Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties

Cause Area

  • Children & Youth
  • Education & Literacy


500 Broad StreetNewark, NJ 07102 United States

Organization Information

Mission Statement

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties (New Jersey) is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. We partner with parents/guardians, volunteers and others in the community and hold ourselves accountable for each child in our program achieving: Higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships, avoidance of risky behaviors, and educational success. We match boys with men and girls with women.
We have three main programs:
1) Community based - volunteers are matched one-on-one with a child aged between 5 to 15 years, go to the home and take the child into the community to do activities they both enjoy. By having fun together, the adult becomes a good influence on the child. The commitment is one full year, the volunteer sees the child four hours a month, the time can be split as convenient for everyone. The child can stay matched until age 18 or graduating high school, whichever comes later.
2) School or site based - volunteers are matched one-on-one with a child at an elementary or middle school. Volunteers go to the school and meet once a week during the child's lunch hour. The commitment is one hour a week for one school year; we encourage the volunteer to stay in touch by phone over the summer. Some high schools partner with companies and the students go to the workplace once a week and meet their mentors there.
3) Youth Workforce Opportunity Initiative (YWOI) - serves youth between the ages of 14 and 21 with a history of juvenile justice system involvement. In addition to being matched with a volunteer mentor for recreational activities and emotional support, youth receive job training, job opportunities, education, and additional case management and support services.


A Big Brother or Big Sister is an adult who wishes to befriend a child in need of additional support, direction and guidance. The concept involves a one-to-one friendship between an adult and a child who lives in a single parent headed home or faces other adversity. Over time the friendship and bond helps develop higher self-esteem and confidence.
The Big Brother or Sister provides support, friendship, leadership, and is a positive role model. The volunteer is not a peer or substitute parent; he or she is a responsible, mature person who cares for the child as one would for a close friend. The Big Brother or Big Sister is an adult who is able to comply with the following requirements and accept the following commitments before applying to become a volunteer:
1. Must be at least 18 years old.
2. Must have access to an automobile and have a valid driver's license and car insurance or access to reliable public transportation (for community based).
3. Must be willing to make a commitment of self and time, which includes, completion of an application, interview, home assessment and training information.
4. Must not be involved, nor may any household member be involved, in any illegal activity, including drug use.
5. Must be willing and able to volunteer for a minimum of one year.
6. Must be able to see the child four hours a month for the duration of the match relationship for community-based programs or one hour a week for school- site based mentoring programs.
7. Must be willing to meet and confer with supervising Mentor Managers who monitor according to the prearranged schedule.
8. Must be able to have fun and enjoy making a new friend.
The volunteer becomes a role model. The first facet is for the Little Brother or Little Sister to develop a trust of the Big Brother or Big Sister through friendship and communication.
The second facet is consistency. The Big Brother or Big Sister must be consistent and reliable in this friendship.
The third facet is to encourage real communication. The Big Brother or Big Sister is not necessarily a problem solver, but a friend.
The fourth facet is to broaden horizons. The volunteer introduces the Little Brother or Little Sister to the world around them, to new places, new things and new skills.
Little Brothers and Sisters gain a better understanding of their selves, gain confidence, often improve in school and are better prepared for their responsibilities as young adults.


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