Press Release

Big Brothers Big Sisters Presents: the Start Something™ Web Series

The Unique Social Media Reality Documentary Sheds Light on Successful Youth Mentoring

PHILADELPHIA (October 21, 2011) — Big Brothers Big Sisters presents the Start Something™ Web Series, a unique multiple-episode social media reality documentary. The series, developed pro bono by Publicis Modem New York in partnership with The Advertising Council, will reveal how the nation’s largest mentoring network carefully partners with families, volunteers and communities to help children and teens overcome adversity to drive achievement in school and succeed in life.

“By observing our successful mentoring program unfiltered, current and prospective donors, volunteers and partners can see exactly how their investment in Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children overcome adversity to beat the odds,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters President and Chief Executive Officer Karen J. Mathis. “The Start Something™ Web Series will show how and why we boldly hold ourselves accountable for helping children who face adversity achieve measurable, positive outcomes.”

The Start Something™ Web Series, which began on October 13 and runs through the end of the year on the national mentoring network’s Facebook® page (www.facebook.com/BigBrothersBigSisters), follows mentors, mentees, families and professional staffers – the people who make the program work. Independent studies find when enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters, children who face adversity are more likely to improve in school, avoid risky/delinquent behaviors and have higher self-esteem and aspirations.

The reality series, featuring “Bigs” and “Littles” enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, New Jersey, is part of the nationwide mentoring network’s Start Something™ campaign. Introduced in January through a website redesign and national TV, radio and online public service advertising, Start Something™ is a call to action for donations, story sharing, volunteers, celebrity ambassador engagement and advocacy to strengthen Big Brothers Big Sisters’ capacity to help children overcome adversity and achieve lifelong success. Big Brothers Big Sisters national corporate partner American Eagle Outfitters Foundation provided funding to support the development of the documentary.

“This Web series is a wonderful extension of our Start Something™ campaign with Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. “By documenting the relationships between Bigs and Littles, viewers will get a firsthand look at the life-changing impact of Big Brothers Big Sisters and they will be even more motivated to donate, volunteer or spread the word about this important work.”

The Start Something™ Web Series will be promoted online with ads developed by Publicis Modem. The Advertising Council has also secured significant commitments from sites such as AOL, Facebook®, Mojiva and MSN to support the campaign with donated impressions.

The documentary series will be followed by user-generated stories from mentor-mentee matches around the country who documented their shared experiences using digital video cameras donated by Orion Trading. 

Reality-Based Documentary Series Cast and Stories
Kyhron and Dan: Little Brother Kyhron is the lone boy in his single-mother headed family. He hopes to go to college, but is struggling in school. He participates in a number of sports and dreams of owning a business some day. Early this year, Kyhron’s mother enrolled him in Big Brothers Big Sisters, where the professional match team made Dan his volunteer mentor. Recently laid off from his job in Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s office, Dan has had his own personal struggles, but remains inspired by knowing he motivates Kyhron. The cameras follow Dan as he leaves the two-family home he shares with relatives to pick up Kyhron for an outing to visit a few small businesses in Newark and for a meeting with a Very Important Person who offers Khyron some personal encouragement. Since the filming, Dan has landed a new job with Prudential Financial, Inc.

Kiwi and Tawana: “Kiwi” is one of single dad Stephan’s three daughters. A former Little Brother, Stephan enrolled all three of his girls in Big Brothers Big Sisters to round out their childhood experiences with special attention from a female role model for each daughter. The cameras follow Kiwi and her Big Sister Tawana, a single mother of a teenaged son, who helps her mentee explore her creativity through the sharing of baking, craft fairs, girl talk and other adventures.

Julio and Thomas: Julio’s grandmother enrolled him in Big Brothers Big Sisters to help him become more focused and disciplined in school. Thomas, Julio’s Big Brother, travels from Montclair where he lives with his mother (a school teacher) and father, to take Julio out to play a little baseball and later to attend a Saturday night wrestling match. Thomas spends a lot of time with Julio and leans on his Big Brothers Big Sisters match support team to assist him with his mentoring relationship.

Juwan and Paul: The story of Juwan and Paul is a tale of how people from two sides of town are pulling together to help a bright young boy beat the odds. During a period of marital separation, the mentee’s mother enrolled Juwan and his sisters in Big Brother Big Sisters to give her children every opportunity to help each of them succeed. The cameras follow Paul on a Saturday morning as he leaves his upscale Jersey City condo to meet up with Juwan at his home on the other side of the tracks. The two head back to Paul’s neighborhood for brunch, followed by a pick-up basketball at a nearby well-equipped and maintained facility.

Makaila and Jill: Makaila’s mom enrolled her precocious daughter in Big Brothers Big Sisters to give her little girl the special attention she seemingly craved, particularly as her older sister reached her teen years and required more parental guidance. Jill, Makaila’s mentor, lives a town away from the small apartment Makaila shares with her mother and sister. Match activities between the two have included visits to Jill’s home where Makaila is learning to swim. The cameras follow the mentor and mentee during one of their cultural outings — a visit to Turtle Back Zoo. In the year since the two have been matched, Jill has grown close not just to Makaila, but to her family as well.

Mujahid and Ian: Mujahid’s mother enrolled her son in Big Brothers Big Sisters to give him a male role model, as he is the only boy in a large family of girls. Mujahid’s Big Brother, Ian, is pleasantly surprised at the positive changes he’s seen in his Little Brother since their mentoring relationship started. The cameras follow the two as Ian leaves his suburban home and arrives in Newark to meet up with Mujahid and then head off with his Little Brother to catch a ballgame.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) and monitors and supports them in one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The organization holds itself accountable for children in the program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as higher aspirations; greater confidence and better relationships; educational success; and avoidance of delinquency and other risky behaviors. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of about 370 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 240,000 children. Learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org. Find the Start Something™ Web Series on Facebook.com/BigBrothersBigSisters.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties
All stories featured in the web series are those of mentors and mentees enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, based in Newark, New Jersey. One of nearly 370 affiliates in the Big Brothers Big Sisters network, the Newark-based agency serves more than 1,000 mentees and as many mentors in one-to-one relationships. The agency carefully matches the children with their volunteer mentors and provides ongoing service and support to the mentors, mentees and the youths’ families to keep the relationships going strong so that they yield the best results. For more information, please go to bigsandkids.org.

About Publicis Modem
Publicis Modem is the digital specialist arm of Publicis Worldwide, the largest global agency network within Publicis Groupe. Uniquely embedded within Publicis Worldwide, Publicis Modem is a leading multi-channel digital experience agency and is the fourth largest digital agency network in the world with a presence in more than 30 countries. Within Publicis Worldwide in the USA, Publicis Modem creates digital initiatives for some of the world’s most-talked about brands including Citi, General Mills, Sanofi, LG and Cartier, among others.

About the Ad Council
The Ad Council is a non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit www.adcouncil.org.

For More Information Contact:
Kelly Williams
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
215-665-7795
Kelly.Williams@bbbs.org

Ellyn Fisher
The Ad Council
212-984-1964
efisher@adcouncil.org

Janice Snook
janice & associates pr for Publicis Modem
650-400-4448
janicesnook@gmail.com

Ad Council Family of Sites