QUESTIONS? Contact our Customer Relations team at 512-442-4646 or email volunteer@BigMentoring.org.
We’re so excited to welcome you to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas!
When you volunteer to become a Big Brother or Sister, you’ll not only make a positive impact on the life of a child, you’ll enrich your own life and have fun as well. When you spend time with your Little, you share your own interests and discover new ones. You see life through the eyes of a child again. You laugh and play with a new friend, all while children grow and thrive in ways that change their lives. Children in our program often show improvement in academic performance, engage less in risky behaviors and avoid early parenting.
At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we always have a special need for Bigs, particularly those who are male, bilingual and/or of color.
Youth Mentoring Services
Our program matches children between the ages of 6 and above with caring adult role-models. Bigs and Littles meet in the community to do things they enjoy, 3-4 times a month for a minimum of one year.
As the relationship grows and strengthens, it offers much more than emotional support to children in challenging circumstances. Mentorship also gives Littles the chance to enjoy new experiences, discover new interests, develop new skills and abilities, and gain a greater appreciation for their own potential. Bigs help Littles envision hopeful possibilities for their future and develop the confidence and sense of self-empowerment they need to pursue them.
Additional services provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters include a scholarship program for Littles pursuing post-secondary education, extended support for older teens transitioning into adulthood, and focused services that address the needs of special populations.
While simply spending time with a positive role model like you helps Littles succeed at school, our annual Scholarship Program and Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony offer Littles even more encouragement to graduate high school and pursue a post-secondary education. Eligible youth earn $2,000 to $4,000 in scholarship funds to use at any two or four-year college, university or accredited trade or technical school.
In our Big Futures program, you maintain a relationship with your Little even after high school graduation. This extended mentorship helps youth navigate the transition into young adulthood and focuses on guiding them toward one of the “Three E’s” – Enrollment in post-secondary education, Employment and career readiness or Enlistment in military service.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas also offers unique ways of being a Big. For example, our Military Mentoring program matches civilians, military personnel and veterans with children from military families, while our Bigs in Blue program allows law enforcement personnel to serve as mentors to youth in the community.
Sister to Sister
Regularly scheduled Sister to Sister activities provide monthly opportunities for matches to spend time together and get to know each other better. Designed especially for Big Sisters with Littles who are 11 years or older, these activities include everything from kayaking, to self-defense workshops, to art classes, and focus on promoting education, career exploration, social/emotional learning and healthy choices.
Brother to Brother
Big Brothers with Littles aged 12 and older can get to know each other better at Brother to Brother activities scheduled quarterly throughout the year. With a focus on promoting healthy lifestyles, strengthening social skills, and exploring career possibilities, Brother to Brother activities have included indoor rock climbing, cooking lessons, science experiments at UT, kayaking, and more.
Youth Activity Center Nights (YAC)
On the second Thursday of every month, BBBS hosts free activities for matches in our Youth Activity Center, including games, art projects, classes, workshops and other special events. Time spent at YAC events gives you and your Little a chance to build your relationship, while also getting to know other matches and the BBBS staff.
BBBS holds a variety of events for matches throughout the year, including Bowl for Kids, the Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony, Hobie Day and the Holiday Party. Contact your Match Support Specialist, follow our newsletter or go to our Events page to learn more.
Shannon & Mykayla
From a very young age, Mykayla took on adult responsibilities at home helping care for her chronically ill mother. Things changed for the better when Shannon came into her life as a Big Sister. Spending time with Shannon gave Mykayla a chance to just be a child. Together they explored Austin’s creative community, visited museums, attended festivals and discovered unique treasures in local antique stores.
Mykayla and Shannon formed a special relationship, one that has been meaningful to both of them. Seven years after their match began, Shannon remains an enthusiastic mentor and friend to Mykayla.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Shannon,” says Mykayla as she prepares for a new chapter in her life, attending college and pursuing a degree in Physical Therapy.
Their story is just one example of what we do and why it matters.
Requirements for being a Big
To be a Big, you must be 18 years of age or older with a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, access to reliable transportation and be willing to commit to a minimum one year volunteer experience.
- Complete forms and surveys needed by program staff, including a background check.
- Interview with an Enrollment Specialist.
