Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that try to have a measurable impact on youth.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organizations in the United States. Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors children, ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country.

The group holds a congressional charter
Congressional charter
A congressional charter is a law passed by the United States Congress that states the mission, authority and activities of a group. Congress issued federal charters from 1791 until 1992 under Title 36 of the United States Code....

 under Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code outlines the role of Patriotic Societies and Observances in the United States Code.*Subtitle I—Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies*Subtitle II—Patriotic and National Organizations...



Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, conducted a study from 1994–95, monitoring 950 boys and girls nationwide to study the effects of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Out of the 950 children half were randomly chosen to be matched, and the others were put on a waiting list. According to the study the matched children meet with their Big Brother or Sister about three times a month for a year

After surveying the children at the beginning of the study, and again after 18 months, the researchers found that the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in the program, 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
  • 33% less likely to hit someone

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

"We have known all along that Big Brothers Big Sisters' mentoring has a long-lasting, positive effect on children's confidence, grades, and social skills," affirms Karen J. Mathis, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s President and CEO, "and the results of this impact study scientifically confirm that belief."

"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."


In a recent review, Big Brothers Big Sisters was selected by Forbes Magazine as one of its top ten charities, making the publication’s “gold star” list of charities worthy of donor consideration. The magazine surveyed 200 non-profits and rated them on how efficiently they collect and distribute dollars. Forbes looked at three categories: charitable commitment; fundraising efficiency, and donor dependency.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator is an independent, non-profit organization that evaluates American charities. Its stated goal is "to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of America's largest charities."-About:...

, America’s premier charity evaluator. The top rating reflects organizational efficiency and capacity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America meets the BBB Wise Giving Alliance's Standards for Charity Accountability.

Big Brothers Big Sisters received the American Institute of Philanthropy
American Institute of Philanthropy
The American Institute of Philanthropy is a 501 nonprofit organization, created in the United States by Daniel Borochoff in 1992, to provide information about charities' financial efficiency, accountability, governance, and fundraising. Its official website is known as...

's highest rating, an A+.


In 1904, a young New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 court clerk named Ernest Kent Coulter
Ernest Kent Coulter
Ernest Kent Coulter , was a War Veteran journalist, lawyer, public administrator, and developer of civil society and human welfare programs most notably through his work in child advocacy....

 was seeing many boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these boys stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. That marked the beginning of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC is a 501 non-profit organization based in New York City, whose mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that try to have a measurable impact on youth...

 and the Big Brothers movement. By 1916, Big Brothers had spread to 96 cities across the country.

At around the same time, the members of a group called Ladies of Charity were befriending girls who had come through the New York Children’s Court. That group would later become Catholic Big Sisters.

Both groups continued to work independently until 1977, when Big Brothers of America and Big Sisters International joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Big Brothers Big Sisters currently operates in all 50 states and in 12 countries around the world.

History of Organization

  • 1902 Coulter, a court clerk, helps organize the first New York Children's Court, under Judge Julius Mayer; Ladies of Charity, later Catholic Big Sisters of New York, starts to befriend girls who come before the New York Children's Court
  • 1903 Businessman Irvin F. Westheimer
    Irvin F. Westheimer
    Irvin Ferdinand Westheimer is best remembered for being the founder of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America....

     befriends a young boy in Cincinnati, OH; seeds sown for the start of Big Brothers in Cincinnati
  • 1904 Ernest Coulter founds the organized Big Brothers movement by obtaining 39 volunteers, who each agree to befriend one boy
  • 1912 The New York Times reports Big Brothers activity in 26 cities
  • 1914 Ernest Coulter embarks on nationwide lecture tour on behalf of Big Brothers; planning begins for a national Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization
  • 1916 Big Brothers work spreads to 96 cities
  • 1917 The first national conference of Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations is held in Grand Rapids, MI., leading to the later organization of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation
  • 1923 Big Sisters work geared to African-Americans is underway in Louisville, KY
    Louisville, Kentucky
    Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

     and Brooklyn, NY; Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
    Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
    Theodore D. Roosevelt, Jr. , was an American political and business leader, a Medal of Honor recipient who fought in both of the 20th century's world wars. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt from his second wife Edith Roosevelt...

