The Mission of BBBS is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1 to 1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
The BBBS Vision is that all children achieve success in life.
BBBS Programs: BBBS Programs are vehicles for delivering the BBBS Mission.
There are two Core BBBS Programs: Community-based Big Brothers Big Sisters (community-based mentoring), and Big Brothers Big Sisters in Schools (school-based mentoring). There are also several Program Variations in which community-based or school-based programs address specific categories of children, volunteers or partners and their particular needs or the opportunities they present. Variations may occur in location (where meetings take place), frequency (how often volunteers and youth meet), duration (how long their relationship continues) and activities (what they do together when the meet).
BBBS Core Programs
Community-based Big Brothers Big Sisters
In the community-based program, Big Brother and Big Sister volunteers provide children and youth – our “Littles” - individualized time and attention on a regular basis, typically 2 – 4 times a month, for two to three hours. During unstructured weekly or bi-weekly outings, filled with conversations and shared activities, they develop a relationship that helps youth manage the every day challenges that are part of “growing up.” During the time with their Big, children gain new skills, explore new interests and test behaviors that expand their experience base beyond their family or neighborhood.
Over the course of time, children gain confidence, acquire new skills and competencies, and develop an enhanced capacity to care for others – all tasks that are a part of developing healthy maturity. Volunteers experience a sense of discovery and enjoyment as they see the world of possibility open up through the child’s eyes. The evaluation tools, (SOR) Strength of Relationship, and (YOS) Youth Outcome Survey, demonstrate positive outcomes for children in the program. This program has served hundreds of thousands of boys and girls since the founding of the organization in 1904.
Big Brothers Big Sisters in Schools
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters in Schools, volunteers offer children and youth individualized time and attention on a consistent basis, with the venue being the child’s school rather than the community. Teachers identify those children who can most benefit from an extra caring adult in their lives. Volunteers and children meet regularly during the school year – typically each week, utilizing the resources available within the school: computer labs, the library, the gym, a classroom, or the schoolyard.
Whether they play board games, or read the newspaper together, their relationship promotes a positive school experience for the child: good attendance, positive peer and adult relationships, a positive attitude, and academic enrichment. As their friendship evolves over time, volunteers and children discover ways to make school and learning fun. When matches continue from one school year to the next, volunteers experience the satisfaction of watching their Littles achieve success in school. During the summer hiatus, they may exchange letters, email messages or phone calls, or attend agency-sponsored events.
Businesses and corporations partner with local BBBS affiliates to encourage volunteerism among their employees as a part of their community support. Employees are recruited and enrolled as a group, and paired with children in a nearby school. Typically, they meet with their Little Brother or Little Sister for an hour during the lunch period – between 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. one day each week. In addition to eating together, they may play board games, do recreational activities, or talk together about their work and school lives. Volunteers meet for company sponsored brown bag lunches with a BBBS staff member. BBBS and the sponsoring company share in support and recognition of volunteers. Employers recognize the positive value their partnership represents to the community, and the positive experience mentoring represents for their workers.
High School Bigs
High School students in grades 9 - 12 spend time each week with an elementary student “Little”. Depending on the respective locations of the two schools, the pairs may meet during school hours or after school. They meet one on one throughout the school year, exchange postcards or emails over the summer. Among their typical activities are playing games in the gym or schoolyard, board games, or catching up on schoolwork. Their closeness in age makes these Big Brothers and Big Sisters highly appealing to the elementary students – they are older “friends.” HS Bigs experience the joy and life changing power of service, and may receive school credits or build their college resume as well. Littles gain the same benefits that are provided by older Bigs and have the opportunity to connect with a role model close to their own age.
How is BBBS different from other Mentoring Programs?
Through the years, BBBS community-based mentoring has established the “gold standard” for other mentoring programs. The value of effective volunteer screening and match support has been widely accepted and followed as new mentoring programs have been developed. Through its time-tested infrastructure, BBBS is recognized as the premiere mentoring program for youth across the country. In addition, as the new Service Delivery Model has been implemented, a customer service ethic has added efficiency and convenience to volunteers as they enroll, and added “customized” support for volunteers after they are matched with a child. Therefore, the quality that has always characterized BBBS service for children and youth extends to ensure that the volunteer’s experience is positive and enriching as well, and their involvement enduring.
Big Brothers Big Sisters in Schools is different from other school mentoring programs because it offers in- depth opportunities for volunteers to interact and influence the lives of their Littles beyond simple tutoring or homework assistance. Volunteers in the BBBS in Schools Program follow their Little Brother or Little Sister from one school year to the next, and while their focus is school success for the child, the Bigs lives are enriched too, as their friendship deepens over time. For some, being a Big in School is a prelude to becoming a community-based volunteer with the same Little or another child.
Through anextensive screening process based upon 100 years of professional experience, and through an education program for parents, children and volunteers, BBBS has established the hallmark for child safety. Most important, ongoing BBBS contact with the child, parent(s), teacher and volunteer provides up to date information about safety issues and any issues or concerns that may arise throughout the match relationship.
Strength of Relationship(SOR), and Youth Outcome Survey (YOS):
BBBS addresses issues of confidence, competence and caring in accord with the Search Institute indicators of healthy youth development, based upon available “assets.” Each year, littles complete the SOR and YOS evaluation instruments to determine their progress. Recognizing developmental issues related to gender, age, and race, and the identified needs of each child, BBBS helps volunteers plan activities, conversations and opportunities that can build “assets” and promote positive youth development.
BBBS offers choices to volunteers in how they wish to become involved as a “Big.” They may choose to spend one hour a week in school and may enjoy seeing a child move from fourth grade to fifth. Most BBBS agencies offer choice in time of the day, and day of the week that a volunteer may meet with a child in school.
Some Bigs in school may decide to increase their involvement by becoming “community-based” volunteers. As a community volunteer they and their Little may join agency sponsored group activities or “go fishing” on their own. They can choose weekend meetings or evening outings. Family, volunteer and student schedules can be accommodated. In all cases, volunteers are ensured a holistic experience through personal investment not typically available through tutoring or less supported or structured mentoring programs.
BBBS identifies the needs and interests of volunteers and children and customizes the way that the Match Support team adds value to their match experience. BBBS match relationships and mentoring experiences demonstrate duration and quality because of the infrastructure that a dedicated staff team provides: regular consultation and strategic interventions to solve problems or strengthen match relationships. For volunteers that are part of a company, school or church partnership organization, group support meetings offer training and peer sharing opportunities. Agency sponsored events, e.g. holiday parties, sporting events, and picnics, provide opportunities for groups of volunteers and their Littles to have fun together.