Tennessee Statewide Association


To create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of Tennessee youth.

Tennessee Youth Are Vulnerable

Where We Serve

Big Brothers Big Sisters Tennessee agencies serve 29 counties across the state, from rural counties like Hawkins, to urban counties like Davidson and Shelby. Our offices are located in Memphis (BBBS of Midsouth), Clarksville, Nashville (BBBS of Middle Tennessee), and Chattanooga, as well as Knoxville and Kingsport (BBBS of East Tennessee).

Together, our agencies have served Tennessee youth for more than XX years. Since the inception of the BBBS Tennessee Statewide Association in 2004, our agencies have provided one-to-one mentoring relationships to more than 45,000 children. This year alone, we will serve XX,XXX Tennessee youth.

Thanks to recent statewide funding from Governor Bill Lee, the Tennessee Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies will focus on improving outcomes for more children in the areas of K-12 education, criminal justice, mental health, healthcare, and rural economic development. Through Governor Lee’s support, our collective will expand services, reduce the cross-generational impact of parental incarceration and addiction, and improve education and health and well-being outcomes for 1,000 more youth.

Igniting Potential Across Tennessee

Tennessee youth and their families are in urgent need of the services provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies.

  • Tennessee ranks third in prevalence of children with incarcerated parents (The Tennessean, 4/25/2016), and 13% of all TN children have a parent who has been incarcerated.
  • One in 10 children in Tennessee currently have or have had a parent in prison (2016 Kids Count report).
  • Parental incarceration is classified as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) – a stressful or traumatic event that has an impact on health throughout one’s lifespan.
  • Having an incarcerated parent increases a child’s exposure to several risk factors including living in poverty, experiencing household instability, and being expelled or suspended from school.
  • TN’s opioid prescription rate is the third highest in the US.
  • Between 2010 and 2016, age-adjusted rates of all drug overdose deaths in Tennessee increased from 16.9 to 24.6 per 100,000 residents.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, age-adjusted rates of all opioid overdose deaths in Tennessee increased from 11.0 to 18.1 per 100,000 residents.
  • Young adults are particularly vulnerable to misunderstanding the risks associated with opioid use.
Mentorship's Clear Impact

Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs are evidence-based and outcomes-oriented. Research shows that when youth exposed to risk factors have mentors, they are:

  • 27% less likely to begin drinking alcohol
  • 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
  • 52% less likely to skip school
  • 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
  • 78% more likely to volunteer in their communities
  • 130% more likely to hold leadership positions in the future
  • More confident in their academic performance
  • More focused on their future goals, particularly on graduating from high school
Our Innovative Approach

The state of Tennessee BBBS agencies are innovative in their approach to mentorship. Recent statewide agency initiatives and highlights include programs that build bridges across social and economic divides, strengthen relationships in communities and equip adults – including parents, volunteers, and community members – with the knowledge and training needed to defend the potential of our youth.

Some initiatives include:

  • Launching Bigs in Blue, a program that bridges the gap between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve
  • Serving both youth and their families, providing training on a variety of topics such as sexual abuse, and connecting families with a number of community resources
  • Training our staff to better serve youth who have experienced trauma based on their Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACESs)
  • Providing training to mentors on subjects ranging from opioids to internet safety
  • Offering e-mentoring programs focused on post-secondary education, ultimately leading to economic development in the communities served


Big Sister Nicole and Little Sister Amanda
Little’s Age: 12
Match Length: 39.5 months (as of 3/9/2021)

Nicole and her three brothers are being raised by her disabled great aunt. Nicole, who lives in rural East Tennessee, has a poor relationship with her mother who is constantly in and out of prison. She and her Big Sister Amanda are a very close match and meet every 1-2 weeks. When they were first matched, Nicole was struggling in school and was defiant toward most of the school staff. She had a hard time making friends. Amanda has helped Nicole to become more confident and has given her the opportunity to do things that she ordinarily might not be able to do. After being matched with her Big Sister, Nicole’s behavior problems in school dramatically decreased and her grades improved substantially. She went from failing most of her subjects to making B’s and C’s.

Big Sister Roberta and Little Sister Alyssa
Little’s Age: 13
Match Length: 28.8 months (as of 3/9/2021)
Alyssa lives in rural East Tennessee. She was struggling to behave at home, although her grades and behavior at school were acceptable. She and her Big Sister Roberta have been matched for one year; they became fast friends and Alyssa has already improved her behavior at home tremendously. Roberta plans their outings around Alyssa’s behavior the previous week. If she treats her grandmother respectfully and does her chores, they will do something “extravagant”: like getting their nails done or going to a water park. If her grandmother reports that she was mean or rude during the week, they will opt for a more simple outing, like visiting the library or walking at a park and discussing actions and consequences. Recently, Alyssa’s mother came back into her life briefly, but was kicked out of her family’s house when she was in possession of methamphetamines. Alyssa began acting out and hurting herself. She confided in Roberta. Roberta talked to her about how important her life was and pleaded with her to realize that she, her grandmother, and many other people care for Alyssa. After this, Alyssa and her grandmother sought outpatient therapy for her; since that time, she has not had another reoccurrence of self-harm.


Began serving children in the Chattanooga area in 1956. We have been defending potential for 54 years!

Matches served in FY 18/19: 456


Began serving children in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area in 1975. We have been defending potential for 45 years!

Matches served in FY 18/19: 81