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Site-Based Mentoring brings significant, life-changing results

When thinking of Big Brothers Big Sisters, most people think of community-based matches where the Big and Little share experiences throughout the community. The majority of Littles are placed in these traditional matches. However, there are two other types of matches that are growing in numbers: school and site-based programs.

During the 2013/2014 school year, throughout our five-county region, we served more than 500 children in over 30 Bigs in Business and Bigs in Schools programs.

In the Bigs in Business program, students have the opportunity to form and build a relationship with an adult in the business community while experiencing the mentors’ workplace. During the school year, middle school students are transported to their Bigs’ business and generally spend about one hour every other week with their mentor. This provides opportunities for the students to discover how their classroom education will be applied in the future while learning about possible career options.

The Bigs in Schools program gives students the opportunity to form a friendship with an adult or high school student who visits the child’s elementary or middle school. The Big and Little build their relationship by playing games, working on school assignments and simply talking about the student’s day. As with all of our programs, Bigs are intentionally matched with a student who has similar interests. Big Brothers Big Sisters selects a school in close proximity to the Big’s workplace; the convenient location allows the mentor to meet with his/her Little two to four times a month for 45 minutes to one hour. Each school offers various times for the Big and Little to meet: before school, during lunch or after school.

Both of these programs allow volunteers the opportunity to make a significant impact on the children in our program while offering flexibility to mentors. The outcomes in these programs are significant and life-changing; research shows that after being matched with a Big for one year:

  • 90% of Littles report an improvement or maintenance in their relationships with peers;
  • 89% of Littles report improvement or maintenance in grades and educational expectations;
  • 89% of Littles report they are less likely to engage in behaviors which would limit their future success.

A number of high school students are involved with the Bigs in Schools program as mentors to younger children. The impact on these older students is significant and leads to an increase in skills needed for workforce readiness:

  • 82% of high school Bigs say they learned about the challenges of being a leader;
  • 74% of high school Bigs say they learned to consider possible obstacles when making plans;
  • 62% of high school Bigs say they learned to find ways to achieve their goals;
  • 70% of high school Bigs say they learned that their emotions affect how they perform.

We know that the Bigs in Business and Bigs in Schools programs work and do not take a lot of time to make a huge impact. It is fun and rewarding for both the Big and Little while at the same time changing lives.In the words ofDon Bolthouse, a Big Brother in the Eaton Bigs in Business program:

‘The role of a Big is simple: Be yourself. Be a friend. You don’t need to be a parent and you don’t need to be a boss. You just need to be there. Each one of you is capable of making a Big impression and a Big difference in the life of a local child. Please consider making this small commitment that can make such a huge difference.”

I hope you will consider becoming a Big with either the Bigs in Business or Bigs in Schools program. Now is the perfect time to step up to begin making an impact for next school year. If you are interested, please call 269-382-6800 or email