PHILADELPHIA, Pa., May 11, 2013 – First Niagara and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) welcomed more than 250 “Littles” and their “Bigs” on Saturday to monkey around at the Philadelphia Zoo. The event kicked off the Bank’s 2013 Mentoring Matters initiative, through which First Niagara is committing $125,000 to support BBBS throughout Eastern Pennsylvania.
For over 100 years, BBBS has been working to pair children ages 6 through 18 with mentors who will help them to succeed and thrive throughout their lives. Saturday’s event continued that tradition, as “Littles” explored the Zoo and its animals during a scavenger hunt while spending quality time with their “Bigs” and getting to know other BBBS volunteers.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters has been an integral part of the lives of so many children over the past 100+ years,” said First Niagara Eastern Pennsylvania Regional President Robert Kane. “Their mission to help children facing adversity through rewarding, one-on-one mentoring relationships is something that is very important to First Niagara. We’re proud to be able to support them again this year.”
Over the past two years, First Niagara has donated approximately $275,000 to the organization to help it connect with local community leaders to serve as mentors to children in the Greater Philadelphia area. Locally, the national non-profit serves more than 3,500 children annually through Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley.
“First Niagara’s generosity has allowed children all over Southeastern Pennsylvania to benefit from rewarding mentor relationships,” said Marcus Allen, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pa. “As a result of this donation, this year we’ll welcome nearly 40 new ‘Littles’ and continue to expand our awareness programs and regional mentoring summits.”
First Niagara initiated its Mentoring Matters program in 2008 to emphasize the importance of supporting youth and youth education. Since then, the company has donated more than $4.25 million to mentoring projects and organizations throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 2012, First Niagara provided more than $1.4 million of support to communities throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, through grants and sponsorships from the Bank and the First Niagara Foundation.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as ed-ucational success; avoidance of risky behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships. 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 these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes SurveyReport reinforces the mentoring program’s evidence base of positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity, often those of single or low-income households or families where a parent is incarcerated or serving in the military, with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization’s 100-year history. With about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 630,000 chil-dren, volunteers and families. The organization is engaged in a nationwide search to reunite with alumni mentors, mentees, donors, and family, staff and board members. Learn more at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.
About First Niagara
First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 430 branches, approximately $37 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 6,000 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
About the Philadelphia Zoo
America's first zoo and one of the region's foremost conservation organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. By connecting people with wildlife, the Philadelphia Zoo creates joyful discovery and inspires action for animals and habi-tats. The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the Zoo welcomed more than 1.2 mil-lion visitors last year. The Philadelphia Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquar-iums. For more information on the Philadelphia Zoo, to purchase tickets or to donate, visit www.philadelphiazoo.org. Philadelphia Zoo is a non-smoking facility.