Statewide 2023 Impact Report
As we approach the new year, it is with great joy and gratitude that we reflect on the incredible journey we’ve shared throughout 2023. This year has been filled with heartwarming stories and impactful moments, showcasing the collective power of inclusion within our Best Buddies community.
We have been tirelessly working to strengthen the reach of our Friendship, Jobs, and Leadership programs. Each program has played a pivotal role in nurturing connections, fostering leadership skills, and empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Our Friendship Program stands at the heart of what we do, and in 2023, it thrived with 505 one-to-one friendships formed. Across 181 school chapters, including 43 new additions, the spirit of camaraderie blossomed. The addition of 56 new Citizens matches further enriched the diverse network of adult friendships within our community, surpassing a total of 400 active Citizens members. These connections go beyond the surface; they represent a commitment to building a more inclusive world.
In the Leadership Program, 35 new Ambassadors joined the ranks bring us to a total of 68 trained leaders. This infusion of fresh perspectives and voices has invigorated our mission. The program hosted nine leadership trainings, equipping our Ambassadors with the skills and confidence to be advocates for inclusivity in their communities.
The return of Best Buddies Leadership Conference (BBLC) marked a significant moment in our year. Reuniting at Indiana University for the first time since 2019, the event became a symbol of resilience, determination, and the enduring spirit of our community. With 47 BBCA attendees, 4 Ambassadors, 31 Student Leaders, 6 Jobs participants, 5 Community Leaders, and 1 Chapter Advisor, the event was a testament to the diverse and impactful roles our members play within Best Buddies. There were 1600 total attendees from all over the world with varying backgrounds – each of which came eager to learn and connect.
The Jobs Program, a cornerstone of our commitment to empowering individuals with IDD to gain independence, continued to flourish . With 50 new placements, including 45 permanent positions and five internships, the program continues to create pathways to employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A total of 212 individuals are now employed, and 50 individuals are seeking employment through job development, demonstrating the program’s impact on both quantity and quality of employment opportunities.
Transitions, our program focused on skill-building and empowerment, hosted a six-week training in Orange County, serving a multitude of participants looking to determine their career interests. These initiatives collectively represent our dedication to ensuring that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have access to the tools and resources needed to thrive.
The Friendship Walk, a flagship event for our community, saw participation from 3,066 walkers across four events, raising over $373,820. This not only signifies the strength of our community but also a 20% increase in walkers from the previous year, highlighting the growing support for our mission.
Champion of the Year events, held across four locations, brought together 54 Champions who collectively raised over $635,000. The introduction of the event to the Sacramento market exceeded all expectations, underscoring the broadening impact of Best Buddies across communities. Each event surpassed their fundraising goal, with the dollars raised impacting our local programs.
As we reflect on these milestones, we extend our deepest gratitude to each supporter who played a vital role in making these achievements possible. Your dedication, generosity, and passion have fueled our mission and inspired positive change. Together, we have created a year filled with transformative moments that have resonated far beyond the boundaries of our community.
As we turn the page to a new chapter, we invite you to stay tuned for more inspiring stories in our upcoming newsletter. The impact of your support is immeasurable, and we look forward to the continued journey of creating a world where everyone belongs.
Thank you for being an integral part of the Best Buddies family. Here’s to a year filled with heartfelt connections and the promise of even brighter tomorrows. If you are interested in volunteering with our organization through any of these events or programs, please click here to volunteer!