Get access

Mentoring in Schools: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring


  • This study was conducted as part of a larger Public/Private Ventures evaluation funded by generous grants from The Atlantic Philanthropies (to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America), Philip Morris USA, and The William T. Grant Foundation. The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation also supported the study by fostering communication among key stakeholders during all phases of the project. We are very grateful to staff from the 10 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies involved in the study, as well as the mentors, youth and teachers who completed our surveys. We thank Eric Foster, Mike Barr, and Dareth Noel at the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University for their data collection efforts, and the school staff who assisted them. Keoki Hansen and Joe Radelet at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America were incredibly supportive partners throughout the study’s implementation, as was our advisory group: Amanda Bayer, David DuBois, Michael Karcher, Steven Liu, and Jean Rhodes. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback that shaped the final draft of this report.

concerning this article should be addressed to Carla Herrera, Senior Policy Researcher, Public/Private Ventures, 2000 Market Street, Suite 550, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Electronic mail may be sent to


This random assignment impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring involved 1,139 9- to 16-year-old students in 10 cities nationwide. Youth were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (receiving mentoring) or a control group (receiving no mentoring) and were followed for 1.5 school years. At the end of the first school year, relative to the control group, mentored youth performed better academically, had more positive perceptions of their own academic abilities, and were more likely to report having a “special adult” in their lives. However, they did not show improvements in classroom effort, global self-worth, relationships with parents, teachers or peers, or rates of problem behavior. Academic improvements were also not sustained into the second school year.