Nation’s Largest Mentoring Network Urges Americans to Start Something™ to Help Kids Succeed in, out of the Classroom

PHILADELPHIA (January 3, 2011) – This January, as part of National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters launches Start Something™, a national initiative inviting all adults – not just volunteers — to support quality mentoring to help children who face adversity beat the odds.

The nation’s leader in quality one-to-one youth mentoring services, Big Brothers Big Sisters holds itself accountable for and is able to measure specific youth outcomes — educational achievement, avoidance of risky behaviors (especially juvenile delinquency), higher self-esteem, confidence and ability to relate to others. Start Something challenges Americans to visit to get involved by donating, sharing mentoring success stories or volunteering. Increased funding will allow Big Brothers Big Sisters to carefully make more mentoring matches and provide ongoing assistance for mentors, mentees and families to help sustain long successful relationships unique to its programs.

“We know the serious risks – high dropout rates, juvenile crime, teen pregnancy – facing today’s youth and we know all too well what happens when we do nothing. Start Something empowers Americans to become a part of a proven solution,” said Karen J. Mathis, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America president and CEO. “We are proud of all who take the initiative to Start Something. What better time than now, National Mentoring Month, to start a child on the road to success? When our kids improve in and out of school, the entire nation succeeds.”

Developed pro bono by ad agency Publicis Modem in partnership with the Ad Council, Start Something was introduced through a redesign of the network’s national website and several local pilot agencies last year, and will extend through a series of national television, radio and online public service ads (PSAs). The empowering new campaign highlights the amazing achievements of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and encourages donations to support this engine of positive, personal change. The campaign highlights the life-changing impact of the one-to-one relationships through real life stories and inspiring imagery. The Ad Council will be distributing the PSAs to media outlets nationwide and they will run in time and space donated by the media. Facebook, AOL and Microsoft Advertising have committed their support to the PSAs and many other digital platforms will be promoting Start Something via their channels.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters to raise awareness of the incredible life-changing impact of their program,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Previous campaigns that we have produced for Big Brothers Big Sisters have helped to dramatically increase applications to become a mentor and we believe this new creative developed by Publicis will have a similar impact in encouraging Americans to ‘Start Something’ and support their important work.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters first partnered with the Ad Council in 2002 on a campaign designed to recruit volunteer mentors. In the first four months after the launch of the PSAs, site traffic tripled and, in the first eight months, applications to be a mentor increased by 75%.

Dani Nadel, President, Publicis Modem USA, stated, “There is so much agency passion around our work for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The team jumped at the chance to contribute to this effort, and worked tirelessly after business hours, through weekends, over lunch. I know their admiration and deep respect for Big Brothers Big Sisters made the work just that much more compassionate, touching and human. Publicis has a long-standing relationship with the Ad Council, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with the Big Brothers Big Sisters team.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters estimates the cost of carefully matching a child with the right volunteer mentor and managing the relationship with ongoing monitoring, training and support for the mentor, mentee and family is about $1,000 a year and more in larger cities. Start Something is a reminder that while volunteers are a critical component of its successful mentoring programs, funds are needed to manage its mentoring programs, expand them to more children and to track and measure impact and outcomes across the country.

Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are based on a data-proven model focused on creating and sustaining strong and long mentoring matches. Longstanding research by Public Private Ventures, a national nonprofit research and program development organization, found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in the program are:
• 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
• 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
• 52% less likely to skip school
• 37% less likely to skip a class
• 33% less likely to hit someone

Across the nation, individuals and organizations have already taken the Start Something pledge:
• On January 13, corporations across America will embrace Bring Your Little to Work Day, allowing employees who are current “Bigs” to bring their “Little” to work or school to help spread the Start Something message, illustrating how quality one-to-one mentoring enriches a child’s life, expands learning opportunities and improves his or chances for leading a successful life
• Arby’s, Big Brothers Big Sisters partner for more than 20 years, provided seed funding for Start Something
• Big Brothers Big Sisters’ national corporate partners are encouraging giving through campaigns such as Subaru of America’s Share the Love Event; Neiman Marcus’ InCircle Event; American Eagle Outfitters’ Friends and Family Day; Jack In the Box Restaurants’ Antenna Ball promotion; Nivea’s New Year’s Eve promotion in Times Square; and The Gap Inc.’s Give and Get promotions. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ long-time corporate partners such as Comcast, Rent-A-Center, Great Wolf Lodge and others have provided a foundation over the years for the network to introduce Start Something. In addition, 100 Women in Hedge Funds, a professional association of women in finance, recently selected Big Brothers Big Sisters as its charitable beneficiary for 2010.

National Mentoring Month is spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a lead partner.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”).

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a system of ongoing evaluation and support which is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that “Littles” will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of nearly 400 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves more than 255,000 children. Learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate, or volunteer at

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