Big sister teaches Little Sister how to play the guitar Photo submitted

NASHVILLE, TN — One year ago, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee (BBBSMT) pivoted to virtual operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the agency has formed a new partnership with Meharry Medical College and expanded its programs.

“Our team has approached the challenges of this past year as an opportunity to innovatively grow our programs and partnerships to meet the evolving needs of Middle Tennessee’s youth,” said Melissa Hudson-Gant, Chief Executive Officer at BBBSMT. “Amid constant change, what endures is our laser focus on the young people we serve. There’s never been a more crucial time to provide our youth with the power of connection and mentorship to nourish the potential and promise in each of them.”

Meharry Medical College, the first medical school for Black students in the South, has partnered with BBBSMT to meet a critical need for more Black mentors. In 2020, the college received a historic $34 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies, which aims to increase the number of Black doctors by reducing their debt burden, and in turn scholarship recipients will complete community service requirements. Dr. Dontal Johnson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Meharry Medical College and two-time BBBSMT mentor, recognized this as an opportunity to make mentoring with BBBSMT the preferred service work for students.

“As a pediatrician and former student mentor, I know the significance of older, mentoring voices in the lives of our young people, and, as a Meharrian, I know the importance of service to underserved communities,” said Dr. Johnson. “This relationship between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and Meharry Medical College keeps our students engaged in meaningful service while they pursue their rigorous study as future health care professionals.”

In addition to this partnership, BBBSMT expanded its E-mentoring program to additional schools to scale its mentoring impact across Middle Tennessee. The agency has also integrated a text-based mentoring tool called MentorHub into existing programs to add depth and accessibility to mentoring relationships.

BBBSMT’s newest initiative is its Mentor Corps Fellowship which recruits and compensates highly sought-after mentors, such as Black men, LGBTQ+ persons and Spanish-speaking persons, and matches each corps member with a group of young people to provide one-to-one mentoring and complete projects in areas of interest. Additionally, BBBSMT’s new Big Cousins initiative provides youth the opportunity to experience mentoring from day one through short-term, shared-interest mentoring.

To donate, become a mentor, or enroll a young person ages 9-16 years old in a BBBSMT program, visit mentorakid.org.