Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Founded1904; 120 years ago (1904)
Cincinnati, Ohio
New York
FounderErnest Kent Coulter
TypeNon-governmental organization
FocusMentorship, education
HeadquartersTampa, Florida, United States
Area served
United States
Key people
Artis Stevens,[1] President and CEO
Revenue (2019)
US$21 million[2]

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to "create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth".[3] Adult volunteers are matched with children from age 5 to young adulthood. It was founded by Irvin Ferdinand Westheimer. [4]

Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organizations in the United States. Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors children, ages 5 through young adulthood in communities across the country. The ages of children and youth served varies by affiliate.

Congressional charter[edit]

The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.


Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, conducted a study from 1994 to 1995, monitoring 950 boys and girls nationwide to study the effects of Big Brothers Big Sisters.[5] CEO Karen J. Mathis reported that the study found favorable outcomes to the organization.

Public/Private Ventures conducted another study in 2011 that evaluated the school-based Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.[6][7] This program also found favorable outcomes.


In 1904, a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Kent Coulter was seeing many boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these boys stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. That marked the beginning of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and the Big Brothers movement. By 1916, Big Brothers had spread to 96 cities across the country.

At around the same time, the members of a group called Ladies of Charity were befriending girls who had come through the New York Children's Court. That group would later become Catholic Big Sisters, an independent organization.

In 1958, the Big Brothers Association was granted a Congressional charter. Big Sisters International was founded in 1970. Both groups continued to work independently until 1977, when Big Brothers of America and Big Sisters International joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Big Brothers Big Sisters received the American Institute of Philanthropy's highest rating, an A+.[8] In 2011, Philanthropedia listed BBBS as the #1 Nonprofit for At-Risk Youth.[9]

In 2013, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) found itself at the center of a scandal involving grant funding, which led to sweeping changes at the organization. On June 24, 2013, the United States Department of Justice issued an Audit Report stating it was freezing the disbursement of all grant funds to BBBSA, noting that the organization was "in material non-compliance with the majority of the grant requirements" that were tested by the audit. "As a result of these weaknesses," the audit noted, the agency "questioned $19,462,448 in funding that the grantee has received and recommended the $3,714,838 in funds not yet disbursed be put to better use". The audit further stated that "most significantly", it "found that BBBSA's practices for recording and supporting grant-related expenditures were inadequate to safeguard grant funds and ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the grants".[10]

In the wake of the 2013 audit, Big Brothers replaced its management team and implemented policies governing the use of federal grant funds to bring the organization back into compliance. As part of a settlement with the Justice Department, BBBSA paid $1.6 million and agreed to institute a strict compliance program that requires the organization to engage in regular audits, establish a compliance team, an employee code of conduct, whistleblower policies and a disciplinary policy for employees who engage in or fail to disclose abuses of federal grant funds. The organization also provides regular employee training on these policies and employs risk assessment tools to detect abuses that might otherwise go undetected.

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.[11] BBBSA and many of its affiliates remain partnered with OJJDP today.[12]


  1. ^ "Artis Stevens Named New President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America". 2020-11-23. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  2. ^ "Financial Statements". Big Brothers Big Sisters of America – Youth Mentoring. 2016-10-04. Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  3. ^ "About Us: Big Brothers Big Sisters". 21 September 2016.
  4. ^ "MS-852: Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association of Cincinnati Records. 1913-2010". Retrieved 2023-02-14.
  5. ^ "Big impact—proven results". Big Brothers Big Sisters. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  6. ^ "Promising Practices Network | Programs that Work | Big Brothers Big Sisters of America". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  7. ^ Herrera, C., Grossman, J. B., Kauh, T. J., & McMaken, J. (2011). "Mentoring in Schools: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring". Child Development, 82(1), 346–361.
  8. ^ "Charity Ratings | America's Most Independent, Assertive Charity Watchdog". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  9. ^ "Big Brothers Big Sisters Named #1 Nonprofit for At-Risk Youth by GuideStar's Philanthropedia". Big Brothers Big Sisters of America – Youth Mentoring. 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  10. ^ "'Inadequate' oversight of millions in federal grants by Big Brothers Big Sisters". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  11. ^ "Charity Ratings | Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to Pay $1.6 Million to Resolve Allegations of False Claims for Federal Grants". 21 January 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
  12. ^ "Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: Reducing Risk Increasing Pro-Social Skills through BBBS Youth Mentoring". OJJDP. Retrieved 26 April 2020.

External links[edit]