PHILADELPHIA: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has launched its "Campaign for Men," a 13-month national effort to recruit males, especially blacks and Hispanics, to mentor boys in communities across the US.
The campaign will address the current shortage of volunteers signing up in minority communities to work with kids who have registered with the youth-mentoring organization. According to the group's release, more than 70% of the children waiting for a "Big" are boys, but only three out of every 10 volunteer inquiries come from men. Black men make up only 15% of Big Brothers' volunteer pool.
"We know the need is there," said Kay Keenan, Big Brothers' VP of marcomms, "and we knew we needed a multifaceted campaign to fill it."
Working with local agency Donna Brennan and Associates, Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America began its push by sending out media materials to assist its 400 agencies across the US with press outreach. The organization followed this effort on its Web site by launching a viral holiday e-card through which friends and family could send greetings and information about the drive.
Grassroots efforts, further funded by a $500,000 grant from the Arby's foundation, will follow over the spring. Those efforts include "Bigs Asking Bigs" a series of events for minority males to recruit family members and peers, and a barbershop recruitment spearheaded by the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Arby's also plans to launch a "Campaign for Men" bus tour to golf courses across the country.
PSAs featuring former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman and CSI: NY actor Hill Harper will appear in a number of nighttime markets throughout the effort.
According to Keenan, "Campaign for Men" has thus far received a largely positive response, especially when coupled with the recruiting initiatives driven by the local agencies.
Big Brothers Big Sisters said its Detroit affiliate recently came out with a "100 Men in 100 Days" drive, and by day 28, it had processed 187 applications.