The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite and power and promise of youth.
Programs and Services
- BBBSPGH offers three core mentoring programs that serve at-risk youth in Washington County. They include:
- 1. Community-Based Mentoring: This is our core program that provides the most flexibility for both the Big and the Little. It is the traditional Big Brothers Big Sisters relationship where children and their mentors get together on their own time to share fun activities that they both enjoy. Volunteers are first carefully screened before they are “matched” with children based on backgrounds, interests, and preferences of the mentor, child, and the child’s family. These intentional matches ensure the strength and longevity of each relationship which is close to 3 years across all programs – and exceeds our national BBBS average. Bigs are first introduced to their Little and their Little’s parent/guardian in a pre-match meeting which is set and facilitated by a BBBSPGH Program Specialist (Match Support). The Program Specialist is responsible for monitoring the match throughout the relationship, celebrating successes, recognizing challenges, and aiding in problem solving. Match Support is the cornerstone of BBBSPGH’s program model, ensuring youth safety and development, ultimately leading to positive youth outcomes within each relationship. On average, each match meets two times a month, for two or three hours at a time. Some Bigs meet their Littles on the weekends. Others get together with their Littles in the evenings after school. Each match is unique and develops a schedule that works for them. Outings do not require a special occasion or expensive activity. Matches often simply take walks together, go to the movies, share a meal, or listen to music. BBBSPGH also hosts monthly activities through our more than 70+ community partners (Steelers, Pirates, Riverhounds, Carnegie Museums, Steel City Smiles, etc.), and through agency sponsored events (picnics and parties).
- 2. Site-based Mentoring: School-based Programs: BBBSPGH’s Site-Based Mentoring program currently operates at 14 elementary and middle Schools and one community center in Allegheny, Washington, and Greene Counties. Four of these school are in Washington County. This program matches adult, college, or high school volunteers with elementary of middle school students (ages 8-13) for one-to-one mentoring. Matches meet once a week for 45 minutes to an hour to do homework together, participate in structured activities (STEAM, arts and crafts, sports and games), or to hear from guest speakers on a variety of topics. Each program site is coordinated, facilitated, and supervised by a BBBSPGH Program Specialist. The Pittsburgh “Bigs in Blue” Program is a customized version of our Site-Based program. Bigs in Blue is Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s one-to-one mentoring program that connects youth with law enforcement in communities across the nation, building strong, trusting, and lasting relationships. These relationships can help children develop into confident adults and will build stronger connections between law enforcement and the families they serve. This program takes place at Washington Park Elementary School in Washington County.Each week, matches will meet on the school campus or police headquarters during lunchtime to develop ongoing friendships – by playing games, doing arts and crafts, hearing from guest speakers, working on homework, or simply talking about their successes and challenges at home or at school. Police careers are also explored creating awareness of educational requirements and what the officers do in the communities that they serve. BBBSPGH Program Specialists plan activities and provide ongoing guidance and support to each relationship. This support ensures child safety, positive relationship development, and strong youth outcomes.
- 3. Big Futures/mentor2.0: Mentor2.0 is an innovative program that combines the evidence-based youth mentoring practices of Big Brothers Big Sisters, with a unique high-school graduation success curriculum and online messaging platform from iMentor – a BBBSPGH partner. The goal of mentor2.0 is to boost academic achievement and decrease high-school drop-out rates, while preparing participating youth for post-secondary pathways – whether it is attending college or trade/vocational school, joining the military, or directly entering the workforce. The program begins in 9th grade and lasts through graduation. BBBSPGH is currently operating this program at three high-schools in the Pittsburgh region – Pittsburgh Brashear; and Cornell and Charleroi high-schools, each year serving approximately 375 students. Each weekly lesson that is taught in the classroom concludes with prompted curriculum-centered messages that students and mentors exchange over a secure and professionally monitored online messaging platform. These ongoing exchanges reinforce the weekly lesson and bring it to life with mentor input and discussion. At each grade-level, Program Specialists and mentors prepare students for post-secondary education through a more hands-on approach. This includes: researching college majors, career paths and schools; visiting campuses, learning how to manage money and expenses, participating in a program or special event on a college campus, taking college placement or career interest assessments, and sitting in on a college/trade school course. Partnerships with the Princeton Review, Pittsburgh Prep, and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) also provide mentor2.0 students with free SAT practice tests and score debriefs, as well as information on state loans for higher education. The final key component of mentor2.0 is the monthly match event that takes place at each school. These events take place on the same day and time each month for each grade in a set location (gymnasium, cafeteria, etc.). A complimentary, healthy meal is provided. Between the end of the school day and the beginning of the event, BBBSPGH and High School staff facilitate activities for the students at each school. All in-person dates are confirmed and made available to mentors before the school year through a yearly Activities Calendar. During these monthly events, students discuss successes and challenges they are experiencing at school and at home and they continue to work on their post high-school plans. Mentors provide guidance and support to their mentee and share their own stories of perseverance and resiliency throughout their lives. They also can introduce them to new career opportunities based on their own experiences or help them with homework. At the end of each evening event, mentors and Program Specialists “huddle” for about a half an hour to debrief the evening, share experiences, and discuss solutions to challenges. A bus also takes students home after the event. By meeting the basic needs of food and transportation, attendance is high. This program is important because it provides the critical support that students need to achieve academic excellence and prepare for their post-secondary futures. Most students who participate in mentor2.0 lack the support they need at home to succeed – many students have parents/guardians who have only completed high school. This program creates a culture of post-secondary readiness at the three high schools that we serve.
Primary Revenue Sources
Government and state grants, family foundation grants, community foundation grants, annual bowling and golf events, annual gala, individual gifts
Primary Fundraising Event
The Big Bash
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5989 Centre Avenue, Suite 1
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
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