Program Factsheet

Big Brothers Big Sisters

The Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program links youth ages 6-18 with local mentors to promote supportive and positive one-on-one relationships. The program attempts to help youth reach their potential through the establishment of these positive relationships. The program is estimated to serve nearly 100,000 youth nationwide.


  • Community

Developmental Phases

  • Childhood
  • Early Adolescence
  • Adolescence

Related Constructs


Key Links

Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are available nationwide through local Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies. The national BBBS website provides information on how to connect with local BBBS agencies.

The national number for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is 1-888-412-BIGS

How it Operates

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program is implemented through volunteers who serve as mentors. There are two primary mentoring programs: (1) community-based mentoring and (2) school-based mentoring. In the community-based programs, mentors (Bigs) and mentees (Littles) meet weekly (one hour a week) or 2-3 times per month to share time together and participate in activities. In the school-based mentoring program, mentors and mentees meet weekly. BBBS also has mentoring programs available for specific cultural populations. These programs include African American Mentoring, Hispanic Mentoring, Amachi Program, Native American Mentoring, and Mentoring Military Children.

Training Required

Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers are required to complete an application, provide references, participate in an in-person interview, and complete a criminal history background check. Once approved, volunteers are matched with a child with similar interests. All matches are supported by professional staff at local BBBS agencies. Professional BBBS staff members regularly consult with volunteers, children, and parents.

Sampling of Key References Supporting Evidence Base for the Program

  1. Grossman, J. B., & Tierney, J. P. (1998). Does mentoring work? An impact study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Evaluation Review, 22, 403-426.  

  2. Rhodes, J. E., Grossman, J. B., & Resch, N. L. (2000). Agents of change: Pathways through which mentoring relationships influence adolescents’ academic adjustment. Child Development, 71, 1662-1671.  

  3. Tierney, J.P., Grossman, J.B., & Resch, N.L. (1995) Making a difference: An impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.  

  4. De Wit, D. J., Lipman, E., Manzano-Munguia, M., Bisanz, J., Graham, K., Offord, D.R., O’Neil, Ez., Pepler, D., & Shaver, K. (2007). Feasibility of a randomized controlled trial for evaluating the effectiveness of the Big Brothers Big Sisters community match program at the national level. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 383-404.