The Need for Mentoring
Our kids today face more challenges and pressures than ever before. Poverty, gangs, drug and alcohol abuse, poor school performance, teenage pregnancy and parents that are missing, incarcerated, substance abusing, or who are kids themselves increase the number and intensity of risk factors to repeat the cycle. Single parents working hard to raise the family with little time left over, grandparents on a fixed income taking on the raising of grandchildren when no one else is available, foster parents needing more support, these are all typical of the families seeking a mentor for one or more children in their families.
- The San Joaquin Valley in Central California has one of the highest rates of children in poverty in California, with about 30% in our four counties now served.
- 70% of children in third grade in our four counties do not read at grade level.
- 3,649 of our four counties’ youth drop out of high school, approximately 2.5% of the school-age population.
- Only 25% of our high school graduates meet UC and CSU college entrance requirements as compared to 35% in California.
- About 2,000 of California’s youth are in the California Youth Authority at an estimated cost of $80,000 per year.
- Fresno has five times the national average of its population participating in gangs. Gang activity is increasing in all the counties in the region.
Our children and our community deserve better.
Professionally supported mentoring is well-researched and recognized as a best practice nationally to help mitigate risk factors for youth. It is a prevention strategy proven to work that is cost-effective.
Mentoring is Cost Effective
The cost locally to support a match, from recruitment of volunteers to match support through the life of the match, is about $1,780 annually (excluding fundraising costs) or $2,000 including all costs. Research in Washington State showed that there was a $3,485 cost benefit for each child mentored when factoring in reduction of drug abuse and dropping out of school.  In our region served, an estimated benefit to society is $1.5 million, about 2-1/2 times our cost.
Mentoring Improves Academic Performance
Matches with strong relationships show a direct correlation to improvement in school performance. This is not because a lot of time is spent helping with homework or on tutoring activities – as a matter of fact, if the relationship focuses too much on academics, results can back-fire with dissatisfied Bigs and Littles and earlier match closures.
The sheer exposure to a role model that is there to listen and care, with whom to have fun and be a friend, seems to be the most important factor. Just checking in consistently with how things are doing at school, asking to see and praising a report card, or helping a youth figure out how to manage a bully can be the difference over time.
A long term study of Littles in Michigan showed that youth matched 5 to 27 years previously had completed an average of 14 years of schooling, higher than the national average. 
A landmark randomized, nationwide study showed that mentored youth compared to their peers were
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 37% less likely to skip class
- More confident in their schoolwork performance
- Doing modestly better in grade point averages
- More trusting of their parents and less likely to lie
- Getting along better with their peers 
Together we can make a difference
Whether you mentor, help with fundraising events, provide an activity for matches, or donate funds, together we are changing our community for the better. Not only are we helping individual children, the ripple effect can be felt for the entire family, the classroom, and the neighborhood. Mentors lives are changed too, both from the act of giving and from understanding the needs of our community on a very personal basis. Together, we are making a difference every day. Please join us now.
 2007 California County Data Book, Children Now, Oakland.
California STAR English-Language Arts Report FY 06-07, accessed through California Department of Education,
 Grade 9-12 Dropouts in Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Tulare Counties, California Department of Education, 3/9/08,
 2007 California County Data Book. Children Now, Oakland.
 Belfield, C.R. (2004) Estimating the Rate of Return to educational investments: a case study using the BBBS mentoring program New York: Teacher’s College, Columbia University
 McKinney, R.E., Paten, A.S. and Smith, H.R. (1999). An outcome study of 200 former Little Brothers and Sisters served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saginaw Bay Area, MI. BBBS of Saginaw Bay. Saginaw, MI.
 Tierney, J.P.,Grossman, J.B., and Resch, N.L. (1995). Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures