Expanding the Reach of Youth Mentoring Through a Scalable Site-Based Model: Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Beyond School Walls Program

Human Services
Typography

Summary

Youth mentoring has been found to help youth succeed academically and thrive socially. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters have found that youth mentoring increases the likelihood that mentored youth will make positive and responsible decisions, leading to increased rates of grade progression, better relationships with families and friends, and reduced rates of youth violence (Tierney, Grossman, and Resch 2000).

Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania (BBBS SEPA) facilitates mentor-mentee relationships for at-risk youth in the Greater Philadelphia region (Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties). BBBS SEPA has been an innovator in the delivery of its services by successfully translating its traditional community-based model into a more structured model in the form of site-based mentoring. BBBS SEPA’s newest site-based mentoring program is Beyond School WallsSM, a program that brings youth to corporations to meet with their mentors, corporate employees. The mentees reap the benefits of the traditional mentoring model while being exposed to a professional setting. The model also allows volunteers to mentor in a way that is more structured and may be more convenient for them.

Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on an all-volunteer mentor base. Its traditional model relies on individual volunteers within the communities who approach the agency in order to become mentors. The Beyond School Walls program allows for BBBS SEPA to recruit larger numbers of volunteers at one time and to reach an untapped source of volunteers. The implementation of site-based programs has allowed BBBS SEPA to grow and become the fourth-largest of BBBS’s 380 agencies. This growth has allowed BBBS SEPA to reach previously hard-to-reach groups of at-risk youth. Reaching more youth, especially those at highest risk, increases the potential impact of BBBS SEPA’s programs and results in an increased social return on investment.

Summary

Youth mentoring has been found to help youth succeed academically and thrive socially. Organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters have found that youth mentoring increases the likelihood that mentored youth will make positive and responsible decisions, leading to increased rates of grade progression, better relationships with families and friends, and reduced rates of youth violence (Tierney, Grossman, and Resch 2000).

Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania (BBBS SEPA) facilitates mentor-mentee relationships for at-risk youth in the Greater Philadelphia region (Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties). BBBS SEPA has been an innovator in the delivery of its services by successfully translating its traditional community-based model into a more structured model in the form of site-based mentoring. BBBS SEPA’s newest site-based mentoring program is Beyond School WallsSM, a program that brings youth to corporations to meet with their mentors, corporate employees. The mentees reap the benefits of the traditional mentoring model while being exposed to a professional setting. The model also allows volunteers to mentor in a way that is more structured and may be more convenient for them.

Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on an all-volunteer mentor base. Its traditional model relies on individual volunteers within the communities who approach the agency in order to become mentors. The Beyond School Walls program allows for BBBS SEPA to recruit larger numbers of volunteers at one time and to reach an untapped source of volunteers. The implementation of site-based programs has allowed BBBS SEPA to grow and become the fourth-largest of BBBS’s 380 agencies. This growth has allowed BBBS SEPA to reach previously hard-to-reach groups of at-risk youth. Reaching more youth, especially those at highest risk, increases the potential impact of BBBS SEPA’s programs and results in an increased social return on investment.

What is Youth Mentoring

What Is Youth Mentoring?

Youth mentoring has been gaining prominence in the past two decades as a successful strategy for promoting positive youth development (Tierney, Grossman, and Resch 2000). More than 4,500 agencies provide mentoring services to youth in the United States (Jekielek et al. 2010). There are many different styles of mentoring; however, they are all based on the concept of an older, more experienced individual providing guidance and support to a younger, less experienced protégé (Tierney, Grossman, and Resch 2000; Renick Thomson and Zand 2010). Developmental theories recognize several important transitional points in life, such as the development of a sense of self during childhood, learning how to develop healthy relationships with peers, how to be academically successful and how to take responsibility for personal actions (Eby et al. 2008). The purpose of mentoring is to create a supportive environment in which youth can develop skills, build self-esteem and avoid high-risk behaviors through a positive role model who is invested in their well-being. While parents and guardians are considered the primary and most critical contributor to youth development, they may be unavailable, unable or unwilling to provide adequate support to their child. Therefore, mentors can serve as supplemental adult role models for disenfranchised youth (Jekielek et al. 2010).

As youth mentoring has proliferated, so has a body of research assessing its effectiveness and research-based practices for grounding future program designs (Jekielek et al. 2010, Rhodes and DuBois 2008). Factors needed for successful youth mentoring relationships have been found to include establishing and sustaining relationships of significant duration, proper mentor training, and facilitation of structured and frequent contacts between mentors and mentees (Rhodes 2008, Karcher et al. 2006, Jekielek et al. 2010).

