Big and Little matches between local youth and law enforcement, like this one in Birmingham, Alabama, will be made in Maine for the first time as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s new mentoring program, Bigs with Badges. BBBS of Mid-Maine recently received a $30,000 Innovation Grant from United Way of Kennebec Valley to help launch the new initiative, which links Augusta Police one to one with students at Sylvio J. Gilbert Elementary School in Augusta. Contributed photo

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine has received a $30,000 Innovation Grant from United Way of Kennebec Valley to help launch a new program that links local law enforcement one to one with Augusta youth.

Bigs with Badges is a collaborative partnership that matches 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,” BBBS of Mid-Maine Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson said, according to a news release from the mentoring program. “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.

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 Kennebec Valley.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s long-standing, successful mentoring programs pair Littles, ages 5 to 14, with caring, responsible role models, in one-to-one friendships in seven counties throughout eastern, coastal and central Maine. The program partners with parents, in conjunction with more than 30 schools and hundreds of volunteers and 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, visit or call 207-236-BBBS (2227).

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