Getting Out and About

Volunteers are carefully matched with a child between the ages of 7 and 14 to form a mentoring relationship. Spending one-on-one time in the local community is primarily how these relationships develop. Each match is unique and creates a schedule that works for them. During outings, Bigs and Littles do everyday activities that provide children with the opportunity to discover a world of possibilities for their life.

The Littles in our program are ordinary kids who just need someone who can provide stability and friendship. We strive to match these youth with Bigs who can enrich their lives culturally, socially and academically.  Our professionally trained Match Support Specialists support the Big, Little, and family throughout the life of the match. They check in on a regular basis, answer any questions, and provide ideas for outings and tickets to events. In addition, annually our agency organizes 5 large-scale events for all matches to participate in for free!

  • Bigs and Littles agree to meet 2 to 4 times a month for a minimum of one year.
  • Outings could include having dinner at an ethnic restaurant, going on a college tour, playing basketball, or visiting a museum.
  • Professionally trained staff provide support during the entire duration of the match.

Spending a little time just twice a month can make a Big impact!

Littles in our program are:

52 % less likely to skip school

27 % less likely to begin using alcohol

46 % less likely to begin using illegal drugs

4 Steps to Becoming a Big

  1. Apply The first step is to complete the online inquiry form so we can send you the appropriate application.
  2. Complete Orientation and Interview This is where you can share your preferences about the type of Little you think will be the best fit.
  3. Get Matched Our professionally trained staff will assess your file and suggest a Little for you - taking your preferences into account.
  4. Meet your Little Once you agree to be matched, you will meet your Match Support Specialist at the Little’s home to get to know the Little and parent/guardian, review rules, goals and plans for your first few outings!

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

What is the minimum time commitment to be a Big?
Volunteers must be willing to commit to being matched with a Little at least one year and meet with their Little two to four times per month.
Is there an application fee?
Volunteers pay a one-time $35 application fee.
Do I have to be employed to be a Big?
Volunteers can apply to be a Big if they are retired, in college or graduate school, or do not work outside the home. However, if a volunteer is between jobs we require they be employed at least one month before applying to be a Big.
How old are your Bigs?
Bigs must be at least 21 years old to mentor in our Community Based program.
Who are the Little Brothers and Little Sisters?
In our Community Based program Littles generally are initially enrolled between 7 and 14 years old. We serve at-risk youth youth, including those living in single parent homes, growing up in poverty and coping with parental incarceration.
When would I meet with my Little?
In the Community-Based Program it’s up to you and your Little, but most matches meet on the weekends.
How much does it cost to be a Big?
In the Community Based program Bigs are responsible for the cost of outings. However, we encourage no cost/low cost activities. We often provide Bigs with free tickets you can use to take your Little to sports games, museums, cultural events, etc. Also, your Match Support Specialist will let you know about low/no-cost events in the community.
Can I be a Big if I don’t know much about kids?
Yes you can! You’ll have a dedicated and professionally trained Match Support Specialist who will assist you throughout the duration of the match with helpful suggestions designed to specifically enhance your relationship with your Little.
How do you match a Big with a Little?
We conduct in-depth interviews with the Bigs, Littles, and parents/guardians enrolling in our program so we can get to know all parties and can make the best match! We make matches based on common interests, personalities, preferences, and geography.
Where can I mentor?
Bigs are matched in our four county service area which includes Cook, Dupage, Lake County, IL and Lake County, IN.
How far will I have to travel?
In our Community Based program we ask if Bigs are willing to drive up to 45 minutes but we try make matches where the Big and Little are within 30 minutes of each other. We recognize that lengthy travel takes up too much time and can undermine the longevity and quality of a match.
Does BBBSMC accept LGBTQ volunteers?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago values diversity, and no person will be denied equal opportunity under applicable laws to volunteer because of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Preferences, fit, and similarity of interests are taken into consideration. As part of the matching process, we will disclose such information to the parent/guardian. If preferences are not aligned, BBBSMC will work to find a Little who we believe will be a good match for you.
What kind of background checks do you do?
All volunteers and employees are subject to background checks that include obtaining references from people who know them well. Also we conduct a National Criminal Background Check (recurs twice a month), Federal Background Check, DCFS Child Abuse/Neglect, Public Domain Search, Motor Vehicle Check, and fingerprinting. In addition, in our Community Based program, anyone who lives in the Big’s home who is over the age of 18 must complete a background check.
Can I volunteer even if I have a criminal record?
We handle this on a case-by-case basis. It is important that you disclose this to us and address it fully. In some instances an offense may not be an obstacle because it is minor or long ago. In other instances, for example a case that is still open, it is a disqualifier.
Can I still be a Big if I don’t have a car?
Yes. Volunteers who don’t have a car can be a Big in one of our Site Based programs. Additionally, volunteers can become a Big in our Community Based program if they own or have access to a car they are insured on, use Uber/Lyft, Zip Car, a rental car or CTA.
Are there residency requirements to be a Big?
Yes. All volunteers either must be a US citizen and have lived in the US at least 12 months prior to applying to be a Big, be a legal US resident for the past 2 years, or have a valid student or worker visa for the past 2 years.
What kinds of things do Bigs and Littles do together?
In the Community Based program Bigs and Littles do normal, everyday activities that ultimately build friendships and change lives! Going out for ice cream, going to a baseball game, cooking a meal, visiting a museum – the Big and Little can decide what they want to do together!
What outcome areas will I focus on with my Little?
Bigs and Littles set goals around three outcome areas: Educational Achievement (improving attitudes about school, improving grades, addressing truancy, discussing career aspirations, etc), Avoidance of Risky Behavior (peer pressure, drug and alcohol use, gangs, making healthy choices), and Socio-Emotional Competency (developing healthy peer relationships, self-confidence, etc).

Help a child reach their full potential!

To learn more about becoming a Big in our Community Based Program, please contact our Customer Relations Specialist Ashlee McGrown at mcgrown@bbbschgo.org or 312-207-4227.

Apply to be a Big today