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Hey Bigs!

Welcome to the Big Community, an online gathering place created for our incredible volunteers. We hope the resources you find here will help you grow as a mentor, stay up to date with the latest happenings at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, and build a fun, meaningful relationship with your Little!

Thank you for all that you do for your Little and our community.

Resources for You, Your Little, and Their Family

Looking for ways to understand and respond to your Little’s needs? Here are some resources we’ve compiled to help. For more resources specifically suited for you and your Little, please contact your Match Support Specialist.

Community Resources

Alameda County

(510) 259-1800

Contra Costa County

(877) 881-1116

Marin County

(415) 473-7153

Napa County

(707) 253-4262

(707) 253-4261

(800) 464-4216

San Francisco County

(415) 558-2650

(800) 856-5553

San Mateo County

(650) 595-7922

(650) 802-7922

(800) 632-4615

Santa Clara County

(650) 493-1186 – North

(408) 683-0601 – South

(408) 299-2071 – Central

Solano County

(800) 544-8696

Sonoma County

(707) 565-4304

(800) 870-7064

If You or Someone You Know Is In Crisis, Please Seek Help Immediately.

Below are some options for immediate support.

Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.

Text MHA to 741741 to connect with a trained Crisis Counselor from Crisis Text Line.

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you are in need of support, but not in crisis, consider reaching out to a warmline. 

Find a warmline at mhanational.org/warmlines.

Crisis Support of Alameda County

SF Suicide Prevention

CA Peer Warmline

Greenlight Clinic

Huckleberry Youth Programs

Larkin Street Youth Helpline

Side by Side Youth Community Counseling

Seneca Northern California

Crisis Text Line 

Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline

Early Childhood Mental Health Program - Child and Family Therapy 

LGBT National Youth Talkline

National Runaway Safeline

The Defensive Line

Things to Do with Your Little

If you’re wondering what activities or outings to share with your Little, check out our recommendations.

Discounts & Perks

We’re excited to bring you exclusive discounts and perks as a Big! For free tickets to Bay Area sports games, check your email for our offers—we send them often.

Touchstone Climbing Gyms | Free Day Use for Matches

Gardens of Golden Gate Park | Free Access for Matches
Admission Letter for Active Matches

YMCA of San Francisco | Free Access for Matches
Welcome Letter for Youth
Community Membership Application

College and Career Resources

If you have a teenage Little, chances are they’ll want to start talking about their future. There are many opportunities and paths for a Little at this stage, and it’s our privilege to help them see and pursue their own potential.

Education

Applying to and paying for higher education can be daunting. Consult these resources so you have the knowledge to confidently guide college-related conversations with your Little.

CSU Transfer Success Pathway Webinar

Many students achieve success in a more affordable way by first attending a California community college and then transferring to the California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) systems for a four-year degree. Watch a webinar from the CSU on how the CSU Transfer Pathway works.

Northern California College Promise Coalition

Often, navigating a college or university’s financial aid opportunities can be challenging for youth and adults alike. The Northern California College Promise Coalition created a Financial Aid Webinar Series that you can watch with your Little to better understand the process.

How to Avoid Summer Melt

What is summer melt?

“Up to one third of all students who leave high school with plans to attend college never arrive at any college campus that fall. [It] tends to hit low-income students hardest, as well as students who are the first in their family to go to college.”

Most Littles fall within this demographic. This is where BBBSBA and you work together to support your Little.

Use our mentor coaching tips to help avoid summer melt:

  • Show support and school spirit and take a virtual campus tour together
  • Before your Little arrives on campus, use this College Board checklist to help them stay focused
  • Encourage your Little to schedule an appointment at their college’s financial aid office

2-Year College vs. 4-Year College

A two-year college or community college is a great educational starting point for your Little who is interested in obtaining an Associate’s Degree, a Certificate Degree, or as a way to complete their general education classwork and transfer out to a four-year university. Here in California, we are lucky to have so many community colleges serving our Littles. Did you know that California has 115 community colleges across the state? Your Little can apply to any of these two-year colleges by using this link: California Community Colleges CCCApply

Financial Aid Opportunities

What is Financial Aid? 

For Littles that are planning to attend a college or career school, financial aid is essential in making it more affordable. Financial aid is offered to Littles based on their financial need as well as merit.

Types of Financial Aid:

FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form your Little needs to fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Your Little must be a US citizen to apply for this type of financial aid.

CA Dream Act: The California Dream Act application allows Littles interested in attending eligible California colleges, universities and career education programs to apply for state financial aid. This application is essential for undocumented Littles looking for financial aid, since some scholarships available to require that your Little be a US citizen. This application is specifically designated to undocumented Littles, DACA Littles, Dreamer Littles and AB 540 Littles. Click here for more information.