     becomes treasurer of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation; First motion picture based on a Big and Little Brother relationship is released by Paramount Pictures
    Paramount Pictures
    Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

  • 1925 Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation holds its first conference for agency executives; President Calvin Coolidge
    Calvin Coolidge
    John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

     becomes patron of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation
  • 1930 Six hundred delegates attend a Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation meeting in New York City
  • 1934 President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt become patrons of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation
  • 1940 National Committee on Big Brothers and Big Sisters service is created to continue to pursue the formation of a national group
  • 1947 Big Brothers Association headquarters opens in Philadelphia 
  • 1948 Norman Rockwell
    Norman Rockwell
    Norman Percevel Rockwell was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening...

     produces the sketch that becomes a symbol for the Big Brothers Association
  • 1951 Big Brothers of the Year Program begins, Associate Justice Tom Clark
    Tom C. Clark
    Thomas Campbell Clark was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States .- Early life and career :...

     of the U.S. Supreme Court and J. Edgar Hoover
    J. Edgar Hoover
    John Edgar Hoover was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972...

     are named
  • 1952 Ernest Coulter dies
  • 1958 Big Brothers Association is chartered by Congress
  • 1969 Big Brothers Association grows to 150 affiliated agencies
  • 1970 Big Sisters International is incorporated
  • 1971 Big Brothers Association reports 208 affiliates
  • 1977 Big Sisters International and Big Brothers Association merge, forming Big Brothers Big Sisters of America with 357 agencies, mostly independent agencies with their own nonprofit status and governing board
  • 1984 Big Brothers Big Sisters of America occupies its new headquarters at 230 North 13th Street in Philadelphia
  • 1985 Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is honored with a commemorative stamp by the Postmaster General
  • 1989 Public/Private Ventures
    Public/Private Ventures
    Public/Private Ventures is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, social research and policy organization. Its mission is to improve the effectiveness of policies, programs and community initiatives, especially as they affect vulnerable communities...

     begins study to gauge impact on youth of having a Big Brother or Sister
  • 1995 Public/Private Ventures Study research shows measurable, positive results on youth who have a Big Brother or Sister—seminal research in the field of youth mentoring
  • 1997 President Bill Clinton
    Bill Clinton
    William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

     holds Volunteer Summit in Philadelphia; Big Brothers Big Sisters plays key role
  • 1998 Big Brothers Big Sisters International is founded
  • 1999 Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Columbus and Franklin County (Ohio) partners with Bank One, NA to create the Bank One Academy. This program becomes the model for corporate mentoring for high school age participants
  • 2000 Big Brothers Big Sisters in Schools becomes a core program. Partnerships with schools and volunteer-rich organizations such as churches, colleges, employers, and fraternities are emphasized. The Amachi Big Brothers Big Sisters program which matches children of prisoners with church congregants is piloted.
  • 2001 The slogan "Little Moments, Big Magic" is introduced
  • 2002 The Service Delivery System, consistent approach for providing services to children at all agencies is created to increase Big Brothers Big Sisters’ ability to offer quality services to greater numbers of youth
  • 2003 President George W. Bush
    George W. Bush
    George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

     announces three-year $450 million mentoring initiative in his State of the Union Address
  • 2004 Founding agency Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City celebrates centennial anniversary.
  • 2006 First Lady
    First Lady
    First Lady or First Gentlemanis the unofficial title used in some countries for the spouse of an elected head of state.It is not normally used to refer to the spouse or partner of a prime minister; the husband or wife of the British Prime Minister is usually informally referred to as prime...

     Laura Bush
    Laura Bush
    Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She was the First Lady of the United States from January 20, 2001, to January 20, 2009. She has held a love of books and reading since childhood and her life and education have reflected that interest...

    stars in a public service announcement to recruit volunteers across the nation
  • 2007 Glamour Reel Moments was donating $1 each time someone downloads the title track (Up to $10,000)

External links

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