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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles Collaborates to Expand Its Successful College Transition Program to Five States

Connecting with Affiliates to Scale College Mentorship Opportunities

January 30, 2020

By Julie Bos, ECMC Foundation Contributing Writer

When Darlene Silva met her Big Sister (mentor) Amber from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (BBBSLA) she found a positive role model.

While Darlene was in high school, Amber guided her Little Sister (mentee) through the college application process and her transition to college. Amber went with Darlene on college campus tours, assisted with financial aid paperwork and class registration, and shared advice for a successful college experience.

Today, Darlene is in her third year at Santa Monica College, where she’s studying communications. She plans to transfer to the California State University system to complete her degree. In addition to receiving guidance through her college journey, with BBBSLA’s help—and additional mentorship from Amber—Darlene has also secured and completed two summer internships—one at DreamWorks and one at Disney.

Darlene and Amber were part of BBBSLA’s College Preparation, Access, Completion (PAC) program, which provides professionally supported, one-on-one mentoring relationships to students who face systemic challenges in earning a college degree, including first-generation college students, students from low-income backgrounds and/or students of color in Los Angeles.

The program has been a success. Of the first three cohorts, 90% of students are enrolled in a postsecondary education program, including 74% and 26% of students at four-year and two-year institutions, respectively. In 2018, 59% of the pilot class was on track to receive a postsecondary degree within six years—a figure significantly higher than their peer population’s average six-year graduation rate (14%).

With support from ECMC Foundation, BBBSLA is providing resources and technical guidance to expand the PAC model to five additional BBBS affiliate sites in California, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To ensure model fidelity at the expansion sites, staff regularly connect and collaborate through periodic check-ins and ongoing progress reports. Drawing on best practices and lessons learned, BBBSLA aims to help all sites support 500 mentees collectively (age 18-24) over three years.

“Everything we are doing with this program is meant to support youth in these six areas, help them get to and through college and achieve their goals,” said Yvette Sanchez, manager of College PAC for BBBSLA. “In July 2019, we hosted a two-day conference with the five new sites to kick off the expansion, train everyone on the program model and share all the template resources. We’re in the early phases of our collaboration, but by working together, our efforts will only become stronger and more impactful.”

The scaling work will be completed in 2022.

This feature originally appeared in ECMC Foundation’s annual report. Read more stories from the annual report here.


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