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.   


Expanding Impact

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.  


Regional Collaborations

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.    


Big Brothers Big Sisters of America


For more than a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has been helping change kids’ perspectives and giving them the opportunity to reach their potential. And we have more than a century of volunteers, donors, and advocates just like you to thank.

It all started in 1904, when a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom. He recognized that caring adults could help many of these kids stay out of trouble, and he set out to find volunteers. That marked the beginning of the Big Brothers movement.

At around the same time, the members of a group called Ladies of Charity were befriending girls who had come through the New York Children’s Court. That group would later become Catholic Big Sisters.

Both groups continued to work independently until 1977, when Big Brothers Association and Big Sisters International joined forces and became Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

More than 100 years later, Big Brothers Big Sisters remains true to our founders’ vision of bringing caring role models into the lives of children. And, today, Big Brothers Big Sisters currently operates in all 50 states—and in 12 countries around the world.


Here is a look at our history, from the start:

1902- Ernest Coulter, court clerk, helps organize the first New York Children's Court; Ladies of Charity, later Catholic Big Sisters of New York, starts to befriend girls who come before the Children's Court.

1903- Businessman Irvin F. Westheimer befriends a young boy in Cincinnati, OH; seeds are formed for the start of Big Brothers in Cincinnati.

1904- Ernest Coulter founds the organized Big Brothers movement by obtaining 39 volunteers, who each agree to befriend one boy.

1912- The New York Times reports Big Brothers activity in 26 cities.

1914- Ernest Coulter embarks on nationwide lecture tour on behalf of Big Brothers; planning begins for a national Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization.

1917- The first national conference of Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations is held in Grand Rapids, MI.

1923- Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., becomes treasurer of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation;  First motion picture based on a Big and Little Brother relationship is released by Paramount Pictures.

1925- President Calvin Coolidge becomes patron of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation.

1930- Six hundred delegates attend a Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation meeting in New York City.

1934- President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt become patrons of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Federation.

1948- Norman Rockwell produces the sketch that becomes a symbol for the Big Brothers Association.

1951- The Big Brothers of the Year program begins, Associate Justice Tom Clark of the U.S. Supreme Court and J. Edgar Hoover are named.

1958- Big Brothers Association is chartered by Congress.

1970- Big Sisters International is incorporated.

1977- Big Sisters International and Big Brothers Association merge, forming Big Brothers Big Sisters of America with 357 agencies.

1985- Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is honored with a commemorative stamp by the Postmaster General.

1995- Public/Private Ventures Study on Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based Mentoring shows measurable, positive results on youth who have a Big Brother or Sister, seminal research in the field of youth mentoring.

1997- President William J. Clinton holds Volunteer Summit in Philadelphia; Big Brothers Big Sisters plays key role.

1998- Big Brothers Big Sisters International is founded.

2003- President George W. Bush announces three-year $450 million mentoring initiative in his State of the Union Address.

2004- Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrates 100 years of serving America’s youth.

2006- First Lady Laura Bush stars in a public service announcement to recruit volunteers across the nation.

2007- Public/Private Ventures conducts a study on Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring program, reinforcing the value of strong, long-lasting relationships and leading to program enhancements.

In a Super Bowl first, CBS, the NFL and Big Brothers Big Sisters joined forces to create a public service announcement that features the two coaches whose teams are competing in the game. Roughly 90 million viewers tuned in to watch the game and see Indianapolis Colts' Coach Tony Dungy and Coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears underscore the importance of mentoring by referencing their real-life mentoring relationship.

2010- President Obama holds a White House National Mentoring Month Ceremony; Big Brothers Big Sisters attends and plays a key role.

2012- In January, Big Brothers Big Sisters releases first-ever, nationwide Youth Outcomes Survey (YOS) Report, which reflects the collective progress and success in three outcome areas known to significantly change the lives of children for the better, forever – educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors and socio-emotional competency.