"I enjoy making a difference in a child’s life."
- Big Sister
» Back to Programs or School-Based Mentoring

Community-Based Mentoring Program

This is the traditional one-to-one mentoring program of Big Brothers Big Sisters. It is available to children ages 6-18 who live with one parent, grandparents, extended family members, or who are in foster care. Children are referred by the school, church, family member, or family friend. Children in this program are matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister who meets with them outside of the school setting, spending a minimum of four hours together monthly. Matches pursue common interests such as hobbies, sports, cultural events, dining out, and movies. They also attend exclusive regularly scheduled agency-sponsored events and activities.

Community-Based Program Impact

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ one-to-one youth mentoring has been shown to have a significant and positive impact on the lives of children, according to the first-ever nationwide impact study of a mentoring organization.

The Study1

During 1992 and 1993, Public/Private Ventures, a Philadelphia-based national research organization, looked at 959 boys and girls, ages 10 to 16, through Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Phoenix, Ariz.; Wichita, Kan.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Houston and San Antonio, Texas. The agencies were selected for their large size and geographic diversity.

Of the young people taking part in the study, more than 60 percent were boys, and more than 50 percent were minorities. Most came from low-income households, and many lived in families with histories of substance abuse and/or domestic violence.

Approximately one-half of the children were matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. The others were assigned to a waiting list (control group). The children were randomly assigned to one group or the other. The matched children met with their Big Brothers or Big Sisters about three times a month for an average of one year.

Researchers interviewed the Littles, the children who were not matched, and their parents on two occasions: when they first applied for a Big Brother or Big Sister, and again 18 months later.

The Results

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters were:

  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
  • 52% less likely to skip school
  • 37% less likely to skip a class
  • more confident of their performance in schoolwork
  • one-third less likely to hit someone
  • getting along better with their families

» Read the full study here

1 Tierney, J.P., Grossman, J.B., and Resch, N.L. (1995)  Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures


This is a program for our community-based waiting children. Several activities are planned exclusively for these children while they wait for a Big Brother or Big Sister. If there is not an available volunteer upon intake of a child into the community-based program, the child receives a MagicMakers membership card to make him/her feel welcome and a part of something special from the very start.