A community-based mentoring program for disadvantaged youth ages 6-18.
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ community-based mentoring program matches youths age 6-18, predominantly from low-income, single-parent households, with adult volunteer mentors who are typically young (20-34) and well-educated (the majority are college graduates).
The youth’s parent/guardian applies for his or her child to be matched with a mentor through a written application and child/parent interview. Potential mentors are screened by a Big Brothers Big Sisters caseworker through a personal interview, home visit, and criminal, background, and reference check to ensure that they are not a safety risk and are likely to form a positive relationship with the youth. Prior to a match being made, the youth and parent meet with the potential mentor; the match’s completion requires the parent’s approval.
The mentor and youth typically meet for 2-4 times per month for at least a year, and engage in activities of their choosing (e.g. studying, cooking, playing sports). The typical meeting lasts 3-4 hours.
For the first year, Big Brothers Big Sisters caseworkers maintain monthly contact with the mentor, as well as the youth and his or her parent, to insure a positive mentor-youth match, and to help resolve any problems in the relationship. Mentors are encouraged to form a supportive friendship with the youths, as opposed to modifying the youth’s behavior or character.
In 2008, Big Brothers Big Sisters served 255,000 youths at 470 agencies nationwide. The national average cost of making and supporting a match is approximately $1,512 in 2017 dollars.