Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada

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Big Brothers Big Sisters is a leading non-profit organization with a focus on youth mentoring programs. Youth, as well as adult volunteers are matched with young children in order to inspire them to reach their potential. Their main focus for almost the whole century has been the notion of facilitating mentoring programs where life-changing relationships help empower youth develop their individuality and become respective citizens that will serve their own communities.[1]

Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada operates in 10 Provinces, one Territory—and in 12 countries around the world. . In addition to a traditional program where one adult is matched with one same-sex child — such as Big Brothers Mentoring and Big Sisters Mentoring — new programs include In-School Mentoring, Go Girls! Group Mentoring, Game on! Group Mentoring, Big Bunch, and Post Secondary Readiness programs. All of these programs provide additional positive adult support to children who are needing it. Volunteers are trained to listen, be a friend to a child, and share their time and hearts. Big Brothers and Big Sisters are volunteers who mentor children ages 6 through 18.[2]

Big Brothers Big Sisters offer a wide range of mentoring opportunities to meet the various needs of volunteers, children and families. Mentors serve as role models and therefore, are expected to teach by example of giving and giving back, of staying in school, and for having respect for family, peers and community.[3]

The movement began in 1904, when a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. He asked a number of his friends to spend some of their time – lending a hand to youngsters, starting with 39 volunteers. That marked the beginning of the Big Brothers movement. By 1916, Big Brothers had spread to 96 cities across the United States.[4]

In 1912, similar events took place in Canada and the first Canadian Big Sister agency formed in Toronto. Closely afterwards, in 1913, the first Canadian Big Brother program began in Toronto. Both groups continued to work independently until 1977, when Big Brothers of America and Big Sisters International (in America) joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. In 2001 a similar merger occurred between the two Canadian organizations and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada was formed. Interest grew from outside North America, spurring the formation of Big Brothers Big Sisters International to help other countries get started and facilitate communications between countries running similar programs.[5]

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Canada[edit]

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada provides mentoring programs to more than 1000 Canadian communities through over 128 local agencies. Founded on one-to-one matching, men and women (age 18 or older) give their time to become a mentor to a child.

Couples for Kids, Cross Gender Matching, In-School Mentoring, Big Bunch, and Kids 'n' Kops group programs (for kids waiting for a one-to-one match), and new Life Skills Programs all provide opportunities for volunteering and support to children and youth.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada has an industry partnership with the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus. [6]

Big Brothers Big Sisters International[edit]

Big Brothers Big Sisters International was founded in 1998. BBBS International's mission is to promote and support the development of Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs throughout the world, operating independently in various countries. This is done by providing consultation, technical assistance, training and materials for NGOs wanting to develop this mentoring model.

Big Brothers Big Sisters International headquarters is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


1902 - Ernest Coulter, court clerk, helps organize the first New York Children's Court; Ladies of Charity, later Catholic Big Sisters of New York, starts to befriend girls who come before the New York Children's Court.

1903 - Businessman Irvin F. Westheimer befriends a young boy in Cincinnati, Ohio; seeds are formed for the start of Big Brothers in Cincinnati.

1904 - Ernest Coulter founds the organized Big Brothers movement by obtaining 39 volunteers, who each agree to befriend one boy.

1912 - The New York Times reports Big Brothers activity in 26 U.S. cities

1912 - The first Canadian Big Sister program begins in Toronto.

1913 - The first Canadian Big Brother agency forms in Toronto.

1916 - Big Brothers work spreads to 96 U.S. cities.

1917 - The first national conference of Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations is held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, leading to the later organization of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation.

1923 - Big Sisters work geared to African-Americans is underway in Louisville, Kentucky and Brooklyn, New York. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., becomes treasurer of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation. First motion picture based on a Big and Little Brother relationship is released by Paramount Pictures.

1925 - Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation holds its first conference for agency executives. President Calvin Coolidge becomes patron of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation.

1934 - President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt become patrons of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation.

1940 - U.S. National Committee on Big Brothers and Big Sisters service is created to continue to pursue the formation of a national group.

1947 - Big Brothers Association headquarters opens in Philadelphia.

1948 - Norman Rockwell produces the sketch that becomes a symbol for the Big Brothers Association.

1951 - Big Brothers of the Year Program begins, Associate Justice Tom Clark of the U.S. Supreme Court and J. Edgar Hoover are named.

1958 - Big Brothers Association is chartered by Congress.

1969 - Big Brothers Association grows to 150 affiliated agencies.

1970 - Big Sisters International is incorporated.

1971 - Big Brothers Association reports 208 affiliates.

1974 - The first provincial Big Sisters conference was held in Canada and delegates from across Ontario joined to share experiences, exchange ideas and participate in educational seminars.

1975 - There are almost 100 agencies with 5,200 matches in Canada. The Big Sisters Association of Ontario (provincial) is formally established.

1977 - Big Sisters International and Big Brothers Association merge, forming Big Brothers Big Sisters of America with 357 agencies. 1980 - 150 Canadian agencies are serving 7,200 children. 1981 - The Big Sisters Association of Ontario (provincial) is formally incorporated.

1984 - Big Brothers Big Sisters of America occupies its new headquarters at 230 North 13th Street in Philadelphia.

1985 - Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is honored with a commemorative stamp by the Postmaster General.

1995 - American Public/Private Ventures Study research shows measurable results on youth who have a Big Brother or Sister.

1998 - Big Brothers Big Sisters International is founded.

2001 - Big Sisters and Big Brothers organizations in Canada merge into one, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. During this merger, one of Big Sisters of Ontario took on the journey to executive leadership, Karen Shaver.

2004 - Big Brothers Big Sisters of America celebrates 100 years of serving America’s youth.

In 2013, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada celebrated its 100th anniversary


  1. ^ "ABOUT". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "ABOUT". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "PROGRAMS". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "100 Years of History". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "100 Years of History". Retrieved 10 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Industry Partnerships". University of Waterloo. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 

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