One of the overarching challenges faced by youth mentoring programs today is reaching more of the children who can benefit from a mentor. A growing population of youth, identified as high risk for future incarceration, low academic success and truancies, are in need of positive role models, but are also sometimes the hardest youth to reach through formal mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. Therefore, while youth mentoring works to establish evidence-based practices, it is also charged with discovering ways to extend the reach of these programs.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Business Model

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Business Model

Although there are many youth mentoring services, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) is nationally recognized, and one of the most well-respected organizations dedicated to providing one-to-one mentoring for youth between the ages of 6 and 18 (BBBSA 2008). Founded in 1904, BBBSA has developed a highly structured and sophisticated model for matching mentors to mentees. BBBSA has affiliates in all 50 states and is established internationally in 12 countries. In 2007, over 255,000 active matches were maintained across the United States by BBBSA affiliates (BBBSA 2008).

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America operates under a process similar to the franchise business model. This model represents a legal and commercial affiliation with the trademark owner, the national office of BBBS of America, and regional affiliates, such as BBBS SEPA (“What Is a Franchise” 2010). The brand of Big Brothers Big Sisters is widely recognized across the nation, and is implemented by its 380 affiliate agencies. In the past, BBBSA referred to their organization as a federation; however, they now prefer the term “BBBS Network” to describe their organizational structure (BBBSA National Leadership Council 2010).

BBBS SEPA has been authorized by BBBSA to provide their services for the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, including Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties. BBBSA owns the rights to the name and trademark that BBBS SEPA utilizes. In exchange for agency affiliation fees, BBBSA provides services to the regional affiliate such as staff training, marketing materials and branding guidelines. In addition, though all BBBS agencies are independent 501(c)(3) organizations and are responsible for their own fundraising, BBBSA provides pass-through funding to different agencies for program support and development when finances and donor determination allow (“What Is a Franchise” 2010). This business model allows BBBS regional affiliates, such as BBBS SEPA, to cater to their own regional interests and have the room to be creative and innovative, while providing them with the national brand recognition of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The Community-Based Mentoring Model

The Community-Based Mentoring Model

Community-based mentoring (CBM)1 is the traditional mentoring model used nationally by BBBS. Adult mentors (referred to as “Bigs”) are carefully matched, one to one, with youth mentees (referred to as “Littles”) based on gender, common interests and compatibility. Once matched, each Big commits to spending time with the Little two to four times each month. The time, location and chosen activities are left to the discretion of each pair. The CBM model gives Bigs and Littles the freedom to engage in and make use of what is in their community, whether it is playing at a local park, visiting a museum, attending a sporting event, or shopping for and cooking a new recipe. The program is highly structured in the process of making and supporting matches, but allows the Big and Little a great deal of flexibility in determining their shared activities. The process of getting to know each other often facilitates skill-building for the Little by encouraging decision-making and negotiation in order to decide the activities that they will do together.

There are several benefits to CBM. First, the core foundation of CBM is its emphasis on the one-to-one mentoring model. Spending time in the community creates a natural and comfortable setting for interaction and presents a wide range of potential activities. Second, flexibility in time options better accommodates busy schedules. Time spent together is not constrained or limited to just the work week, but can be scheduled in the evenings or on the weekends. Third, setting up times for the Big and Little to meet does not require mediation by BBBS. The organization facilitates the match; schedules regular contacts with Bigs, Littles and parents to ensure that the match is safe and strong; and provides coaching to the Bigs and Littles, but is not responsible for scheduling individual meetings.

Though the CBM model has been shown to be effective in improving outcomes for Littles and in providing a positive experience for Bigs, BBBS SEPA found it challenging to dramatically increase the number of children matched through the program. Because of a lack of funding and challenges recruiting sufficient numbers of mentors (especially men), the number of community-based matches remained fairly stable at roughly 1150 active matches.

In evaluating the lack of growth in the CBM program, BBBS SEPA recognized that the strengths of CBM also serve as limiting factors. While meeting in the community allows the match to take advantage of a wide range of activities, CBM usually requires that Bigs travel to the neighborhoods in which the Littles live. Many of the youth enrolled in BBBS come from tough neighborhoods, and potential volunteers were often hesitant about mentoring a child because of perceived safety concerns. Bigs may be fearful of visiting unfamiliar neighborhoods that have reputations for being unsafe. Having the Big and Little meet in a more neutral location would add both a logistical and financial impediment to the families in the program. Lack of transportation is a recognized barrier to expanding the number of community-based matches.

