Mentoring Program Evaluation & Research

Did you know that Big Brothers Big Sisters programs make a BIG impact?

Research findings from several formal evaluations suggest that mentoring is successful in producing positive outcomes for children and youth at risk of failing school and engaging in harmful behaviors. In fact, the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention acknowledged Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs as an “evidenced-based” model of delinquency prevention. However, this only applies to the BBBS mentoring programs that adhere to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America “Standards of Practice for One-to-One Mentoring.” Our local agency makes it a top priority to comply with these standards.

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:

  • 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 getting along better with their families.

Researchers evaluating the Big Brothers Big Sisters program found that certain aspects are essential in implementing successful mentoring programs, and these key components are outlined in the Standards of Practice for One-to-One Mentoring. These include:

  • A high level of contact between mentor and mentee.
  • A relationship that defines the mentor as a friend rather than an authoritative figure.
  • Volunteer screening to eliminate unfavorable mentors.
  • Communication and limit-setting training for mentors.
  • Procedures that take into account youth and volunteer preferences.
  • Intensive supervision and support of each match.

For more information on the impact of mentoring, we recommend the following landmark study on BBBS mentoring programs: Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters, by Joseph P. Tierney and Jean Baldwin Grossman, with Nancy L. Resch, Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures (1995, reissued 2000). We also recommend another recent study released by Public/Private Ventures that focuses on the impact of school-based mentoring.

When it comes to the impact our local Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County makes, we know that it is BIG! We do an annual evaluation based on the Program-based Outcome Evaluation (POE) designed by the Search Institute for Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies. The POE involves collecting survey data annually from Bigs, Littles, the parents/guardians of Littles, and Littles’ teachers, and it measures the impact of our mentoring programs on children in three key areas: Caring, Confidence, and Competence development. Additionally, we collect data on a regular basis to determine the number of children served in our programs, including the number of children on the waiting list, the number of active mentoring matches, and the duration of each match relationship.

We can say with confidence that because of our program, the 200+ children that are matched with a mentor are not alone. All of them can assert that they DO have someone in their lives that cares about them and that is there for them when they need someone to give guidance, to lend a listening ear, or to engage them in some fun activities. Now that’s significant!

Annual Reports:

2018 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

For more information on our program evaluation, please contact our office at 530-587-7717 or