Big Brothers Big Sisters Logo

Be a Big
Donate



Welcome
Home > About Us > History

History

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City has succeeded for more than 100 years by supporting the city's neediest youth and helping to unite the city.

It was more than century ago, on December 3, 1904, in Lower Manhattan. A boy's life hung in the balance, the weight of an 18-month reformatory sentence about to crush his future. Then Ernest Coulter, Clerk of the Court of Special Sessions of the City of New York, made his famous plea:

Ernest Coulter "There is only one possible way to save that youngster, and that is to have some earnest, true man volunteer to be his big brother. To look after him, to help him do right, to make the little chap feel that there is at least one human being in this great city who takes a personal interest in him, who cares whether he lives or dies. I call for a volunteer."

When the first gentleman stood to volunteer, Big Brothers of New York City (the founding member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) began. Coulter's audience, a New York City men's club of business and community leaders, immediately saw the strength of this brave new idea. By the end of the day, 39 men had volunteered, and thus 39 futures were salvaged.

Eight years later, in June of 1912, Mrs. William K. Vanderbilt helped to form the "Big Sisters" organization. In 1921, the Big Brother and Big Sister Federation incorporated in New York State. Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City reaches over 3,000 young people every year.

While the Community one-to-one mentoring model continues today, reaching more boys and girls than ever, Coulter's dedication to creative, new solutions also thrives. BBBS of NYC offers unique programs, tailored to fit the needs of a diverse pool of youth, including teenage mothers, children with developmental disabilities, or New Americans, as well as a diverse pool of volunteers, including corporate employees and seniors. In addition, the Center for Training enables BBBS of NYC to function as a mentor to other city non-profit agencies, propagating our experience, research and best practices in youth mentoring to others.

BBBS of NYC remains committed to expanding services, developing ideas, and making history, until every boy and girl who needs a mentor has a "Big" of his or her own, and every caring, responsible adult can enjoy the opportunity to "Just be a Brother and a companion... give him his individual chance to be honest, and to grow up into a useful citizen." At BBBS of NYC, we cherish innovation, but we stay true to Ernest Coulter's vision in everything we do.



site map

Donate