Lara Mitra: What have been BBBS's biggest achievements in the last few years?

Ms. Mathis: Educating the public that children in our programs (those of single,low-income and incarcerated parents) can achieve in school and succeed in life.

Lara Mitra: How do you ensure a steady supply of good mentors?

Ms. Mathis: Partnerships -- fraternities, Univision, African Methodist Episcopal church -- have been a great way for us to recruit male mentors, particularly African American and Hispanic mentors. Young boys from these backgrounds disproportionately represent those waiting to be matched.

Lara Mitra: How do you ensure a good match between mentors and mentees?

Ms. Mathis: A great deal of attention is devoted to the entire matching process, from the initial screening to the final pairing. Beyond that, we provide ongoing support and supervision to the Big, the Little, and the Little’s family. We offer training and advice to help ensure that the match is working for everyone involved. It is this web of support that helps maximize the likelihood that the Big Brother Big Sister relationship will thrive. Such support differentiates us from other mentoring groups. It's why our mentoring lasts long and is effective.

Lara Mitra: What are some of the challenges BBBS faces and how do you plan to address them?
Ms. Mathis: Educating the public that we need funding as well as mentors...that
Interview of Karen Mathis, President and CEO of
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America
funding allows us to serve more kids. We will soon launch Start Something, an effort to reposition the focus of our organization and attract more donors by convincing them that mentoring can help kids achieve their potential. Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sx2l8K6xNKM

Lara Mitra: How do you measure the success of BBBS?

Ms. Mathis: By the length and strength of mentoring matches. Both are showing improvement.

Lara Mitra: What changes, if any, do you plan to make in your program over the next few years?

Ms. Mathis: We plan to develop more mentoring partnerships in school districts with high dropout rates.
Interview of Karen Mathis, President and CEO of
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America