Big Brothers, Big Sisters shows state board the impact of mentoring

St. Louis – Officials with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri said that they hope a presentation made to the state Board of Education on Wednesday will start a conversation about how the state can help the mentoring agency.

The St. Louis branch of the agency is the first in the country to track the academic performance and behavior of some of the children who have been matched with an older mentor. Between last year and this year, nearly 70 percent of the 500 students being tracked reduced the number of times they were late to class. Discipline referrals also dropped by nearly 70 percent. Nearly half of the students improved their math scores.

"I think the goal for today was to introduce this and to see what's possible and where the state could potentially use an initiative like this or learn from it," BBBSEMO communications director Anne Kennedy said.

The "littles," she said, are helped dramatically by having another adult in their lives.

"It can be the ongoing conversations, it can be helping them with their homework, encouraging them," Kennedy said. "There's a variety of things, and the bigs are very creative about helping that little, seeing where they need help and jumping in to see where they can help them improve."

Wells-Fargo has developed software that more quickly pulls the attendance, discipline and academic information the agency uses to develop the data. Kennedy said any additional money would allow BBBSEMO to expand the number of students it tracks.