Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska believes a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization is one where all employees, volunteers, youth, and families, feel valued and respected whatever their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, education, income, or health condition. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard.

Our vision at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska is that all youth achieve their full potential. We recognize that while all children have equal potential, they do not have equal opportunity. Too many children are struggling with generational poverty, limited academic opportunities, familial incarceration, violence, and a lack of access to positive adult role models. Inequities that impact our youth often result from systemic biases that “sort” people into resource-rich or resource-poor neighborhoods and school systems–largely on the basis of race and income. With this context, we are committed to serving children and youth who are impacted by adversity.

Our program helps build up children’s resilience and enhance their self-esteem, opportunities, and employability. Our goal is to reduce the economic and health imbalances that damage educational opportunities, health care, and wealth accumulation.

ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, we use a trauma-informed care approach in working with our families, Bigs, and youth. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impair children’s brain development. Based on the Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study, childhood experiences are correlated with current health and behaviors of adults. The researchers found that more than 67% of the adult population had an ACE score of at least one. One in eight adults has a score of 4 or more, which correlates to a 4.5 times higher likelihood of being diagnosed with depression and is 12 times greater risk of suicide. They found that the higher your ACEs score, the worse your health outcomes as an adult.

LEARN MORE about ACEs in Alaska
Determine your own ACEs score

*Please note: taking the ACEs questionnaire may bring up some upsetting feelings for some. Please reach out should you need to process your results.

RESILIENCY BUILDING

Research also shows that resiliency is the number one protective factor against ACE and inequities. This is powerful! This means being a positive mentor for a child directly impacts their health, wellness, and success. You can make this level of impact for a child. YOU can make a BIG difference!

HOW TO ACTIVATE THE ALLY IN YOU

BECOME A MENTOR WITH BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF ALASKA. Our Littles are diverse in race, gender, religion, socioeconomic class, and age. They’re looking to relate to and benefit from a positive mentor just like you.

DONATE FINANCIALLY. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska is a 501c(3) non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible. Learn more about other ways to give by clicking here.

LISTEN AND LEARN. Here are just a few examples of resources that might help you on your way:

BABIES & TODDLERS

  • A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara (local author). Board book. Also available in Spanish.

K-2ND

  • Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester. Introduces concept of race as part of a person’s story; Introduces the idea of prejudice based on skin color. Picture book for K-2.
  • Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. Excellent book about a child’s resistance to slavery.
  • Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Describes the sit-in by four college students at a Woolworth’s counter in 1960. Picture book for K-2.
  • We March by Shane Evans. Picture book about 1963 March on Washington. Preschool-Grade 2.
  • A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson; illus. by Eric Velasquez. A stirring yet jubilant glimpse of the invaluable contributions
  • of youth in the Civil Rights movement. Ages 5-8.
  • Yours for justice, Ida B. Wells : the daring life of a crusading journalist by Philip Dray
  • Dolores Huerta : a hero to migrant workers by Sarah E. Warren ; illustrated by Robert Casilla

3RD-6TH

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Through poetry, Woodson shares her experience growing up African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Grade 4 & up.
  • Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges. Autobiography about the harrowing story of how Bridges integrated a public school in New Orleans when she was 6 years old. Grades 2-4.
  • One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Three sisters visit their mother, a Black Panther Party member, during a memorable summer in Oakland. Sequel P.S. Be Eleven. Grades 3 & up.
  • Freedom over me : eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life by Ashley Bryan. Uses primary sources (and poetry) to contrast the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life, dreams and dignity. Grades 4 & up.
  • Turning 15 on the road to freedom: my story of the 1965 Selma voting rights march by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. The youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March shares her involvement in historic Civil Rights events. Grades 4 & up.
  • Little Rock Nine by Marshall Poe; illustrated by Ellen Lindner. Two boys in Little Rock get caught up in the struggle over public school integration. Grades 4 & up.
  • Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge (local author). A photo essay focusing on the critical role that children and teens played in the success of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Grades 4 & up.
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Watsons’ lives are drastically changed after they visit Grandma in Birmingham in the summer of 1963. Grades 4 & up.
  • Revolution by Deborah Wiles. Twelve-year-old Sunny evolves a growing sense of justice and empathy after “the invaders” arrive in her Mississippi town to integrate public facilities and register voters during “Freedom Summer.” Grades 4 & up.
  • The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. The riveting local account of African American sailors who were charged with mutiny for refusing to work in unsafe conditions after a deadly explosion during World War II. Grades 4 & up.
  • The kid’s guide to social action: how to solve the social problems you choose — and turn creative thinking into positive action by Barbara A. Lewis
  • Claudette Colvin: twice toward justice. An excellent book parents and teachers can use to raise the question: Who gets to be a leader? Which Black lives matter, and who gets left out when we look for just one kind of hero? Grades 6 & up.
  • Black lives matter by Sue Bradford Edwards and Duchess Harris. Grades 6 & up.
  • In the shadow of liberty: the hidden history of slavery, four presidents, and five black lives by Kenneth C. Davis. Grades 6 & up.

7TH & UP

  • From #BlackLivesMatter to Black liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  • All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
  • March: books 1, 2 and 3 by John Lewis ; with Andrew Aydin; art by Nate Powell
  • A young people’s history of the United States by Howard Zinn
  • Police Brutality (opposing viewpoints series) by Sheila Fitzgerald.
  • A Letter to My Nephew by James Baldwin (1962). See also The Fire Next Time. Grades 9 & up.
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis. Grades 9 & up.

See also:

  • Canerow Book List, titles featuring children of color as central characters in their own stories, curated by Bay Area mom, activist and author Mia Birdsong for children of color to see themselves and their histories reflected in literature.
  • #RaiseUpJustice Diverse Books Starter Kit from Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
  • The Zinn Education Project teaching materials on racism, civil rights and other social issues.
  • Teaching for Change. Resources by theme, including Racial Identity and Fairness and Activism.
  • Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching. Sample lesson plans and resources.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks envisions a world where all children can see themselves in the pages of a book. Get involved with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign by tweeting and contacting publishers. http://diversebooks.org

Look at your own implicit biases and ways that you combat preconceived thoughts about others. This can be uncomfortable but is the best way to grow and move forward in being an ally.

Watch and share a documentary, TedTalk, podcast, or visual storytelling of a social group that you do not know much about.

LOCAL RESOURCES

  • United Way 2-1-1: database and call center of local resources available. Call 2-1-1 or visit alaska211.org for more information. Input your zip-code and you will see a variety of resources accessible in your area.
  • Alaska Legal Services: assists clients facing critical civil legal issues ranging from consumer law, family law, housing problems, public benefits, healthcare, Alaska Native law, and other areas specific to veterans or the elderly.
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): legal counsel for any injustices on a social group of persons. These issues include race, free speech, disability rights, juvenile justice, human rights, security and privacy, and many more.

NATIONAL RESOURCES

  • Human Rights Campaign (HRC): national platform addressing LGBTQ+ issues as well as racial and ethnic disparity.
  • Center for Social Inclusion: researches policies and identifies inequities, discusses innovative ways to talk about race, offers training opportunities for leadership, and implements strategies to create institutional change.
  • Haas Center for a Fair and Inclusive Society: researches religious diversity, LGBTQ+ citizenship, diversity in democracy, economic disparities, and many more to develop a multidisciplinary approach for constructive solutions to society’s most pressing DEI issues.