Another challenge posed by the CBM program was the availability of volunteers, in particular based on gender. BBBS typically attracts more female volunteers and more boys; this disparate pattern is seen in BBBS affiliates across the United States (BBBSA National Leadership Council 2010). In CBM, all matches are same-gender, both in order to increase the compatibility between mentor and child and to help ensure that the children are safe with their mentors. As a result, BBBS agencies tend to have many more boys on the waiting list for a mentor, while many women are unable to be matched because of a limited number of girls. (BBBS SEPA has taken steps to address the “undersupply” of girls by working with a local researcher to understand why women are less likely to enroll their daughters than to enroll their sons.)

Funding for the program is also a limiting factor. BBBS SEPA had over 4,300 volunteer mentors involved with the agency in 2009, requiring a budget of nearly $5 million. Though BBBS agencies rely on volunteers to serve as mentors, recruiting, managing and supporting this army of volunteers requires a professional staff; for instance, a team of “Match Support Specialists” provides advice and coaching to ensure that the relationship is strong, healthy and safe for the child. Each match is fully funded by BBBS; neither the family nor the volunteer pays for participation in the program. Therefore the number of matches that an agency can support is dependent on the amount of available funding from donors, and long-term growth of CBM would require dedicated funding streams to enable the agency to both make and support new matches and provide continued support for the existing matches over the multiple years of their relationship.

  1. ^The authors thank Sherryl Kuhlman, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Marketing, BBBS, and Marlene L. Olshan, Chief Executive Officer, BBBS, for much of the information provided here about BBBS.

Overcoming Barriers: Moving Toward Site-Based Mentoring

Overcoming Barriers: Moving Toward Site-Based Mentoring

In light of these barriers, BBBS SEPA realized that in order to reach more of the children who needed a mentor, they needed to find a new strategy to deliver the same product, one-on-one mentoring. BBBS SEPA first took steps to address the transportation problem; if it was difficult for Bigs to arrange transportation to meet with their Littles, then BBBS SEPA would actively bring Bigs and Littles together. This decision opened up a number of new possibilities. One of BBBS SEPA’s earliest ventures was to connect college students with children from local elementary schools through a school-based mentoring model. Working with the Fox Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania, BBBS SEPA arranged a scheduled pick-up time and drove college students to local elementary schools where they could mentor children. There was only one elementary school within walking distance of the university campus, which would have limited the number of matches that could be made, but with the availability of free transportation for Bigs, the agency could reach out to other local schools.

This approach to transportation has two key features: first, groups of mentors can share transportation, and second, the approach ensures that Bigs and Littles are meeting in a safe, secure and accessible location. In addition, having scheduled pick-up times creates a predictable schedule for the one-to-one meetings between children and their mentors. This is beneficial to the Littles because they can be sure that they get the opportunity to spend meaningful time with their Bigs. For Bigs, it minimized the amount of planning and investment required to commit to individual meetings. It created a “just show up” atmosphere to encourage participation—the simplicity of the design being a major perk for volunteers. Since implementing the school-based approach at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, BBBS SEPA has continued to expand the program, reaching a peak of 500 students matched as Bigs, the largest of the number of regional “College Bigs” programs run by BBBS SEPA. The availability of funding to support the transportation costs of the University of Pennsylvania initiative has played an important role in the program’s expansion.

Beyond School Walls

Beyond School Walls

The school-based program at Penn proved that addressing the transportation challenge could dramatically increase the number of children with mentors. Building on this insight, BBBS SEPA developed the Beyond School WallsSM program. This program has become one of their great successes, with 11 local corporations and 450 employees matched with Littles during the 2009–2010 school year.

Through this program, BBBS SEPA was able to engage a new source of volunteer mentors: corporate employees. Each participating corporation is matched with an elementary school, with an average of 30 employee Bigs matched in one-to-one relationships with Littles. But, unlike school-based programs where the Bigs go to the Littles’ schools, in the Beyond School Walls program, it’s the Littles who are transported. At most sites, twice a month, usually during the lunch hour, the Littles are bused to the corporation where they spend time with their Bigs in the workplace. (At one site, the program meets once a week.) The rate of growth with the Beyond School Walls program has exceeded that of community-based mentoring. Since the 2006 pilot of the program, it has expanded each year, with 100 percent of the corporations involved renewing their participation: the 2010–2011 school year will mark the fifth year of involvement for one of their first Beyond School Walls corporate partners.

