Nonprofit Profile: Best Buddies Int’l., creating opportunities

From our print edition

By ROI-NJ Staff
New Jersey | Dec 7, 2017 at 9:32 am

Origin

Anthony K. Shriver is the founder and chairman of Best Buddies International, which he created in 1989 to foster one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. Recognizing the tremendous volunteer potential of university students, Shriver first inspired his college peers to personally collaborate in expanding the realm of opportunities that people with IDD should experience. Today, through Shriver’s stewardship and entrepreneurial spirit, Best Buddies has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasing international reach across six continents.

Mission

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Best Buddies serves the IDD community that includes, but is not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.

Goals

To expand in the state of New Jersey by opening a state office and serving more people with IDD in New Jersey. The “Champion of the Year” fundraising gala was held Nov. 3 at The Brownstone in Paterson to help establish the first Best Buddies International office in New Jersey. With a goal of raising $250,000, the gala is funding the opening of the state office slated for spring 2018. It will also allow the organization to open additional chapters and expand and add programs across the state.

Programs

Best Buddies is comprised of eight programs that positively impact more than 900,000 individuals with and without disabilities worldwide. The organization is active in each of the 50 United States and operates accredited international programs in over 50 countries.

Programs include:

  • BESTBUDDIES One-to-One Friendships: Middle Schools, High Schools and Colleges: Creates an inclusive school environment for students with IDD during times of social and emotional development. Currently, Best Buddies offers its One-to-One Friendships program at five local New Jersey chapters, including Mount Olive High School, Ocean City High School, Warren Hills Regional High School, Princeton University and The College of New Jersey.  BESTBUDDIES Citizens: Helps adults with and without IDD develop meaningful friendships and become more involved in their local communities.
  • e-BUDDIES: Offers an email program, in which a participant with IDD communicates online with a friend without IDD.
  • BESTBUDDIES Jobs: Matches skilled, qualified individuals with IDD with businesses seeking enthusiastic and dedicated employees. Through the Jobs program, Best Buddies develops partnerships with employers, assists with the hiring process and provides ongoing support to the employee and employer. An estimated 85 percent of adults (age 18-plus) with developmental disabilities do not have a paid job in the community.
  • BESTBUDDIES Ambassadors: Offers people with IDD the opportunity to gain the public speaking skills, self-esteem and confidence needed to successfully advocate for themselves, their peers and Best Buddies in communities, workplaces and government.

Achievements

Best Buddies is systematically implementing its 2020 Initiative that will witness the organization’s continued significant growth, both domestically and overseas. Best Buddies created the 2020 Initiative in 2011, with the goal of opening offices in all 50 states by the end of 2020. The initiative also includes plans to train 4,000 Buddy Ambassadors, develop 1,000 jobs for people with IDD around the world, and increase the number of school-based chapters to 2,500. As a result of these ambitious expansion efforts, Best Buddies hopes to become a household name by the end of 2020.

Fundraising

Governmental grants, in-kind donations, year-round special events and corporate sponsors.

Benefactors

  • Alex and Ani
  • PepsiCo
  • Hublot
  • Kahala Corp.
  • Natixis Global Asset Management L.P.
  • Santander Bank
  • Chobani LLC
  • National University System
  • Park West Galleries
  • Plumtree Partners LLC
  • QTEGO
  • Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
  • Silicon Valley Bank
  • Tracfone Wireless Inc.
  • Banco De Brasil
  • Braman Motors
  • BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts
  • BNY Mellon
  • BTIG LLC
  • Coastal Construction Group
  • Compania De Elaborados De
  • Crescent Capital Group L.P.
  • Eaton Vance Management
  • Evolution Logistics LLC
  • Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design
  • Parthenon Group
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises International
  • Sammons Financial Group

Finally

Keith Haring, one of the best-known contemporary artists in the world, created and donated what has become the Best Buddies logo. It incorporates a colorful creation that represents one-to-one affection and acceptance. The image is a work of art in itself, and therefore it is important to preserve its integrity as such. The logo is licensed, managed and monitored by the Keith Haring Foundation in New York.

Where: Statewide
Serving: People with intellectual and developmental disabilities
Key member: Anthony K. Shriver, founder and chairman

Conversation Starter

To learn more, contact Holly S. Goshin, director, Leadership Academy, Best Buddies International, at 201-320-0510.