How much time does it take to be a Big?

4 to 8 hours a month, depending on the program. In our Site-Based program, you visit your Little for one hour each week during the school year, typically during his or her lunch hour. To realize all of the positive impacts our relationships can incur, we ask for a 12-month minimum commitment in this program. In our Community-Based program, we ask for a minimum of 8 hours a month, which typically equates to two outings each month taking your Little outside their home to engage in some type of activity, typically in the evenings or on weekends. We also offer a Sports Buddy program, which centers around watching and participating in sports, and a Big Couples option, where you and your spouse or significant other share the mentoring experience. We ask for a minimum 15-month commitment in all of our community-based programs.

What’s required to be a Big?

You must:

  • Agree to honor the minimum commitment (12-15 months, depending on the program) and have the time each week/month to see your Little.
  • Successfully pass a Level 2 background check (including fingerprints and driving record.) There is no cost to applicants for the background check.
  • Have a valid driver’s license, auto insurance and appropriate transportation for children (for Community-Based volunteers.) For Site-Based you must have reliable transportation to get to your mentoring site even in inclement weather.
  • Present a Social Security card or W2 tax form.
  • Complete the enrollment process, which includes attending an Orientation & Training session (for the schedule in your county, got to and follow the “Volunteer” links). At the end of the orientation, you will be asked to complete an application (including three references). Approximately a week later you will be asked to participate in a one-on-one personal interview.

What kind of kids do we help?

We initially match children between the ages of 5 and 13 (although once matched they remain in the program through high school graduation). Most of our Littles come from families living below the federal poverty line, while many come from single-parent homes, or have a parent incarcerated or a parent in the military who is deployed elsewhere. We work hard to match you with a child within 15 minutes of where you live that shares your interests and hobbies.

Will I have help?

Absolutely. Every Big and Little “match” is assigned to work with one of our professional staff members, called a Match Support Specialist, who is there to help you overcome any challenges, answer any questions, help you with ideas on match outings and otherwise support the match in any way possible. We host many events for our matches that are free to attend, and we will work with you to help develop skills to become a more effective mentor.

So what is the first step?

Check out the Orientation & Training schedule for your county and just show up. No RSVP required. You’ll learn all about our programs, commitments, expectations and our kids.