Beyond School Walls represents a significant attempt to address factors known to inhibit strong and positive mentoring relationships. This structured and scheduled approach to mentoring provides regular and consistent contact between Bigs and Littles. BBBS SEPA discovered that employees who participated in Beyond School Walls often prioritized these mentoring times, arranging work meetings around their mentoring schedules. Beyond School Walls exposes Littles to a corporate workplace, providing them with a unique role model with whom they might not normally associate outside of the mentoring program. Also, while the program is conducted during the school year, the Bigs and Littles may, with permission of the agency and parents, continue to meet when school is not in session, since they do not require the school as a meeting site. The workplace offers a steady and reliable location that operates year-round and is open to mentoring activities. Finally, local corporations participating in Beyond School Walls support their employee involvement by providing funding for the program; this direct financial support plays a vital role in the scalability of the program.

Corporations are willing to fund the program because they see the business case for participating. Not only are they serving their community, they are building a sense of camaraderie within their workplace. The employees who participate in the program span the companies’ hierarchal structures, ranging from managers to administrative assistants. Participating in the program creates an opportunity for these employees to have greater contact with each other through interactions that take place during designated mentoring times. While employees receive coaching from BBBS SEPA match specialists, they can also seek support from their fellow mentors, creating a more robust training and support system (BBBS SEPA 2009a). BBBS SEPA makes this a “turnkey” program for the corporation by taking responsibility for managing relationships with the schools, coordinating transportation and providing staff each time the Littles visit their Bigs at work. In Beyond School Walls, designated liaisons at the corporation and the school also help to manage the participation of their constituents, and create a team committed to making the program work on all sides.

Scalability and Replicability

Scalability and Replicability

Using the traditional CBM, individuals recognize the BBBS brand and apply to the organization to participate as a Big or a Little. Upon application to BBBS, the potential Big and Little meet with an “Enrollment and Match Specialist” who interviews the candidates and completes a match process based on interests and match compatibility. The CBM is supported through different funding sources, including foundations, government, individual and corporate funding, and the number of matches that can be made is largely determined by available funding. In addition, as mentioned earlier, this model can be a challenge because BBBS SEPA does not have enough Big Brothers to match with Little Brothers or Little Sisters to match with Big Sisters. Though other BBBS affiliates have had more success in scaling their community-based mentoring programs, BBBS SEPA has not overcome the challenges in recruiting enough volunteers, enrolling more girls, or providing long-term funding to support significant increases in the number of children matched in CBM.

The BBBS network model allows its regional affiliate to be innovative in developing different programs around one-to-one mentoring between Bigs and Littles. The Amachi program, for instance, was pioneered by BBBS SEPA in order to provide mentors to the children of incarcerated parents. BBBS SEPA identifies these children by visiting incarceration facilities and working directly with incarcerated parents who can give BBBS SEPA the contact information for their children’s guardians. BBBS can then offer these youth the opportunity to be matched with a Big Brother or a Big Sister. This program is especially innovative and important because it links a role model to youth who otherwise have a significantly increased likelihood of future incarceration. The Amachi program is at heart a CBM program, but it is noteworthy that, at its inception, the program focused on recruiting mentors from local churches and congregations. In this regard, it was the precursor to the current strategies of recruiting large numbers of mentors from colleges and universities and corporations through site-based mentoring and Beyond School Walls.

BBBS SEPA demonstrated a continued capacity to be innovative first by developing and executing the site-based mentoring model, which successfully expanded the reach of their services by capitalizing on the robust network of academic institutions in the Philadelphia region while staying true to their core mission of providing one-to-one mentoring, and then by devising Beyond School Walls. Using approaches that address transportation and funding issues, such as the University of Pennsylvania school-based mentoring program and Beyond School Walls, demonstrates an important shift toward models that are more readily scalable.

The funding model for Beyond School Walls is an important contributor to scalability and replicability. Because the corporation supports the program, there is a more direct link between the funding and the program participants; simply put, each week that the Littles visit their offices, the corporation sees the value of their contribution. In CBM, the relationship between the funder and program participants is more indirect, with BBBS updating funders on program success and impact on children through regular reports. It is also quicker and more efficient to implement a Beyond School Walls program because mentors and children each come from a designated source. It is far easier to find 30 employees from Corporation A and 30 students from Elementary School B than to interview and match 30 volunteers and 30 children in the CBM.

