MapPoint for Matches

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities
City & State:
St. Paul, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

To enrich the lives of young people through one-to-one friendships.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities (BBBS) is to enrich young people’s lives through one-to-one friendships. BBBS has been serving greater Minneapolis and St. Paul since 1920 and currently is the sixth-largest affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. The overall goal of BBBS is to provide children with adult mentors for supportive interactions to enhance confidence, competence and capacity for caring. In order to meet this goal, our outreach and recruitment efforts are essential to finding both children and mentors and effectively matching them to provide a strong basis for long-lasting mentoring relationship.

Little Brothers and Sisters (“Littles”) are children who are matched with adult mentors, known as Big Brothers and Big Sisters (“Bigs”). Bigs provide support and encouragement to Littles with the training and assistance they receive from BBBS professional staff. Littles are between the ages of 7 and 13 at the time of the match and are eligible to remain in the program until they reach age 18. Most of the youth we serve face significant challenges – more than 70% are low-income; more than 90% live in single-parent households, live with other relatives, or are in foster care; and more than 70% are children of color. Matching them with a caring volunteer mentor – a friend – has dramatic and long-lasting positive impacts. Bigs affirm a child's inherent worth, discuss difficult subjects and provide role models for career and academic exploration.

BBBS has staff members specially designated to serve our adult volunteers and children. Our staff members give all potential and thriving matches their undivided attention while creating and maintaining sustainable friendships. Match services include: (a) recruiting, screening and training mentors (Bigs); (b) recruiting, interviewing, and preparing mentees (Littles) and their families for the program; (c) matching Bigs and Littles; (d) providing critical support to matches which includes on-going training and opportunities for activities and regular interaction with all parties (mentors, children, parents / teachers); (e) building, enhancing, and sustaining relationships with schools and community organizations necessary to recruit volunteer mentors and children; (f) gathering, analyzing, and maintaining confidential data on all matches; (g) evaluating the successes of our programs and interactions with children; and (h) ensuring the safety of the children and volunteers engaged in our programming at all times.

Microsoft MapPoint is pivotal software when our staff members are recruiting, interviewing, and preparing our Bigs and Littles for matches – critical steps in creating long-term and meaningful mentoring relationships. With the help of this tool, staff are able to recruit mentors and children more effectively, ultimately increasing the number of volunteers and children that we serve annually. MapPoint gives precise images of where BBBS has waiting children and volunteers, providing specific streets rather than only cities. This user-friendly software allows our staff to manipulate and organize waiting children and adults by zip code, city, and county. With this information, we are better able to see the areas with greatest waiting lists and concentrate our recruitment efforts on those areas, saving us both time and money and helping us to be as effective as possible. MapPoint also advances our search for mentors by showing demographic information such as the gender and ethnicity, again allowing us to be much more precise in our recruitment as we search for the volunteers who fulfill those gender, ethnicity, and location needs, allowing BBBS to better serve children in need of adult mentors.

In addition to the visual format that shows where our agency has waiting individuals, Microsoft MapPoint monitors where past efforts have been placed. This allows staff members to track recruitment areas where they have had the greatest success in recruiting volunteer mentors, and areas where those efforts were not as fruitful. This aspect of MapPoint again allows us to be more thoughtful and precise in our recruitment efforts as it provides staff with information on the optimal locations for recruiting adults and children, especially if the list of waiting children or mentors grows in that area.

Since our recruitment staff began to use Microsoft MapPoint, BBBS has been able to increase the amount of matches served in our program to 3,275 in 2008, with a goal of 3,500 children in 2009. BBBS has improved the match retention rate of each match to 26.9 months in community based mentoring, and 13 months in the school-based mentoring (surpassing national agency average by at least three months in each category). We have also decreased our waitlist from more than 800 children waiting for a mentor to just over 700 since we began using Microsoft MapPoint. The improvements that have been made in our agency allow Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities to impact more people than ever before with our mission of enriching children’s lives through one-to-one friendships. Acclaims of our agency’s improvements have been recognized on a national level. BBBS would not be as efficient and refined in our work without Microsoft MapPoint visually depicting and tracking areas where we have children and adults waiting to be matched to for life-long friendships.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery