Mission: The mission of Best Buddies is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Results: MILESTONES: 1989-2010 1989 – 1993 Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Best Buddies® becomes America’s first national, social and recreational program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Best Buddies Fine Art is conceived, featuring masterpieces by Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. Best Buddies hosts the first unified Leadership Conference, training both college student leaders and people with intellectual disabilities, by providing intensive training in public speaking, management, public relations, team building, problem solving and leadership skills. Best Buddies launches Best Buddies Citizens with the goal of pairing adults with intellectual disabilities with their non-disabled working peers. 1994 – 1998 Best Buddies launches Best Buddies Jobs, a supported employment program, targeting high-paying, white-collar jobs for people with intellectual disabilities in Florida, California, and Massachusetts. Best Buddies establishes Best Buddies High Schools, with the goal of pairing special education students in one-to-one friendships with high school volunteers. Best Buddies Middle Schools’ pilot program is launched, reaching out to an even younger age group with the hope that inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities will have a lasting effect on societal norms for the next generation. 1999 – 2006 e-Buddies® is launched as a cutting-edge online friendship program. Maria Shriver writes a landmark book about friendships with people with intellectual disabilities titled, "What’s Wrong With Timmy?" with proceeds benefiting Best Buddies. Best Buddies launches most successful fundraising event in its history, the nationally televised inaugural Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, chaired by California First Lady Maria Shriver, a 100-mile bike ride along the Pacific Coast Highway. For the first time, Best Buddies has programs in all 50 of the United States and on six continents. 2007 – 2010 Best Buddies International and German luxury car manufacturer Audi launch five-year, international partnership. Best Buddies celebrates 20 years of friendships and jobs. In honor of its 20th anniversary, Best Buddies updates it mission statement to: To establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). For the first time, Best Buddies has programs in 46 countries around the world. Best Buddies Ambassadors becomes Best Buddies seventh formal program, promoting leadership and self-advocacy among people with IDD.
Target demographics: Best Buddies serves people with and without IDD, though our primary beneficiaries are people with IDD. Participants include middle and high school students, college students, and community members with and without IDD. According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly AAMR), an IDD is a state of functioning that begins before age 18 and is characterized by significant limitations in both intelligence and adaptive skills, which are those skills necessary for functioning in everyday life. We primarily serve children with mild to moderate cognitive difficulties, Down’s syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, Fragile X Syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder.
Best Buddies Colleges matches adults with intellectual disabilities with college students and creates one-to-one friendships between them. In the past, individuals with intellectual disabilities have not had the opportunity to have friends outside of their own, often isolated, environment.