The One-to-One Match Program is what most people think of as the traditional Big Brother or Big Sister role. You are matched with a 7-14 year old child usually from a single-parent family, who is looking for guidance and companionship. All it takes is a little of your time to provide encouragement, friendship, and good company.


Match your child/youth to a caring adult mentor & friend. They meet 2—4 times a month on a schedule that works best for you. 


Littles are children/youth living in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito County that will benefit from a one-to-one relationship with a positive adult friend/role model.  All Littles need and can benefit from the friendship of an adult with whom to have fun and help them through difficult childhood experiences.



Like our Littles, our volunteers are from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. They are at least 18 years of age (or 16 if volunteering for the After School program) and may be single or married, perhaps even with a family of their own. Bigs make a one-year commitment to spend a few hours a week with their Littles doing fun activities at a time that works for both of them. All Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers are interviewed, screened, and trained by our professional agency staff.


• Fill out an online application

• Request a copy of the English Application or the Spanish Application, to print and mail to us.
Please call the Agency at 831-464-8691 or email us to receive an application by mail.

Once we receive your application, casework staff will call and/or email you to explain the next step.


Parents and guardians are an integral part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters match at every step of the process. Not only will you provide information about your child’s strengths and needs, but you’ll also approve the selection of the Big. Once the match is made, parent/guardians remain closely involved in several key ways, including:


The safety of your child is your highest priority.  It is no different at Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Making the best possible match between Little and Big is critical to the growth and development of a child. But before we begin the matching process, we start by thoroughly screening potential Bigs.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Standards of Excellence requires each volunteer to complete a multi-layered screening process that includes:

Big Brothers Big Sisters also provides child safety tips to you and your child and we welcome your questions and feedback.  Throughout the life of the match, our professional staff will maintain ongoing communication with you, your child, and your child’s Big. It’s the best way to build a strong relationship that will have the greatest impact on your child’s future success.


How are Littles introduced to the agency?

Children and their families are referred to the agency by schools, other social service agencies, clergy, relatives, or the families may call on their own.

How do youth become “Littles”?

The child and the parent/guardian are asked to complete an application and are personally interviewed by a professional staff member to help best determine the exact need in each situation. All youth are voluntarily a part of the program.

What are matches based on?

A match is based on such factors as geographical location, personality, needs, and interests as well as the youth, volunteer’s and parent/guardian’s preferences.

When is a match made?

A match is made only after the volunteer and parent/guardian have met and mutually approve of making the match. The “pre-match” meeting is facilitated by a case manager and provides both parties with the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about each other. If, after sufficient consideration, the volunteer and parent/guardian both want to proceed with the match, we will set up a match meeting, where the youth meets the volunteer. In this “match meeting”, the youth and volunteer get to know one another before activating the match. Once everyone has met each other and indicates they are ready to proceed, the match is activated and outings can start being planned. 

What happens after I’ve been matched?

Throughout the match, the volunteer, youth and parent/guardian are never left without the assistance of the professional staff of the agency. Each match is assigned to a case manager for ongoing supervision. Volunteers, youth and parent/guardians have monthly contact with the case manager to discuss their feelings about the match and help is available should any problems occur.

What kind of activities can matches do?

Activities could include: riding bikes, surfing, cooking, gardening, hiking, going to the movies, going out to eat, learning a new skill, or just hanging out.

How many children has Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County served?

More than 8,000 children have been served by our local Big Brothers Big Sisters since it began in 1982.

How is Big Brothers Big Sisters funded?

Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on our community to support our mentoring services. The majority of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ funding comes from fundraising events and private donors including individuals, foundations, businesses, service clubs, and faith-based organizations. Federal and local government also funds Big Brothers Big Sisters.


Matching local trans-children/youth with trans-adult mentors

The TransMentoring Program is part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters One-to-One Mentoring Program.  The TransMentoring Program is designed to provide young trans people with trans mentors who can be positive influences, answer the hard questions, and serve as role models that inspire Littles to be themselves.  In this program we match 7-17 year old trans-children/youth with trans-adult mentors.

Healthy communities are built by empowering young people to lead vibrant, healthy and productive lives.  We work to create positive matches that enrich the lives of both the mentor and the mentee.  So many children wish for someone to talk to, someone to relate to, someone to tell them that how they feel and who they are is more than just normal, it is extraordinary!

