Youth Development: OST, Mentoring, & Education Equity

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Technology-Enhanced Mentoring (BBBSA TEM)
Funder: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Project Time Period: 2017-2018

Project Category: Youth Development/Formative Evaluation

About BBBSA TEM: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) seeks to change the lives of children facing adversity between 6 and 18 years of age by pairing a child with a caring adult mentor building on research that shows that when children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. BBBS mentors are there to help their mentees navigate challenges and reach their potential. In recent years, individual BBBSA affiliates have launched technology-enhanced mentoring (TEM) to support youth who may not otherwise benefit from mentoring and to engage an untapped group of volunteer mentors. 

The Work: In phase I of MAI’s partnership with BBBSA, we conducted a climate survey and semi-structured interviews with staff at BBBS affiliates implementing a TEM program. As part of this work, we sought out to learn to what degree the affiliates were utilizing their TEM platforms, why BBBS affiliates had selected a particular platform, to gather BBBS program staff feedback on successes and challenges related to using TEM platforms, and to gather BBBS staff feedback on best practices and recommendations for affiliates using TEM platforms. In phase II of our collaboration, we sought to identify the dosage of TEM that is associated with positive mentee outcomes and to learn if community and/or school-based mentoring outcome benchmarks are realistic for TEM. MAI also developed a TEM program logic model and TEM curriculum matrix. 

What We Learned: Overall, affiliates are reporting positive experiences with implementing TEM and are beginning to observe some early program impacts. Program staff have reported outcomes in which they have seen improvements related to TEM programming, including, but not limited to: increased school attendance; improved graduation rates and; strengthened quality of mentor/mentee relationships and comfortability of sharing authentic feelings.