Private Scholarships: Some colleges and career schools offer scholarships directly to their students and may not require your Little to fill out their FAFSA or CA Dream Act. It’s important that your Little check with their school to see if they need to fill out other applications or provide further information to their school if they are planning on applying for private scholarships. Click here to read more on how to find and apply for scholarships.

Scholarship Search Engines: There are thousands of scholarships out there to ease the financial burden on your Littles. Your Little can find scholarships that award students for anything from studying computer science to being a great bowler. Visit search engines like the College Board Scholarship Search or Fast Web to start narrowing down the options.

Other Educational Resources

California Community College provides tools and resources at ICanGoToCollege.com, including how to enroll at your local community college campus, availability of year-round financial aid, career education programs, and guaranteed transfer to participating four-year colleges or universities.

Learn more about the California State University admissions process.

Find University of California financial aid information, requirements, and learn how to apply.

UC Campus Tours – Take a virtual tour with your Little of nine UC campuses.

Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form to apply for financial aid for college or graduate school.

California Student Aid Commission has compiled a list of the Financial Aid Programs they offer to a variety of students.

Employment

What is Trade School?

A trade school, which oftentimes is also referred to as vocational school, technical school, or vocational college, is a post-secondary institution that’s designed to give Littles the technical skills to prepare them for a specific job or occupation. Trade schools can be either public or private, but many are for-profit businesses. At a trade school, your Little can get a degree in fields like information technologynursing and health sciences, automotive technician training, and medical assisting. Program lengths can vary, but typically they can range from anywhere between eight months to two years. Unlike a four-year college, your Little won’t graduate from a trade school with a bachelor’s degree. Instead, upon completing the program your Little will receive a diploma or trade certificate acknowledging they successfully completed the program. For some programs, your Little might also earn an associate degree, which is the degree they would get from a two-year college. Learn more about Trade Schools and how they differ from two-year and four-year colleges.

Employment Search Tools

Discover occupation possibilities with the California Department of Labor.

Visit the California Career Center to start considering options.

The California Department of Employment and Development gives helpful tips and information for Littles interested in joining the workforce after high school.

The California Department of Employment and Development gives Littles information on job fairs and workshops happening regionally to get them started on their employment search.

Enlistment

Branches of Enlistment

A career in the military offers many benefits and perks to your Little. See the links below to learn about the branches of the military that your Little might be interested in joining.

Army
Army Reserve
Army National Guard
Marine Corps
Marine Corps Reserve
Navy
Navy Reserve
Air Force
Air Force Reserve
Air National Guard
Space Force
Coast Guard
Coast Guard Reserve

What is Boot Camp?

Boot camp is basic training that everyone wanting to pursue a career in the military must go through. This training prepares recruits for all elements of service: physical, mental and emotional. It gives service members the basic tools necessary to perform the roles that will be assigned to them for the duration of their tour.

Each of the services has its own training program, tailoring the curriculum to the specialized nature of its role in the military. Boot camp can last anywhere between 8 to 13 weeks depending on the military branch.

Learn more about boot camp and how it pertains to each branch of the military your Little wants to enroll in.

Enlistment School Information

Is your Little ready to enlist into their selected branch of the military? Once they have talked to a recruiter, they will need to set a date to visit a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) to finish their enlistment process.

The MEPS is a joint service organization that determines an applicant’s physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards as set by each branch of military service. There are MEPS locations all over the country. Learn more about enlisting in the military and the Military Entrance Processing Stations near your Little.

If your Little is interested in attending college as well as joining the military, here are some helpful links to guide them through that process:

US Air Force ROTC
Army ROTC Programs and Requirements
Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps – Scholarships
Coast Guard Officer Careers

Military Benefits

There are many benefits available to active service duty members and military veterans, including:

  • Free access to health care
  • 30 days of paid time off for active service duty members
  • Access to life insurance
  • Access to retirement savings
  • Educational assistance
  • Disability compensation

For a full list of benefits and perks available, visit Today’s Military or the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Exploration

Career Exploration Tools

What do you want to do for a living? Whether they know what they want to be or just aren’t sure, My Next Move can help point Littles in the right direction.

Internship Search: Internships are a great way for Littles to get exposed to a potential career field, as well as gain firsthand experience.

What is a Gap Year?

A gap year is an option for Littles who may want to have a year to themselves before starting on their college and career pathway. Littles can explore careers, use this time to travel, volunteer, work, do mission trips or save money for higher education.

The gap year typically lasts 12 months. Proponents of the gap year believe that it can broaden their horizons and help students be better prepared and more focused once they arrive at college or other career pathways.

Learn more about the gap year and help guide your Little who might decide on taking it.

Share your story and keep in touch

We love to hear from our Bigs about the time spent with Littles and the impact you’ve had on each other’s lives. Your responses allow us to share your valuable and meaningful stories with our community. Share your story with us at stories@bbbsba.org — be sure to include pictures and descriptions of you and your Little and we will celebrate you, your Little and all the amazing things you do.

