AUGUSTA — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine has received a generous $30,000 Innovation Grant from United Way of Kennebec Valley (UWKV) to help launch a new program linking local law enforcement one-to-one with Augusta youth. The new program, called Bigs with Badges, is a collaborative partnership matching students from Sylvio J. Gilbert Elementary School (Littles) with Augusta Police Department law enforcement and first responders (Bigs), in long-term relationships that support local kids facing adversity.
“We are incredibly honored and excited to be a recipient of United Way of Kennebec Valley’s Innovation Grant,” said BBBS of Mid-Maine Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson, in a news release. “Through this unique, collaborative partnership, our new Bigs with Badges program, the first of its kind in Maine, will match police and other mentors in law-enforcement, with children, creating positive, one-to-one relationships that will no doubt ignite the power and promise of local youth.”
The program also aims to prevent children from seeing law enforcement as an adversary. Courtney Yeager, UWKV executive director, said BBBS of Mid-Maine’s innovative program helps address entrenched issues with a novel solution that is both collaborative and effective.
“United Way of Kennebec Valley is pleased to help our longstanding partner program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine, launch its Bigs with Badges initiative through our Innovation Fund,” said Yeager. “This groundbreaking program will foster positive interactions between children and law enforcement — building relationships that will benefit our community for generations to come.”
UWKV’s Innovation Fund, established in 2021 and supported by UWKV contributors, launches new, creative solutions and approaches that will lead to breakthroughs in priority areas and help redesign the future of the
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s long-standing, successful mentoring programs pair Littles, ages 5-14, with caring, responsible role models, in one-to-one friendships in seven counties throughout eastern, coastal and
central Maine. BBBSMM partners with parents, in conjunction with over 30 schools and hundreds of volunteers and generous partners in the community, to help children have higher aspirations, greater confidence, better
relationships, avoid risky behaviors and achieve greater educational success.
For more information about Bigs with Badges, or to learn more about BBBS of Mid-Maine, please visit www.bbbsmidmaine.org or call 207.236.BBBS.