Main Menu

Enroll a Youth

Our program, along with many others in the Portland area, was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While work to recruit mentors to meet the needs of our community our youth enrollment is currently paused.

We welcome eligible youth and families to join our Interest List for future consideration for enrollment. You can review eligibility criteria below to assure our program is a fit for you and your youth.

Please note that this is not a first come first served list. We will contact youth and families from our interest list if and when we have capacity to make new matches in their area based on mentor availability. We do not guarantee that youth and families on our interest list will be contacted. We encourage families to inquire again in 6-12 months while they remain interested in a mentor for their child.

Please contact Enrollment & Matching Program Manager Amelia Spatz at 971-327-3044 or [email protected] with any questions.

How does the program work?

Community Based Program Logistics

Youth or “Littles” in our program will be matched 1:1 with volunteer mentor or “Big” who wants to spend time with. Our team makes matches based on preferences expressed during interviews with Bigs, Littles and Parents/Guardians to ensure a good fit. We consider things like interests, location, demographics, personality, communication style, goals, expectations, and more. 

Our mentoring relationships involve more than just mentor and mentee: the youth’s parent/guardian also plays an integral role in communication, planning and support of the relationship. Every Big, Little and Parent is also paired with a Match Support Specialist who acts as a cheerleader and guide throughout the life of the relationship.

The first time a Big and Little meet, the youth’s Parent/Guardian and the Match Support Specialist are also in attendance so the whole team can get to know one another. Bigs and Littles will get together 2-4 times per month, usually after school or on weekends, for at least 1 year to share mutual interests, join BBBS agency activities, work on school projects, or just talk about life. The possibilities are endless!

Who can get a Big?

Youth Eligibility Criteria

Our youth & families come from all kinds of backgrounds and represent many different identities. While we hope to serve as many youth in our community as possible there are some basic criteria that youth & families must meet to apply. Youth & families must:

  • Reside within Portland, Oregon or surrounding cities (including Vancouver, Washington).
  • Youth is between the ages of 6 and 16 years old
  • Be willing and able to make at least a one-year commitment to the program from the time of matching
  • Youth must want to participate in the program voluntarily. Youth who do not want to participate in the program will not be enrolled.
  • Parent/legal guardian and youth must be willing to partner with BBBS and communicate with their Match Support Specialist monthly.
  • Youth could benefit from an additional safe adult friend due to any of the following: Concerns about self-esteem and self confidence, Wanting to build social skills and make more friends, wanting more 1:1 time with a trusted friend, mild-moderate emotional or mental health concerns, struggles in school or other areas
How do I get a mentor for my child?

The Enrollment Process

Getting to know you and the child you are enrolling is key to making lasting, positive Big/Little matches. Our enrollment process is designed to help us understand the strengths and challenges facing the youth and whether our program is a good fit for their goals. To enroll, you will work with an Enrollment & Matching Specialist on the following steps:

Orientation & Application

Review the family orientation materials and complete your youth/family application & paperwork.

Youth/Family Interview

A 60-90 minute interview with youth, their parent/guardian, and our enrollment staff.

Get Matched

If your application is accepted, we start looking for the perfect match right away!

Youth/Family FAQ

What is a match?

A “match” in our program consists of the Big and Little, as well as the Parent/Guardian and Match Support Specialist. We sometimes refer to this as the “match team” because its truly a team effort! All parties must have consistent and timely communication with one another for the life of the match to be successful.

Are all youth accepted into the program?

No, not all children are accepted to the program. Our enrollment team completes a holistic assessment of each family/child applying to the program before determining acceptance/nonacceptance.

How long will my child wait for a match?

The wait time for a match with a mentor is between one month and one year or more, and our program cannot guarantee a match to each child who is accepted. Matches are not made based on when you enrolled but rather on when a good match is available. Matching is not first come first served for families or volunteers.

What does the enrollment process include?

The youth enrollment process includes completing an application, enrollment forms, a virtual enrollment interview, and a survey. The entire process can be completed virtually, or in-person upon request.

How does BBBS assess Bigs for the program?

All mentor candidates complete orientation, training, an enrollment interview, and fingerprinting. The enrollment team will run layered background checks and contact personal and professional references for all candidates before making determining acceptance/nonacceptance.

How are matches between mentors and children made?

Each match is hand selected by our enrollment team, who conducts interviews with all youth and mentors. The team considers personality, interests, shared identities and experiences, geographic location, and preferences expressed by families and mentors for a successful match.

How often will my child meet with their mentor?

Matches meet a minimum of twice per month throughout the year-long commitment to the program.

Will I need to provide transportation for my child?

No, mentors commit to providing transportation for their mentees for all match outings. However, mentors are not responsible for providing any additional transportation for your child, including rides to appointments, extra curriculars, etc. If your family attends a Big Brothers Big Sisters event and the mentor cannot attend, your family is responsible for providing your own transportation.

What kinds of activities do matches do together?

Matches participate in free and low-cost outings. For example, visiting the library, park, or a museum, going for ice cream, arts and crafts, playing sports, hiking, etc. Big Brothers Big Sisters offers agency and community partner events for matches as well.

Who pays for the cost of outings/activities?

Mentors commit to covering the cost of outings. Families may choose to send money with their child for outings, but it is not a requirement of the program. Participation in our program is FREE.

When and where do outings take place?

Matches spend time together whenever calendars align. Your child may spend time with their mentor after school and/or over the weekend. Overnights are not permitted under any circumstance. Matches spend time together in public spaces for the first three months of the match. Once they’ve hit this milestone, it is optional for the match to spend time together in the mentor’s home.

How long will my child be matched?

Mentors and youth commit to participating in their match for one year, starting the date of their first meeting. Once the year is completed, the commitment has been met on both sides of the match. The match can continue beyond the one-year mark if all parties remain interested in continuing the friendship. All matches are professionally supported by our Match Support team throughout their entire involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Donate today!

Invest in the growth of the youth we serve

Main Office

6443 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy
Suite #200
Portland, OR 97221


[email protected]