How Mentoring Impacts Kansas City | Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City

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How Mentoring Impacts Kansas City

Kansas City is enjoying a well-deserved moment in the sun. People across America are realizing what Kansas Citians have known for a long time about our hometown. One of the unsung assets of our community is the compassion our residents have for others. This is illustrated through charitable giving, friendly neighborhoods, and, for our purposes today, Kansas City’s role as the mentoring capital of America.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City is proud to be the largest and oldest mentoring program in Kansas City. In our 54 years of serving kids in Kansas City, we’ve seen firsthand how mentoring can deliver significant improvements in a child’s self-worth, feelings of acceptance, academic confidence, improved capacity for positive family and peer relationships, and decreased incidence of drug and alcohol abuse. While we’re thankful for these impacts, we’re also mindful that these impacts can only be achieved when the program design incorporates several simple, yet essential principals. 

The most successful mentoring relationships are one-to-one friendships created through a structured system that considers common interests and factors. Mentors and Mentees must both choose to participate in the mentoring relationship and select who their mentor or mentee will be.  Mentors must be screened into the program and offered training on how to successfully build a strong relationship with their mentee. Mentoring relationships flourish when they are supported by professional staff who can offer guidance, encouragement, and direction over the life of a match. Mentoring relationships are most impactful when they can develop organically without a prescribed curriculum. Finally, matches must be designed to encourage long-term (12-month minimum) commitments and regular (weekly) contact. Research-based best practices like these are essential to any successful mentoring program seeking to scaffold impact over a long period.

At BBBSKC, we’re proud that implementing standards based on these and other best practices produce uncommon results for the families we serve. We require our volunteers and Littles to commit to spending time together every week for at least year. Through detailed and organized screening of volunteers, we ensure they are ready to serve from day one.  We choose to promote match longevity by structuring our program to support each friendship as it changes and matures over time. Through professional match support, our incredible team of Case Managers provide coaching, training, and high-quality individualized support to every match we make. Through quality training and match development activities, we ensure that we grow with our matches from understanding child development, to developing a high school academic plan, and post-high school internship opportunities. We choose to enact and maintain each of these principals because we know the best way to build a high-quality mentoring program is through a commitment to rejecting shortcuts, quick fixes and instead focusing on strengthening the core of our program.  As our mission drives us, our program is structured to create, grow, and sustain life-changing friendships.

Our program staff works hard to support the match and success of each child in the BBBSKC program

BBBSKC outcome data continues to support that this highly structured approach to mentoring is delivering for Kansas City kids.  100% of our matched seniors graduated high school last year.  96% of kids in the BBBS program would recommend the program to their friends and 98% of our littles report no alcohol or drug abuse since being matched.  Our parents report that 85% of Littles have experienced something new since being matched with their Big Brother, Big Sister, or Big Couple, and 89% of Parents cite their child’s relationship with their Big as having a positive impact in the child’s life.  Our volunteers echo these sentiments, as 93% report a positive relationship with their Little and 87% believe the program has had a positive impact on their match.  

We’re proud of the work we do, the standards we set, and the impact we deliver for our children, our volunteers, our investors, and our community