As Best Buddies Colleges expanded in the early 1990’s, Best Buddies founder Anthony Shriver, became interested in engaging the corporate community in his mission of friendship. With that idea and interest, Best Buddies Citizens was launched in 1993 in Miami, Florida.

Best Buddies Citizens pairs adults with IDD in one-to-one friendships with adults without IDD from their community. This program is much more than community service. Citizens changes lives. Over the last several years, Best Buddies Citizens has not only enhanced the lives of adults with IDD but it has also changed the lives of the participants without intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Through learning to see things from a new perspective, people become more understanding, patient, and accepting of others within our community.

Currently, we have active citizens programs around the world.

Citizens is a program for adults in the community 18 years or older.  A Citizens match is formed between two adults of the same gender.  Matches are based on age, similar interest and proximity.  Best Buddies staff conduct a thorough screening process to ensure they are making the right match.  By spending time together, both individuals are enhanced through this mutually-enriching friendship. While participants are asked to commit to their friendship for at least a year, these matches often grow into life-long friendships!

Participant Roles and Expectations

Participant Roles

Peer Buddy – an adult volunteer without an IDD from the community who is paired in a one-to-one friendship with a person an IDD.
Buddy – a volunteer with an IDD who is paired in a one-to-one friendship with a person without an IDD from the community.
Sponsor – a person who knows the buddy well and is willing to serve as a resource to the friendship.  He/she will be able to answer questions that the buddy and peer buddy may have and can support the friendship in tandem with the program manager.

Member Commitment and Expectations

Each participant must agree to the following:

  • Matched in a friendship for a minimum of a year
  • Able and interested in forming a mutually enriching friendship
  • Receive training lead by Best Buddies staff prior to being matched in a friendship
  • Communicate with their buddy on a regular basis (Best Buddies recommends at least once a week)
  • Meet with your buddy twice a month or once a month for four hours or more (this can include group activities and statewide events)
  • Attend group activities and state wide events
  • Complete friendship updates each month on Best Buddies Online

Information on being matched in the program can be found here:

Steps to Getting Matched in the Citizens Program


Depending upon the state, participants may be responsible for covering the cost of their background check; all participants must submit to a background check prior to being matched in a one-to-one friendship.  Best Buddies staff will review the background and membership application once received.

Regarding expenses once matched in a friendship, remember this is a friendship like any other.  Each person is responsible for paying his or her own way.  Matches can choose to do activities together that cost nothing.  It is up to the pair to decide what works best for them.

Participant Resources

Citizens Orientation Guide
Getting to Know Your Buddy
Take Action with Best Buddies


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