Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast Announces Grant Awards
Bank of America Client Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee awarded Big Brothers Big Sisters of the SunCoast $30,000 for its Gateways to Graduation (GTG) & Big Futures in Sarasota County. Gateways to Graduation serves 8th-12th grade students who have been identified by school personnel as those at risk of not graduating or not being promoted to the next grade level. Volunteers provide weekly, one-to-one mentoring on each student’s school campus, helping the mentored youth to become academically motivated and to develop planning skills and goals. Big Futures, a professionally supported mentoring bridge provides continued guidance to the 10TH – 12TH-grade youth the agency currently serves until they reach age 21, thereby, placing them on a career pathway to sustainable independence. 91% of the youth who remain matched with their mentor through Big Futures after high school graduation are either enrolled in a higher education institution or gainfully employed.
Venice Golf & Country Club Foundation awarded Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast a grant in the amount of $5,000 for its background screening for volunteers, for zoom technology, and enhanced internet security. All grant funds will be used to serve at-risk youth in the Greater Venice area – Venice, Englewood, North Port, Laurel, and Nokomis. $3,000 will be used to pay for background screenings and re-screenings of mentors (including a fingerprint check through the FBI national database and a complete driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicles), ensuring that child safety remains BBBSSC’s highest priority. In addition to continually screening new mentors, BBBSSC screens volunteer every 3 years to ensure the safety of our community’s youth. $2,000.00 will be used to partially fund zoom technology and internet security.
During the pandemic, BBBSSC is using Zoom to conduct interviews with volunteers, parents/guardians, and children, hold information sessions with each, and provide match program activities such as cooking classes. Enclave Hosting provides safe email and file storage services on a highly secure server, with protection from viruses and malware, as well as daily backups stored in two locations in the event of a server crash or a catastrophic event. When the pandemic began and given the general increase in internet safety breaches, BBBSSC identified enhancing its internet protection as a vital safety measure.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast has received $1,800 from the MSC Foundation for its one-to-one mentoring programs. One-to-one matches between Bigs and Littles truly empower youth and strengthen communities. Professional staff from Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully build and support each match, and ensure it meets the strictest standards. The agency strives for matches that are not only safe and well suited to each child’s needs, but also harmonious and built to last.
Many relationships between Bigs and Littles are part of the Community-based programs. Community-based mentoring relationships involve one-on-one outings and activities, doing things the Big and Little enjoy together. Some Bigs meet their Littles on the weekends. Others get together with their Littles on weekday evenings. Each match is unique and develops a schedule that works for them. It may sound obvious, but sometimes the best place to help a child realize their potential is at school. Some of the biggest supporters of the School-Based Mentoring program are actually teachers. They see students come back from their time with their Big filled with confidence, smiling big, ready to learn, and eager to succeed.
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