Big Brothers Big Sisters

Program basics

  • Volunteer mentoring program matches community members with disadvantaged or at-risk youth
  • Program focuses on building supportive relationships instead of explicitly addressing problem behaviors
  • Program design varies and can be implemented in either community or school-based settings

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)


Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the second-highest level of evidence by Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, Social Programs that Work, California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Target population

All school-aged children

Program cost

Approximately $1,512 to create and support each match

Implementation locations

  • Nationwide

Dates active

Founded in 1904

Outcomes and impact

  • Some evidence of reducing delinquent behavior and improving school outcomes
  • Reduced aggressive behavior and drug use
  • Improved family relationships and academic performance

Keys to successful implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Programs should support long-lasting, continuing, and close matches, as matches of longer duration yield stronger behavioral, mental health, and academic benefits.
  • Screening, training, and post-match support helps ensure strong, beneficial matches that last for extended periods.
  • Training mentors, staff, and parents on trauma-informed care and social-emotional learning can help improve outcomes.

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