Big impact—proven results

We’ve always known we were making a positive impact on children and empowering them to succeed. A nationwide study confirmed it for us.

Big impact—proven results

We’ve always known we were making a positive impact on children and empowering them to succeed. A nationwide study confirmed it for us. Each time Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs a child with a role model, we start something incredible: a one-to-one relationship built on trust and friendship that can blossom into a future of unlimited potential.

The Study

Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, looked at over 950 boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country selected for their large size and geographic diversity. This study, published in 1995 (can we hotlink here? Link is on BBBSA’s site.) is widely considered to be foundational to the mentoring field in general and to Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based program in particular.

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

Researchers surveyed both the matched and unmatched children, 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, compared to those children not in our program, were:

Less likely to begin using illegal drugs
Less likely to skip school
Less likely to hit someone
Less likely to begin using alcohol
Less likely to skip a class

They also found that the Littles were more confident of their performance in schoolwork and getting along better with their families.

“These dramatic findings are very good news, particularly at a time when many people contend that ‘nothing works’ in reaching teenagers,” said Gary Walker, then-President of Public/Private Ventures. “This program suggests a strategy the country can build on to make a difference, especially for youth in single-parent families.”

The study found that Big Brothers Big Sisters’ matches consistently spend more time together, and continue as a match for longer periods, than those in other mentoring programs that Public/Private Ventures had studied. Big Brothers Big Sisters programs were found to “focus less on specific problems after they occur, and more on meeting youths’ most basic developmental needs.”

The matches that P/PV researchers observed shared everyday activities: eating out, playing sports or attending sports events, going to movies, sightseeing, and just hanging out together.

But what mattered to the children were not the activities. It was the fact that they had a caring adult in their lives. Because they had someone to confide in and to look up to, they were, in turn, doing better in school and at home. And at a time in their lives when even small choices can change the course of their future, the Littles were also avoiding violence and substance abuse.

Public/Private Ventures, a national research organization with more than 30 years of experience in studying child development and social service issues, conducted the independent research. The study was funded by the Lilly Endowment, the Commonwealth Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous donor.

History

At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we’ve been impacting the lives of children for more 100 years. And we’re just getting started.

More than 100 Years of History
For over a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. And we have over a century of volunteers, donors, and advocates just like you to thank.

Big Brothers Big Sisters remains true to our founders’ vision of bringing caring role models into the lives of children.

Some key moments in our history:

1904    Ernest Coulter founds the organized Big Brothers movement by obtaining 39 volunteers, who each agree to befriend one boy.

1934    President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt become patrons of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation.

1977    Big Sisters International and Big Brothers Association merge, forming Big Brothers Big Sisters of America with 357 agencies.

1987    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County opens its doors

1995    Public/Private Ventures Study on Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based Mentoring shows measurable, positive results on youth who have a Big Brother or Sister, seminal research in the field of youth mentoring.

2001    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County and the YMCA of Snohomish County merge

2003    President George W. Bush announces three-year $450 million mentoring initiative in his State of the Union Address.

2007    Public/Private Ventures conducts a study on Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring program, reinforcing the value of strong, long-lasting relationships and leading to program enhancements.

2010    President Obama holds a White House National Mentoring Month Ceremony; Big Brothers Big Sisters attends and plays a key role.