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Mentoring is Powerful

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area empowers children through one-to-one mentoring. Mentoring is a powerful development strategy for children’s successful path to adulthood. Mentoring relationships provide a wealth of social benefits that strengthen schools, families and communities through the alleviation of future costs on social services, promotion of first-generation college students, strengthening of family relationships, encouragement of healthy life choices, transformation of youth into independent adults and future leaders, building connections between generations, and increasing workforce preparedness and social capital to name just a few.

January is National Mentoring Month, and I would like to highlight the many proven benefits that mentoring provides. Mentoring helps children stay in school. Studies of formal mentoring programs have shown:

  • Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school.

  • Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 37% less likely than their peers to skip a class.

  • Students at-risk for not graduating were 36% more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college if they had a mentor.

The relationships that mentoring provide go far beyond education, they provide a pathway to opportunity through the benefits that children who have a mentor experience.

  • Mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them. (The Role of Risk, 2013)

  • Young adults who had mentors as kids are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college—and more than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team. (

  • Young adults who had mentors as kids are paying it forward—they are 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. (

Mentoring Relationships provide a health benefit to the mentees (as well as the mentors). Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are:

  • 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. (Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters)

Mentoring connects the private sector to more people in the community who could be the future workforce, benefiting both the mentees and the mentors:

  • Mentoring can be a critical component of successfully supporting youth career engagement and workforce development in three important ways: improving youth’s employability by building the necessary skills and work experiences that allow youth to succeed in a job and advance in a career path; facilitating continued academic engagement and achievement; and supporting youth in the development of non-cognitive skills necessary for successful employment. ( Issue Paper)

  • Organizations in the private, public and nonprofit sectors that encourage employees’ involvement in mentoring have found that their programs enhance employee morale, and that mentoring is an excellent complement to staff training on “soft-skills” such as communication, team work and problem solving.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, we have many examples of how mentoring empowers children to be successful. One of those great examples is David and Javon. David and Javon were originally matched in our workplace mentoring pilot program at the GAP, Inc. in San Francisco. The program matches Gap employees with high school students for 12 months. Throughout the year, David and Javon’s group met every other Thursday afternoon and participated in detailed curriculum, team building activities, and meeting one-on-one in their respective matches. The curriculum included resume-writing, financial literacy, interviewing tips, and other career-related skills training.

David, a customer care manager at Gap Tech was matched with 15 year old, Javon Watson. David told us about the most meaningful change that he saw in Javon when the teen landed his very first job at a community health center. David spoke with Javon right before the interview and told him “Don’t forget the firm handshake when you arrive, and a firm handshake when you leave.” Watson told Javon this was a sign of respect and confidence.

Javon got the job and he told David that the interviewer specifically commented on his firm handshake. David and Javon are still matched almost two years later, and recently came to a BBBSBA board meeting where Javon told the Board of Directors about his current high paying job testing video games. He also told the Board that before he met David, he spent a lot of time in detention, but since meeting David he has not been back.

Mentoring is powerful. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area is helping to provide empowering relationships to Bay Area Children throughout the year. During national mentoring month we hope that you will remember who mentored you, and consider providing support however you feel you can to Bay Area Youth.

If you are interested in learning more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, please visit


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