Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County recently received a $55,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Broward for BIGPride, a mentoring initiative specifically designed to serve the needs and vulnerabilities of LGBTQ+ youth. Big Brothers Big Sisters allocated some of this funding to hire Jennifer Becker, a 15-year veteran of the nonprofit world and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, as the director of BIGPride.
“We’re thankful for the funding provided by Community Foundation of Broward in support of our BIGPride initiative and are grateful they’re standing with us as we serve these vulnerable youth,” said Ana M. Cedeño, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. “We’re also thrilled that this grant has enabled us to hire Jennifer Becker as Director of this important initiative.”
Becker, a Fort Lauderdale resident, comes to this new position from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami where she served for 8 years, most recently as director of match support and previously as director of the Southeast Florida Mentoring Enhancement Program. Prior to joining Brothers Big Sisters of Miami, Becker was the director of groups and director of operations at Christ Journey Church in Miami. She brings 15 years of expertise in program management to BIGPride as well as a deep knowledge of the Big Brother Big Sisters program to her new position.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Becker also brings a wealth of practical experience to the youth served by BIGPride. She has experienced firsthand some of the unique challenges that come with being gay, regarding parental and peer acceptance, and religious and workplace reception. She is ideally positioned to understand and assist BIGPride mentors and youth in the development of a trusting, confidential, one-to-one relationship through site and community-based mentoring.
“All of our youth need support to achieve their full potential,” said Cedeño. “Through one-to-one mentoring relationships, we ignite their power and promise and open their eyes to all they can be. This is particularly true of LGBTQ+ youth, who have a unique set of challenges,” said Cedeño.
According to research reported by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, more than half of the estimated 3.2 million youth in the United States experience one or more factors that place them at risk of not developing into healthy adults. Documented risk factors include: stigma and bias, victimization and bullying, parent and family rejection, homelessness and placement into child welfare systems.
“With Jennifer at the helm, BIGPride will help LGBTQ+ mentees successfully find their way to adulthood by offering opportunities to explore and share issues regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity in a safe, non-judgmental, supportive and empowering environment,” added Cedeño.
Support has been provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward:
Gay and Lesbian Broward Community Fund
Richard Frisby and Edward Burkhart Fund
Steven Halmos Family Fund
Unwin Moore Children’s Voice Fund
Antoinette Sherman Fund
Frederick W. Jaqua Fund