January 13, 2023

Rep. Watson Coleman Secures $1 Million in Federal Funding for Big Brothers Big Sisters in the Greater Plainfield Area

In anticipation of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on Monday, and in the midst of January as National Mentoring Month, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) announced that as part of the omnibus funding package passed in December 2022, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties will receive $1 million for its one-on-one mentorship program that focuses on serving youth in the Greater Plainfield area. This project was one of several community projects designated by the Congresswoman as part of the fiscal year 2023 federal appropriations process. In all, the Congresswoman secured more than $15 million in federal funding for community projects in New Jersey’s 12th District.

“Our collective failure to meet the social-emotional and academic needs of our youth is unacceptable. We must act as responsible leaders in our community and support our nation’s youth, starting right here in our own backyard, in our communities,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties has provided a powerful example of what is possible. That is why I am proud to announce that I have secured funding that will support staffing the expansion of access to resources and sustainability and to establish a satellite office in the community.”

In 2013, Boston Consulting Group quantified the value of the BBBS program model, finding that a $1 investment in BBBS returns a $23 benefit to society among economically disadvantaged youth, a majority of the constituents we serve, including improved mental health, higher education levels, higher earnings and lower unemployment, and higher rates of civic engagement, including volunteering, registering to vote and donating to charity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties’ mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth and a credible social justice organization embedded in their community. Working with volunteer mentors, parents, and families, they create one-to-one mentoring relationships that defend, inspire, and empower the potential that lives within every child. Founded in 2008, the local affiliate is a nationally recognized leader for its public-private partnerships and delivery of a culturally responsive continuum of services rooted in each youth’s one-to-one mentoring relationship with an adult volunteer. Local agency youth achieve an average four-year high school graduation rate of 96%, 20 percentage points higher than the communities it serves.  An affiliate of the national organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson, and Union Counties has served over 4,400 youth since its inception in 2008. 

“We are extremely grateful to Congresswoman Watson Coleman for her vision and leadership in understanding what’s needed to support our youth coming out of this pandemic,” said Carlos Lejnieks, President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Driven by the ‘fierce urgency of now’, as Dr. King famously said, with this generous funding we have an opportunity to create a call to action for mentors to step into the lives of our youth through our structured, evidence-based programming.” 

In addition to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, 14 other organizations and projects in New Jersey’s 12th District will receive federal community project funding. The projects include infrastructure improvements, youth programs, health initiatives, and more.