Defenders of Potential

aka BBBS IR   |   Philadelphia, PA   |



Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Marcus Allen

Main address

123 S. Broad St Suite 1050

Philadelphia, PA 19109 USA

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Formerly known as

Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern Pennsylvania

Big Brothers Big Sisters Burlington Camden Gloucester



NTEE code info

Big Brothers, Big Sisters (O31)

Voluntarism Promotion (T40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) mentoring addresses the need for positive adult role models in the lives of at-risk children to help them become confident, caring, responsible adults. This guidance is not always available in the community. More than 1/3 of American youth, approximately 16 million, will never have an adult mentor. Youth with more risk factors are less likely to have “naturally occurring" mentors, such as family members and neighbors. These are the children who are more likely to enter a mentoring program, such as BBBS. Youth in BBBS are often from families with low-incomes, do not live with both parents, and have academic and/or behavior challenges. Youth with these risks are more likely to experience poor life outcomes such as dropping out of school, to cause pregnancy or become pregnant during adolescence,to experience more violence and crime, have poorer job opportunities, poorer health outcomes, and involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring - Greater Philadelphia

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence is a donor-supported organization that enriches, encourages and empowers children to reach their highest potential through safe, one-to-one mentoring relationships.

Volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister is about making a measurable difference in a child’s life by sharing new perspectives and experiences. Serving Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties in PA and Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties in NJ, nearly 3,700 children annually are more successful socially and academically because of the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence.

Population(s) Served

MENTOR Independence Region, formerly known as the Mentoring Partnership & Resource Center (MPRC), was launched in March 2015 to expand the mentoring field’s regional capacity to reach more school-aged children with caring, committed adult mentors, using best practices, training and professional support to achieve lifelong positive educational and behavioral outcomes for youth. We need more high quality mentoring programs and high quality mentors empowering our children and youth. Quality matters: high quality mentoring can be transformational, but poor quality mentoring can be harmful. That’s where MENTOR Independence Region (MENTOR IR) comes in.

To maximize the quality of programs and the likelihood of positive outcomes for children and youth, MENTOR IR aims to increase the use of research and evidence-based best practices in the mentoring field to improve quality in mentoring programs and equip mentors with the skills they need to facilitate the empowerment of their mentees.

MENTOR IR works directly with mentoring programs and mentors to help them become aware of the research and evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for youth.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


4-Star Award 2016

Charity Navigator

Affiliations & memberships

United Way Member Agency 2008

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of individuals attending community events or trainings

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring - Greater Philadelphia

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Events and trainings hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region and Mentor Independence Region

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

By partnering with parents/guardians, volunteers and others in the community we are accountable for each child in our program achieving higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships, avoidance of risky behaviors, and educational success. Decades of research has consistently shown the beneficial impact of having a caring, committed adult mentor to help at-risk youth to overcome obstacles, avoid risky behaviors, and envision a successful future (Lerner, Brittian, and Fay. MENTOR, 2007). A comprehensive summary of research studies states “Overall, findings support the effectiveness of mentoring for improving outcomes across behavioral, social, emotional and academic domains of young people's development… while non-mentored youth exhibit declines." (DuBois and colleagues, 2011).

These outcomes are directly related to BBBS' focus on REDUCING RISK FACTORS and INCREASING PROTECTIVE FACTORS, thus leading to POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines Risk factors as characteristics at the biological, psychological, family, community, or cultural level that precede and are associated with a higher likelihood of negative outcomes, and Protective factors as characteristics associated with a lower likelihood of negative outcomes or that reduce a risk factor's impact. Protective factors may be seen as positive countering events. (

BBBS takes an evidence-based approach to one-to-one youth mentoring that has demonstrably made an impact in both increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors over the life of a match. (Public/Private Ventures, reissued September of 2000.) This is accomplished by pairing an at risk youth with a caring, invested, and professionally supported adult who encourages positive youth development. In An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters Tierney and Grossman explain: 'Our research presents clear and encouraging evidence that caring relationships between adults and youth can be created and supported by programs, and can yield a wide range of tangible benefits. The most notable results are the deterrent effect on initiation of drug and alcohol use, and the overall positive effects on academic performance that the mentoring experience produced'.

The enduring relationships between Bigs (mentors) and Littles (mentees) have added benefits that can't be measured through standard surveys. At BBBSI, one of our mentoring relationships started when the then 12-year old Little Brother was in one of many foster homes. His Big was by his side throughout tumultuous years; the “Big" encouraged the “Little" academically – he maintained his status on honor roll, was on the school basketball team, and steadily kept a part-time. Now, age 18 and living with his Big Brother after being kicked out of a fifth home, the Little Brother is going to college on a full scholarship. The bond of these Big and Little Brothers has been life altering.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence's programs provide at-risk youth with the evidence-based impact of Big Brothers Big Sisters one-to-one mentoring in order to prevent and/or reduce delinquency, academic and social failure. Annually close to 3400 children and youth ages 7-17 (“Littles") from 7 counties (in PA: Philadelphia, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware; in NJ: Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington) are in mentoring relationships with a caring, trained, and professionally supported adult (“Bigs"). Matches meet 2- 4 times per month in the community, at schools or at corporation. Research consistently shows that lasting benefit of BBBS mentoring is that youth facing adversity have adult support that increases the likelihood of achieving success in school, improved socialization, and avoidance of risk taking behaviors. Longer matches have the best outcomes. While Bigs and Littles are required to commit to a year in the program, our matches typically last close to 3 years, one of the highest rates in the country.

