Big Impact - Proven Results

We’ve always known we were making a positive impact on children and empowering them to succeed. A nationwide study confirmed it for us.


The Big Brothers Big Sisters Match

According to the Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) study, our one-to-one matches truly make an impact in children's lives. A Big Brothers Big Sisters’ match is carefully administered and held to the strictest standards. Agencies strive for matches that are not only safe and well suited to each child’s needs, but also harmonious and built to last. The entire matching process, from the initial screening to the final pairing—and beyond—is made possible by your financial support.

But don’t just think of us as simply matchmakers. We provide ongoing support and supervision to the Big, the Little, and the Little’s family. We offer training and advice to help ensure that the match is working for everyone involved. And our local agencies even receive their own ongoing training and consulting from the Big Brothers Big Sisters National Office. This web of support helps maximize the likelihood that a Big Brothers Big Sisters relationship will thrive.

 


Measuring our impact

 Big Brothers Big Sisters believes that it must hold itself accountable to the families, children, and mentors enrolled in our program. We must hold ourselves accountable to the donors, partners, and advocates who fund our work. That is why a commitment to continuous learning, improvement, and research is at the heart of what we do.

Continuous learning through technology

Our commitment to measurement, analysis, and improvement is so core to who we are that we have developed a unique, proprietary method of tracking the interactions between Bigs and Littles. Known as the Agency Information Management system (or AIM), this performance management tool helps guide the decisions of our network of professionally trained staff members. Built to support Big Brothers Big Sisters, AIM provides the intelligence and data to continually improve our services to children.

Continuous learning through partnerships

Through the generous support of corporations, foundations, and donations, Big Brothers Big Sisters regularly participates in nationwide or local research opportunities. 

Research on Big Brothers Big Sisters

Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, looked at over 950 boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country selected for their large size and geographic diversity. This study, published in 1995, is widely considered to be foundational to the mentoring field in general and to Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based program in particular.

Approximately half of the children were randomly chosen to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. The others were assigned to a waiting list. The matched children met with their Big Brothers or Big Sisters about three times a month for an average of one year.

Researchers surveyed both the matched and unmatched children, and their parents on two occasions: when they first applied for a Big Brother or Big Sister, and again 18 months later.

The Results

Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in our program, were:

less likely to begin using alcohol
less likely to skip school
less likely to begin using illegal drugs
less likely to skip a class
less likely to hit someone

 

They also found that the Littles were more confident of their performance in schoolwork and getting along better with their families.

“These dramatic findings are very good news, particularly at a time when many people contend that ‘nothing works’ in reaching teenagers,” said Gary Walker, then-President of Public/Private Ventures. “This program suggests a strategy the country can build on to make a difference, especially for youth in single-parent families.”

The study found that Big Brothers Big Sisters’ matches consistently spend more time together, and continue as a match for longer periods, than those in other mentoring programs that Public/Private Ventures had studied. Big Brothers Big Sisters programs were found to “focus less on specific problems after they occur, and more on meeting youths’ most basic developmental needs.”

The matches that P/PV researchers observed shared everyday activities: eating out, playing sports or attending sports events, going to movies, sightseeing, and just hanging out together.

But what mattered to the children were not the activities. It was the fact that they had a caring adult in their lives. Because they had someone to confide in and to look up to, they were, in turn, doing better in school and at home. And at a time in their lives when even small choices can change the course of their future, the Littles were also avoiding violence and substance abuse.

Public/Private Ventures, a national research organization with more than 30 years of experience in studying child development and social service issues, conducted the independent research. The study was funded by the Lilly Endowment, the Commonwealth Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous donor.

Our Impact on Self-Confidence 

Think back to when you were young. Who helped you to believe in yourself and what you could accomplish? Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors, donors, families, advocates, and supporters work hard to encourage and support today's children. When those children believe in themselves and what they can accomplish, they'll enjoy better relationships with their friends, families, and peers, and they'll help create safer, stronger communities.

 

What our Littles say

Our impact on our Little's self confidence is confirmed by those closest to it: our Littles. In a 2009, we commissioned industry leader Civic Enterprises to conduct a nationwide survey of our Bigs and Littles. The results speak volumes about the ways in which Big Brothers Big Sisters helps to change a child's life for the better, forever:

  • Despite the barriers they face, 94% of Littles said they have a lot or some confidence they will achieve their goals.
  • 93% of Littles said to have adults who care and look out for them is very important to helping them achieve their goals.
  • 80% of Littles said they feel their Bigs help them a lot.

What our alumni say

Our impact on a child's self-confidence and emotional well-being is felt long after Littles graduate from high school. In 2009, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of alumni Littles from across the nation. Among those former Littles,

  • 90% agreed their Big made them feel better about themselves.
  • 86% agreed they lead a fulfilling life.
  • 72% said they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with their relationships with friends.

Our Impact on Education

With the help of our donors, volunteers and partners, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes a Big impact on children’s education. The effect has been confirmed by study after study and can be tracked and monitored using our best-in-class measurement tools.

Our landmark study

Our impact on education is evident in research conducted by Public/Private Ventures and published in 1995. When comparing children matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister to those waiting to be served by Big Brothers Big Sisters, these researchers found that:

  • Littles skipped half as many days of school as did their peers.
  • Littles felt more competent about doing schoolwork.
  • Littles skipped fewer classes than did their peers.

Children who are in school, in class, and engaged in their work are more likely to succeed.

What our current Littles say

Our impact on education is confirmed by those closest to it: our Littles. In a 2009, we commissioned industry leader Civic Enterprises to conduct a nationwide survey of our Bigs and Littles. Of those children surveyed,

  • 97% of Littles said working hard in school is very important.
  • 95% of Littles said going to school and getting a good education is very important.
  • 94% of Littles said graduating from college is very important.

Children who work hard, recognize the value of education, and set a goal of going to college are more likely to succeed.

What our alumni say

Our impact on education is felt long after Littles graduate from high school. In 2009, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of alumni Littles from across the nation. Among those former Littles:

  • 77% said they are doing better in school because of their Big.
  • 65% agreed their Big helped them reach a higher level of education that they thought possible.
  • 52% agreed their Big kept them from dropping out of high school.

Children who graduate from high school, perform well in school, and achieve beyond their expectations are successful in school and in life.


Our Impact on Juvenile Justice

Big Brothers Big Sisters knows that children who avoid interactions with the juvenile justice system – and violence, drugs, and alcohol - are more likely to succeed. That's why our professional staff members, supporters, families, and advocates support, encourage and champion the relationships between Bigs and Littles. Bigs help teach their Littles right from wrong and help them make good decisions.

The landmark study

Our impact on juvenile justice is evident in research conducted by Public/Private Ventures and published in 1995. When comparing Littles matched with a Big to children waiting to be served by Big Brothers Big Sisters, these researchers found that:

  • Littles were 46 percent less likely to start using drugs.
  • Littles were 27 percent less likely to start using alcohol.
  • Littles were almost one-third less likely to hit someone.

What our alumni say

Our impact on decision-making is felt long after Littles graduate from high school and from our program. In 2009, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of alumni Littles from across the nation. Among those former Littles:

  • 90% said their relationship with their Big helped them make better choices throughout their childhood.
  • 86% said their relationship with their Big has helped them make better choices throughout their adult life.
  • 76% said they learned right from wrong from their Big.