- Attend pre-match training.
- Work with a Case Manager to find a Little Brother or Little Sister.
- Initiate contact with your Little on a consistent basis to schedule activities.
- Meet with your Little 3-4 times a month for at least one year.
- Maintain ongoing communication with the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff.
Our volunteers tell us that being a Big is fun! They say it reminds them of what it’s like to see the world through a young person’s eyes and gives them a chance to share their own perspectives. It allows them to share their interests and discover new ones. Most of all, they tell us that they are pleasantly surprised by the positive and transformative impact a mentoring relationship has on their life.
Our Littles come from many types of home environments, family structures, economic levels, ethnicities, and communities. Their backgrounds and personalities are unique, but they all share a need for friendship with a caring adult who believes in them.
Children and caregivers may hear about our program from friends, teachers, or counselors, at church, at school or through public service announcements. All children and their parents/guardians choose to be in our program.
No. You don’t have to pay to be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Our program is about developing a positive relationship with a Little Brother or Little Sister.
We encourage participation in no-cost or low-cost activities and even provide volunteers with an ongoing calendar of fun, free activities. If, on occasion, you take part in an activity that is not free, we ask you to cover the total cost, but ask families to send money for the Little’s cost when possible.
Please note: There is a fee (approximately $40) for the initial, mandatory background check during the application process.
The enrollment and interview process helps us get to know each other. It allows us to understand what kind of match relationship suits you best, and allows you to learn more about what is expected of you as a Big Brother or Big Sister. We consider qualities such as your personality, interests, age preferences, background and location, but the final decision to accept or decline a match is yours.
Some matches take longer to make than others, depending on our youth enrollment and their specific needs. For example, Big Sisters who apply in central Austin may wait longer than Big Sisters who apply in areas with fewer adult female volunteers. We also prioritize finding matches for Bigs who are bilingual.
We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule for outings and see each other on a regular basis, committing to at least one year of meeting 3-4 times a month. All activities require parent approval.
Until your relationship is established, the outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parent/guardian, your Little and you. For example, if your Little is younger, a short outing might be most appropriate. During the school year, evening and weekend activities usually work best.
Littles and Bigs work together to choose and schedule activities. All activities require parent approval.
Take part in activities that give you and your Little something to talk about. Look at comic books together, play board games, or tune in to the car radio and compare musical interests! We want you to find activities that give you and your Little a chance to learn from each other and have fun together. After all, playing is learning.
Throughout your entire match relationship, a Match Support Specialist from Big Brothers Big Sisters remains in regular contact with you. They are there to answer questions, provide assistance, offer ideas for activities, give feedback, help you handle difficult situations and offer support in any way they can.
We do everything in our power to make matches that last. However, we realize that sometimes situations change or thing don’t work out. If this happens we’ll try to mediate and resolve the problem first, but if mediation is unsuccessful we will end the match. Your Match Support Specialist will support you every step of the way, working toward the best possible outcome for everyone.
Although we ask for a minimum commitment of one year, matches in our program can continue until your Little turns 18 and/or graduates high school.
After age 18, matches have the option to transfer to our Big Futures program. In Big Futures, the mentoring relationship remains active as Littles transition into adulthood and begin post-secondary education, prepare for the workforce, or enlist in military service.
But even Big Futures doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship– many friendships between Bigs and Littles last a lifetime.
Resources for Bigs
When you volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, our professional staff is there to support you every step of the way. Drawing on their many years of experience, our Match Support Specialists help you get the most from your match experience. They will remain in regular contact with you to answer questions, provide assistance, offer ideas for activities, give feedback, help you handle difficult situations and offer support in any way they can.
Here are some additional resources for Bigs:
- BBBS Fact Sheet
- Fact or Fiction? Common Myths About Mentoring
- What Happens Now That I’m a Big?
- Stages of a Match
- The Importance of Male Mentors
- Mentoring Tips from Bigs
- 150 Outing and Activity Ideas
- Match Activity Ideas During Social Distancing
- Responding to COVID-19 Fears
- Building Relationships During COVID-19 Crisis
- Match Discount Partners
- Families as Partners
- Events for Matches
- How Do We Know Mentoring Works?