BBBSI's primary core program, and the best known, is Community-Based mentoring, in which volunteer mentors (Bigs) and their mentees (Littles) meet on the weekends or after school 2-4 times per month to spend time together: playing sports, visiting museums, going hiking, attending planned agency events, or just talking. The second core program is Site-Based Mentoring. In this program Bigs mentor their Littles during the day. Within our Site-Based Mentoring Program we have several different program variations. In our Corporate Bigs program, professionals mentor children at partner schools once a week during lunchtime throughout the school year. We also operate a Beyond School Walls program where Littles visit their Bigs during the week at their workplace, giving them an opportunity to experience the corporate world first-hand and set goals for the future. Finally, BBBSI has a College Bigs program where college students are matched with elementary and middle school students and spend time together at the Little's school during lunchtime or after school. In 2018, we served 3,164 youth, each with a dedicated adult volunteer mentor.

BBBSI is an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), the largest, oldest and most recognized mentoring organization in the United States. BBBSA has been in existence since 1904, and as a local affiliate we are able to leverage infrastructure and expertise of nation's premier mentoring organization. We diligently follow BBBSA's practice standards for recruitment, screening, matching, match support, match monitoring and evaluation.

BBBSI was itself founded in 1915 and incorporated in 1948. With its deep regional roots and strong reputation for exceptional service, BBBSI has a Board of Directors largely comprised of business leaders, many of whom are widely known in the region and beyond, who are dedicated to strengthening the organization's ability to fulfill its mission through donations, fund raising, and strong involvement in strategic planning.

BBBSI's Leadership Team - Marcus Allen, President/CEO; Michele Molano, COO; Kate McCloud, VP of Development; Gregory Burton, VP of Marketing and Communications and others - is focused on ensuring that BBBSI maintains and further strengthens its public profile, expands its funding base, and provides the highest quality mentoring services to children in the Greater Philadelphia region. With its strong management, BBBSI IS A CHARITY NAVIGATOR FOUR-STAR CHARITY.

BBBSI has a deeply dedicated staff that enthusiastically works to ensure that Littles (child and youth mentees) and Bigs (adult mentors) have productive, meaningful and safe experiences within their mentoring relationships and have resources needed beyond the match.

BBBS Independence (BBBSI), serving the Greater Philadelphia region, faithfully follows the BBBS model as prescribed by BBBS of America; this includes collecting research-based standardized Youth Outcomes Surveys from every participating mentee at intake, at the first anniversary of their match and annually thereafter. The data below represent all 2016 post-test survey results on listed key constructs. All measures reflect a positive impact on regional youth.

In 2018, BBBSI served 3,164 children. Parents of children in community based matches are engaged in every step of our process from enrollment through match support. Beginning with the initial information session, volunteers in community-based matches are explicitly instructed that parents are our partners in this relationship. BBBS Independence surveys parents in our Community Based program annually about their perceptions of the program.

In a recent survey of Bigs and Littles in our programs for 12 months,
- 97% Littles believe their relationship with their Big is very important
- 90% Littles believe that their Big gives them good ideas about solving a problem
- 84% Bigs feel close to their Little
- 82% Bigs believe that their Little has made improvements since they started meeting

BBBSI routinely collects pre- and 12-month post-test data using Big Brothers Big Sisters standardized Youth Outcomes Survey. The results below represent results for community-based Littles in our programs for at least one school year.
- 97% Youth stated that their relationship with their Big is very important to them
- 95% Youth maintained or improved their social acceptance among peers
- 94% Youth maintained or improved their attitude toward risky behaviors
- 89% Youth maintained or improved their grades in school

School-Based Programs
- MENTORING HOURS totaled 29,745
- Partnered with over 59 Public Schools
(SB Mentoring Hours are based on an average of 2.5 hours/month and matches active in April 2018.)

Working with our Corporate Partners in our Beyond School Walls, the corporate commitment totaled:
- 378 Mentoring Sessions
- 10,694 Hours
- $264,041 in Time
*Based on estimated value of volunteer time for 2018 at $24.69/hour

Over 90% of children and youth in BBBSI have positive outcomes; and the majority has positive outcomes in at least three of the constructs listed above.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 05/08/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Lloyd Freeman

Alan Lurty

ING US Financial Services

Bradley Aronson

Erica Knuth


Ernest Pighini - Board Chair

Comcast Cable

Scott Bentley


Michele Molano


Mitchell Benson

Savran Benson, LLP

Nick Bayer

Saxbys Coffee, LLC

Suzanne Keenan

Wawa, Inc.

Paul Lancaster Adams

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Mike Appleby

QVC, Inc.

Corey B. Coleman

AmeriHealth Mercy

Kimya S. P. Johnson

Cozen O'Connor

Robert D. Kane, Jr.

First Niagara Bank

Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr.

Temple University

Kelly S. Lyman

PECO Energy, an Exelon Corporation

Michael G. Moyer

Land Services USA, Inc.

Patrick Murphy

Fox Rothschild, LLP

Paul D. Ridder

Tasty Baking Company

Gordon St. John

Integrated Benefit Services, Inc.

Philip I. Weinberg

Comcast Spectacor, L.P.

Vicky Will - Board Vice Chair

Exelon Generation

Scott O'Neill

Philadelphia 76ers & Jersey Devils

Michelle Lawrence

Wells Fargo Bank

Michael Moyer

Land Services USA, Inc.

Matt McNally

Publicis Health Media

Anthony Kyriakakis

Dilworth Paxson LLP

Janet Ziegler

Banks Ziegler Carter Group - UBS Financial Services

Jennifer Wagner


Laura Brodsky

Lloyd Freeman

Archer & Grenier

Nancy Sommer

iMPACT Human Capital, LLC

Paul Adams

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/6/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data