In 2014, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI) conducted an extensive Six Sigma project focused on helping mentors approach their mentoring time with greater intentionality. Through the project, BBBSCI identified 12 “Thriving Indicators” that are critical life skills and attributes necessary to reach one’s full potential. From character and social skills to confidence and healthy habits, BBBSCI needed these thriving indicators to be fostered and encouraged, ultimately taking the “guesswork” out of mentoring. BBBSCI needed an actionable tool that would help them carry out this mission.
Counterpart led a team to build the Big App, a software platform that serves as a framework of activities and events for matches to do together while working towards deliberate and intentional relationship building. The Big App’s foundation is a robust administrative platform built on the Six Sigma research results. This powerful and data driven backend gives BBBSCI staff the ability to enter and manage activities and events, identify and apply thriving indicators, as well as assess and interpret all the data being collected as Bigs and Littles build their relationship. Because the platform continually collects and analyzes data, the Big App will perpetually bring new insights and discoveries to BBBSCI.
The Big App’s mobile application, developed by Exacta, allows mentors and youth to select the Thriving Indicator that they would like to explore and then browse a variety of related activities. For example, a user interested in developing “Love of Learning” could search and find a list of self-guided, agency-hosted, or partner-hosted activities that help them do this (e.g., Attend an agency-hosted activity at a college campus, participate in a college prep program offered by the Center for Leadership Development, etc.).
In addition to helping matches find and select intentional activities and ways to spend their time together, the Big App also provides basic profile information on each Little. Every Big has their Little’s emergency contact info, birthday, match anniversary date, etc. Also, the Big App’s reporting feature allows matches to see how they spent their time over the past year as well as valuable metrics as to how much time was spent towards each Thriving Indicator.
BBBSCI has match support specialists assigned to each pair that monitors how Bigs have been building the relationship with their Littles. Because the Big App tracks all the activities and events, more time can now be spent focusing on the quality of the relationship and how to foster its growth and less time keeping tabs on what the Bigs and Littles have been doing. By capturing these key metrics, BBBSCI now has more tools and resources available to make data driven decisions to help their match relationships thrive.
The Big App was launched in March, both on the App Store and Google Play, and has been circulating quickly among Bigs. We hope to see more results soon, but a favorite benefit of the Big App is that it eliminates the clutter of hundreds of event and activity emails for Bigs. Instead of sifting through dozens of emails trying to plan their time, Bigs now have a quick and simple way to search and select what they actually need. Say hello to a clean inbox!
In the summer of 2016, the Big App will be presented at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Conference, showcasing to other chapters the capabilities of the Big App and how it can be used for their operations. It is our hope that the app will eventually become available for Bigs all across the US.
BBBSCI provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one to one youth mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. BBBSCI partners with parents/guardians, volunteers, schools, donors, and others in the community to help youth avoid risky behaviors, improve emotional competency, and achieve educational success. For more information on BBBSCI, visit bebigforkids.org.