To inspire children to achieve their potential
Bringing Generations Together
Serving the eastern Iowa and western Illinois for more than 30 years
Mentoring began in the Quad Cities in 1987, when a small group of community leaders created Hand in Hand. Founding organizations included Catholic Charities, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and Valley Shelter Homes. The group identified an immediate need to provide support to children of families placed in Davenport through Catholic Charities' refugee placement program. The goal was to create a model that allowed adults to provide support to children as they transitioned into American culture.
Through a $5,000 grant from Frank Folwell and matched by the Davenport Optimist club, Hand in Hand affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 1988 and changed it's name to Quad Cities Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization enjoyed moderate and consistent success in the 1990s serving between 50-150 children annually. By the end of the 1990s the organization had expanded its service to other vulnerable children in the community including children living with a single parent and grandparent households. The organization also began serving both Scott and Rock Island counties.
In 2004, the organization conducted an extensive community needs assessment and developed a five year strategic plan to increase it's impact. Through youth assessment tools such as Kids Count, Youth Survey, Quad City Health Assessment and The Search Institute data, the organization identified that nearly 50% of families in our area did not involve both parents in the household. The number of children living with a single parent had increased from 20% to over 30% within 20 years. In addition, more than 10% of children were living with a grandparent or other relative. A striking conclusion from the Youth Survey indicated that less than 50% of children could identify three positive adults involved in their life.
To position to expand their impact, the organization positioned to be a regional service provider. This expansion would allow for broader and deeper collaborations with regional, state and federal partners. In 2005, the organization incorporated a broader service area through a community partnership in Macomb, Illinois. In 2006, the organization created another community partnership by aligning with a BBBS sponsored affiliate in Sterling, Illinois. As a result of these partnerships and a regional focus, the organization changed its corporate name from Quad Citied Big Brothers Big Sisters to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley. Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley serves a regional area including 15 counties in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. We have three regional mentoring centers in Davenport, Sterling and Macomb. We have a corporate board of directors and two regional advisory boards. Our annual impact ranges from 700 to 1,000 children. We are one of over 300 Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates in the United States.
The most significant program transformation happened between 2007 and 2010. The regional structure allowed the organization to secure significant state and federal grants with a mentoring focus. The first major grant was the US Department of Education- School Based Mentoring Grant. This grant allowed the organization to expand its one-to-one mentoring model to both urban and rural populations through strategic partnerships with school districts. Identical in the enrollment and match support of it's existing Community-based platform, the School-based platform allowed for a more intentional focus of the children served and a stronger connection to measuring outcomes. Education professionals assisted with the identification and enrollment of children and parents. Schools welcomed the adult mentor into the school structure and provided BBBS with academic and social performance data of children participating in the program. Today, the BBBS School-based mentoring platform counts over 64 school partners throughout our service area. The organization formed a further partnership with the Mississippi Bend Area Education Association (AEA), to administer the Performance Outcome Evaluation (POE) which allows every primary teacher of a child participating in a BBBS mentoring program to provide data on attendance, engagement, grades, behavior, and other important measurements. This information is used as part of the match goal and support process.
To assist with the rapid program expansion, the organization pursued and secured a federal grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to implement the AmeriCorps Service Program. Known as the "Domestic Peace Corps", AmeriCorps provides service opportunities in local communities to help address unique needs. Members serve a defined period of time and receive a basic living allowance during and an educational award at the conclusion of their service. BBBS partners with area higher education institutions such as St. Ambrose University, Western Illinois University, Augustana College and others to recruit and engage service members. Members assist with capacity building including recruitment of adult volunteers and families, match support including coordinating community-based activities and providing connections to resources, and coordinating service opportunities for matches. BBBSMV has partnered with the State of Illinois and Iowa over the years to continually coordinate the AmeriCorps program in our service area. Since 2017, BBBSMV has partnered with the City of Davenport and Davenport Community Schools to implement the AmeriCorps program in our region. The primary focus is to provide supports to youth at risk of dropping of our school or under-performing their potential. BBBS has served as a AmeriCorps partner for more than 15 years, hosting over 225 service members.
Longer Stronger Matches
The rapid growth of the BBBSMV programing to a regional impact, a robust assessment and measurement system, and significant community collaborations lead BBBSMV to make strategic changes to it's service delivery model in 2010. In addition to new federal grants through the US Department of Justice- Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention (OJJDP) that allowed the organization to create partnerships with area court systems to provide mentoring services the juveniles involved in a court system, the organization expanded the quality of the mentoring experiences. The organization incorporated improvements to its enrollment, training and match process to focus on creating consistent and long term relationships between at-risk youth and adult mentors. By 2013, the average length of a match within the BBBSMV model exceeded 3 years. Today, more than 60% of the youth involved in a BBBSMV mentoring platform are in middle and high school (12-18 years of age). Since 2016, the local organization was one of the top 10% of performing BBBS affiliates in the United States.
Achieve Quad Cities launches new expanded collaborations
With a comprehensive K-12 mentoring model, BBBS began focusing on the match experiences to make deeper and lasting impact. Through a local collaboration with United Way, Community Foundation of the Quad Cities, Arconic, Regional Development Authority and many others, BBBSMV launched enhancements for matches involving middle and high school youth called Career Navigator. BBBSMV collaborated with area higher education, government, and the private sector to provide access and educational opportunities for matches. These included campus tours, workplace tours, intimate engagement with owners of business and community leaders and other opportunities. By 2014, the organization added a job readiness, Youth Corps service/employment program, college readiness program and community service components. Today, BBBSMV has STEM focused enhancements for matches involving elementary age youth called MAPS and Graduation/Career enhancements for matches involving middle and high school youth called COMPASS. All include collaborations and partnerships with hundreds of organizations in our region.