Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a Big?

Learn all about what it means to be a Big, the requirements for applying, and the enrollment process.

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. Mentoring is proven to help kids reach goals, improve self-esteem and achieve their full potential in life.

How does our mentoring work?

It’s simple and deep. An adult volunteer develops a relationship with a young person, offering support and guidance. By spending time together, learning new things and cultivating a friendship, the mentor helps the young person make better life choices. And we offer professional guidance to each match every step of the way.

Why choose our programs 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 found kids involved in our 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.

Additionally, our programs continuously show results, characterized by three data-driven elements that most mentoring programs do not feature:

  1. Professional supervision: screening and training of the Big, considerate creation of each match, and professional supervision.
  2. Longevity: Each relationship is unique and different, thus it takes time to develop. That’s why we require matches meet to 2-4 hours per week for a minimum of one year.
  3. Developmental relationships: we support friendships between adults and kids that develop over time. This proves to be highly valuable when the adult includes a kid in age appropriate day-to-day activities.

Does Big Brothers Big Sisters have any results to prove success?

We measure the impact of services by administering a nationally-accepted test known as the Youth Outcomes Survey. This survey supports positive 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.

What is your service area?

We serve kids in all 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 offices in Oakland, Milpitas, and American Canyon.

What is your greatest need?

We would not be able to serve Littles without our Bigs! But we have a particular need for men of color. Also, it costs approximately $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.

Do we offer one-day or “done-in-a-day” volunteer opportunities?

We have a limited number of corporate-based volunteer opportunities around our agency events. Join our e-news for updates or contact us if your company would like to get involved.

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. They do not provide direct funding for our organization.

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.

Where do we get our funding?

We are locally funded, receiving about 60% of our funding from individuals, either through direct giving, indirect gifts (household donations) or event-related donations. Corporate donations and Foundation gifts each account for about 15% of our financial support. A smaller amount comes from government, earned income, and board giving.

Will someone from your organization speak at a 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.

Workplace Mentoring Program – 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 page for more information.

You have hundreds of kids waiting for Big Brothers or Big Sisters. How long do they wait?

Our recently-matched children waited 6-8 months on average for mentors to enter their lives. Volunteers are the essence of our mentoring relationships. However, the reason we have such a high success rate is that our matches need to be a great fit for each other — that takes time. There are more volunteers then professional support staff to make the matches, so we need financial support to engage volunteers and reduce the number of kids on our waiting list. Please donate or recruit Big Brothers, particularly men of color, to help get these kids matched!

How many kids do you serve?

We serve nearly 1,000 kids in need throughout the Bay Area annually in our mentoring programs.

How can I learn more?

We’re active on social media! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and sign up for our monthly e-news.