Frequently Asked Questions
What is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island (BBBSRI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to pairing adult mentors with children between the ages of 7 and 14 years of age. BBBSRI's Mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Our vision is that all youth would reach their full potential.
Is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America?
Yes. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is our parent organization and they’ve been serving youth nationally for more than a 100 years. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island continues that tradition by matching volunteer mentors with children who can benefit from having another positive adult role model in their lives.
Does the program work?
Many of our youth face overwhelming challenges that create barriers in reaching their full potential. Mentees in our program who have been Matched with Mentor (Defender of Potential) for 18 months are doing better in school, have higher self-esteem, and are rich in relationships.
Who can I talk to if I have additional questions?
Please email mentoring@BigsRI.org with additional questions.
Who are the young people in your program?
The Mentees are young people in our community who can benefit from having a positive adult role model. Young people may be referred to the program by their parent/guardian, school, or other community agency.
How old do you have to be to volunteer as a Mentor?
Mentors must be at least 19 years old.
Are there any additional requirements?
All Mentors must go through our enrollment process.
How are Mentors and Mentees Matched?
Our Enrollment Specialists spend considerable time getting to know our volunteers and children in order to make the best possible Match. Mentors and Mentees are Matched on the basis of proximity, personality, common interests, while at the same time considering the needs of the child and our volunteer's strengths.
What do Mentors and Mentees typically do together?
Anything you like! Activities are up to each Match to decide on and schedule on their own time. You don’t have to spend a lot of money — it’s about the time. Common activities include getting ice cream or going to a movie, playing catch or a video game, attending a sporting event or concert, hanging out at home and making dinner, or running errands. We encourage Mentors to share time instead of trying to create new time. Bring your Mentee on activities you were already going to do. Keep it simple and focus on getting to know each other. BBBSRI also hosts great Match activities that all Mentors and Mentees are invited to. Our Mentors are also occasionally given free tickets to events that match support specialists are able to distribute to Matches.
How much time does it take to be a Mentor?
Mentors in the community-based program typically spend a few hours twice a month (6-8 hours/month) for about 18 months building a friendship with a child. Mentors in the site-based mentoring program spend 2 hours/month for a year with a child at BBBSRI, their school or other agency-designated site.
What type of training and support do you offer your volunteers?
Each Mentor is required to complete a pre-match training prior to being introduced to their Mentee. A Match Support Specialist is assigned and is available to answer questions or provide additional training and resources for concerns of particular interest to your match. Your Match Support Specialist will provide support throughout your match relationship and will touch base with you, your Little, and the Little's parent/guardian regularly.
What is the screening process to become a “Big”?
All volunteers are carefully screened to ensure that the relationship with the child will be safe and rewarding for everyone. Prospective volunteers are screened through an application, background checks, character references, and personal interviews. All information obtained is confidential.