Volunteer to start something

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Additionally, our programs are characterized by three elements that most mentoring programs do not feature:
  • Professional supervision: Intake of client and adult, screening and training of the adult, creating matches, and supervision during the relationship is conducted by professional Case Managers who combine assessment, management, coaching and guidance to all parties.
  • Longevity: This relationship is unique and different for each match, thus it takes time to develop BBBSBA volunteers commit to 2-4 hours per week for a minimum of one year.
  • Developmental relationships: BBBSBA creates friendships between adults and youth. These naturally developing friendships are highly valuable to the child, as the adult is willing to share their time and include the child in day-to-day activities.
Q: Does Big Brothers Big Sisters have any results to prove success?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area measures the impact of services for at-risk youth by administering a nationally-accepted pre/post test known as the Youth Outcomes Survey. This survey shows us that BBBSBA’s mentoring programs result in proven, postive short-term and long-term outcomes for youth in three main areas: educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, and increased social and emotional well-being.
  • Educationally, youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program have higher grades, better scholastic competence, and a greater desire to graduate from high school and attend a four-year college.
  • Socially, youth in our programs feel more accepted by their peers and more connected to their family. They are also more likely to say no to drugs, alcohol, skipping school, or getting in fights.
  • Emotionally, youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program have greater feelings of self-worth and therefore, more hope and higher aspirations for the future.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: What is your service area?
We serve kids in nine Bay Area counties - Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma. Our primary office is in San Francisco, with satellite program offices in Oakland, Milpitas, San Rafael and American Canyon.

Q: What is your greatest need?
We would not be able to serve the Littles we do without our volunteers. That said - it costs $2,500 a year to create and professionally support a match. In order to continue supporting our matches, and serving potential Littles on our waitlist, we need help reaching our financial goals! Here’s how you can help.

Q: Where does BBBSBA get its funding?
Last year we received 60% of our funding from individuals, either through direct giving, indirect gifts (vehicle or household donations) or event-related donations. Corporate donations and Foundation gifts each account for about 15% of our financial support.

Q: How do I become a Big Brother or Sister?
Please visit our volunteer page to learn all about what it means to be a Big, the requirements for applying, and the enrollment process.

Q: Does BBBSBA offer one-day or “done-in-a-day” volunteer opportunities?
We have a limited number of corporate-based volunteer opportunities around our agency events. Contact us at partnership@bbbsba.org if your company would like to get involved.

Q: Will BBBSBA speak at my business or social club?
We're active in the community and happy to make a presentation to your organization. Contact us at development@bbbsba.org for more information.

Q: Workplace Mentoring Program – and is it right for my company?
Workplace Mentoring is an excellent opportunity to give kids the critical life skills to become successful professionals, as well as giving the potential volunteers at your business a chance to give back to the community without leaving the office. Visit our Workplace Mentoring webpage for more information.

Q: 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 600 volunteers in mentoring relationships alone, on top of the dozens of volunteers who help at our fundraising events and through Board involvement. There are more volunteers waiting to start mentoring at-risk Bay Area youth, but the caseloads of our professional support staff are at their maximum - we need more financial support to put these volunteers to work and reduce the number of kids on our waiting list.

Q: You have over 1,000 kids waiting for Big Brothers or Big Sisters --How long do they wait?
Our recently-matched children matched waited 6-8 months on average for caring, positive mentors to enter their lives. Those who are yet to be matched, are still waiting after over seven months. That can seem like forever for a waiting child. Please donate or volunteer to help move these kids off of our waiting list!

Q: How many kids do you serve?
We serve nearly 1,000 at-risk children from throughout the Bay Area annually in our mentoring programs.

Q: Besides volunteering, how can I help?
  • Our volunteer Bigs are the lifeblood of our agency, but it's our donors who make our matches happen. Visit our support pages for more information on becoming a donor.
  • Our Young Professionals groups raise funds and awareness through fun events and networking activities throughout the Bay Area. Click here to learn more.
  • Support BBBSBA in other ways - donate clothing and other household items, your used vehicles, event tickets, and more. Click here for more information.

Q: How can I learn more?
BBBSBA is active on social media! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and sign up for our monthly e-news.

BBBSBA Tax ID #23-7108045

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© 2017 Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area
Serving Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano & Sonoma Counties

65 Battery Street, Second Floor, San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-503-4050
825 Washington Street, Suite #202, Oakland, CA 94607, 510-836-8713
600A Valley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035, 408-586-0150
1618 2nd Street, San Rafael, CA 94901, 415-453-3800
3860 Broadway St., Ste. 109, American Canyon, CA 94503, 707-258-6346

BBBSBA Tax ID #23-7108045

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Big Sisters of America, Inc. (BBBSA) and are used under a license from BBBSA. All rights reserved.