Connect with us on socials!

Feel free to follow us on socials (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) and tag us in any posts that you make about BBBSBA, as well as hashtagging #BBBSBA.

Have More to Give?

Our programs depend on donor support throughout our community. Bigs can become part of something even BIGGER as financial supporters!

Monthly Giving

Small monthly gifts can make a BIG impact! Bigs like you know first-hand what a huge difference you’re able to make in a child’s life. By becoming a Matchmaker and making a gift of as little as $10 per month, you’ll be providing steady, stable funds that we can count on so we can focus on our mission and introduce more waiting Littles to their Big each and every month.

Get started to give monthly to BBBSBA.

Employer Matching Gifts

Some companies offer financial matching gifts in honor of their employees’ volunteer time, including time spent with your Little. Learn more about Dollars for Doers. You may be able to convert your volunteer hours into a company donation supporting our program! To start the process of signing up for your company’s D4D program, find your company’s electronic submission link or submit your matching request here: https://google.benevity.org/.

Many companies also match employees’ charitable gifts, doubling the impact of your donation.

Sign up or see if your employer offers these benefits.

Grants and Foundations

Your company may have a foundation or employee-directed grant program and there is no better reference than you, an in-house Big, to champion our cause. Please let us know how your company supports organizations that are important to their employees.

Our Tax ID is #23-7108045. You can find more information about our organization’s financials here.

Refer A Friend

Sharing our mission with your personal and professional connections can make a BIG impact. Word-of-mouth is the top source of volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. Refer a friend to volunteer as a Big, sign their child up as a Little, donate, or partner with our agency. Share what mentorship means to you to encourage others to join you in making a difference.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn
Feel free to tag us in your posts about the program and hashtag #BBBSBA!

Share on social media

Share why you’re a Big using the hashtag #ReferABig.

I am a #mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area [tag us @bbbsba (Facebook), @bbbsbayarea (Instagram, X), @big-brothers-big-sisters-of-the-bay-area (LinkedIn)] because [fill in your reason here]. Spending time with my Little is so rewarding. Join me bayareabigs.org #BBBSBA #ReferABig

As a #mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area [tag us @bbbsba (Facebook), @bbbsbayarea (Instagram, X), @big-brothers-big-sisters-of-the-bay-area (LinkedIn)], I’m able to [fill in what you’ve gained as a Big]. Learn more about the program and its mission: bayareabigs.org #BBBSBA #ReferABig

What I love about being a mentor is [fill in what you love about being a Big]. Check out the program today: bayareabigs.org #BBBSBA #ReferABig

Share why you support our mission in other ways using the hashtag #BeBigger.

I serve on the Board / Associate Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area because [fill in your reason here]. 1:1 mentorship empowers the potential of our youth. Check out the program: bbbsba.org #BBBSBA #BeBigger

I partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area in [fill in the details of your partnership] because I believe that their program positively impacts local youth and our community. See more information on the mission and impact: bbbsba.org #BBBSBA #BeBigger

Send an email

Dear friends and family [or insert first name],

I’m writing to tell you about my volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. It’s an amazing organization that pairs youth across all 9 Bay Area counties with adult volunteers in transformative mentoring relationships. 1 in 3 children across the U.S. do not have the presence of a caring, consistent adult outside of their family, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area creates and supports these Match relationships to build youths’ support networks and empower their potential. 

I believe that all youth deserve to fulfill their full potential, and that’s why I volunteer as a Big [or other connection to BBBSBA]. I’ve been Matched with my Little [insert first name] for [insert amount of time], and I’ve personally seen [fill in how your Little has grown or changed during your Match]. It is an honor and a joy to be in my Little’s life, and our time together is so rewarding.

If you’re looking for an impactful way to make a difference, I recommend volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area. Just spending a few hours a month with a Little or partnering with the organization in another way makes a BIG difference for local youth. Head over to bayareabigs.org to learn more, or reply here and I’d be happy to share more about my experience.

Gratefully,
[your name]

Send a text

Hi! Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, the nonprofit I volunteer with, is looking for more caring mentors for local youth. I thought you’d be a great fit. You can learn more about being a Big at bbbsba.org/mentor.

Hi! I volunteer a few hours a month for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area as a Big to my Little. It’s both fun and rewarding, and I thought you might also be interested. You can learn more about being a Big or sign up here: bbbsba.org/mentor.

Include a blurb in your newsletter

1-to-1 mentorship is proven to empower youth potential. Kids with a consistent, caring mentor become more confident, more likely to avoid risky behaviors, and improve their mental health.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area creates and supports these life-changing mentoring relationships where adult volunteers are Matched with youth facing adversity. The program offers training, resources, and regular support so volunteers feel confident in making an impact. We accept applications for volunteers aged 21+ and youth aged 6-15. If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, then learn more and get involved at bayareabigs.org.

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