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Big Brothers Big Sisters Take Middle and High School Students to Work

Big Brothers Big Sisters
Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio

Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas is expanding into the workplace with its Inspire U program which places ‘Littles’ with “Bigs’ on the job.

Inspire U isn’t new, but it is growing. Part of the SA2020 Initiative, the program enhances the little brother and sister experience by taking middle and high school students paring them with someone in the working world.  

President and CEO of  South Texas Big Brothers Big Sisters Denise Barkhurst said Inspire U is like 'mentoring plus.'

“Because you get the benefits of mentoring – the one-to-one mentoring – but you also get that workplace exposure, career awareness, and of course they do college access activities,” said Barkhurst. “So it’s about getting kids to think about the future and develop a post high school plan.”

Inspire U started in 2009 with North East ISD and SAISD working with Chase Bank and Rackspace; now there are 30 companies participating.

"We have for-profit, non-profit , government entities, St. Mary’s just signed on as the latest partner," said Barkhurst. "There is no company that is too big or too small."

The kick-off for the near year of Inspire U was at St. Mary’s University where San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said he believes mentoring is vital in showing a positive path to success.

“They want to be a doctor, they want to be a lawyer, an engineer, a teacher, whatever,” said Castro. “We have these folks in our community who are success stories themselves who are taking time to show these young people that if they stick it out, if they study hard, they can do it.”

While there is no lack of kids or schools who want to participate, Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently looking for more companies to host students. 

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules