What is your agency mission?
Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
We partner with parents/guardians, volunteers and others in the community and hold ourselves accountable for each child in our program achieving higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships while also avoiding risky behaviors and achieving educational success.
Why is mentoring important?
Mentoring is the act of providing guidance and friendship to someone who could use a role model for life's choices and decisions. By mentoring, people can help others reach goals and improve self-esteem. When mentoring children, volunteers offer to help build a strong foundation for youth as they grow.
How does mentoring work?
It's simple. Someone volunteers to develop a relationship with a young person, offering support and guidance. By spending time together, learning new things and enjoying friendship, the mentor helps the young person make better life choices.
Why choose this program over others?
Big Brothers Big Sisters pioneered youth mentoring in 1904. We are the industry leader in mentoring services to children. An independent national study surveyed our programs and methods spanning a five-year period. This research company found kids involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs were more likely to graduate and stay out of trouble when compared to their peers without mentors. They also found kids improved their school grades and relationships with others. Our program has proven results.
What is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is the umbrella organization that supports local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies. They are headquartered in Philadelphia and offer standards for agencies to provide consistent, quality services.
How many chapters exist nationwide?
More than 500 agencies are spread throughout North America. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America even has partnerships with organizations across the globe, with programs in Russia, Canada and other major countries.
What is your service area?
The service area includes 106 counties across Texas, serving cities from San Angelo through the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to Paris and the Greater Houston area.
What is your greatest need?
We need volunteers. With more than 1000 children waiting for a mentor, we just can't recruit people fast enough. And to keep those mentoring relationships going, we need funds to do it. The bottom line - more mentors, more dollars. This offers more services to kids in need.
How many people volunteer annually with your organization?
Volunteers support every aspect of our agency from supporting our funding efforts to volunteering at agency activities. And of course, volunteers are the essence of our mentoring relationships. We have over 5000 volunteers in mentoring relationships alone, on top of the hundreds of volunteers who help at our fundraising events, volunteer drives and through Board involvement.
You have over 1,000 kids waiting for Big Brothers or Big Sisters --How long do they wait?
Our children who have been matched waited an average of five months for caring, positive mentors to enter their lives. Those who are yet to be matched, are still waiting after almost six months. We need volunteers! Six months may not seem long to you, but for a child, it can seem like forever.
How many kids do you serve?
We serve more than 10,000 children annually in our mentoring programs. And during the holidays we provide our additional unmatched children and their families with some special assistance through our holiday gift drive. We also offer outsourcing and referrals for other issues facing our kids and their families. As a full-service agency, we touch thousands of area children through our efforts annually.
About the Process of Becoming a Big:
How will I be matched with a child?
The enrollment and interview process helps us to get to know your preferences as well as the situation best suited for you. It also helps you get to know us and the program expectations. We take into account your personality, likes, dislikes, age preferences, background, and location. But the final decision is yours.
How do children come into the program?
Children and parents may hear about Big Brothers Big Sisters from a teacher, a counselor, their church, a friend, commercials, etc. All children and their parents choose to be in our program.
Who are the children in the program?
Our Littles come from many types of home environments and family structures, different social-economic levels, ethnic backgrounds, and neighborhoods and schools across all communities. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique, but they all have a need for friendship with a caring adult.
How do I volunteer?
The process is easy! Visit the Getting Started page, Fill it out and press submit. We will then get an application out to you right away. We ask a few people about you, and ask you a few questions about yourself. Once our background check is complete and your application has passed screening, you enter the mentoring program of your choice.
What are the requirements to mentor?
Most of our programs require a volunteer to be at least 18 years old. We want stable, positive people to volunteer. You don't have to be brilliant, athletic, famous or rich - our kids need real people as role models.
Do the mentoring programs cost anything?
No. You don't have to spend money. This program is about developing a relationship with a Little Brother or Little Sister. We encourage no-cost or low-cost activities to do together. We don't have an annual membership fee and we even provide volunteers a list of fun, free activities to do.
How will I know I made a difference?
You might not see results right away. Mentoring relationships take time to build trust. Our Big Brothers and Big Sisters are supported by having match support staff to help monitor their relationships. These professionals can help you see the difference you make in the life of a Little Brother or Little Sister including increased self-esteem, becoming more outgoing, expanded interests, better grades in school. You can be instrumental in helping a child succeed.
