Big Brothers Big Sisters

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, promote healthy childhood environments, and prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

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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