Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC (BBBSNYC) had a vision: to create a mobile app that would help their adult volunteers feel more connected with other mentors, with case managers, and with the inner city kids being mentored.


Although other local chapters of BBBS had created some apps, this was the first app for BBBSNYC, one that would change how their mentors were supported, to have a greater impact on their match relationship.


BBBSNYC mobile app


Founded in 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC is the original local chapter of the largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network in America. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the leader of one-on-one youth mentoring programs; its mission is to match adult volunteers (“Bigs”) with kids (“Littles”) facing adversity so they can achieve success in life.


Each year, BBBSNYC connects more than 5,000 kids with mentors. In their community-based programs, Bigs and Littles participate in activities that help Littles expand their worldview so they can refine academic and professional skills that help their realize their full potential.


The mobile app (called “GoBIG”) had to be a useful tool that would serve a few purposes: (a) allow mentors an easier way to send updates to case managers; (b) remind mentors of their core objectives (called SMART Goals) in helping kids; (c) give mentors meaningful ideas for their monthly outings.


Development of the app also had to be contained within a fixed budget, within a fixed timeline. While the initial project scope was ambitious, the fixed budget and schedule meant only core features could be designed and developed to fit the client’s business needs. An admin site (using Python Django) was also needed to input content updates for the app.


There was also difficulty in connecting various APIs on the backend to serve the required information within the app, and one of the core app features was also difficult to build, as it also involved connecting several pieces in the backend to appear correctly on the frontend.


In order for the GoBIG mobile app to be developed on time and budget, more time was spent during the Discovery Phase (a series of workshops with the client) to determine the four most valuable features.


Once the core features were determined, UX/UI design created a cohesive product. Development then began, using the SCRUM/agile methodology, which allowed for flexibility in modifying features. Also, instead of building a native app, GoBIG was first built as a web platform (a desktop site) and then “wrapped” as an app for both Apple and Android.


The entire team delivered a well-designed and developed product on scope and on budget, within the allotted development timeframe (six months). Also, the combination of Agile and simple technologies allowed basic features to be built faster; this meant more focus on the required business features, plus the inclusion of optional features (such as a welcome tour and certain admin site functionalities).


Throughout the process, Pentalog and BBBS also stayed in close contact to talk through ideas and issues, and the client was very involved daily meetings to provide feedback. Because of the constant and consistent communication, the client was very happy with the entire process and the app, calling it a “game changer” for the organization and business model.


Find BBBSNYC’s app on iTunes and Google Play


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