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, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities (any intellectual or developmental disability).
Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Their programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.
The mission pillars and program areas of the organization include:
- One-to-One Friendships: Builds friendships between people with and without IDD, offering social mentoring while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion for a population that is often isolated and excluded. BESTBUDDIES Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges and Citizens
- Integrated Employment (not in DE yet)*: Secures jobs for people with IDD, allowing them to earn an income, pay taxes, and continuously and independently support themselves. BESTBUDDIES Jobs
- Leadership Development: Educates and empowers people with and without IDD to become leaders, public speakers and advocates. BESTBUDDIES Ambassadors and BESTBUDDIES Promoters
- Inclusive Living (not it DE yet)*: Provides an integrated experience in which people with and without IDD are active, contributing citizens – living independently in a dynamic environment where they can learn, grow, and thrive. BESTBUDDIES Living
*(Working towards these as membership increases.)
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.
As Best Buddies Founder and CEO is often quoted, the end goal is to put Best Buddies out of business. Best Buddies envisions a world where people with IDD are so successfully integrated into schools, workplaces and communities that its current efforts and services will ultimately be unnecessary. Until that vision becomes a reality, the organization will continue to educate middle school, high school and college students, community members, corporations and employers about the emotional, functional, and natural needs and abilities of people with IDD.
While Delaware’s school program currently consists of primarily middle school, high school and college partnerships, we are currently looking to pilot an elementary school program in the near future. Best Buddies Delaware provides services in all three counties and supports transition age individuals with IDD from ages 18-21 years of age by matching them with college students, as well as through their 21+ Citizens Program which matches individuals with IDD into the community with same age peers.
The Best Buddies Program in Delaware has established many partnerships with other organizations across the state including the following:
- Bank of America – Seventy buddy pairs have been established where individuals with disabilities who are employed at the bank are matched with peers.
- The Columbus Organization – The connection with the Columbus organization is that they took over from DDDS case managers. They are the connection between Best Buddies and the Delaware community of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Down Syndrome Association of DE – Best Buddies partners every year with the Down Syndrome Association of DE for the Rehoboth Beach Buddy Walk.
- Special Olympics – Best Buddies partners every year with Special Olympics to take part in the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign.
- Tim Tebow Foundation – Best Buddies partners every year with the Tim Tebow Foundation in planning the “Night to Shine Prom” for individuals with disabilities.
Annually, all Best Buddies staff attend two national conferences, a Staff Leadership Conference in January and Leadership Conference, an annual national gathering of all Best Buddies state programs which invites our school and community leaders, typically held in July at the University of Indiana.
Additionally, Best Buddies Delaware staff, school and community leaders frequently attend regional trainings designated to provide additional tools and resources to help us spread the message of inclusion at a local level.
Furthermore, all newly hired Best Buddies staff are automatically enrolled in an internal Staff Mentoring program, where they are assigned a seasoned member of the Best Buddies staff to assist them as they transition into the new role. Finally, the Ambassadors Program is available as a leadership development program for people with and without IDD, statewide
Best Buddies Delaware offices are located in Wilmington and Milford.
550 S. DuPont Boulevard
Milford, DE 19963
Phone: (302) 258-5797
The following are the names of staff members in DE:
Best Buddies Delaware had a Friendship Walk scheduled on October 20th at Glasgow Park in Newark, DE from 11:00am – 2:00pm. To register, please visit https://www.bestbuddiesfriendshipwalk.org/delaware/
For more information, please visit their website at BESTBUDDIES.ORG/DELAWARE.