I travel for work. Can I still volunteer?
All of our programs ask for a one-year commitment. We have found time consistency to be one of the most important elements in being an effective mentor. Many of our Big Brothers and Big Sisters fit their relationships with their flexible lifestyles. And some of our programs are perfect for that busy corporate traveler. It's making the right program choice for your lifestyle that counts.
Do you accept gay/lesbian volunteers?
Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud that not only do we have a nondiscrimination policy, but also it's part of our philosophy. We embrace diversity and believe every human being can offer positive role modeling.
I'm in college. Can I volunteer?
Absolutely. Being a Big Brother or Big Sister can greatly add to your collegiate experience. You have flexible time and spending that time with a Little Brother or Little Sister would work well with a class schedule. As a matter of fact, we'd love to meet some of your college friends and introduce them to the idea of mentoring. (By the way, some colleges offer credit for community service when you volunteer - check with your campus career office or volunteer center!)
I heard that you really need minority volunteers. Why?
Our agency matches mentors with kids based on the strengths of the volunteer and the needs of the child. We do not base relationships on ethnicity. However, we also realize children might benefit from having mentors of their own race, to offer insight into culture and heritage. Currently, 70 percent of our children are minority compared to only 30 percent of our volunteers. We especially need African-American and Hispanic volunteers, with our greatest need being male mentors.
Why do you need more Big Brothers?
Predominantly, females volunteer more often and at a greater rate than their counterparts. Most of the children waiting for a mentor are boys (about 65 percent) and they could use a positive adult male to look up to. Most of these boys are from female-headed households and have no close male role models. That's why we focus our recruitment toward men.
What’s it Like to Be A Big:
When can I see my Little?
Our Bigs and Littles decide together what they want to do and they get parent approval. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and that you see each other on a regular basis. Your local agency will provide specific guidelines on expected frequency of activities with your Little. Until your relationship is established the outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parent, your Little, and you. If your Little is younger, a shorter outing might be better.
How much money should I spend?
We discourage you from spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is friendship. You should focus your time on getting to know each other. We encourage you to seek out free or low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies often offer group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles! You may also receive notices for opportunities for free tickets for your match to attend a variety of cultural and sporting activities.
What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?
Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Buy a comic book to read to each other, play a board game, or take a ride in the car with the radio on while you discuss music! You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. The most important thing is to have FUN!
Can I bring my partner/friend/family member on outings?
In the beginning it is important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. Over time it is also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you. Keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. Remember that the main focus is the friendship YOU have with your Little. The local agency you work with may also have specific guidelines to assist you.
What kind of support can I expect from Big Brothers Big Sisters once I get matched?
Once you are matched with your Little, a Match Support Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Anytime you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. You’ll receive ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference, just by showing up!
Will you come to my business, church, sorority or social club to make a presentation?
Please, twist our arm! Whenever you are interested in having one of our agency representatives share our mission with others, contact us. We can provide audio-visual presentations, videos, speeches, e-presentations and materials about Big Brothers Big Sisters. We can even provide curriculum sessions for conventions, professional meetings or conferences on mentoring, youth services and volunteer management.
Besides volunteering, how can I help?
Head to our Funding / Special Events page and read about ways you can financially support Big Brothers Big Sisters - our mission, our cause and our kids.
Does Big Brothers Big Sisters have any results to prove success?
Of course. We wouldn't be in business if we couldn't refer to our bottom line. In our local agency, we surveyed our kids. We found their graduation rates to be higher than that of the general population, and four times greater than that of their "at-risk" peer group. Nationally, a study showed kids involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters were less likely to have peer conflict, skip school or use drugs.
Do you need financial support, too?
Although ours is a business, it is a not-for-profit business and relies on fundraising, grants, donations and individual gifts. Our Funding / Special Events page on this web site provides insight into our current supporters, ways to give and detailed funding questions.
Do you have a newsletter?
Three, in fact. We have two printed newsletters that come out bi-annually and several electronic newsletters targeted at our different audiences that come out weekly or monthly. If you would like to receive a copy of our "Big News" mailing that goes out in the Spring and Fall, just email us at email@example.com.