Big Brothers Big Sisters makes every effort to assure that Bigs are matched with Littles who share your interests so that the relationship will be rewarding and mutually beneficial. Littles come from a variety of backgrounds and economic levels which adds richness to the relationship.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is an inclusive organization. Please visit our JEDI page to learn more.



This section is where our Bigs get to showcase their experiences being with their Littles and what it means to them to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.


By Big Brother David

In 2016, I took on a "Little" named Mark. He’s a good kid. He’s quiet, polite, kind-hearted, and smart. He enjoys school and learning. His father is not actively involved in his life, but he has a very supportive mother and two sisters. His mother works extremely hard to provide a quality life for her family.

On average, Mark and I spend three to four hours together a week. Sometimes we go to a community event, share a meal, or visit a local attraction. We participate in a myriad of outdoor activities such as going to the beach, hiking, fishing, basketball, and more. It’s not about spending money as much as it’s about spending quality time together. I enjoy listening to his hopes and dreams and trying to help him realize his potential.

We have all heard or read "one person can make a difference" many times. I believe the most effective community youth nonprofit organizations are those that develop one-on-one mentoring with kids. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County’s mentoring program is one of the most successful. You really can make a make a difference right here in our local community. You can help change the direction of a child’s life and possibly their families’ lives. Mark’s future is bright, and it’s fun and rewarding to play a small part in it.


By Big Brother Zach

When I began seeing my Little Brother, we spent time together – often quiet time. My Little slowly and meticulously letting his guard down and me just showing up, with no great plan, to spend time with him and see what happened. I remember one of our first outings (he was 12) I picked him up and asked if he wanted to drive. My Little clarified rather informatively that he was not of a legal driving age. Every time after that when I picked him up I always offered him the wheel, and each time he politely refused but began to smirk and get my sense of humor. Now he is 16 and the joke will be on me next month when he is grinding my clutch on the way to see a movie.A few weeks ago, after officially ending the match, My Little and I met up and shot a few baskets. We talked as friends- earnestly curious about each other’s lives. I learned a lot from him through our conversation and was in awe that this quiet 12 year old could, like his t-shirt had read for many years, now probably be my boss! I then requested he send me his most recent high school paper about the origins of the major political parties- a subject that has eluded me for some time. I am grateful for this friendship.

I’m grateful for the first time I ever ran in a race was with My Little, a beach run with New Brighton middle school. I’m grateful I got to be with My Little, on the Santa Cruz boardwalk, before his first roller-coaster ride. He was scared but (little did he know) much less so than I was at his age. I am also grateful I got to be there after that first roller-coaster ride when he begged me to take him again. I’m grateful that I’ve seen My Little mature from having a gag reflex to all vegetables to now entertaining the thought that it may one day be possible to admit to liking cucumber. I’m grateful for the time we made pizza from scratch. I’m grateful that over time we developed a ridiculously long and entertaining handshake. This salutation serving as a reminder that sometimes we live by the beat of our own drums. I’m grateful My Little provides me a lens into a teenage world that I had grown to put behind me without first wholly appreciating. I’m grateful that My Little has an amazing mother who gives me homemade jam and a brilliant little sister who created an entire circus in their backyard. I’m grateful that every time my time with My Little ended- I was smiling.

I’m grateful to all the people at Big Brothers and Big Sisters who choose to spend their time facilitating these unique connections and doing all the back end work required to run the program. I’m grateful that BBBS contributes such significant and essential value to a world though the scope of this value is so difficult to quantify. I’m grateful that I am given this opportunity to quantify that one of me sees and engages the world with more respect and care because of an experience facilitated by BBBS. I can quantify that my life has been positively impacted and therefore those who know me are also positively affected because of BBBS.


Match of the Year 2022:

"I’m constantly in awe of how much I personally get out of being in the program and being matched to such a wonderful young woman. You find time for what brings you joy, and Brenda certainly does that for me. I hope I do the same for her as well." -Ame

Brenda and Ame have been matched since 12/19/2017.

Throughout the years, Ame and Brenda have developed such a strong match relationship. They have active outings, explore together but also sometimes just talk about topics that Brenda is interested in. Brenda’s guardian shares how much Ame means not just to Brenda but to their family. Ame has truly showed up for Brenda consistently since they were matched. She has exposed Brenda to new things, explored topics that come up as Brenda goes into her teenhood, and most importantly has given the space for Brenda to feel safe and able to express herself. 

Brenda and Ame are great at coming up with outings. Each year they develop a bucket list where they add outing ideas they want to do together.

Changing the way children grow up in Santa Cruz County.