In addition to being replicable across different corporations, the Beyond School Walls program opens the opportunity for replicability across multiple locations within that same corporation. Once the Beyond School Walls program is piloted at one corporate location, that company can replicate the program at its other offices with other BBBS agencies. Comcast’s involvement with BBBS illustrates this principle. Comcast first initiated a Beyond School Walls program at its corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, and will be expanding the program to nine other Comcast sites. At each site, the local BBBS agency is following the operational model developed by BBBS SEPA.

Because it allows for efficient implementation, direct funding and scalability with other corporations and other sites, the Beyond School Walls program enables the proliferation of more strategic volunteering (BBBS SEPA 2009a).

Social Return on Investment

Social Return on Investment

There are measurable benefits for those children involved in mentoring relationships. Research on mentoring has reported several beneficial outcomes for Littles involved in a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. These include increased attendance in school, better behavior in the classroom and increased rates of grade progression. Better relationships with parents and peers have also been shown to result (Tierney, Grossman, and Resch 2000).

In the Beyond School Walls program, the positive impact of the mentoring relationships on Bigs helps to support the business case for corporate investment. For Bigs, the benefits of mentoring include an increased sense of community and feelings of civic engagement and responsibility. With Beyond School Walls, there is also the sense of camaraderie among Bigs at corporate sites. Both corporations and the Bigs who work for them benefit from these relationships that are built and created, often across several “levels” of the corporation, as a result of participation in the program. In addition, insofar as employee engagement is correlated with a reduction in staff turnover, the corporation can accrue a financial return on its investment.

Return on investment (ROI) is a financial ratio that indicates the amount of profit (or losses) per dollar of investment. Social return on investment is a term derived from the traditional use of ROI and is used to measure the amount of social benefit that is gained from a given investment. Social ROI takes into account the social benefits or social profits that are gained per dollar of investment.

The average cost of a Big-Little match within Big Brothers Big Sisters is $1,200 per year. For the Beyond School Walls program, corporate sponsorship of $30,000 per year covers the expenses associated with roughly 30 matches for a year. This figure covers the expenses associated with making matches, continued match support, transportation of Littles to the corporate site, facilitated activities for the matches, and administrative costs. There are financial incentives associated with corporate sponsorship of Beyond School Walls in the form of tax incentives. BBBS SEPA is a 501(c)(3) organization, which makes it eligible for tax-deductible donations. Tax incentives provide a more concrete source of motivation for institutions than the more abstract premise of corporate social responsibility.

The social returns on investment, as mentioned above, are measures of social benefit or social profit from investment in a program or activity. There are several markers for success used by BBBS, one of which is an increase in rates of grade progression. Although this is not financial marker/measure, it can be used as an indicator for earned income potential. Educational level has been associated with increased earning potential (“Amount of Schooling” 2002, State Farm Insurance 2010). Those who do not graduate from high school earn about $10,000 less annually than high school graduates. It has been estimated that an 18-year-old high school dropout will earn about $260,000 less than a high school graduate over a lifetime and contribute $60,000 less in income taxes (Alliance for Excellent Education 2009). People who are not high school graduates are more likely to need public assistance (Alabama Cooperative Extension System 2000) and to be unemployed. Therefore, increasing the number of high school graduates will not only increase those individuals’ earning potential throughout adulthood but also reduce the burden on, need for and use of public assistance programs.

The long-term projections are significant: people with bachelor’s degrees can expect to earn on average $1 million more over the course of their careers than those with only high school diplomas. Though SROI is difficult to calculate, it is clear that increasing the odds of high school graduation for even one child will have significant financial benefits for the child and for the community as a whole.

  Expected Annual Income Increase in earning potential (individual benefit)
High school dropout $17,299  
High school graduate $26,933 $9,634 more than a high school dropout
Bachelor’s degree $52,671 $35,372 more than a high school dropout
$25,738 more than a high school graduate

Source: Alliance for Excellent Education, 2009.

So, let’s begin with the assumption that, of the children in the Beyond School Walls program this year, 68 of the 450 children in the program—or roughly 15 percent—are more likely to graduate from high school because of their participation.

