Long Term Follow-Up Effects of the Big Brothers Sisters Community-Based Mentoring Program


Can program-based mentoring actually shape youth’s long-term trajectories into adulthood and, if so, what are the mechanisms through which this occurs?

This study is one of the first rigorous investigations of this question through a 20-year follow-up of Public/Private Venture’s landmark impact study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) community-based mentoring program. That randomized controlled study included 1,138 10- to 16-year old youth participating in 8 BBBS programs nationwide. At an 18-month follow-up, relative to their non-mentored peers, mentored youth reported better outcomes in substance use and truancy, aggressive behavior, relationships with parents and peers, and academic attitudes and performance.

This two-year study’s goals are:

  • To rigorously determine the long-term effects of the BBBS program on criminal offending, educational attainment, and employment and to clarify the mechanisms through which any such effects occur (e.g., through shorter-term effects on juvenile delinquency)
  • To summarize the study’s finding for OJJDP and the broader mentoring and delinquency prevention fields

The research team is making an extensive effort to contact all participants from the original study using detailed contact information (including addresses and dates of birth). Consented participants will complete a brief survey about the length and quality of their relationships(s) with mentors with whom they were matched through the BBBS program (if any), juvenile delinquency/system involvement, and educational attainment and employment during adulthood. Data on adult criminal offending will be obtained through public records searches. Intent-to-treat and treatment-on-the treated (using treatment group assignment as an instrument variable) analyses will asses long-term program effects and the extent to which these are mediated by 18-month outcomes as well as match length and strength. Results will be summarized in detailed progress report, a final integrative report, and technical articles suitable for publication in academic journals.

This study is led by seasoned researchers with deep expertise in mentoring and solid experience conducting large-scale mentoring evaluations and follow-up studies. Two expert consultants with significant experience with the original study data set and the investigation of mentoring relationships within the BBBS program serve as advisors and collaborators on technical articles.

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Related publications

Keller TE, Overton B, Pryce JM, Barry JE, Sutherland A, DuBois DL. "I really wanted her to have a Big Sister": Caregiver perspectives on mentoring for early adolescent girls. Child Youth Serv Rev. 2018;88:308–315. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2018.03.029.

Larose S, Boisclair-Châteauvert G, De Wit DJ, DuBois D, Erdem G, Lipman EL. How Mentor Support Interacts With Mother and Teacher Support in Predicting Youth Academic Adjustment: An Investigation Among Youth Exposed to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Programs. J Prim Prev. 2018;39(3):205–228. doi:10.1007/s10935-018-0509-8.

Lipman EL, DeWit D, DuBois DL, Larose S, Erdem G. Youth with chronic health problems: how do they fare in main-stream mentoring programs?. BMC Public Health. 2018;18(1):102. Published 2018 Jan 5. doi:10.1186/s12889-017-5003-3.

DuBois DL, Keller TE. Investigation of the Integration of Supports for Youth Thriving Into a Community-Based Mentoring Program. Child Dev. 2017;88(5):1480–1491. doi:10.1111/cdev.12887.

DeWit DJ, DuBois D, Erdem G, Larose S, Lipman EL, Spencer R. Mentoring Relationship Closures in Big Brothers Big Sisters Community Mentoring Programs: Patterns and Associated Risk Factors. Am J Community Psychol. 2016;57(1-2):60–72. doi:10.1002/ajcp.12023.

DeWit DJ, DuBois D, Erdem G, Larose S, Lipman EL. The Role of Program-Supported Mentoring Relationships in Promoting Youth Mental Health, Behavioral and Developmental Outcomes. Prev Sci. 2016;17(5):646–657. doi:10.1007/s11121-016-0663-2.