The Big Brothers mentoring concept first appeared in Austin in the early 1960’s when concerned community leaders began working to address the special needs of fatherless boys by pairing them with positive male role models.
Starting as a modest, informal program that served just five boys, through the years, our program has expanded its mission and grown in its capacity to serve boys, girls and families facing a range of different needs and challenges. Incorporated in 1971 as Big Brothers of Austin, we expanded our outreach to girls in 1975 and became known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Austin.
We currently serve approximately 1,000 children and families each year and have continued to expand our services through a variety of innovative programs, including scholarship funding, Big Couples, Military Mentoring, Bigs in Blue and Big Futures programs. Additional special events include our annual fundraisers Bowl for Kids and Ice Ball, and recreational activities such as Hobie Day, our annual Holiday Party, Youth Activity Center nights and SantaCon.
At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, we’ve been impacting the lives of children for more than 47 years. And, building on the contributions of those who have come before us and those who work with us today, we’re just getting started. We hope you’ll join us.
- 1960s: Long-time East Austin resident and community leader Lonnie McArthur organizes the “Dads and Sons Club”, which evolves into a summer baseball league for East Austin boys known as the “Big Brother Association.”
- 1961: For the next eight years, Father Richard McCabe and Catholic Charities of Austin employ a single staff member at $100 a month to coordinate the program.
- 1963: With a focus on serving boys in the juvenile justice system, five formal mentoring matches are established.
- 1971: Big Brothers of Austin is incorporated and begins official operation with Larry Guillot as the agency’s first Executive Director.
- 1972: Big Brothers of Austin grows to serve more than 250 mentoring matches.
- 1975: Big Brothers of Austin begins providing services for girls, becoming Big Brothers Big Sisters of Austin.
- 1978: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Austin works with more than 400 mentoring matches.
- 1981: The Big Couples program is established, offering married couples with or without children the opportunity to mentor a child in need.
- 1981: The first annual Hobie Day launches. Sponsored by Hobie Fleet 64 (now Austin Cats), this yearly sailing event brings together matches, families and BBBS staff for a day of fun on the water.
- 1983: Bowl for Kids becomes BBBS’ first signature fundraiser.
- 1986: The BBBS Scholarship Program begins, offering a $2,000 incentive for Littles to pursue a post-secondary education.
- 1988: BBBS moves into offices at Tillery Street.
- 2005: Helping Austin launches the Ice Ball Gala with proceeds benefiting BBBS.
- 2008: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America names BBBS of Central Texas one of the nation’s top five chapters.
- 2010: Big Brothers Big Sisters plays a key role in President Barack Obama’s White House National Mentoring Month Ceremony. Ben De Leon, volunteer with BBBS of Central Texas and 2009 National Big Brother of the Year, attends with his Little Brother, Anthony.
- 2011: Plans for new mentoring center unveiled.
- 2016: BBBS of Central Texas celebrates its 45th anniversary and relocates to the newly completed Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center. The first annual Big Fall Carnival held at BBBS’ new mentoring center celebrates Fall fun with more than 300 Bigs, Littles, families, friends, donors, staff and neighbors.
- 2017: Bigs in Blue begins, fostering mentoring relationships between law-enforcement personnel and the communities they serve. The Big Futures program is established to provide ongoing support to Bigs and Littles beyond the high school years through post-secondary education and career readiness. BBBS founds the Giving Society, a group of philanthropic leaders focused on increasing the agency’s capacity to serve children and families in Central Texas. Committed to increasing support for the agency in a variety of ways, a new group of BBBS volunteers organizes as the Big Impact Group. Monthly Youth Activity Center Nights begin, allowing matches to come together for evenings of recreation and socializing at BBBS’ Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center.