Who We Serve
With the help of a network of donors, partners, and advocates throughout the state of New Jersey, Big Brothers Big Sisters targets the children who need us most, including those living in single parent homes, growing up in poverty and coping with parental incarceration. Starting something begins with finding a great match between a Big and a Little. Making these matches, and performing all the background work involved with them, is possible because of donations from people like you. It’s also why we’re able to offer such a wide variety of programs that pair children, ages 6 through 18, with role models in one–to–one relationships.
To meet the busy schedules and varying needs of our children and volunteers, Big Brothers Big Sisters offers both Community and School–Based programs.
Community–Based Mentoring is the traditional Big Brothers Big Sisters relationship. It’s all about one–to–one time spent together doing things in the community that the Big and Little both enjoy. They meet between 4–6 hours a month to share fun activities, stories, and a little bit of themselves. Maybe it’s shooting hoops, playing a board game, sharing a pizza, taking a walk in the park, or just hanging out and talking.
The schedule can be flexible to meet the needs of mentors and their Littles. Some Bigs meet their Littles on the weekend or in the evening. Others get together with their Littles after school. There’s almost no one so busy that they can’t find a way to fit in a few hours a month. – A few hours that can make a BIG difference in both your lives.
School–Based Mentoring is not a classroom program. It’s not about tutoring – it’s about being a friend. Similar to our Community Program, it is based on the proven results of one–to–one mentoring. School–based mentoring takes place in schools, libraries and community centers, where Bigs and Littles meet once a week to talk and have fun. Of course, some students do talk with their mentors about school, some do homework or read together, but it’s really all about friendship and guidance. You can play or jump rope or shoot hoops – whatever you and the student enjoy. You don’t need any special training or certification just a few hours a month, arranged around your needs and the school’s schedule.
Volunteers enjoy this option as it does not interfere with their evening or weekend activities. Kids enjoy it and parents know what a difference it makes. But some of the biggest supporters of School–Based Mentoring are actually teachers. They see students come back from their one hour a week mentoring sessions with confident smiles, ready to learn and ready to succeed. Kids who feel better about themselves do better in school.
Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters were:
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 37% less likely to skip a class
- more confident of their performance in schoolwork
- one–third less likely to hit someone
- getting along better with their families
Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers had the greatest impact in the area of alcohol and substance abuse prevention. For every 100 youth between ages 10 and 16 who start using drugs, the study found, only 54 similar youth who are matched with a Big will start using drugs. Minority boys and girls were the most strongly influenced; they were 70 percent less likely than their peers to initiate drug use.
The study was funded by a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, the Commonwealth Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous donor.