   
50% Expected dropout rate for at-risk children in the program
30% Children who are more likely to graduate because of participation in the program (assumption, because the program has not been in place long enough for it to be measured)
450 Number of children in the program (2009–10 school year)
68 Number of children more likely to graduate
60,000 Benefits to society from taxes paid on earnings (high school graduate vs. dropout, over a lifetime), per individual
$4,050,000 Benefits from taxes (total)
$1,000 Program cost per child
$450,000 Total program cost (2009–10 school year)
$3,600,000 SROI based on increased tax revenue

Then, let’s also assume that, of the children in the program, 5 percent are more likely to avoid at least one year of incarceration (or, alternatively, that collectively the children avoid a cumulative 22.5 years of incarceration). This is not an unlikely assumption, given the correlation between dropout rates and incarceration. The SROI calculation now looks like this:

   
5% Children who are more likely to avoid at least 1 year of incarceration
$160,000 Cost of 1 year of incarceration (est.)
$3,600,000 Potential savings from reduction in incarceration
$7,200,000 SROI based on increased tax revenue and incarceration savings

Finally, let’s assume that 20 percent of children in the program are, as a result of their participation, able to avoid at least one year of welfare or other public assistance (or that, collectively, a total of 90 years of welfare/public assistance is avoided).

   
20% Children who are more likely to avoid at least 1 year of welfare, etc.
$50,000 Cost of 1 year of welfare/social support (est.)
$4,500,000 Potential savings from reduction in welfare
$11,700,000 SROI based on increased tax revenue, avoidance of incarceration and reduction in welfare

In addition, while it does factor into SROI, the business case for corporations includes its own ROI. If employees participating in volunteer opportunities such as Beyond School Walls do indeed have increased retention, then a corporation can see the following ROI:

   
5% Employees more likely to stay with the corporation as a result of participation in the program
$60,000 Average salary/benefits of participating employee (est.)
30 Employees participating per corporation
7 Months of salary/benefits expended in replacing employee (average)
$45,000 Corporate benefit from reduction in turnover
$30,000 Total cost to corporation per year
$15,000 Net benefit to corporation (not including tax benefits from the corporate donation, increase in productivity resulting from increased employee engagement, etc.)

Policy and Its Implications

Policy and Its Implications

The success of BBBS SEPA can be attributed to its ability to innovate and market its social benefits to large numbers of individuals and corporations. This is due in part to their ability to operate autonomously as a regional affiliate of the larger Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization. BBBS SEPA’s Beyond School Walls program has the potential to be scaled across the Big Brothers Big Sisters network in a manner similar to the national expansion and implementation of their Amachi program.

The funding stream for BBBS SEPA’s Beyond School Walls program is dependent on the good will and charitable contributions of corporate institutions. BBBS SEPA operates as a nonprofit institution, allowing corporations to make incentivized (tax deductible) contributions.

The success of programs such as Beyond School Walls has the potential to increase the earning potential of those who are most likely to be unemployed or need public assistance. Programs with social benefits have downstream effects with direct financial and policy implications. For example, a reduction in the need for public assistance is likely to correspond to increased income for individuals, reduction in welfare costs, and increases in federal and state tax revenues.

Youth mentoring programs, such as those provided by BBBS, have helped decrease rates of violent and criminal activity among youth, which can subsequently reduce the burden on the court system and on corrections departments. The savings that are generated through prevention of violence and crimes go beyond the immediate benefits, especially considering that the cost for a Little-Big match is $1200 annually and that the estimated annual cost for a year spent in corrections is between $140,000 and $200,000 (Burkins-Gimzek 2010). Savings as dramatic as these can lead to policy changes that will promote youth mentoring programs whose track records can demonstrate a societal benefit.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Through the use of a site-based model grounded in corporate workplaces, BBBS SEPA replicated their mentoring model on a much larger scale, and expanded their reach to more youth from different populations that were not originally being served. The creation of Beyond School Walls provides the Greater Philadelphia region, the Bigs and, most importantly, the Littles with the social, economic and personal benefits that result from mentoring.

BBBS SEPA has been particularly successful in its expansion of its youth mentoring services. BBBS SEPA’s ability to scale its site-based programs and implement the Beyond School Walls program has contributed to its success in becoming the fourth-largest Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate. BBBS SEPA has been able to grow while breaking down barriers related to safety, transportation, funding and finding more Bigs to match with Littles. BBBS SEPA has strengthened the community through the modification of a mentoring model that other affiliates and organizations can re-create in order to provide all at-risk youth with the experiences, capabilities and confidence to be productive members of society. The innovativeness of BBBSA will allow them to continue expanding and growing, and increasing the reach of their services.

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