Big Sisters make a Big Impact

Only 55 percent of all Spokane high school graduates in 2018 went on to some form of higher education within a year of graduating, and only 81 percent of these students graduated on time. The failure to thrive among Spokane students can be linked to a multitude of different factors, however Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Northwest (BBBS) works to combat these issues to aid students in school and help them prepare for the future.

The main challenges high school students face in Spokane County is neglect at home, malnutrition, abuse, and general depression. According to a recent report conducted by Women Helping Women Fund, 1 in 5 youth have reported being abused by an adult in their life. 14 percent of Spokane county youth have reported skipping a meal due to lack of household money for food (SWAC, 2019).

BBBS aids children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. BBBS was one Women Helping Women Fund’s 2019 grant recipients. The organization used their grant to support their MentorU program, which provides females age 14-17 with one-on-one meetings with a female mentor. 

Picture from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

This program provides “tools that help them reach their full potential and surrounds their families with ongoing, case management services to create healthy, vibrant communities,” according to BBBS. Of the youth that BBBS serves, 80% come from single-parent households, 9% have a parent in prison, and 81% are considered low-income. 

Each week, students have MentorU class time in which they complete a weekly lesson and communicate with their mentors through guided prompts. They discuss various topics, which may include perseverance, critical thinking, self-advocacy and goal setting.

Since 1965, BBBS has reached over 11,000 youth with the transformative power of mentoring. Their model centers on the belief that inside each child is the potential to succeed. When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. 

 Today’s young females face a variety of challenges and being matched with a Big Sister can help them navigate these challenges and reach their full potential.  

Picture from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

“Over the years, we learned that we are going to have the greatest impact on these issues if we can address them earlier in the individual’s life trajectory. By focusing on the formative adolescent years, we can positively influence their view of the world and self, not only now, but for a lifetime,” said a representative of BBBS.


To volunteer, donate, or to learn more please visit the Big Brother Big Sister of the Inland Northwest website here >>

Molly Gianarelli

Molly Gianarelli