for youth, employees and employers.

The Big Futures School to Work program gives students first-hand, real-life, work experience that will prepare them for whatever training or career path they choose and keep that pool of young people in our community. With the support of companies like JP Morgan Chase, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay is committed to building a sustainable, and scalable, talent development pipeline for all Littles throughout the region.

With a mission to create, and support, one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ vision is for all youth to achieve their full potential. In 2022, 99% of Littles were not involved with the juvenile justice system, 98% were promoted to the next grade level, 97% maintained or improved their educational aspirations and 94% maintained or improved in academics.

Learn more about the Big Futures Program and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay here:

To become a School to Work partner, or investor, please call Chris Letsos at 813-539-4511 or via email at [email protected].

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