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Big Friend Little Friend is a youth mentoring program dedicated to positively impacting youth through fostering a friendship with a caring adult mentors through both a Community Based and School Based Mentoring Programs.


United Way Big Friend Little Friend provides youth, ages 7-14, from Yankton County with a mentor who serves as a positive role model and a supportive friend.


Volunteer mentors are trusting and caring adults from the Yankton area who are passionate about youth in our community.

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United Way of Greater Yankton’s Big Friend Little Friend (BFLF) program is looking for volunteer mentors, committed to spend two (2) hours per month, during the school day, sharing their time and positivity with local Yankton School District students.

After returning to YSD Elementary Schools in 2022/23, United Way’s Big Friend Little Friend In-School Youth Mentoring Program was a great success with twenty-four community members volunteering over 240 hours, mentoring local youth in a one – one capacity.

United Way’s hope for the upcoming school year, is to place forty (40) BFLF Volunteer Mentors within YSD schools, almost doubling its impact on local youth.

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. According to, youth who are connected with a caring adult mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer in their communities, and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.

Mentoring relationships are a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Many volunteer mentors say that the rewards they gain are as substantial as those for their mentees, and that mentoring has enabled them to:

  • Achieve personal growth and learn more about themselves

  • Improve their self-esteem and feel they are making a difference

  • Feel more productive and have a better attitude at work

  • Enhance their relationships with their own children


BFLF Volunteer Mentors are paired with a single student mentee with similar interests for the duration of their friendship. However, BFLF is not a tutoring program. Volunteer mentors use this time in any way which is special to the pair—playing games, doing crafts, shooting hoops, sharing hobbies, and talking about their week. According to Leonard Hejl, a current BFLF Volunteer Mentor, “This program gave me a new insight on how young people think and cope, and that is one of the many reasons I love being a mentor.”

All it takes is one caring person to make a difference in the life of a child, can we count on you? RAISE YOUR HAND YANKTON!

Please email or call United Way at (605)665-6766

to learn more about BFLF and how to become a volunteer mentor here in Yankton!

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